Sumaghieh is not just a dish; it’s a tale woven with the threads of history, culture, and personal memories. Originating from the heart of Gaza, Palestine, this dish is a culinary emblem of its people. Named after its primary ingredient, Sumac, Sumaghieh encapsulates the essence of Gaza in every bite. A symphony of flavours, from sumac and Swiss chard to spicy chilli and fried garlic, this dish mirrors the spirit of Gazan’s – modest in appearance, yet robust and vibrant in essence.
For Kareem, Sumaghieh is more than a recipe; it’s a cherished narrative. Passed down through generations, this dish was a favourite of his grandfather, a symbol of their shared heritage. Every time Kareem prepares this dish, he isn’t just cooking; he’s travelling through time, revisiting cherished memories with his grandfather, and reconnecting with his roots. It’s his tribute to the land, its resilient people, and the enduring bond he shared with his grandfather. In sharing this recipe, we can connect with the people of Gaza, taste the legacy of Gaza and to understand the deep-rooted connections that food can foster.
Basic Ingredients for Sumaghieh
Sumac: A tangy, lemony spice often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Sumac brings a unique sourness and a pop of colour to the dish, evoking the authentic flavours of Gazan cuisine.
Boiling Water: Used to extract the flavour from the sumac and to help incorporate the tahini and flour.
All-Purpose Flour: Acts as a thickening agent, giving the stew a richer consistency.
Onion: Adds a depth of flavour and sweetness when caramelised.
Swiss Chard Stems: Provides a slight bitterness and crunch, contrasting with the soft textures in the dish.
Beef Fillet: Tender and flavorful, the beef lends a meaty richness to the stew.
Beef Broth (or Chicken Broth): Enhances the meaty flavour and provides the necessary liquid for the stewing process.
Tahini Paste: A creamy, nutty paste made from sesame seeds that adds richness and depth to the dish.
Chickpeas: These legumes offer a pleasant bite and are a traditional staple in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Crushed Dill Seeds: Brings a fresh, slightly tangy flavour that complements the sumac. It is a signature ingredient in the Gazan kitchen,
Chili Flakes: Adds a kick of heat, enhancing the dish’s overall flavour profile.
Garlic: A universal flavour enhancer, garlic brings a zesty warmth.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Used for frying and adding a rich, fruity undertone. Palestinian oil, in particular, is renowned for its robust flavour.
Salt & Pepper: Basic seasonings to enhance and balance the dish’s flavours.
Sumac: Lemon zest or vinegar for the tanginess.
Beef Fillet: Chicken thighs or lamb can be used for a different flavour profile.
Beef Broth: Vegetable broth can be a vegetarian alternative.
Tahini Paste: Ground sesame seeds or almond butter.
Chickpeas: Lima beans or kidney beans.
Dill Seeds: Fennel seeds or caraway seeds.
Preparation Tips for Sumaghieh
- Ensure the beef is patted dry before searing to achieve a good crust.
- When soaking sumac, ensure it’s fully submerged for maximum flavour extraction.
- Slowly add flour to the cooled sumac-tahini mix to avoid lump formation.
Serving Tips for Sumaghieh
- Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for garnish.
- Warm pita bread is essential for scooping up the delicious stew.
- Allow the stew to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
- It can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
- For longer storage, you can freeze the stew. Before reheating, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- 500 g beef fillet, cut into small pieces
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups beef broth or water
- 1 large onion
- 250 g stems swiss chard
- 4 tbsp sumac
- 1 cup boiling water
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup tahini paste
- 400 g chickpeas
- 2 tbsp crushed dill seeds
- 3 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large pot, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over high heat, sear the beef fillet pieces until browned. Turn the pieces to ensure even cooking. Add 4 cups of beef broth or water and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about an hour.
- In a separate pan, heat some olive oil and fry the onions until translucent. Add the Swiss chard stems and continue to fry until both the onions and chard caramelise and shrink. If needed, add a bit of the beef stock to the pan to help in caramelising the onions.
- While the beef is simmering, soak the Sumac in 1 cup of boiling water in a separate bowl. Once it's soaked and the mixture has cooled down, add the tahini paste and mix well until smooth. Gradually stir in the flour, ensuring no lumps form, to get a slightly thickened, smooth paste.
- Once the beef has been simmering for an hour and is tender, add it to the pan with the onions and Swiss chard. Pour in the sumac-tahini paste and mix everything well. Stir in the chickpeas to the mixture. Adjust the consistency by adding water if it’s too thick; the final mixture should be slightly liquidy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small frying pan, heat the ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Once hot, add the crushed dill seeds, chilli flakes, and minced garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes until aromatic, ensuring the garlic doesn't burn. Pour half the seasoned oil over the main dish and give everything a good stir.
- Transfer the Sumaghieh to a shallow serving platter. Garnish the seasoned oil, sumac and fresh parsley. Serve hot with warm pita bread, and most importantly, enjoy. Sahtein!