Al Qidreh Meal

The Hallmark Dish of the Palestinian City of Hebron, Qidreh is Brimming With Tender Bone-In Lamb And Fragrant Spiced Rice.

The national dish of the Palestinian city of Hebron is “Al Qidreh“. The copper saucepan used to create this meal is referred to by the word “qidreh,” which simply means “pot.” However, cooking qidreh at home is uncommon. It may be first prepared in the home, including boiling the meat and seasoning the rice, but it is then transported in its unique copper pot to the nearby wood-fired oven, where it is thoroughly cooked.

In Hebron, it is a go-to option for weddings, funerals, and special celebrations. It is seen as a necessary meal during the month of Ramadan. Qidreh is prepared in different ways all over the country, particularly in Jerusalem and Gaza, but its most authentic version is found in Hebron. The dish gets its unique flavor from the wood-fired oven and from being generously topped with samneh baladiyeh, a regional clarified butter flavored with spices, before being served.

In Gaza, the dish is taken a step further with entire garlic cloves and a much longer list of spices, although neither of those additions are typical to Hebron’s version. In Jerusalem, cooks have started adding chickpeas to the dish, which provide both texture and bulk to the meal. Since a wood-fired oven’s distinctive scent is absent from this recipe, the inclusion of chickpeas and garlic helps the food retain more taste. To really let the ingredients shine, I keep the spices on the milder side.

Lamb on the bone is used to prepare the meal, both because it is the most popular meat in the Palestinian cuisine and because it is a more expensive cut of meat appropriate for the special occasions when qidreh is normally served. Although the traditional recipe calls for lamb, chicken is now frequently utilized in some more informal situations.

Using bone-in chunks enriches the broth far more than using boneless pieces would, in addition to providing a more pleasing aesthetic. However, boneless stewing lamb parts can be used to produce a speedier variation of this dish. That reduces the simmering time of the broth by approximately an hour, although in that case, I advise preparing the broth with chicken stock (ideally homemade) rather than water.

Ingredients For the lamb broth:

3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6 pounds (2.7kg) bone-in lamb shanks or shoulder chops (about 4 to 6 small shanks or 8 shoulder chops; see note)
4 cardamom pods, lightly cracked open
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 large (10-ounce; 283g) yellow onion, peeled but left whole
2 quarts (1.9L) water
1 tablespoon (9g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table or fine sea salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight

Ingredients For the rice:

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
1 large (10-ounce; 283g) yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
15 medium cloves garlic (about 1 3/4 ounces; 50g), peeled
2 teaspoons (6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table or fine sea salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound 2 ounces (500g) jasmine or Calrose rice (scant 2 2/3 cups)
One 15-ounce (425g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

to serve

When it comes to serve it , qidreh is typically accompanied by a side of plain yogurt and a chopped Palestinian salad, which balance off the dish’s heavy, earthy flavor. To provide: 1 cup of gently roasted, slivered almonds (3 1/2 ounces; 100 grams). Flat-leaf parsley minced for garnish and simple yogurt .

Qidreh is a stand-alone meal that can be accompanied by a side of basic green salad, cucumber yogurt salad, plain yogurt, or both. Additionally, you can quickly prepare some fattoush or just a salad with cucumber, tomato, and onion dressed with lemon olive oil.

In addition, you can add some minced parsley for color and some toasted nuts for a delectable crunch. It improves it but is entirely optional, particularly if you’re entertaining!

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