Executive chef Bassel Ibrahim shares with us his recipe for jisheed which uses Emirati bezar seasoning
My key ingredient: bezar
Bassel Ibrahim, executive chef at Seven Sands, says: “My favourite ingredient to work with is our homemade Emirati bezar seasoning, a traditional blend of spices that features in many of our dishes. It’s unique to the UAE and the mix is a well-hidden secret that varies not only across the Emirates but also between families. At Seven Sands, we use a special blend of 18 whole spices, which create a fantastic aroma when roasted and blended together. It is great for subtly enhancing a dish without diminishing the original flavour, such as in this jisheed recipe.
“This is not widely known, but shark meat is very popular in Emirati cuisine, with its lovely flavour and flaky consistency. In this traditional recipe, dried lemon and lime impart a distinctive flavour, with the addition of bezar to give a pure, complex flavour to the fish. Then, as we say in the UAE, bel’afiah.”
Ingredients for the dish
500g basmati rice
2kg baby shark fish
100g Emirati bezar spice mix
100g turmeric powder
500ml corn oil
500g onions, finely chopped
500g green peppers, diced
100g ginger, finely chopped
100g garlic, finely chopped
100g dried lime
3 lemons, squeezed
Ingredients for the sauce
100ml corn oil
400g green or red peppers, chopped
400g tomatoes, chopped
100g red onions, finely chopped
50g garlic, chopped
50g Emirati bezar mix
200g Emirati ghee
Boil the rice with a pinch of salt. Once cooked, strain the water and set to one side.
While the rice is cooking, bring a large pan of water to boil and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer – add the shark fillet, bezar, turmeric and salt, and cook for 40 minutes, then remove the shark and shred the meat to small pieces.
Meanwhile, heat the corn oil in a large frying pan, and add the onion, peppers, ginger, garlic and dried lime; sauté until golden in colour then add the cooked shark meat.
Stir gently until you have a nice, soft texture then add the juice from the lemons. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
To make the jisheed sauce, heat the corn oil in a pan and add all the ingredients except the water. Sauté for five minutes or until the ingredients start to caramelise, then add the water and seasoning to taste.
Stir over a gentle heat until the mixture takes on the texture of a compote (if you have a blender, use to create a smooth consistency).
To serve, place the rice on a serving dish and top with the shark mixture, then pour the sauce over the top and serve topped with Emirati ghee and prawns (optional).