#F1CookAlong Bahrain – Middle East meets West End

The pace continues relentlessly on and off track as the F1 teams moved this week from China to Bahrain for back to back races. It may very well be difficult to move 10 teams and all that goes with them from one race to another but imagine the pressure on us!! 😉 With a trip to South America between races, time was tight to find the best produce to make an authentic Bahraini meal…

Just as well Newcastle has a thriving West End stuffed with superb international stores!You’ll find specialist purveyors of Eastern European, Lebanese, Indian, Caribbean, Chinese and Middle Eastern supplies (and a Greggs Outlet store…).

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We did a bit of research in advance to learn of Bahrain’s ‘national dish’ and decided to follow this recipe http://www.daringgourmet.com/chicken-machboos-bahraini-chicken-rice/ which seemed to be approved by a number of Bahraini people in the comments section for its authenticity. We thought it might be a challenge to find some of the ingredients but with stores like ‘Newcastle Halal Superstore’ available for fruit, veg and spices, we managed everything we needed before buying our meat from Gateshead newcomers ‘Block & Bottle’ (more about that later…its awesome).

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Chicken Machboos is a gloriously tasty chicken and rice dish. It is actually a deceptively simple one-pot dish, despite the multitude of ingredients. The chicken is sealed until it is slightly crispy before removing to cook onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and  spices. The chicken is returned to the pan to cook with stock for about an hour before topping up with rice and herbs to soak in the residual liquid. It is worth making the extra effort to find the right ingredients. The recipe called for ‘Loomi’ (dried Limes) which made a world of difference to the dish, more so than could have been achieved with fresh limes, lime juice or powder.

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The dish though, in our opinion, was bolstered immensely with the use of really great quality chicken. We visited Block & Bottle in Gateshead’s Bridges Quarter, in the Arches between the Tyne Bridge and High Level Bridge. The concept which combines great quality meat and fantastic craft beer is a bit of a dream and a real welcome addition to the sometimes under-looked Gateshead. Owners Katie (‘The Beer Geek’) and Steven (‘The Butcher’) have moved back to the North East following a spell in London and are now serving up local meats, homemade sausages, handmade burgers and charcuterie in their Arch bound store. We think this one will become a bit of a ‘local’ for us and there are great plans afoot to make ‘The Bridges Quarter’ the next go to place.

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If you don’t fancy making your own Middle Eastern food, it is always worth tracking down Papa Ganoush for flavoursome, inspired street food. You can find the team at Newcastle Quayside every Sunday serving up falafel, kofte and shawarma wraps alongside delicious salads. They’re soon to open their first mezze bar in Whitley Bay, along Newcastle’s coastline. We can’t wait to try it!

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