I have made this dish many times and each time a little differently. Each time I really love the results. The meat can change, the cooking can be with either fresh or pickled plums. Vegetables can be a part of or not and this always turns out excellently. This dish is so very forgiving but always worth the effort.
This dish is a melt in your mouth fall festivle of sweet sour and smoooooth. Remember those pickled plums (Qarasiya Mukhallala)? Well we’re going to use those in this dish (though you don’t have to). If pickled plums aren’t available use fresh plums!
(Meat with Plums)
Boil meat and plums. Fry vegetables – Swiss chard, eggplant, carrots, gourds and so on. Macerate the plums in the meat broth and strain it and put it with the vegetables. Then sweeten it and garnish it with walnuts and parsley. (Rodinson, pg. 472)
2lbs Beef, Venison or Lamb 3 cups pickled plums w/juice ***
¼ cup chopped walnuts 3 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
3 cups carrots (or combination eggplant, swiss chard, spinach, squash etc)
2 Tbs sesame oil
***If pickled plums are not available use:
2 C. fresh plums 3 Tbs honey 1 Tbs vinegar 1 C water
I took regular beef stew meat this time and place the meat in a pot with 3 cups of pickled plums w/ juice. Now the plums I had pickled were put up about 5 months ago and were very very ripe. For plums that can be served on their own and used for garnish you want to make sure that the plums are firm. If very ripe plums are used it is more then likely that the pickling will result in a fabulous sweet/tart plum juice and shreds of plum (which work very well for this dish also!).
The plum juice is front and center. The actual plums (in this case plum mush) are waiting to join the meat and juice in a nice long simmering bath)
While the meat and the plums are cooking, start the carrots. I took the 3 cups of carrots and tossed them with the sesame oil then placed in the oven for the same amount time that the meat will be simmering in the plum bath.
The recipe calls for frying which takes a lot of time standing at the stove and stirring. I chose to by pass this with excellent results by just using the oven and oil. Works very well. This method will work for other vegetables as well though I do suggest that carrots be cooked first (as they are firmer) then as the cooking winds down the softer veggies such as squash and swish chard are mixed about half way to 2/3 of the way to being done. Soft cooked veggies are desired, not mushy veggies.
So carrots at 350 for about 1 hour or for as long as it takes the meat to become tender in the plum bath. Allow the plum broth to reduce by 1/2 and thicken to an almost gravy like consistency.
Once the meat has simmered till just about falling apart tender (1- 1.5 hours), pull out the carrots (or other veggies) and place them in a ceramic dish leaving an empty spot in the center. Place the meat chunks into the center of the veggies until all the meat is in the center or the dish is in peril of over flowing. Spoon the plum sauce over the meat, then spinkle with chopped walnuts and parsley.
This dish is excellent hot or cold, served on a bus or on a train, in the dark or in the rain.