Ah, Sumagiyya-that quintessential Gazan dish that is either much loved, or much hated! Sumagiyya (in classical Arabic: Sumaqiyya) is a classic Gaza City dish, one in the category of single-bowl dishes popular in Gaza (Rumaniyya, Fogaiyya…). It is traditionally made in large batches on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr (which was just observed a few days ago-thus the choice of blog post!) and distributed to friends, family and neighbors-who reciprocate with kaak (date cookies) or sumagiyya of their own. Sumagiyya’s greyish appearance-a result of the sumac, its namesake, and tahina-can be off-putting to some,but don’t judge a dish by its cover! While the dish is usually made with an infusion of whole sumac berries, ground sumac will do in a pinch.
1 1/2 pounds lean stewing meat
1 onion, chopped
4 T. olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 sprig Rosemary, if available
1 Cinnamon stick
5 allspice berries
4 cardamom pods
1 onion, chopped
10 cups chopped chard, any variety
½ c. Sumac
2 c. boiling water
3 heaping Tablespoons flour
1 T. dill seed
5 garlic cloves, mashed
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 green chili chopped (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 T. Red Tahina, or 2 T. regular Tahina mixed with 1 tsp roasted sesame oil.
Saute meat and onions with olive oil until lightly browned. Cover meat with water and bring to a boil. Skim any froth that rises to the top. Add whole spices and stir. Lower heat, and cover. Cook until meat is tender, but not falling apart. Drain meat and reserve broth.
Add onion and chard and stir until just wilted.
Boil the sumac for 10 minutes, then drain and reserve the liquid. Let cool to room temperature.
Add flour to cooled sumac infusion and stir until dissolved. In a zibdiya or mortar and pestle, grind dill seed and dried pepper with salt until fragrant. Add garlic and chilies, if desired, and mash. Set aside.
Combine broth and sumac-flour mixture and whisk thoroughly to avoid clumping. Add meat mixture, dill, garlic, chili mixture, and remaining spices. Bring to a boil as you continue to stir, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes. Continue to stir throughout until mixture becomes thick. Add 1 T. tahina and cook for 3 more minutes.
Remove from heat and pour into bowls. Cool and serve at room temperature with Arabic bread and chilies.