Give Peas A Chance!!

(Image Courtesy of Natalie Dee – )

I remember three main dishes that my mom always seemed to make when I was a kid. I’d venture to say everyone’s mama made these dishes quite frequently because they were easy to make, cheap and you could make large enough quantities to last for days.  All three dishes had pretty much the same spicing and tomato base, the only variation was the vegetable used.  The dish I opted to cook this week is called Bazailah and it’s essentially a pea stew that you serve over rice. The other two use either okra or green beans and I’m less in love with those two dishes – though I will learn to make them, too.

I can’t say I was a big fan this dish when I was a kid (big surprise, right?), but as I’ve gotten older, Bazailah has become one of my favorite things to eat.  I guess because it is such an easy dish to make, my mama didn’t bother to write down a recipe for it. I pieced together the basics by going off my dad’s memory and it turned out well. I opted to use beef vs. lamb because I just like beef better.  The recipe from my past post includes the adjustments to spicing that was made – although I would have added even more pepper.  I also didn’t listen to my dad and add a little lemon juice at the end. It didn’t alter the dish a great deal, but the added acidity would have helped.I personally don’t remember my mom using lemon with this dish, but we invited two of my cousins over to eat and they both said that was an added ingredient, so I’ll definitely add it next time. I know I should listen to my dad more often when he’s helping me cook, but I’m stubborn. Go figure.

This was the first time I’d cooked something that was tasted by someone other than my dad and brother.  It was really nice to have my cousins over for a meal. It gave us a chance to compare our mother’s recipes and talk about the things we love to eat. We’re all motherless children now and I think it helps to connect to the memories of our mothers in a positive and proactive way. It was really the first time since I’ve started this project that I felt somewhat reconnected to my mother.  The experience also made me open to the idea of cooking with and for more people over the span of this project.  While I love that I’m finally learning to cook these meals, I’m more excited about the potential connections and stories that will emerge. I’m a little less apprehensive to share more personal memories of my mother – her life, her smile and her impact on me.  I think I’m ready for this idea to be the thing it needs to be.

The Basics - Oil, Garlic & Onions
Here's the Beef!
Peas II!
Bazailah wah Ruz
Snapshot of My Mama's Cookbook + Sahtein

Recipe of the Week: Bazailah

I’m back!!  After ten days of being in Austin, I couldn’t be happier to be back in Houston and back to cooking and blogging. I missed Z&Z more than I thought I would, and apparently my dad did too. I got a call from him before I even got back into town wondering which dish we were going to tackle next.

SXSW is an exhausting endeavor, so I opted for something easy to make but still pretty hearty. I was hanging out with some of my cousins a couple of weeks back and my cousin Donald mentioned how much he missed his mama’s Bazailah.  Since I hadn’t had it in awhile, I decided on this dish and invited my cousins over to try it out.

Bazailah is a pea stew that is served over rice. It turns out my mom didn’t write down a recipe for Bazailah, so I opted to cook this dish from my dad’s memory of how she used to make  it. I also got some great feedback from my cousins that I will be sure to incorporate for next time.


1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat (or lamb)

2 – 12 oz. packages of frozen peas

1 medium onion – finely chopped

2 garlic cloves  – finely chopped

2+ garlic cloves – whole

1 – 6 oz. can of tomato paste

3 – 3 1/2 cups water

salt, pepper, allspice, cumin

Saute 2 cloves of garlic and 1 medium yellow onion in 2 tbs. of olive oil or samneh (clarified butter) until brown. Add the beef and saute for about 10 minutes and add spices towards the end of the cooking process.

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. cumin

Add one 6 oz. can of tomato paste and 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir and slowly add 2 more cups of water and another round of spices.

1/2 tsp of salt (could probably use a little more)

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. allspice

Add a couple of cloves of whole garlic for taste.

Bring to a boil  then lower to medium heat and cook for another 20-25 minutes.

Don’t over cook the peas. You still want them to have a bite to them.

Serve over rice.

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