Arabian Stew Recipe | Vegetarian Dish from Saudi Arabia

Arabian Stew

Arabian Stew Recipe | Vegetarian Dish from Saudi Arabia
Region / culture: Arabia, Saudi Arabia | Preparation time: 1 hour | Cooking time: 1 hour 50 minutes | Servings: 6 | Vegetarian diet


Arabian Stew
Arabian Stew

Arabian Stew is a rich, flavorful dish that embodies the essence of Middle Eastern cuisine. It combines the hearty textures of chickpeas and eggplants with the aromatic blend of spices, herbs, and a tangy tomato base. This dish is not only a feast for the palate but also a nutritious meal that caters to various dietary needs. Perfect for a family dinner or a special occasion, Arabian Stew is sure to impress with its depth of flavor and vibrant presentation.


The origins of Arabian Stew can be traced back to the ancient culinary traditions of the Middle East. This region is known for its diverse spices, fresh herbs, and the use of legumes and vegetables in daily cooking. Over the centuries, as trade routes expanded, so did the exchange of culinary practices and ingredients. Arabian Stew is a testament to this cultural blend, incorporating ingredients like chickpeas and eggplants that have been staples in Middle Eastern diets for millennia.


How to prepare

  1. Peel and halve the chickpeas, then set them aside.
  2. Remove and discard 3 vertical strips of skin from each eggplant, and cut the whole eggplant into 2.5-inch chunks.
  3. Salt the eggplant pieces and leave them to drain in a colander for at least 1 hour.
  4. Rinse the eggplant, gently squeeze out excess moisture, and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Working in batches, lightly fry the eggplant chunks in 5 tbsp of hot oil until they turn golden brown. Then, drain them.
  6. Sprinkle the eggplant with pepper and set it aside.
  7. In a 2- or 3 qt (2.84 liter) casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid, warm the remaining olive oil and add the onions. Sweat the onions over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they become limp and golden.
  8. Add the chickpeas and fry them for 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in the drained eggplant, unpeeled garlic, tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, and pepper.
  10. Cover the casserole dish tightly and cook over reduced heat without stirring for 40 minutes.
  11. Carefully fold in the crushed garlic, parsley, vinegar, sugar, and allspice.
  12. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. (Up to this point, the dish can be made one day in advance. Cool, cover, and refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld).
  13. To serve, bring the dish to room temperature, and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, allspice, and a few drops of lemon juice to enhance the taste.
  14. Garnish with mint.


  • For a spicier version, add a teaspoon of cumin or a pinch of chili flakes.
  • Substitute chickpeas with lentils or beans for a different texture.
  • Add other vegetables like zucchini or bell peppers for more variety.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To maximize the flavors in Arabian Stew, consider these tips:

- Soak the chickpeas overnight to ensure they cook evenly and become tender.

- Salt the eggplant pieces before cooking to draw out moisture, reducing bitterness.

- Fry the eggplant in batches to ensure each piece is evenly browned.

- Cook the onions slowly to bring out their natural sweetness.

- Allow the stew to rest before serving to let the flavors meld together beautifully.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Arabian Stew with a side of couscous, rice, or flatbread to soak up the delicious sauce. A fresh cucumber salad with yogurt dressing can provide a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the stew.

Cooking Techniques

Slow cooking the stew allows the flavors to develop fully. If using a pressure cooker, adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure the chickpeas and eggplants are tender.

Ingredient Substitutions

If fresh tomatoes are not available, canned tomatoes can be used as an alternative.

- Lemon juice can be substituted with lime juice for a slightly different tangy flavor.

Make Ahead Tips

Arabian Stew tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld. Prepare the stew a day in advance, cool, and refrigerate. Reheat gently before serving.

Presentation Ideas

Garnish the stew with fresh mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil for an appealing presentation. Serve in a traditional clay pot or a colorful serving dish to enhance the visual appeal.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp white wine or a lemon-infused iced tea pairs beautifully with the rich flavors of Arabian Stew, balancing the meal perfectly.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove over low heat, adding a little water if necessary to adjust consistency.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A single serving of Arabian Stew contains approximately 300 calories, making it a satisfying yet moderate option for those monitoring their calorie intake.


A serving of Arabian Stew provides a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from chickpeas and eggplants. Chickpeas are a low-glycemic index food, offering a steady source of energy without spiking blood sugar levels. The total carbohydrate content per serving is approximately 45 grams.


The olive oil used in the recipe contributes to the fat content, providing healthy monounsaturated fats. These fats are beneficial for heart health. The total fat content per serving is around 14 grams, with 2 grams of saturated fat.


Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein, making Arabian Stew a great option for vegetarians and vegans. Each serving contains about 9 grams of protein, contributing to muscle repair and growth.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C from tomatoes, vitamin A from eggplants, and various B vitamins from chickpeas. It also provides minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron, supporting overall health.


Arabian Stew is naturally free from common allergens such as gluten, dairy, and nuts. However, those with specific food sensitivities should review the ingredients list carefully.


Overall, Arabian Stew is a nutritious, balanced meal that provides a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a heart-healthy choice that supports a balanced diet.


Arabian Stew is a celebration of Middle Eastern flavors, offering a nutritious and satisfying meal that's perfect for any occasion. With its rich history, versatile ingredients, and the ability to cater to various dietary needs, this dish is a wonderful addition to any culinary repertoire.

How did I get this recipe?

I distinctly remember the first time I saw this recipe. It was many years ago, during one of my travels to the Middle East. I was wandering through the bustling streets of an Arabian marketplace, mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the vibrant culture around me. The air was filled with the enticing aroma of spices and exotic foods, drawing me further into the heart of the bustling bazaar.

As I made my way through the maze of stalls and vendors, I stumbled upon a small, unassuming shop tucked away in a quiet corner. The shopkeeper, a kindly old man with a twinkle in his eye, beckoned me inside with a warm smile. He welcomed me with a steaming cup of fragrant tea and began to tell me stories of his travels and the culinary delights he had encountered along the way.

I was spellbound by his tales of far-off lands and exotic dishes, and my curiosity was piqued when he mentioned a special recipe for an Arabian stew that he had learned from a wise old chef in the desert. He described the dish in vivid detail – tender chunks of lamb cooked in a rich, aromatic broth with a medley of spices and vegetables, served over a bed of fluffy saffron-infused rice.

I was captivated by the thought of creating such a dish in my own kitchen, and I begged the shopkeeper to share the recipe with me. With a twinkle in his eye, he passed me a tattered old parchment covered in spidery script, explaining that it was the secret to making the perfect Arabian stew.

I thanked him profusely and tucked the precious recipe into my bag, eager to try my hand at recreating the flavors of the desert in my own home. When I returned to my kitchen, I set to work gathering the ingredients and following the instructions with care, savoring each step of the process as if I were back in that bustling marketplace, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Middle East.

The fragrance of the spices filled my kitchen as the stew simmered on the stove, transforming into a rich, savory concoction that transported me back to that magical moment in the marketplace. When I finally tasted the finished dish, I was overwhelmed by the depth of flavor and the memories it stirred within me.

From that day on, Arabian stew became a staple in my repertoire, a dish that I would often prepare for family and friends, each time sharing the story of how I had come to discover the recipe in a far-off land. Over the years, I have added my own personal touches and variations to the dish, making it truly my own.

But no matter how many times I make it, the flavors of that first Arabian stew remain etched in my memory, a testament to the power of food to transport us to distant lands and connect us to the people and cultures that shape our world. And for that, I am forever grateful to the kind old shopkeeper who shared his secret recipe with me on that fateful day in the Arabian marketplace.


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