1 1/2 pounds bone-in lamb leg or shoulder chops or 1 pound lean beef*
1 teaspoon olive oil (not extra virgin)
Salt to taste (I use 2 teaspoons total for the whole dish)
3 tablespoons butter (or substitute 2 tablespoons olive oil)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed through a press or finely minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 big pinch saffron
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups water**
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
* Riza smookah is usually a side dish, so it’s not supposed to have a ton of meat in it. If you want to turn this into a main dish, feel free to increase to 2 1/2 pounds of bone-in lamb shoulder or 2 pounds lean beef. If you’re doubling the meat, sear the meat in 2 batches (using an extra tablespoon of oil), and don’t crowd the pan. Also be sure to add some extra salt (about 3/4 teaspoon total), 1 extra tablespoon tomato paste, and a little extra saffron and pepper.
** I’ve made this dish with a couple different brands of diced tomatoes, and the moisture levels vary significantly, which makes recipe-developing a little tricky. Luckily, this recipe relies in part on tomato paste, which controls this variable a little—so while extra-watery cans of diced tomato will lead to softer rice, it will at least be within the realm of acceptable, and will still be delicious. But if you want to make sure your rice is absolutely perfect, pay attention to the can of diced tomatoes before you add them. Does it look like a whole lot of tomato juice with not enough diced tomato floating around? Then leave out 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water. Does it have a pretty normal-looking amount of tomato juice with a healthy amount of diced tomatoes? Add the full amount of water.