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This is a lamb dish that my father learned to make while working in Kuwait and taught me later on. It seems to be nearly unknown in the West - at least, I've never seen it made anywhere in the States. My dad calls it aley, but I haven't been able to find any reference to aley or any kind of similar spelling in recipes online. The closest I could find is something called machboos lahem maa dakkous, which also has lamb and tomatoes but seems to be a completely different dish. "Aley" might be the name of a similar Palestinian dish, or it might be a mix of Kuwaiti and Palestinian cuisine that my dad made up for the sake of convenience - I have no idea.

Whatever it's called, this dish is amazing. If you're a meateater, do yourself a favor and try it out. It only takes about half an hour and it's not expensive to make (the only issue you might have is finding a good cut of lamb, especially if you live in the US - lamb just isn't a thing here.) It's so undemanding that a college student can make it, even a somewhat stoned one.

Ingredients

Steps

1) Cover the bottom of the pan in olive oil (type doesn't matter.)

2) Put your cubed lamb into the pan and start cooking it at medium-high heat.

3) When the meat begins to brown, throw in the chopped-up onions.

4) When the onions begin to turn golden, add the chopped-up tomatoes. Add a pinch of allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Optional: If you want more spice in your dish, have some jalapeños chopped up and throw them in now.

5) Cover the pan with the lid and let the lamb, tomatoes and onions simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium or medium-low.

6) Uncover the pan. By this time, the lamb and tomatoes should have cooked up a good amount of thin sauce.

7) Turn the heat back up a bit and cook for 10 more minutes with the lid off to let the sauce cook down.

8) Once the lamb is fork-tender, you should be about done. The finished dish should resemble a ragout in consistency.

9) Serve. The above-listed ingredients will serve two hungry people.

Important: While you can eat this with fork and knife, you'd be doing yourself a major disservice (and you'd also be committing a serious faux pas.) The right way to eat aley is with a loaf of flat Arabic bread. Just tear off some of the bread, scoop up the lamb, tomatoes and onions and eat it with your hands. This way, you'll also be able to sop up the tomato sauce.

Aley is a meal all in itself, so you don't really need to pair it with anything. We always ate it on its own at home, but it seems like it would go well with rice. It also makes for an excellent dinner, especially if you want to impress guests with something exotic but don't care about making anything fancy.

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