This mullah, or stew, is a classic Sudanese dish. In Arabic, robe is the word for yogurt. During the Ottoman Empire, Syrian traders and Arab settlers heavily influenced the regional cuisine with the introduction of garlic and red pepper, among other seasonings. Dried okra is often used as a thickener in mullah, but many Sudanese, like Rasha [Ed. Note: Rasha is pictured above making this dish at a refugee camp in Calais, France], also favor peanut butter. Back in her home country, she would have prepared this stew with dried lamb jerky; as a substitute, she used minced lamb while cooking in The Jungle.
Learn more about Shane Mitchell's global journey (along with photogapher James Fisher) to document in words and photos the meaning of hospitality around the world at our interview page.
by Shane Mitchell with photography by James Fisher
Heat the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and lamb, stir to combine, and sauté until brown. Add the water and simmer for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and bouillon to make a roux. Add to the saucepan along with the peanut butter, tomato paste, and yogurt. Stir to combine.
Lower the heat again and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Serve with crusty bread.
Making bouillon from scratch only requires a little forethought: save the bones from a leg of lamb or chops, because the flavor extracted from them is far more subtle and refined than oversalted, dehydrated meat stock in cube form. Perfect as a base for gravies and roux, bouillon adds richness to a meat dish from a country where animal protein is a real luxury.
In a saucepan, cover bones with cold water, and add vinegar. (Vinegar helps pull nutrients from the bones.) Allow to rest for one hour. Then add all other ingredients. Bring to boiling point, and skim scum from the surface. Lower heat and gently simmer for at least 4 to 6 hours. A longer cooking process means deeper flavor. Add more water if needed. Allow to cool, remove bones, and strain liquid through a fine sieve into a container. Broth should become gelatinous after refrigerated. Can be frozen, if not used immediately.
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Reprinted with permission from Far Afield by Shane Mitchell. Copyright 2016 Ten Speed Press. Photographs by James Fisher.