Jordanian Tomato Rice Soup... & a failure story!

I joined MENA Cooking Club last month and this was what I had done last month. This month, our host is Everlyn, who blogs at Cheap Ethnic Eatz and the country was Jordan. We were given a list of three dishes - started, savory and sweet. My eyes fell on the choice for the sweet - my favorite, Kunafeh/ Kunafa. Kunafa is a crispy layer of vermicelli with a soft bottom layer of cheese, soaked in sugary syrup. Doesn't it sound sinful? Yes, so full of calories but believe me, once you have it, you crave for it again and again! When I was carrying Rasha, we would go at least once a week to walk around the Global Village, which used to be free during that time. Each time we go, I would stand next to the cart selling kunafe and prompt HD. He would first ignore me but then I would keep hinting and hinting. Finally, he would buy it for me warning me that this would be the last time. He did this for three times and finally he stopped buying it for me, once the doctor hinted that I had a minor case of diabetes. Would you want to know what happened to the Kunafeh attempt? Well, I keep that for the end of the recipe... :)

Since the Kunafeh was a dud, I felt a bit low. What do I do? Do I post or not? I simply browsed the list again and I found a savior in the form of this soup. The Jordanian style Tomato Rice Soup was perfect for the cold nights that we are having at the moment. I paired it up with a salad and we enjoyed it as a light dinner. Off to the way I made it...

Jordanian Tomato Rice Soup
Serves 2
Recipe adapted from here


25 gm butter
1 small onion, minced
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp tomato paste
A small pc cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained


Heat butter and saute the onion till soft.Now add the tomato, paste, cinnamon, salt and pepper along with 1 litre of water. Keep on high flame till the water boils, then keep it on simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now add the rice and stir well. Cook for a further 25-30 minutes on simmer till the rice gets cooked and mashed. Add some water if the soup gets too thick. Adjust on the salt and pepper.

Serve warm and relish!

Verdict - this soup tastes like our traditional kanji (rice porridge) flavored with tomato and spices! The smell of the soup was amazing, thanks to the cinnamon that was constantly boiling.


OK, coming to the story I promised.... Time and again, it proves that everybody has their bad times! This was my second mediocre attempt that week. I had made the fruit and nut custard for a big gathering of 60 people successfully, however when I made it for a gang of 35, the custard became too flowy and just didn't thicken while cooling. However, it was finished and everybody gave me a thumbs-up but I knew at the back of my mind that it was not a good attempt. The same week, this attempt at making Kunafeh went wrong...

Even though I was not very confident, I still went ahead to make it. I bought the kunafa pastry, a box of feta cheese and mozarella cheese to make this. I referred to this recipe and went ahead making it in a 24 cm springfoam pan. I made it and it looked more like a cake rather than a thin dessert. I poured the sugar syrup as per the recipe, cut the "cake" kunafeh and kept it in my mouth and yikes!!! It was awfully salty, so salty that I couldn't keep another spoonful into my mouth. I was totally worried about what to do about it. I knew what went wrong - I forgot to soak the feta! Not only that, the sugar syrup mentioned in the recipe was just not enough for giving the required sweetness to the kunafe.

The next day, I bifurcated everything, separated the pastry strings and the cheese and soaked the cheese for a few hours. Then I drained the cheese through a strainer. It was touch getting it back to a solid stage but still somehow managed.  This time I used a pie pan and made it. I didn't have orange color, so mixed up a pinch of turmeric with the ghee/ clarified butter while layering it. Baked it again and got what you see in the above picture. This time I referred to this link. I used 2 cups of sugar syrup and it was just mildly sweet. Unfortunately, I got a soggy kunafeh top however, it tasted much better, though looked nothing close to a commercial kunafe. HD thought it was OK for a first attempt and carried it to his friends, who finished it off. Such a relief, I didn't have to trash it.

So till I gather courage to make it again, let me enjoy myself by paying and buying crisp kunafeh and not go through this heart attack again... hehe...

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