In The Name Of God Most Gracious Most Merciful

Menus & Recipes from Bara and The Sudan

recipes from bara

Sudan: Customs

The Sudan is Africa in microcosm: a large country with geographic, extremes ranging from sandy desert to tropical forest. It is culturally a loose association of almost 600 tribes who have Arabic as their common language. The French, the English, and the Italians have all had colonies in the Sudan. The cuisine is a melding of the many varied backgrounds of the peoples who have influenced its history.

The ritual of hospitality is as important in the Sudan as it is in other Arab and African countries. And while there is a measure of similarity in all the Arab and African countries, each has its unique characteristics. For example, no other country prepares coffee as the Sudanese do, and if this country acquired culinary fame, it is for its Jebena Sudanese. The Sudanese fry their coffee beans in a special pot over charcoal and then grind it with cloves and certain spices. They steep it in hot water and serve it lovingly in tiny coffee cups after straining it through a special tresh grass sieve.

In Sudan, if you are an important guest, a sheep will be slaughtered in your honor. Many dishes will then be prepared, each more delicious than the last.

Favorite meats are lamb and chicken. Rice is the staple starch. Breads are the Arabian Khubz, but the Sudanese also make Kisra, an omelette- like pancake which is part of the Sudanese dinner. Vegetables, fresh and cooked, are of infinite variety. The okra, which incidentally came to the United States from Africa, is an important ingredient in a Bamia- Bamia, an okra lamb stew. You must try Maschi, a triple tomato dish stuffed with beef, as it is such fun to make.

As in most Arabic countries, fruits are peeled and cut in small slices for dessert, but the Sudanese also love sweets and every housewife knows how to make Creme Caramela.

You will like their unusual teas which can be made quite simply. But if you prefer to serve coffee, make it a demitasse.

How a Dinner is Served in Sudan

The concern and respect shown to one's guest throughout Africa, and from which we can learn much, is no greater anywhere than in the Sudan. As a guest enters a Sudanese home, he is immediately offered Abre or Tabrihana, a refreshing nonalcoholic fruit drink only slightly sweetened so as not to dull the appetite. This is a symbolic gesture welcoming him after his "long journey."

Dinner is served on a low table and guests are made comfortable on pillows decorated with ostrich feathers. The table is bare. The Arabic custom of pouring water over the hands of the guests from the Ebrig, a handsome shiny copper ewer (pitcher), and catching the water into an equally handsome copper basin is an important ritual in the Sudan. Each guest is offered a towel with which to wipe his hands. Large cloths to cover the knees are given to each guest in place of napkins.

Upon the signal of the host, dinner is served. It starts with soup, brought out in individual bowls on a huge, round, decorated copper tray. The large tray is placed on the table. Spoons are offered to the guests.

After the soup has been enjoyed, the entire tray is removed and a second large tray is brought in with all the dishes of the main course resting on beaded doilies made by the women. There may be five or six dishes to dip into. (No knives or forks are used but spoons may be provided.) But most of the Sudanese eat the main course from common dishes using Kisra or Khubz (their great flat breads) to sop up the mixtures. Four dishes are individually served-the soup, the salad, the Shata (red-hot spice) and the dessert.

When the entree is served, small plates or bowls are also brought in from which the host or hostess dishes out portions of salad and gives each guest a spoon with which to eat the salad. Again hands are washed and everyone looks forward to dessert. Sweets like Creme Caramela are usually served and are preferred to fruits. No beverage is served with dinner but one may ask for water. After dinner everyone relaxes and enjoys the famous Guhwah, coffee served from the Jebena, the stunning little coffee pot from which it is poured into tiny cups. If tea is preferred, the succulent spiced teas with cloves or cinnamon are served. Finally an incense burner filled with sandalwood is placed in the center of the room, a touch leaving the guests with a feeling of delightful relaxation.

How You Can Present a Sudanese Dinner

Use a low table, perhaps in the living room, and place cushions on the floor around it. Remind your guests to be comfortably clad if you plan to serve dinner in this way. Use a plain cloth on the table and, instead of a centerpiece, place flowers around the room. The table should be bare. Give your guests large cloths to cover their knees instead of napkins.

Have a pitcher of cold orange or grapefruit juice on hand and offer each guest a small glass filled with juice as he arrives.

You will need large trays on which to serve the meal. On the largest tray place a small bowl of soup, Shorba, for each guest and pass the spoons separately. The guest holds the bowl in his left hand as he eats and, when he is finished, returns the empty bowl to the tray. The entire tray is then removed.

Use the second largest tray for the platter of Maschi, a two-quart bowl of white rice, a stack of eight Kisra (bread), a bowl of Salata and individual tiny dishes of Shata, the hot spice which each guest uses to his taste. If there is room on the tray, there should be a stack of little plates or small salad bowls. The hostess may serve individual salads or guests may help themselves.

If your guests are too squeamish to sop up the dinner with the Kisra, give them each a small dinner plate with a fork and teaspoon and ask them to take a portion of Maschi and rice. Water glasses should be available on a small side table but do not serve water unless it is requested. When the guests have finished eating, the plates are put back on the tray and the tray removed.

On the third tray serve a platter of shimmering Creme Caramela beautifully decorated with candied cherries and a compote dish and a spoon for each guest.

A small tray bearing a teapot and tea cups (each holding a small piece of stick cinnamon) and an open bowl of sugar is brought in last.

This is the time to light your incense burner and fill the room with the delicate fragrance of sandalwood.

Menu from Sudan

SHORBA - Puree of Lamb Khartoum

MASCHI- Tomatoes Stuffed with Chopped Beef

SALATA MA JIBNA- Salad with Oriental Cheese

SALATET ZABADY BIL AJUR- Cucumber/Yogurt Salad

SHORBET ADS- Lentil Soup


TAMAYYA (FALAFIL)- Green hamburgers

MULLAAH BAMYAH- Okra/ Ladies Fingers Stew

MOLOKHIYA- Green Leaf Vegetable

KOFTAH- Ground Meat Balls

SHATA- Hot Spice


CREME CARAMELA- Sudanese Custard




This is a most interesting soup. It is a medium puree sparkled with peanut butter and lemon. The Sudanese usually add rice but it is omitted here since rice is served with the entree. Three cloves of garlic may be a bit strong so start with one clove and test the soup as it cooks to see if you would prefer a more penetrating garlic flavor.

In a 6-quart saucepan:

Simmer: 3 Ibs. LAMB BONES in 2 quarts WATER 2 tsp. SALT for one hour.

Add: 1/2 Ib. WHOLE ONIONS, peeled 1/2 Ib. CARROTS, peeled and cut in chunks 1/2 Ib. CABBAGE, cut in small wedges 1/2 Ib. STRING BEANS, trimmed 3 cloves GARLIC, chopped finely

Simmer for 1 hour until vegetables are thoroughly cooked.

Remove lamb bones and put the mixture through a sieve or food mill.

Add: 4 Tbs. PEANUT BUTTER thinned with 1 LEMON (juice of) 1/2 cup COOKED RICE (optional).

Correct the seasoning with salt, pepper, etc.

Serve in soup bowls, about 1 cup per portion.


Maschi is also made with cucumbers. The cucumbers are peeled, cut lengthwise, scooped out, filled and finished as below. You may also use eggplants. Peel small eggplants, remove the tops, scoop out interiors and proceed in the same manner. The cucumber dish is garnished with fresh cucumber slices and the eggplant with tomato and cucumber slices overlapping all around the edge.

In a 9-inch skillet:

Saute: 2 Ibs. CHOPPED BEEF 1 tsp. SALT 1/2 tsp. PEPPER 1 tsp. GARLIC POWDER (or 2 cloves mashed) 4 Tbs. CHOPPED FRESH DILL (or 1 tsp. dried dill) in 2 Tbs. SALAD OIL until meat browns.

Add 1 cup COOKED RICE and blend.

Cut a Slit in 8 large TOMATOES (very firm), halfway across the center.

Squeeze at the sides to open the slit.

Scoop out all the flesh from inside of tomatoes with a spoon.

Refill tomato with beef mixture and close the tomato.

Melt 2 Tbs. BUTTER and 2 Tbs. OIL in a large skillet.

Saute the tomatoes carefully in the fat, rolling them gently until they become dark red on all sides.

Remove the tomatoes with the oil and place in a casserole or heavy saucepan.

Prepare sauce as follows and pour over the tomatoes:

Combine: 2 6-oz. cans TOMATO PASTE thinned with 2 6 oz. cans WATER 1/2 tsp. SALT 1 tsp. CINNAMON 1 tsp. GARLIC POWDER.

Simmer the tomatoes gently over low flame for 10 to 15 minutes until sauce is cooked.

Remove carefully to a 15-inch round platter.

Surround with raw TOMATOES cut in thick slices.

Top each slice with GREEN OLIVES

If there is more Maschi filling left over after filling the tomatoes place it in a suitable pan and bake it alongside the tomatoes.


In a 2-quart salad bowl:

Combine: 1 cup ONIONS, cut in slivers or thin slices 1 cup CABBAGE, cut in slivers or thin slices 1/2 cup CARROTS, cut in very thin rounds (slices) 1 cup TOMATOES, cut in 1/2 inch dice.

Toss: with 1/4 cup OLIVE OIL 1/4 cup LEMON JUICE 2 Tbs. VINEGAR (white) 1 tsp. SALT 1/4 tsp. COARSE BLACK PEPPER.

Sprinkle: 1 clove GARLIC (mashed) 1/4 cup GRATED CHEESE (Oriental or Parmesan) over salad.

Serve in small individual salad dishes.


This is a delightful, refreshing summer salad also popular in Egypt, Turkey and the Balkans.



  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  2. At serving time, taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve immediately




  1. Chop the vegetables into medium-size chunks
  2. Wash lentils
  3. Put stock into a 4-5 quart pot and bring to boil
  4. add the onions,carrot,tomato and lentils to stock. lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 1/2 hour or until the lentils are tender
  5. Puree the mixture in either a food processor or blender and return to pot.
  6. Saute the finely chopped onions in the olive oil until they are soft and brown.
  7. Add the cumin,lemon juice ,sauted onions, salt and pepper to soup and stir slowly over low heat for about 3 minutes

PS my Mom used to Squeeze Lemon on the Soup, I got to hate that, kind of gives it a sour taste.


(Serves 4)

This way of preparing fava beans, which are commonly eaten as a breakfast food in Sudan. The ingredients tend to be common for the dish but may be varied in their quantities.

One 16-ounce can cooked fava beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt, pepper, and red chili pepper to taste
Pita Bread (optional)

Pour the beans into a pot and bring to a boil for about 1 - 2 hours.. Mix them well and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil again, then reduce to medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes. This dish is usually eaten with bread (Pita).

I found that certain ingredients like; oil (olive, corn.. etc.)vinegar, lemon juice, black pepper, cumin, salt, tomatoes, onions (spring, white, red .. etc.), parsley, shatta (dry, fresh) form the basis of most recipes. Take your pick and mix it in any way you want depending on your mode and availability. Having said that we should not forget taheena and eggs. I am getting hungry here. Ummmm!!!


Green hamburgers, are healthy vegetable patties packed with fresh greens and dried beans. The Tamaaya, or Falafel as it is called in the Middle East and Sudan, is stuffed into pockets of bread along with salad, foul, fried eggplant, potatoes, tahina salad or just by itself. This sandwich may be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bought at the Tamaaya Stand, it is wrapped in paper and eaten as one walks down the street.



  1. Place the beans in a large bowl of water and rinse several times until the water is clear. Fill the bowl with at least 6 cups of water, cover and allow them to soak for 2 to 3 days.
  2. Wash the greens and dry well, this makes them easier to chop. Remove the tough parts of the stem and then finely chop the leaves and the remaining delicate stems. Measure the greens after they are chopped, but do not pack them down into the cup.
  3. Wash the green onions and chop both the white onion part and the green stem.
  4. Chop the onion and garlic.
  5. Drain the beans and grind very fine. If you are grinding the beans in a food processor, turn the machine on empty and slowly drop through the tube onto the moving blade. Place the beans in a bowl and set aside.
  6. Add the greens, onions and garlic to the processor, blend well.
  7. Add the mashed beans to the processor and process until the mixture looks green.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the spices and baking soda, mix everything until well blended.
  9. Cover the bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better so the flavors blend. If you do not cook all the batter, cover and store in the refrigerator.
  10. Heat a medium saute pan, when hot add 1/2 inch of oil and heat until it is hot, lower the heat slightly.
  11. To shape the patties, take a large soup spoon and fill the bowl of the spoon with some of the batter, pressing it firmly into the spoon. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and then push it off the spoon into the hot oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until it has turned brown. Turn the patties over and cook again 2 to 3 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oil to a paper towel to drain.
  12. Don't let the oil get too hot or the crust will get too crisp or if the oil cools down too much, the patties will soak up too much oil.




  1. Lightly fry okra, Crush garlic w/ salt and add to the savoury minced beef.
  2. Neatly arrange 1-2 layers of okra in the stewing pot. Cover with the savoury minced beef and top with another layer of okra.
  3. Pour seasoned tomato juice over okra and cook over very low heat, until the juice has absorbed .
  4. Turn over onto serving dish.




  1. Add the Molokhya (one bag) to the 2/5 of soup and heat for about 15 minutes on not a very hot level.
  2. It is not recommended to steer too much, so the Molokhya doesn't drawn in the bottom. (in case of green Molokhya, not dry)
  3. While cooking the Molokhya prepare the ta'leya ( no equivalent English term)

This is how to prepare the ta'leya:

  1. In a soup pan, heat the butter, or the oil. (make sure you don't burn the butter).
  2. Add the garlic and steer until it gets yellowish, then add the Coriander.
  3. Add the tomato paste and steer until it gets brown, but not burned!
  4. Add the result to the Molokya and steer slowly.

Notes Some parts of Sudan don't add tomato, some add lemon. The thickness of the Molokhya depends on the person's taste.




  1. Mince beef and onions twice (till smooth consistency),soak bread in water and add to meat together w/ the seasoning.
  2. Mix well and shape into rounds 2-3 inch in diameter.
  3. Grill or fry on skewers or in a double grill untill cooked.


In a 1 quart salad bowl:

Combine: 1 cup LEMON JUICE 3 cloves GARLIC, mashed.

Blend in: 3 Tbs. CRUSHED RED PEPPER 1 tsp. BLACK PEPPER 1 tsp. SALT

Place in small ramekin dishes and serve with entrees.


In a 2-quart bowl:

Beat: 8 EGGS with 1 quart MILK and 1/2 cup SUGAR until mixture is frothy.

Add: 1 oz. BUTTER, melted and 1 Tbs. VANILLA (or banana extract if available).

In a 1 1/2-quart (6-cup) star-shaped aluminum cake pan:

Melt 1/2 cup SUGAR and burn to caramel stage.

Rotate the pan to spread caramel all around the sides.

Beat the egg mixture again.

Pour it quickly into the cake pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil which has been well buttered on the under side.

Place the pan in a larger pan half filled with water (as you would do a custard).

Bake at 350' for 30 minutes.

Remove cover and test with a silver knife (when it comes out clean, custard is done).

Chill until thoroughly cold.

Turn the CARAMELA out onto a 10 to 12-inch platter.

Garnish with MARASCHINO or CANDIED CHERRIES on top and sides.


Prepare English tea according to package directions (use loose tea). Tea should be infused until it is a bright orange color. Upon serving, place 1/2-inch pieces of stick cinnamon in small tea cups and pour hot tea over the cinnamon. Serve with lump sugar.


When a Fish Pyramid with Green Sauce was served to us we thought the dish was such a great idea, we decided to suggest it as an additional dish you may want to serve at your Sudanese dinner. It is very easy to make. It can be served as a salad in place of the Salata.

Combine: 2 Ibs. COOKED FISH, boned and flaked (use haddock, halibut or any white fish) 1 cup CORE of the CABBAGE, sliced very thin. 2 TOMATOES, cut in small cubes. 1/2 tsp. BLACK PEPPER 1 tsp. SALT 2 Tbs. LEMON JUICE 1/4 cup MAYONNAISE or enough to just hold mixture together.

Shape into a pyramid on a 12 inch plate (with hands moistened with water).

Combine: 1/2 cup MAYONNAISE 1/4 cup LEMON JUICE 1/2 tsp. SALT 1/4 tsp. BLACK PEPPER 1/2 cup FRESH CHOPPED DILL or 1 Tbs. dried dill. (If dried dill is used add 1/4 cup chopped parsley to give the sauce its characteristic green color.) 1/4 cup PICKLE RELISH.

Pour the Green Sauce over the pyramid.

Garnish around edge of plate with: 2 HARD BOILED EGGS sliced and 2 TOMATOES cut in slices, alternately overlapping each other around the plate 1/4 cup BLACK OLIVES uniformly placed around the edge of the plate with 4 or 5 PARSLEY SPRIGS.

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