Mama G’s Lebanese Spiced Rice

Recipe origin
Lebanon Lebanon
Prep time
20 minutes
Cooking time
45 minutes
Recipe by Tagrid Ahmad
Tagrid Ahmad
Tagrid Ahmad is best-known as ‘Mama Ghanouj’. Her popular food blog navigates how traditional dishes can be made easy for the modern mama and is a genius guide to producing extravagant meals in half the time and at half the price. A mother of four, her cooking style is practical and inventive, winning her a dedicated fan-base. A teacher at The Culinary School in the south-western Sydney suburb of Punchbowl, her Lebanese background and her husband’s Turkish background inspires her to create her own dishes and her gentle manners and passion for helping women (and men) channel their inner chef, despite their hectic lifestyles, has earned her the nickname The Culinary Sweetheart. @mamaghanouj_kitchen

Despite coming from a Lebanese background where most daughters find their way in the kitchen relatively early on, I’m not the typical foodie who grew up cooking from a young age. My mother loved the kitchen, it was her sanctuary! So much so that I wasn’t allowed to step foot in it or help her. I was quite spoilt growing up in the sense that it was not until my late teens, at the age of 16 or 17, that I was even allowed to peel a potato. Mum is very particular in the way she cooks and I would stand in the kitchen doorway and watch her create and invent her dishes from the simplest of ingredients. It’s only now that I have my own family that I realise how like her I am. In some ways, I am following in her footsteps. 

My mum was single parent and I grew up with one sibling in a tiny apartment in South Sydney. We didn’t have extravagant meals or big spreads growing up, but I watched my mum utilise every single ingredient she had on hand and creating special meals from leftovers.

I didn’t really learn to cook at all until I got married. I was literally thrown in the deep end! My husband discovered he was in for a real ride with plenty of burnt dishes and overly salted foods!  However, I did begin to learn and to execute dishes that I have now recreated hundreds of times and which happily now inspire others. Because of my own experience, my main aim has been to inspire and help newly-weds and young mums create easy recipes. 

My nickname ‘Mama G’ goes back to one evening when I made my husband baba ghanouj. He thought it was the best-ever and started calling me Mama Ghanouj! It’s stuck and most people call me that rather than Tagrid now!

I have decided to share one particular recipe which has a strong connection to my childhood, a recipe that is often ‘recycled’ to make another meal. It is ‘Hashweh’ which means ‘Stuffing’. It is a Lebanese Spiced Rice which is traditionally used as a stuffing to stuff whole chickens, vine leaves, zucchinis, eggplant and more. My mum would use the leftover stuffing mixture, add stock to it and cook it to create a delicious dish topped with almonds and served with Greek yoghurt.

The second dish I want to share is another one close to my heart. It is called ‘Namoura’ which is a semolina cake soaked in sugar syrup. My mum used to save the crunchy bits which stuck to the edges of the baking tin because she knew I loved them! I remember sitting down with her one afternoon when I must have been about 15 years old and I asked her for the recipe so that “when I get married I can make it for my family”. She gave me a quick recipe off the top of her head with rough measurements, I wrote it down on a piece of scrap-paper and hid it in the drawer of my bedside table. It sat there for years until I found it when I was about to be married and packing my things to move into my new home. I have cherished this recipe and this memory as a special gift from my mum ever since. My kids now love it just as I do still – and I save the crunchy bits for them too!

The recipe
Mama G’s Lebanese Spiced Rice
Mama G’s Lebanese Spiced Rice
500g lamb mince
3 cups basmati
1 large finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon Lebanese 7 spices
2 beef stock cubes
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
Garnish: Toasted almonds, raisins, pomegranate & parsley. Serve with yoghurt or a salad.
Follow these steps
Step 1

First brown your mince, once colour has changed add the onion & cook for 10min.

Step 2

Add all your spices & stock cubes, cook for a further 2minutes.

Step 3

Add the rice along with 5 cups hot water, bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to lowest & cook for 18-20min.