Monday, 16 April 2007

Timmen Ahmar

This may sound like a post by Yasmin of Noomee Hilo, but it really isn't. She has deservedly stolen the limelight of nostalgic blogging but no-one can deny that we all suffer from equally painful moments of nostalgia and of longing for home.

During a conversation with a friend of mine, a very special word was mentioned; one that triggered a series of mental images.. a surge of emotional flashbacks that compelled me to write this post.. Timmen Ahmar

My late mother was an exceptionally talented cook - whatever she cooked, we loved: Boorani, cooked tomatoes and aubergines; Makhlama, fried eggs with minced meat and tomatoes; Chilifry which I'm ashamed to have forgotten. All these were meals that some may consider basic and less than nutritious - we regarded them as delicacies because she made them with passion, with devotion, and she served them with a glowing smile on her face that never failed to make us eat the food whole-heartedly and with great joy.

My personal favourite was Timmen Ahmar; rice cooked with tomatoes and sometimes served with chicken. The tomatoes added a reddish colour to the white rice, hence the name 'Ahmar' (red). Some of my brothers liked it when the rice was all mushy (m3ajjin). Yoghurt (Roba) was also added on the side but I didn't usually do that because it turned the rice into what we called 'shoorbat timmen', rice soup.

I remember sitting before the Sufra, a large, rectangular plastic table-cloth that we used on the floor. My plate was full and I was waiting for the rest of my brothers to sit down so that we start eating. As they came, one by one, we began eating the tasty Timmen Ahmar. I swallowed the food hurriedly, as if in fear of it running out. I gulped and gulped until I got hiccups, or Um il Awafi, as my mother had taught me.

A distinctive feature of my mother's Timmen Ahmar was the way she served it. Usually, rice is presented in a Belem, a large plate or bowl. However, Timmen Ahmar was put in a Seeniyya, a big, silver metal tray; and then each of us would take the amount we thought sufficient for us.

We ate as one..we lived as one.

The Timmen Ahmar days are long gone; 1997 wasn't just a decade ago, it was a lifetime ago; One of my brothers tried consoling me by cooking Timmen Ahmar and making sure that it was served in a metal tray rather than a large, 'farfouri' plate - he didn't quite make it. I thanked him warmly and reminded him that Mama's status as a historical one-off goes beyond her altruism, manners and humility; even her recipes had a touch of magic to them.. he was convinced.

Over the past few days, I have ate the same amount of food that an average 18 year old would eat over a month. Hamoori Fish; Freek Soup and an alarming amount of Kofta and KFC meals. However, when Timmen Ahmar was mentioned a couple of hours ago, I was taken back in time to when I was 8 years old, sitting in front of the television on a Friday afternoon, watching Fulla (Snow White) and anticipating the food that was to be served in a bit.

To my disappointment, that particular day, we had Tehcheen.. Not that I'm complaining, it was divine!


MasterMX said...

LOL I love my mums timen ahmar too. I dont know why but anything she cooks even if its a simple easy dish always seems to taste better.

Why dont you try cooking penguin, maybe this is your hidden talent.

Dreamer said...

Little Penguin, I'm glad you've managed to solve the problem with your blog. Although, I was surprised that such a thing is possible, it must've been frustrating.

Now about your timmen ahmar, I must admit that I've never tried it but you made me curious.
And cold yoghurt with hot timmen is the best combination in the world, it's so delicious.

A&Eiraqi said...

Timmen Ahmer is a great dish, I don't want to aggreviate your emotions but, no one cooks like mum, keep that in your mind.

I miss timmen Ahmer also, I miss fish , I miss manythings , yet, we have to cope with what we have.

When you get older try to find an Iraqi girl who knows how to cook verygood , that is the only way to manage it or you have to learn cooking as I do, but I never have the mood to cook for myself .

Take care

Yasmin (Blanche) said...

little Penguin,
v nice post..
Temman Ahmar is a favorite dish of mine..very tasty indeed..
good choice..
as u happen to like that much, i too suggest u learn how to cook it yrself, Very easy.. but maybe indeed it will taste the same..but , still its worth a try..

Little Penguin said...

Everyone's advising me to learn cooking, it's like they know what the situation is at home!

I had a time when I really wanted to learn how to cook.. I even managed to cook Tehcheen Jizar once..

Inshallah I'll learn it.. timmen ahmar, tehcheen, even fasanjoon.. and if I ever manage to gather London bloggers under one roof, I'll cook the best Dolma in the world..


hala_s said...

You forgot the Lobya with Timman Ahmar, it wouldn't taste the same without Lobya.
The problem with the Iraqi food is that when it is cooked in another country it tastes differently not only because of the ingredients but it lacks the smell of Iraq..

You have to do something to recover your posts. Check with Salam Adil
Bless you Penguin

Zappy Corleone said...

Auya baaaaaa,
The Taste is still in my mouth.
My Grandmother used to Make Timan Ahmar (Anbar Rice) on Dihn Huur and about thirty Grilled Chikens that she hand picked, twice a year on the Two Eid's, she also prepared gallons of Liban Arbil and we use to drink it in large 'Tassat' ten minutes latter everybody is snoring after such a lovely Dish.
my last meal was one week before SAM died my father, then that same year my uncle and my grandfather also died.
shame that the legacy of Timan Ahmar also died..
we lost so many things in life, have we not?

Little Penguin said...

we sure have.. allah yerham your deceased ones and protect those living..

the only thing we have from our golden years is memories.. and a sort of vision of what we want our future to be..

we're still deciding what to cook for ghada today.. i doubt it'll be timmen ahmar though.. :(

Anonymous said...

Kul Hel Howsa 3ala timmen a7mar?

3ammy roo7u 2oklo Shikein GoW6age a7san

abeeta said...

Beautiful! I only wish you had written more. Its nice that you show so much admiration and respect towards your mother, she sounds like an amazing person