Baba's Iraqi Makhlama Made Vegetarian

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Growing up, my mother did most of the cooking. I didn't have any other friends who had a home cooked meal as often as I did. Sometimes I would even get jealous -- and obviously confused! -- when all my friends at school had frozen TV dinners and I didn't! Of course, this was remedied the day my mom took me and my brothers shopping for frozen dinners to stop our whining, the day we realized we had been wrong.

On rare occasions, my father would cook. It was usually on lazy Saturday mornings, after the decent cartoons had finished. He had his specialties, usually Iraqi versions of traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Every region has its own unique cooking methods, and as desperately as it is attempted, not one of these regions can claim these dishes as originally their own. (The Tunisians, for example, make a similar dish called Shakshuka or "to mix together"). So when I think of Iraqi food and Iraqi methods, I think of the words hearty and meaty. With that said, my father usually made something very hearty and very meaty for our lazy Saturday breakfasts. But what happens when you decide to eat a primarily vegetarian diet, and yet still want to experience the nostalgia of your childhood?! Well, obviously, you get creative and recreate those dishes! So, here is my vegetarian take on Baba's Mehlemeh. 

 

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7. Serve with breadlebneh, and cucumber/tomato salad if you want to accurately relive my childhood!