This bazella recipe is a hearty pea stew with tender chunks of meat, carrots, homemade tomato sauce, potatoes, and spices.
This is my version of a classic Lebanese dish known as bazella w riz, which translates to peas and rice. Many Middle Eastern countries have some version of this green pea stew.
Two main differences in my version make this recipe better (in my opinion). One, I make a fresh tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes (it only adds about 10 minutes). Two, I make this stew heartier by adding white potato chunks.
What's Great About This
This pea and meat stew has it all: flavor, comfort, and a well-balanced array of protein, veggies, and starchy carbs. Tender meat chunks and veggies slowly cook in a rich tomato broth with spices and garlic.
Although the total cooking time for this recipe is close to two hours, only 20 minutes is hands-on time. Make a large batch for meal prep because this classic Middle Eastern stew reheats well.
- Meat chunks: Use lamb or beef cubes. I prefer fattier meat because it adds flavor to the stew.
- Peas: The main vegetable for this tomato-based stew is green peas. Use frozen or fresh peas.
- Vegetables: Use white potatoes, onion, and fresh carrots.
- Tomato sauce: I prefer to make tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, but you can also use canned tomato passata or crushed tomatoes. See the recipe card for substitution quantities.
- Flavor makers: Use fresh garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, and Lebanese seven spices (or substitute allspice).
- Salt and black pepper
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Bazella
Cube meat into 1" (2.5 cm) chunks. Peel and dice the onion, potatoes, and carrots. Set aside. Mince the garlic.
There are two options for tomato sauce. One option is to use canned crushed tomatoes or passata. The second option is to make homemade tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes.
Homemade tomato sauce step #1. Cut tomatoes in half. Scoop out the seeds.
Tomato sauce step #2: Blend. The consistency looks more like tomato juice, which is what you want.
Tomato sauce step #3. Strain the tomato puree with a mesh strainer. Set aside.
Brown the meat cubes in olive oil on medium-high heat in a large pot. Set aside.
Fry the diced carrots, diced onion, and minced garlic in olive oil. Add the tomato paste, salt, Lebanese seven spices, and bay leaf.
Pour the tomato sauce and add the browned meat cubes. Add the water (or stock). Bring to a simmer on medium heat and cover for 30 minutes.
Add the frozen peas and potatoes.
Check the liquid levels and add water if necessary. Set to low heat and cover. Slow cook for about an hour until the vegetables and meat are tender.
Pro tip: Continue cooking on low heat until the meat and potatoes are tender. Make sure there is enough liquid so the bottom doesn't burn.
While the bazella stew is cooking, make some vermicelli rice. Serve this pea and carrot stew on a bed of rice with pita bread and a squeeze of lemon juice!
Tips and Tricks
- For tender chunks of meat, cook the meat in the tomato sauce before adding the peas and potatoes. The meat takes longer to cook.
- My favorite cuts of meat for this dish are boneless lamb shoulder, boneless lamb leg, beef shank (including the bone), beef chuck, or oxtail.
- For a rich tomato sauce, stew the meat chunks in it.
Variations and Substitutions
- Use vegetable stock, chicken stock, or beef stock instead of water.
- Prepare this meal with a pressure cooker or slow cooker. For a pressure cooker, cut the cooking times in half. For a slow cooker, add everything to the pot and cook on low for 8 hours.
Store bazella in an airtight container in the fridge for five days or the freezer for four months.
Bazella is the Arabic word for peas.
Normally bazella is not made with white potatoes, but they are a great addition for a heartier stew.
Quick and Easy Desserts
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Bazella (Pea and Carrot Stew with Meat Chunks)
- 2 lbs lamb or beef chunks
- 4 lbs Roma tomatoes or substitute 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes or passata, see note 1
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cups fresh carrots chopped
- 3 cups white potatoes cubed
- 4 cups green peas frozen or fresh
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Lebanese seven spice substitute all spice
- 4 cups water or broth
- 6 ounces canned tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- salt to taste
- Make homemade tomato sauce. Slice tomatoes in half. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Blend and strain the tomato juice. Set aside.
- Prep the ingredients. Cube the meat into 1" (2.5 cm) chunks. Peel and dice the onion, potatoes, and carrots. Mince the garlic. Set aside.
- Make the pea stew. Brown the chunks of meat in olive oil on medium-high heat. Set aside. Sautee the diced onions, carrots, and minced garlic. Add the tomato paste, salt, bay leaves, and Lebanese seven spices. Pour the tomato sauce and add the meat back. Add the water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
- Add the frozen peas and cubed potatoes. Turn the stove to low heat and continue cooking for another hour covered. Add water if needed. The pea stew is done when the vegetables and meat are tender.
- Serve bazella with vermicelli rice, pita bread, and a squeeze of lemon.
- Use passata, crushed tomatoes, or canned tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes. If using fresh tomatoes, any kind work, but Roma tomatoes are easier to scoop out the seeds.