Preparing a last-minute 3ashaa ('dinner') on a Sunday night is always a fun thing to do in our neighbourhood, surrounded as we are by North African bakeries and butchers where the as3aar ('prices') are low and al-mustawaa ('the quality') is exceptional.

The only catch is that the vendors want to know that you're going to use their products with as much skill as they would.

"zaytuun, please," I ask and the butcher fills up a bag.

"tabiin ba3d?" he asks. I nod and he shovels in another generous handful of the glistening fruit.

"Are you making a 6aajiin?" he asks casually.

For a moment, my mind goes blank, confused by the unfamiliar pronunciation of the famous Moroccan dish I so love.

"Yes, I am making one actually, good guess," I finally reply.

"So tell me your wa9fah," he says, asking for my recipe, folding his arms in an expression of near-smug satisfaction.

"Well ..." I begin, caught off-guard, "first I fry the chicken -"

"No!" he cuts in, "ziyaadah 3alaa al-luzuum! No need to fry anything first, just put everything together in the pot with a little water and leave it."

I continue, a little bit more uncertainly. "Then I add a little spice -"

"Not a little," he cuts in again, "7u6-ay ziyaadah!" ('put more!' (>f)).

So back at home I dutifully sprinkle an extra few circles of cumin, ginger and cinnamon over the bubbling dish. 

The obedience pays off. It's probably the tastiest home-cooked dinner I've had in a while and so rich with the extra spice that we can't finish it.

"And the best part of all this is, fii akil ziyaadah!" says Theyab, his eyes twinkling, for he knows he's just got out of cooking duty for another day.


تبي بعد زيتون؟
tabii ba3d zaytuun?
Do you want more olives (>m)
تبين بعد زيتون؟
tabiin ba3d zaytuun?
Do you want more olives (>f)
تبون بعد زيتون؟
tabuun ba3d zaytuun?
Do you want more olives (>pl)
زيادة على اللزوم
ziyaadah 3alaa al-luzuum
More than necessary
في أكل زيادة
fii akil ziyaadah
There’s still some food leftover