Marag in Arabic translates to "broth". Yemeni marag comes in many variations: chicken, lamb, or beef. Oxtail (beef) has become one of my favorites, especially for when I want to pair it with hilba (whipped fenugreek).
This recipe is the perfect blend between a classic Yemeni lamb marag (simple meat broth) and agda (meat stew with vegetables). This blend becomes the ultimate pairing with hilba.
My Yemeni fahsa recipe includes how to make a classic lamb marag with the hilba. However, bone-in lamb neck and shoulder are often difficult to find, so I've grown to love making fahsa with oxtail which is just as fatty, and is widely available in American grocery stores.
I also like adding a few more vegetables, making this closer to a Yemeni agda (braised meat with vegetables). This dish takes some time, but you can speed up the process with a pressure cooker. The meat should be so tender that the bones are literally falling off clean. Even if you aren't a fan of hilba (whipped fenugreek), you can enjoy this dish over a bed of mashed potatoes or with an egg noodle pasta.
I actually save the leftovers and reheat them with some tortellini pasta for an indulgent and comforting meal. The meaty sauce tastes just as incredible with some toasted baguette.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can use a dutch oven. Follow the same instructions below with the adjusted tips.
This recipe serves 6-8 adults.
Oxtail (8-9 large pieces or 12-15 smaller pieces)
2 tablespoons avocado oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, chopped into large pieces
5-6 medium golden potatoes, peeled are halved
1 large green bell pepper, chopped into large pieces
4-5 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
2.5-3 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 tablespoon jalapeño, minced
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 carton chicken broth plus additional water
2 dried lemons
5 large bay leaves
3 tablespoons Yemeni Hawayij
2 tablespoons paprika
Optional: one packet of Sazon seasoning (orange blend)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pat dry all the oxtail pieces and generously season all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat your pressure cooker pot and add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or vegetable oil of choice. Sear oxtail in batches on all sides. Searing the meat will lock in the flavor. Set seared oxtail pieces aside until you finish searing all the meat.
In the same pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil then add the chopped yellow onion, red pepper, green onions, and bay leaves.
Once the onions have wilted, add the crushed garlic and minced jalapeno then continue to cook until fragrant and the onions' edges start to brown.
Add tomato paste, Yemeni Hawayij, paprika, and optional Sazon seasoning then mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Return all the seared meat to the pot along with any juice drippings.
Pour the carton of chicken broth over the meat then add the peeled and halves potatoes and carrots on top along with the dried lemons. You want to keep the potatoes on top so they are not smushed by the meat as they get tender.
Pour water into the pot just until the vegetables are covered.
If you are using a pressure cooker, cover and cook for 35-45 minutes (until the double meat line appears - follow your instruction manual). If you are using a dutch oven, cover the pot with the lid and set the heat to medium low and cook for 45-55 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Once the potatoes and carrots are tender, use a slotted spoon to fish them out. Set them aside in a bowl and cover it with aluminum foil.
The meat will be cooked, but still not tender enough, so you will need to continue cooking it for another 30-50 minutes. The duration depends on how large the oxtail pieces are and whether or not you are using a pressure cooker. Check the meat at the 30 minute mark. If the meat falls off the bone when poked with a fork, then it is ready. Taste the broth and adjust salt as needed. Add the potatoes and carrots back in once the meat is ready.
If the liquid starts to dry out, just add 1 cup of water at a time. I like my marag to be thick and saucy, so I don't add too much water. However, if you like your marag on the thinner side, adjust the consistency by adding as much water as you'd like.