20 women, 20 recipes, 40 opinions and 2 hours later, our Lebanese Feast was complete. The smell of cumin roasting, the warmth of theYakhnet Sabanegh, and the sound of the grandchildren tiptoeing around the tables brought our kitchen to life. This experience I can only share with you through the lens of a second hand camera phone now covered in flour and sugar syrup - however the recipes speak for themselves.
Fatayers - Lebanese Spinach Pies
5 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 kg fresh spinach
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 large onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sumac
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon thickened pomegranate syrup
Sift the flour into a working surface. Mix in salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre.Pour olive oil and vegetable oil in the well. Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid. Add water gradually.
Knead the dough into a ball (if the dough is too stiff add some water). Knead the dough on a floured working surface until it is smooth and elastic this can be done in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a food processor. Form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly floured bowl, covered with a damp cloth. Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size- about 6 hours.Prepare dough (ajeen). Leave aside and cover for an hour to rise. Make sure dough doubles in volume.
Filling:Remove roots and yellow leaves from spinach. Chop finely then wash well and drain, rub with ½ tspn salt. Drain spinach again with your hands to dry. Mash the onions with remaining salt. Add pepper and sumac. Add spinach to onion, then mix in oil and pomegranate. Put aside. Roll out dough using a rolling pin till dough is as thin as possible (5 mm).
Place a spoonful of spinach filling on each piece. Bring up sides at 3 points to form a triangular shape. Press edges firmly with fingertips to seal completely (put flour on finger tips tohelp seal). Place pies on oiled baking sheets. Bake in a moderately hot oven (200° C) for 30 minutes.
Shourabat Shar'ariah - Meatball Soup with Egg Noodles
This traditional soup is very easy to prepare and quick to cook. break egg noodles into a pot with a little oil and stir until golden.
Yakhnet Sabanegh - Spinach Meatball Stew
Minced lamb is frequently used in Lebanese cooking and here is another recipe that is really easy and can be served as part of any meal.
Cook meatballs in a little oil, until brown in colour. Blanch spinach over boiling water, then add to boil. Season well.
Makloubeh - Upside Down Chicken Rice
1 large sliced eggplant
1 large cauliflower
4 onions, sliced
1 tablespoon ground Cardamon
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Turmeric
1 tablespoon Curry Powder
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 kg chicken pieces
2 cups basmati rice (soak in water for 30 minutes then drain)
1 cup toasted pine nuts and sliced almonds
3 tbs chopped parsley for garnish
In a large pot, pan fry the sliced eggplant, onions, potatoes and cauliflower in vegetable oil for 5 minutes. Add cardamon, cinnamon, tumeric, curry powder, and season well. layer chicken on top of vegetables, then drain and add rice on top.
Very slowly pour in water to the rim of the layered ingredients, cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes. Do NOT let ingredients boil or they will fall out of order. After cooking for 45 minutes let rice set for 20 minutes before flipping over. Run a spatula around the edge of the rice then place plate upside down over pot and then quickly flip pot over, slowly remove pot. Garnish the rice with the toasted nuts and chopped parsley. Serve with minted yoghurt.
Kibbeh Nayeh - Raw Kibbe. A national Lebanese dish, along side Tabbouleh, Kibbeh Nayeh is served as part of a meal, or a feast !!
500kg finely minced lamb
1 big cup of bulghur (ground wheat)
1 onion, minced
1 red capsicum, minced
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
Wash the bulghur well by rinsing it in a deep dish so that the scraps float and are evacuated with the water.
Cover the bulghur with water and let it soak for half an hour. In the meanwhile, very finely chop the meat and onion together. Add salt and pepper. Press the bulghur between your hands to squeeze out the water and add it to the meat and onion. Knead at length with the palm of the hand, often dipping your fingers in cold water.
Spread in a dish, not too thickly. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and shallots and store about 15 minutes in the fridge before serving. it is traditionally drizzled with olive oil on service.
Tabbouleh - National dish of Lebanon.
2 bunches of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
I medium onion, finely chopped
6 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup bulghur, medium grade
6 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Romaine lettuce or grape leaves to line serving bowl
Soak bulghur in cold water for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until soft. Squeeze out excess water from bulghur using hands or paper towel. Combine all ingredients, except for salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Line serving bowl with grape leaves or romaine lettuce, and add salad. Sprinkle olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper on top. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.
Batata Bil Kizbara - Potatoes in Coriander
4 medium size potatoes
1 Tbsp of chopped garlic
2 cups vegetable oil-for frying
½ cup fresh chopped coriander-washed and drried
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp of salt –as desired
1 tsp of all spice
Peel potatoes, wash and cut into bite size pieces, rewash and drain then dry for 5 minutes. Next fry potatoes in hot oil until light golden brown and remove onto paper
In the same pot on medium heat add 1 tbsp of oil, chopped garlic, half the chopped coriander, black pepper, salt and all spice and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and mix together for 2 minutes, turn heat off then add the remaining coriander and mix.Remove from heat and serve hot.
How very special to have Fidah with us and share an old Moroccan family recipe which has been handed down from generation to generation.
Kefta Mkaouara with Tomato and Eggs
1 kg ripe tomatoes
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika or 1/4 teaspoon ground hot pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 minced lamb
1 medium onion, chopped very fine
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes. Combine with onions and the rest of the sauce ingredients in the base of a tagine. Cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, allow the tomatoes to cook for at least 15 to 20 minutes before adding the meatballs.
Break the eggs over the top of the meatballs, and cover. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are solid and the yolks are partially set. Serve immediately.
Kefta Mkaouara is traditionally served from the same dish in which it was prepared with crusty bread.
Yakhnit El Samak el Harrah - Fish Stew with Red Pepper
1 medium sized fish
1 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh kizbara (coriander)
1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice
Combine all ingredients, place on baking dish, bake 20 minutes until fish is cooked.
1 baguette or dried bread biscuits
2 cups kashta:
1 litre milk
300ml thickened cream
8 tablespoons cornflour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
500 gm sugar
1 tbsp rose water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½ cups water
Slice off the crust and let it dry out. Slice the bread into thick slices.
Put the bread into a clean fry pan or pot to cook with the syrup later.
to make kashta, combine milk, cream cornflour, sugar and rosewater together, bring to boil, and stir until thick.
To make the syrup, put the sugar in a non-stick pan. Let it melt and caramelize until golden brown – do not stir, shake the pan to distribute the sugar evenly. Add the cold water to the melted sugar by pouring it carefully into the side of the pan. Let it bubble in the pan to a thickened syrup. Pour syrup over the bread in the fry pan.
Cook on a low heat till the syrup is absorbed into the bread. Remove from heat and let cool. Put the syrupy bread in a serving plate and sprinkle the bread with flower and rose water.
Spread a layer of kashta over the bread and cover it with another layer of bread. For the topping, smooth another layer of kashta over the top.
sprinkle with crushed pistachio nuts and leave it to settle in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 mins. Serve well chilled.
A very big thank you to Fatima and her team of incredible women who shared with us so many wonderful family recipes and invaluable knowledge that will be passed on for generations.
From deep within the roots of both religious traditions, family, food and friendship are at the centre. Whether a follower of Halacha or Sharia, Moses or Muhammad - the passion for family, the love for food, the respect for one another transcends our differences and strengthens our sisterhood.