Archive | Lebanese RSS feed for this section

Lebanese Feast

6 May

In early April, I blogged about making cheese and the search for my cooking mojo. It was a two-pronged attack: to return to blogging after a long absence and rekindle my love for cooking. I’m glad to say that I feel inspired again to both blog and cook. I’m even getting excited about the opportunity to share my food and travel experience with you in June.

I also promised to post about the Lebanese Feast which I was planning for an overdue dinner with a handful of friends. As with all my dinners, the diners get to choose the cuisine. The other options included Asian, Brazilian, Pizza, Mexican, Vegetarian, Vegan or low-n-slow. But choice is not the only thing. Suffer from a food allergy? Just say so! Don’t like tomatoes? I will prepare a non-tomato based dish. I feel it’s my duty to please everyone, something I’ve inherited from my mother. Thankfully I didn’t have to cater to special dietary requirements this time.

The Lebanese Feast menu included:

Mezzes

mezze

Clockwise from top left: Pistachios, Labneh, Tarator, Olives & Fetta Cheese

Main & Sides

lebanese feast

Clockwise from top left: Baba Ganoush, Tarator, Labneh, Kibbeh, Tabouleh, Fatoush, Homous (I ran out of time otherwise I would have included Falafel too)

Desserts

Baklava and Mafroukeh

I don’t have recipes for each dish because I’ve made them so many times it’s almost instinctive. However, the recipes for the desserts were sourced from other blogs (links provided below). The Lebanese don’t usually make desserts at home but not having the luxury of “sweetery” nearby meant I had to make it myself. I was happy with the result considering it was my first attempt.

I have included a glossary for those who aren’t familiar with Lebanese food at the footer of this page and can provide recipes if interested, just let me know ;).

Step-By-Step Pictorial Guide

Baba Ganoush

smoked eggplantpeeled eggplantpeeled eggplant with garlic

tahinibaba ganoushbaba ganoush 

Fatoush

pomegranate extractfatoush dressingfried lebanese bread

making fatoushfatoush salad

Tabouleh

(For recipe click here)

tabouleh

Kibbeh

making kibbehkibbeh mixture

making bottom kibbeh layerkibbeh layers

filling over bottom layertop layer on

kibbeh ready for baking

Baklava

(For recipe click here)

orange blossom waterlayering baklavarolled and chopped baklava

baklava ready for bakingcrushed raw pistachios

baklavabaklava tray

Mafroukeh

(For recipe click here)

dry roasting semolinaroasted semolina

sugar syrup with orange blossom watermafroukeh topped with ricotta and almonds

 

Glossary:

Baba Ganoush – smoked eggplant dip with tahini, lemon juice, garlic & salt

Baklava – sugar syrup coated puff pastry stuffed with nuts & flavored with orange blossom water or rose water

Fatoush – peasant salad of cos lettuce, radish, fried Lebanese bread, tomato, cucumbers & dressed with a pomegranate extract, lemon, olive oil & salt dressing

Kibbeh – baked layers of ground lamb, wheat, basil, onion, spices and filled with lamb mince, pine nuts, onion & mint

Homous – chick pea dip with tahini, lemon juice, garlic & salt

Labneh – strained yoghurt almost with a consistency like cream cheese

Mafroukeh – roasted semolina mixed with sugar syrup topped with clotted cream & crunchy almonds

Orange Blossom Water – essentially distilled water from orange blossom flowers for scenting syrups

Tahine (Tahini) – sesame seed paste

Tarator – tahini sauce with lemon, garlic, vinegar, water & salt

How to make real falafel

11 Sep

IMG_0040

Although the origins of falafel may still be in dispute, there is agreement on one thing: these vegetarian fritters are extremely tasty and very nutritious! They are very popular and virtually available every where from fast food outlets to the common supermarket shelf.

So how does one make a “real” falafel? For starters, try to avoid the dry mix that is sold in the supermarket. Adding falafel powder to water may sound appealing but it won’t give you crunchy falafel with a soft centre. To achieve that, all you need is rehydrated chick peas, fava beans and a food processor. Make up a large batch, separate into smaller portions, freeze and you’ll never get have to go back to the dry mix version.

Similar to most Arabic dishes, ratios can be adjusted to suit personal taste. Ask 10 different falafel connoisseurs for their recipes, you’d probably get 10 different recipes. However, one thing that doesn’t change is how falafel is served: pickles, salad and tahini sauce wrapped in pita bread. Savoury pickles include beetroot stained turnip, gherkin, mild long chilies and cabbage. Salad is usually shredded lettuce, tomatoes and chopped parsley. Leftover falafel can also be served cold for breakfast also with pickles and labna. (thickened yoghurt)

Below is my falafel recipe which borrows heavily from mum’s kitchen. Included below are some photos of the family table on Father’s Day. Yes, dad wanted falafel, not barbecued lamb nor seafood!

You’ll need to begin this recipe the day before.

Ingredients (makes about 40-60 small falafel balls depending on size)

  • 500g of dried chick peas
  • 500g of dried fava beans
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped roughly
  • 1 bunch of coriander, chopped roughly
  • 2 large white onions, peeled and dice roughly
  • 2 tbsp of ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp of ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp of sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

Soak the dried chick peas and fava beans in cold water, overnight.

IMG02104-20120523-1807

Place drained chick peas, fava beans, parsley, coriander and onion in a food processor then process until smooth. You may need to add a little water if the mixture is too thick, dry or grainy. (I went a step further and used a hand grinder, very laborious but the texture was unmatched)

IMG02105-20120524-2032

Scrape out mixture into a bowl then add coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and sesame seeds (optional). Mix until spices until well incorporated then rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Shape into small bit size patties and arrange on a plate then heat the oil, preferably canola or rice bran oil.

IMG_0036

Deep fry or shallow fry about 6 at a time. (Don’t overcrowd the pan or they won’t flash fry and probably turn out soggy)

IMG_0039

Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining falafel.

IMG_0040

Tips:

Leftover falafel may be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge when ready to use. Once defrosted, use within 2 days and don’t refreeze again as it is uncooked!

Father’s Day Lunch 2013

IMG_0051 IMG_0057IMG_0062

I’ve used a 50/50 chick peas to fava beans ratio but the one above used a 70/30 ratio. Note the bright yellow tone from the higher chick pea content?

Takeaway Tabouleh

16 Jul

IMG02326-20120624-1515 IMG02328-20120624-1553 IMG02332-20120624-1618

IMG02348-20120626-2039

You may be wondering why I’m blogging about Tabouleh when there are thousands, if not millions of recipes out there. The answer is partially that many don’t pass the authenticity test. Furthermore, there are those prohibited recipes that call for a food processor which can entice the lazy cook with the promise that it will taste just the same.

Whilst there are a set of rules to conform to when it comes to making Tabouleh, one is still able to showcase their individuality through varying the proportions according to personal taste. Personally, I prefer it with more mint and less burlgar, others with less mint and more burlgar. However, the ingredients that give Tabouleh its unique character should not be substituted with those that don’t feature in the purest form of this salad. While Cous Cous and curly leaf parsley score negatively on the authenticity test, they are acceptable in cases where bulgar and flat leaf aren’t readily available. I for one had to settle (cringing) for curly leaf parsley after committing to making Tabouleh prior to checking if flat leaf was available where I was at the time.

I have been gifted with countless opportunities since I started on solid foods to sample Tabouleh at restaurants perched high in the picturesque mountains of north Lebanon, to the middle eastern stronghold of Lakemba and Punchbowl in Sydney at places such as Jasmin and El Manara; not to mention at birthdays, weddings, picnics, barbecues and in the homes of aunts, uncles, grandmas, and of course in my mother’s kitchen. Each Tabouleh was mentally verified against my authenticity checklist, but I’m not one to spoil the party. Giving constructive feedback on food always places one at risk of snobbery (even when done in good faith).

The other reason behind this post? I was recently asked by a friend for my Tabouleh recipe. I didn’t have one. So, I followed up by making his newly arrived bride and he a tub of takeaway Tabouleh and promised to note down the recipe for a subsequent posting.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 4 -5 cos lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 tablespoons of bulgar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt

Wash the parsley, mint, tomatoes and lettuce.

Start by placing the bulgar at the base of your bowl.

Pour lemon juice over the bulgar: there’s no need to soak it in water if you have a couple of hours for the bulgar to soak up the lemon juice.

Peel and dice the onion, rub it with salt and then place in the bowl over the bulgar.

Dice the tomatoes and layer over onion.

Gather the parsley into small bunches and align stalks, place a rubber band at the base of the bunch and chop finely with a sharp knife.

Chop up the mint (including the stalks if they are soft and thin, as that’s where all the flavour lies) then layer over parsley.

Chop up the lettuce leaves into long thin strips and then cross ways, then layer over mint.

Add olive oil and toss through, taste and add more salt if required.

Tip: If you do not intend to serve immediately, don’t add the olive oil and don’t toss it through: just cover with cling wrap and set in the fridge. It won’t go soggy if you layer it as described above.

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: