Lebanese Lentil Soup – Aadass bi Hamod

MayaOryan-IMG_3904

Lebanese lentil soup is a meal in itself, packed with lentils and potatoes and often enjoyed with the addition of toasted bread. A hearty, healthy and warm bowl of this soup is the perfect solution on a rainy and cold day.

Lebanese Lentil Soup

Serves 4 • Preparation Time 20 minutes • Cooking Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450g / 1 bunch of fresh Swiss chard, washed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Olive oil, to taste

Preparation

  1. Bring a medium size pot, of 1L, of salted water to a boil and add lentils to half cook.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add chards and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
  4. Heat oil and sauté coriander and onions in a separate skillet until wilt. Add to lentils.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add lemon juice off heat and while soup is still hot. Serve.
  6. This is a healthy and tasty vegetarian soup that can be served with toasted Lebanese bread (pita), if desired.

Lahm Bi Aajeen Bouchée or Meat Pie

LahemBi Aajeen

Last Christmas, during our annual family party, my dad, who worked closely with chef Antoine Hajj, offered for each one of us, a copy of his book: Maa’kool Al Hana.

A quick note for my western readers; Chef Antoine is a Lebanese celebrity chef who has a TV show and the author of the cooking book Maa’kool Al Hana; an approximate of 600 pages cooking book!!

We all loved dad’s Christmas gift. Especially that it had a personalized dedication inside from Chef Antoine himself.

Mom, sisters and I (second one from left) holding our Christmas gift

Mom, sisters and I (second one from left) holding our Christmas gift

During this past year I tried many recipes from the book, but the one I want to share with you today is a recipe that several readers have requested. It is The Lebanese Meat Pie or Lahm Bi Aajeen.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose-flour (+ 3tbsp extra to flour the surface)
  • 1 cup / 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ tbsp (7g) instant yeast
  • ½ tsp (5g) salt
  • ½ cup water

Filling

  • 350g lamb minced meat (I used beef)
  • 100g onion, finely minced
  • 2 (300g) tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (30g) pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp (30g) pomegranate molasses (I used Al Wadi Al Akhdar)
  • 1 tsp (10g) salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, pour butter over flour, add yeast and salt and mix using your hands or a food processor.
  2. Add water gradually and knead until the dough is consistent. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for half an hour.
  3. In a deep bowl add meat, onion, tomatoes, pine nuts and pomegranate molasses, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and combine well.
  4. Flour your work surface and flatten the dough to 5mm (1/3 inch) thickness. Cut in into 10cm circles. You can use a cup if desired or take balls of dough the size of eggs and press each into a round by hand.
  5. Place the dough on a floured baking tray and spread two tablespoons of meat mixture into the centre of every circle.
  6. Pinch together the two opposing ends of the circle and then the two opposing other ends, to make square shapes, leaving the top open.
  7. Heat the oven at 200°C. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until meat is fully cooked and the dough turns crisp and golden.

 

 

 

 

 

Kibbet La’teen or Pumpkin Kibbeh Balls

KibbehMayaOryanDubai is calling me again and I have to travel next weekend. My trips are getting closer with time and I’m kind of used to it now, it’s in the system!

It’s actually in the entire family’s system (laughing). My mom offers her baby-sitting services before she accepts any invitation from her friends. My husband waits until I come back to travel so we don’t both leave the kids at the same time. My sisters cook always a little bit more to send it to us and my daughters have always a wish list of gifts ready for me to get them when I travel. I’m so blessed!

Thank you all for your support and for understanding how much I love what I do.

Well, everybody knows that when I’m not styling food, I’m still very busy doing everything else. I’m much more productive than every woman I know who has no job. I don’t know if it’s my energy that keeps me on the go, or simply the guilt feeling that I’ve been away from my family to work and I have to make it up for them. I exercise every day. I cook two meals (stirring in one hand and whatsApp-ing with the other). I tend to be the perfect wife, the fit mom, the present friend and the career woman.

My friend says it’s my adrenaline, I simply think I’m well organized.

It requires nothing but good planning (and love life). I don’t want one day to look back and realize that I wasted my life only dreaming.

Those beautiful pumpkin kibbeh balls are a dream coming true. Well I’d be cheating on you if I say I made them, because my mother-in-law did. And as long as she is sending it to us regularly I doubt that I will try it any soon;-)

Pumpkin kibbeh balls are more popular during Lent and among vegetarians. For those of you who’d like to adventure in the kitchen, making this recipe, it’s somehow long but worth every effort.

Ingredients

Stuffing

  • 2 tbsp frying oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups Swiss chard, chopped
  • ½ cup chick peas
  • 200g chopped walnuts
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)

Meatballs (kibbeh)

  • ½ kg fresh pumpkin, boiled, pureed and drained in a sieve for 10 hours.
  • 1 onion, minced in a processor
  • 280g bulgur wheat
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Preparation

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onion until brown and soft. Add Swiss chard, chickpeas, walnut and pine nuts and fry. Turn off the heat, add seasoning, lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Process onion, pumpkin purée and bulgur wheat. Add seasoning and flour, mix and let it cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour. If mixture is too hard add few drops of water.
  3. Moisten your hands and form kibbeh mixture into egg-size balls. With your index finger, make a hole on one end of the oval ball and spoon one tablespoon of filling inside and pinch the end to seal.
  4. Fry the kibbeh in cooking oil in batches or if desired, roast it in oven for about 25mn.
  5. Place the kibbeh on a serving dish and serve with cucumber yogurt salad.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

MayaOryan-QuinoaSalad

My first encounter with QUINOA was only few years ago. Before that, I never heard of it.

My Peruvian friend told me that it has been around for centuries, and I thought of myself, what a goose!

When I googled QUINOA, I found out that it is a whole protein and is packed with dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. This grain is gluten-free and has seen an increase in popularity in gluten-free diets. So gifted!

-Quinoa and I can sure be pals.

And all of a sudden, every restaurant I know has a quinoa recipe on his menu, and every Lebanese recipe has been exposed to the Quinoa factor; Tabouleh with quinoa, Falafel Quinoa, Zucchini stuffed with quinoa, Halloumi quinoa salad and many more.

Ever since, I geared up and Quinoa became a staple in my pantry.

One of my favorite Quinoa recipes that I’d like to share today, as it’s also going on my Christmas menu this year, is Quinoa and Chickpea Salad. And here how I make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked as per packet directions
  • 400g chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, cooked and peeled (or canned in brine)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced

For the vinaigrette:

  • 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Basically, 1 cup of quinoa is cooked in 2 cups of water. Boil until all water is absorbed.

In a salad bowl, mix all 4 ingredients.

Whisk together the sauce’s ingredients until thickened and drizzle over the quinoa-chickpeas mix. Combine well and serve.

Hummus with Meat

Hummus b-lahme

Hummus b-lahme

I’m traveling again this weekend and was trying all this week to finish everything in my fridge before going.

I have Hummus leftover, it’s a shame to throw it, no? I decided to fry some meat and pine nuts, and this fabulous recipe is the result.

Hummus is a very Lebanese appetizer -we even have a news website called hummus nation- known for being a healthy meal especially for vegetarians around the world. I haven’t met one vegetarian from anywhere in the world who hasn’t heard about Hummus. They might not heard about Lebanon, but they sure know Hummus hehe;-)

I wonder who had this idea to top the Hummus with meat!

Might be a disappointing story for vegetarians, but for meat lovers out there, I promise this combination is a delish! Eat it with pita bread and remember to open your eyes☺

Ingredients

To make the hummus

  • 2 x 410g cans chickpeas (a.k.a Hummus or Garbanzo Beans), drained
  • 5tbsp Tahina (sesame paste)
  • 4tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • 1tsp sumac (optional)

To make the topping

  • 1tbsp butter or cooking oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3tbsp pine nuts
  • 200g ground beef or cut in small pieces
  • 1 tsp 7 spices (if not available, use cinnamon and black pepper)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

Preparation

1.In a food processor, put the drained chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients (Tahina, lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil) and blend until you get a smooth paste. This is now Hummus.

2.To make the topping; melt butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion, add the pine nuts and fry for 2mn. Add the meat and cook for 10mn or until they are well done. Sprinkle with black pepper, cinnamon and salt. Add the molasses and stir until well combined.

3. Top the Hummus with meat, drizzle with more olive oil if desired and garnish with parsley. Serve with Lebanese (or pita) bread.

 

 

 

Vintage Memories of Childhood Food

Biscuit w Raha-M.OryanBiscuit Gandour 555, Unica, Ras el Abed, Dabké, Tutti Frutti, Choco Prince, Babol!

There’s no way you lived in Lebanon and haven’t got fond memories of at least one of these iconic food brands!

Some of them got a makeover, changed their name, but most of them are still on the rise and refuse to die out.

By chance, I went to the grocer last day where I spotted the famous green and red box of Lucky biscuits, or is it 555? I call it “Biscuit Gandour” and I consume it exclusively with Turkish Delight. However, I bought one box of biscuits and one box of Turkish Delight!

As soon as I reached home, I proudly displayed my little treasure on the dining table where everyone can notice it. AND EVERYONE DID NOTICE IT☺ And everyone tucked into the biscuits and the delights, or should I say into the feast of reminiscences?

Somehow, “Biscuit and Raha” (Biscuits and Turkish Delights) not only triggers happy memories but is still considered as an enjoyable and tasty treat. I introduced it to my daughters Kaia and Axel and watched them munching their share with indulgence and joy.

I know for sure, that many of you are still loyal to nostalgic food where simple treats like “Biscuit w Ra7a”, sounded like a real feast. I can feel your taste buds drawn to the past; to some of your favorite old-fashioned food, you no longer eat. I don’t know how many hearts belong to vintage food, but I know my heart does!☺

Strawberry Jam

MayaOryanStrawberryJam

Who among us has never stopped in front of a street vendor mouth-watering over fresh oranges, roasted chestnuts, fluffy cotton candy, and the list is endless!

I love the way in Lebanon, street food merchants display their goods. When a fruit or a vegetable is in season, here they are, conveniently scattered everywhere, making sure you bump into one of them before you reach home. No matter what direction you’re driving in! And the best part about it, Sweet Heaven, you don’t have to leave your vehicle; Free Car Delivery!

I think best sellers in Lebanon are fresh fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans)!

Fresh peas, Greengage plums (janerik), loquat (akidinye), are quite popular as well, and very dear to every Lebanese’s heart:)

As for me I felt for strawberries yesterday. Small, aromatic and intensely sweet! The smaller ones are more tasteful than the large ones. I let my nose be my guide and look for fragrance rather than color. A sweet aroma is the best indication of good flavor. And at this really affordable price, why not buy a large quantity to make some jam that kids can enjoy and mommy can show off with her super easy recipe without using a pectin;-)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 600g / 2½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

Place the hulled strawberries in a big salad bowl and cover with sugar. Let it rest for 10 hours, preferably in the fridge if the weather is hot.

In a heavy based saucepan transfer the syrup without the strawberries and bring to boil for 10mn on a low flame.

Add the strawberries and the lemon juice and cook for about 25mn or until a small amount of the juice gels on a chilled plate.

Pour carefully in jars and keep refrigerated. Consume within a month.

Yield: 3 to 4 jars, 370g each

Tip: If desired, one extra cup of sugar can be added to increase the quantity and sweeten the flavor.