Lebanese Sahlab – “SALEP”

Sahlab by Maya Oryan1

Many 5 stars hotels in Turkey greet you with a cup of Sahlab or Salep at arrival. This drink was introduced to Lebanese by Ottomans. Originally it consists of milk and orchid flour, but now many cafés prepare it with milk, sugar and cornstarch. I personally use Sahlab mix, they are available in many brands in Lebanon and all over the world. You just mix it with hot milk and ready in a-snap-of-a-finger! Some add orange blossom water or honey, others top it with pistachios and shredded coconut, but I like it the way dad used to make it, sprinkled with cinnamon and served with kaak on the side.

This thick creamy drink has higher demand on cold winter days, just perfect to snuggle on the sofa with. but I love that during summer it can be found among ice cream flavors.

Sahlab is popular throughout the Middle East, and heard from my vegan friends that it can be done with soya milk.

If you can get Sahlab -Salep- fine powder, here below the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground sahlab
  • pinch (or a bit more) of ground mastic
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Preparation

  1. Dissolve the mastic in 1/3 cup warm milk. Set aside.
  2. On a medium heat, pour the rest of the milk and bring to boil. Add the Sahlab by sprinkling gradually and stirring. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and stir. Transfer the mastic milk mixture and stir to form a thick creamy milk.
  4. Serve hot sprinkled with cinnamon and with your favorite brioche or kaak.

#confinement_day45

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Grilled Kibbeh with Thyme Goat Labneh and Walnut

Kibbeh Qrass

Kibbeh is considered as one of the national traditional Lebanese dishes. There are more than a dozen adaptations of this recipe including options for vegetarians. The one constant and main ingredient is cracked wheat (burghul / bulgur or fine ground durum wheat).

Kibbeh is almost everyone’s favorite Lebanese dish. The variety ranges from starters to main course, depending on the size and the filling or sometimes no-filling at all.

The recipe I’m sharing today is a specialty of the villages in North Lebanon, in particular Zgharta, because this recipe for many Lebanese is known as Kibbeh Zghirtaweeyeeh

Preparing this recipe for the first time might be a long and delicate process, but it is also a true art revealing the devotion put into cooking since always.

I still enjoy mixing it manually and pounding the filling with a mortar and pestle, but the ghee traditionally incorporated isn’t something my heart desires, therefore I changed the filling to a healthy version inspired from my dad’s recipe. Hope you will like it.

Ingredients

Kibbeh Bowls (Kibbeh Qrass)

  • 1kg lamb or beef ground meat
  • 3 cups fine light or dark cracked wheat (burghul), rinsed and dry
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground sweet pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Option 1- Traditional Filling

  • 2/3 cup sheep ghee
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Option 2- Maya’s Ingredients Filling

  • 150g goat labneh, crumbled
  • 4 tbsp / handful fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Chunks of walnut
  • Olive oil, to drizzle

      •  Vegetable oil, to brush

Extra tools

  • Plastic film
  • Small glass bowls x 6

Preparation

1.Combine kibbeh bowls ingredients to get a dough-like consistency. This can be done in a large bowl and wooden spoon or using a food processor.

2.Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3a.Meantime prepare the filling. For option 1, combine onion, parsley, mint, salt and pepper. The ghee should stay solid and set aside.

3b.To make the filling option 2, pound the sesame seeds, thyme and sumac in a pestle and mortar. Spoon over crumbled labneh. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chunks of walnut if desired.

4.To form the bowls shape kibbeh, wet a plastic sheet (cling film) and place it inside a small bowl. Press the meat dough flat, 1/3 inch / 7mm thick inside to take the shape of the bowl. Repeat, wetting your hands with cold water as you work.

5.Each 2 molds will make one piece of kibbeh. Stuff one half with your preferred mixture and place it on the palm of your hand (after pulling away the plastic film), place the second half over it and seal the rims together. Brush with vegetable oil.

6a.If using the traditional filling, just spoon the onion mixture inside followed by the pieces of ghee.

6b.If using my filling, spoon the labneh mixture, finish with a drizzle of olive oil, before joining the 2 molds together.

7.Carry carefully the kibbeh bowls and bake over charcoal on both sides until cooked thoroughly. Serve with green salad.

 

Stuffed Vine Leaves

MayaOryanIMG_8508-RPhotography Serge Oryan

Stuffed vine leaves are as easy as a salad to make! It has to be easy since this recipe was among the first ones I learned. In fact you combine all the ingredients same as you do for a salad, drizzle the olive oil and the lemon juice and start the stuffing. The rolling is not that complicated!

An authentic traditional recipe, prepared just like my mom and her mom before her. Stuffed vine leaves are really moreish, these juicy little bites, melting soft in the mouth are best consumed as an appetizer or as a main dish.This dish is one of the essential plates in Lebanese mezze. Because it’s vegetarian, it makes it a popular staple during the Lent period.

Full with nutritious ingredients, this meal is a heart-healthy choice for almost anyone. According to the nutrition data, Grape leaves are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Niacin and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and Folate. They can provide your body with beneficial nutrients, from Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese to omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. What’s not to like about that!

 One last note, if using canned grape leaves, rinse the leaves gently with warm water and use, while fresh grape leaves have to be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using.

Ingredients

  • 250g grape vine leaves
  • 1½ cup uncooked short grain rice
  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chickpeas, canned or cooked
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet pepper
  • 1-2 Potatoes, sliced in circles
  • Water
  • 2-3 tomatoes slices in circles

Preparation

To prepare the stuffing, combine uncooked rice, parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes and chickpeas in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, layer the potatoes slices as one layer.

Open flat the grape vine leaf, shiny side down, spoon inside the parsley rice mixture and roll tightly, closing the sides first. Arrange in pan placing the rolls closely one to the other. To finish, top with a layer of tomato slices and strain the reserve stuffing liquid over all.

Place a large plate on the top of the rolls to keep them holding together. Cover with water and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with yogurt. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.

Note: You might finish the stuffing before the leaves, or the leaves before the stuffing. I tried to be as close as possible to the quantity of the ingredients, but it varies from one size of leaf to other and depends on the amount of stuffing you use in each roll.