Delicious Lebanese Orange blossom pudding (Mahalabia) topped with simple syrup and ground pistachios. This is a popular Middle Eastern dessert. It’s low in fat and sugar (the way I make it) and totally addictive.
Foul Mudammas is a traditional Lebanese breakfast or brunch. It’s typically made with just fava beans, but I like to add garbanzo beans as well. It’s a delicious, lemony, creamy bean dish, rich with olive oil and a nice bite of garlic.
1 can fave beans (see photo below), drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Juice of 1 lemon, more to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, more for serving
Fresh tomatoes and parsley for serving
Smash the garlic with a few pinches of salt with a mortar and pestle. Add the lemon juice; allow it to sit while preparing the beans.
Add beans to a medium pot and barely cover with water; cook until boiling; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to soften beans.
Drain the beans, reserving the water. Return the beans to the pan. Gently smash some of the beans to create a creamy consistency. Add the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Taste for salt and lemon. Add water until the desired consistency (I like it soupy, as pictured).
What may seem like an odd mix of ingredients is nothing short of heaven in a bowl. Lebanese Fatteh is a popular Middle Eastern breakfast consisting of garbanzo beans, toasted pita, yogurt, browned butter and toasted pine nuts.
1 can garbanzo beans, drained but not rinsed
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 toasted pita bread
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoosn pine nuts
Toast a piece of pita bread until crispy. Break up the pita into a serving bowl or plate. Set aside.
With a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and the salt until a paste is formed. Alternatively, add salt to minced garlic and smash together with a fork. Mix garlic/salt paste into the yogurt. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the garbanzo beans and 1/2 cup water until hot. Remove from heat and drain. Mix in garlic/salt paste, a squeeze of lemon juice and a light drizzle of olive oil. Taste for salt and garlic. The garbanzo beans should be flavorful enough to eat on their own.
Meanwhile, add butter and pine nuts to a pan and cook, stirring constantly until the butter is browned and the pine nuts are golden, approximately 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.T
Traditional way to assemble: Pour the garbanzo beans on top of the toasted pita. Spoon the yogurt all over the top of the beans. Pour the browned butter and pine nuts on top of the yogurt.
Alternative way to prepare (as pictured): Leave the garbanzo beans plain but season the yogurt with the garlic/salt paste and salt. Pour the yogurt onto a serving plate or bowl. Pour the garbanzo beans on top of the yogurt. Srinkle with toasted bread crumbs and drizzle browned butter and pine nuts on top.
Lebanese Eggplant Casserole (Shaykh al-Mihshi – which means “meal fit for a king) is my mom’s most requested dish and one of my all time favorite meals. I love her low-fat technique and her secret ingredient, allspice.
2 medium sized eggplant (see note below about how to pick out an eggplant)
1 pound ground beef (about 10% fat)
2/3 cup minced yellow onion (about 1/2 small onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1.5 cups water (or fill the empty tomato sauce can 3/4 of the way)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
When picking out an eggplant choose a “male” which tends to have less seeds. To tell, look on the bottom – if there is a circle it is “male” and if there is a line it is “female.”
FOR THE EGGPLANT
Wash and dry the eggplant. With a vegetable peeler, peel some of the skin off the eggplant. It will look like stripes when you are done (leaving all the skin can make it bitter or tough).
Slice the eggplant into one-inch disks and lay them on a sheet pan.
With a pastry brush, coat each slice with olive oil. Flip and repeat.
4. Place the sheet pan about 7 inches under the broiler (I use low-heat broil setting) and cook until the eggplant is extremely browned, verging on burnt. Check on them every 2-4 minutes while they broil, as some pieces will need to be flipped and removed before others.
5. Remove eggplant from the broiler and place in a single layer onto a 9×13 inch casserole dish. You may need to squish the pieces of eggplant together in order for all of them to fit (they may not all fit). With the back of a spoon press down into the center of each slice of eggplant to create a crevice for the ground beef.
FOR THE MEAT
Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan and set heat to medium/high.
Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Add the ground beef, breaking it up as much as possible. Cook until the meat is starting to stick to the pan. While the meat is cooking add the allspice, salt and pepper. Taste the meat at this point to make sure it is well seasoned. Adjust salt/pepper/allspice as needed.
When the meat is done, scoot it over to the side of the pan and toast the pine nuts for a minute or two until starting to turn brown.
Remove from heat and place a generous spoonful of meat onto each slice of eggplant; press the meat down slightly with the back of the spoon (each slice of eggplant will be like a bowl filled with meat. It’s ok if the meat is spilling over the sides of the eggplant).
To the same pan you used to cook the meat, add the tomato sauce and heat through (if there is meat leftover after topping the eggplant, just leave it in the pan and mix it into the tomato sauce).
Add the water. Cook over medium heat until the tomato sauce starts to boil. Allow it to simmer about 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed.
Pour the sauce over the eggplant – it should pretty much cover it.
Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 F. for about 25 minutes or until heated through. I use a glass casserole dish and when I see the sauce beginning to bubble in the bottom corner of the dish I know it is ready.