Lebanese Orange Blossom Pudding (Mahalabia)

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. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3.5 cups of milk (I use 1%) – use a little less milk if you like thick pudding.
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon rose water 
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup crushed pistachios
  • Simple Syrup or Attar

Directions

  1. Whisk the cornstarch and sugar together in a cold pot.
  2. Add milk, orange blossom and rose water and turn on the heat
  3. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  4. Pour into ramekins and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  5. To serve, sprinkle with crushed, raw pistachios, a drizzle of simple syrup (or Attar) and a light sprinkling of sea salt.

Lemony Lentil Soup with Swiss chard

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed or powder
  • 2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 8-10 cups broth or water (I like to use water with 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (leaves and stems)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1 package wide egg noodles (optional) or
  • 1/4 cup long grain white rice, rinsed (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and spices and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add the rinsed lentils and stir. Add 8 cups of the water and/or broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce and simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes or see below for pressure cooker option.
  4. Meanwhile, separate the Swiss chard leaves from the stem. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. Cut the stems into 2 inch pieces. Keep them separate.
  5. Before adding the chard, puree the soup if desired.
  6. Add the stems of the Swiss chard and the rice, if using, and cook for 10 minutes. Add up to 2 cups more water if the soup seems thick.
  7. Add the chard leaves, and egg noodles, if using, and cook until the noodles are tender, approximately 10 more minutes.

Stove-top pressure cooker

  • Using a stove-top pressure cooker, follow steps 1 and 2. If using rice, add now.
  • Step 3. Lock lid and cook under pressure for 5 minutes. Let the pressure drop on its own.
  • Proceed with step 6 and 7.

Lebanese Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup vermicelli, broken up
  • 1 cup short or long grain white rice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the vermicelli.  Cook, stirring constantly until the vermicelli is nicely browned.
  3. Add the rice, water, and salt.
  4. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes without removing the lid.
  5. Remove from heat and, without removing the lid, allow to rest, for 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Click here for Rice 101


Fava & Garbanzo Beans with Lemon juice & Crushed Garlic (Foul Mudammas)

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, drained
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, more for serving
  • Fresh tomatoes and parsley, for serving

Directions

  1. 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 (this helps to mellow out the raw garlic).
  2. Add beans and their liquid to a medium pot (or drain canning liquid and barely cover the beans with water); cook until boiling; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to soften beans.
  3. Gently smash some of the beans to create a creamy consistency. Add the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Taste for salt and lemon.
I like Indo European Garbanzo beans because they are small. Any canned Fava beans should be fine.



Garbanzo Beans with Browned Butter and Yogurt (Fatteh)

What may seem like an odd pairing 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. 
Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 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
  • lemon
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Toast a piece of pita bread until crispy. Break up the pita into a serving bowl or plate. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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 Baked Eggplant with Beef

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.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 small to medium sized eggplant (*see note below about how to pick out an eggplant)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup minced yellow onion (about 1/2 small onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
  • 1 1/4 cups water (or fill the empty tomato sauce can about 3/4 of the way)
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts

Directions

*The best eggplant will be small, heavy for its size with a shiny skin ((dull skin indicates that the fruit is over-ripe and turning bitter).  Ideally it will have a shallow, oval dimple on the bottom rather than a deep line shape (see photo below).

male-female-eggplant

FOR THE EGGPLANT

  1. 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).
  2. Slice the eggplant into 3/4-inch disks and lay them on a sheet pan.
  3. With a pastry brush, coat each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Flip them over 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).

6. With the back of a spoon press down into the center of each slice of eggplant to create a crevice for the ground beef to sit in.

For the beef:

  1. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with oil, and set heat to medium/high.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  3. 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 to make sure it is well seasoned. Adjust salt/pepper/allspice as needed.
  4. 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. Once they are toasted, mix them into the meat mixture. Remove the pan from heat.

For the eggplant slices:

1. Place a 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). Be careful not to add too much meat. There will most likely be meat left over, so just leave it in the pan and add the tomato sauce to it in the next step.

2. 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).

3. Add the water. Cook over medium heat until the tomato sauce starts to boil. Allow it to simmer about 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed.

4. Spoon the sauce over the eggplant; it should just about cover it.

5. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or just 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. I can also hear the sauce bubbling away when I open the oven door to check on it.

Serve with Rice Pilaf.


Lebanese Okra Stew (Bami)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1- 1.5 pound beef or lamb (or combination of both), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 15 ounce can of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • 2- 14 oz packages frozen okra

Directions

  1. Coat a large pot with olive oil and set over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the meat and cook unit browned, approximately 8 minutes.
  3. While the meat is browning add allspice, salt and pepper.
  4. Once the meat has browned, add the onion and cook until translucent.
  5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add enough water to barely cover the meat; simmer until the meat is tender, approximately 30-45 minutes.  Add more water if needed.
  7. Once the meat is tender add the tomato sauce, water and okra.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the okra is tender, approximately 30-45 minutes.

Serve with Rice Pilaf.

Stove top Pressure Cooker Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook unit browned, approximately 8 minutes.
  2. While the meat is browning add allspice, salt and pepper.
  3. Once the meat has browned, add the onion and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  5. Add one cup of water and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Release pressure at once. Make sure the meat is tender. If not, place under pressure again for 5 more minutes, or until tender.
  6. Add the okra, tomato sauce, and 2 cups of water and cook under pressure for 3 minutes. Release pressure at once.
  7. Cook, without the lid, until the tomato sauce reduces and thickens a bit.

Serve with Rice Pilaf.