Roasted pistachios: This is the most common purchase prior to leaving Beirut; so much so that the Customs officer in the States would frequently say ” Did you bring pistachios?” upon glancing at my passport.
This time, I was rushed and half the city’s roads were blocked due to security measures for a highly publicized presidential visit; I did not have time to stop by my favorite nut roaster so I opted for a box of assorted malban and marzabein from Goodies.
Just what is malban?
Malban resembles fruit jelly, except it is traditionally made with grape molasses, thickened with starch and flavored with rose water, mastic or orange blossom and stuffed with pistachios.
Malban these days is covered with amardeen (apricot paste) or rose petals or crushed pistachios, even chocolate!
It is found at most Arabic sweets makers, along with other confections like marzabein (marzipan), which is usually stuffed with pistachio paste.