I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the brand MAGGI the past year and a half, and feel compelled to report on this very positive experience.
MAGGI is a division of the Swiss food giant Nestlé and has been firmly implanted in Lebanon (and the Middle East) for as long as I remember. Corner markets in the most remote villages carried MAGGI bouillon cubes in three flavors (chicken, beef or veggie) and housewives used them to add a je-ne-sais-quoi flavor to soups and stews and other homemade dishes.
Between this era and now came the food trends, such as vegetarianism, veganism, the Atkins diet, the fatfree diet, the glutenfree diet, the Paleo diet, the Keto diet and a host of others (I forgot most of them) along with the organic, natural food movement. Along with these surfaced reports in the media denouncing any type of packaged food as inherently bad or even toxic, and the company producing them as venal and solely profit-driven.
Personally, here is what I believe: Large, powerful companies can implement at 100% the type of quality control, hygiene, food preservation standards one would wish them abide by. It is a lot harder for smaller companies, almost impossible, as it eats greatly into profit. It is very expensive to make food products that are natural and healthy and stick to international health standards if your company does not have the “deep pockets” to implement quality control and the highest standards of hygiene in food sanitation.
MAGGI is following these standards to the letter, and I feel totally safe using their products.
Here are my observations, resulting from my interaction with this brand and familiarity with their products.
I had, of course, in the past used the classic bouillon cubes, but I’d like to report on the new products which are much more adapted to our current tastes and culinary preferences (with spicemixes such as kabsa or zaatar or hot chili and soups such as oatmeal or asparagus).
A new chicken stock cube, with a layer of natural dried herbs compressed on top. (I carried it in my car for a while and the scent of chicken soup was wafting outside the package).
A line of spice mixes and a white sauce mix (Béchamel) for quick and flavorful dinners such as zaatar, Indian Masala, Kabsa, Chinese, Seafood, Shawarma, Hot and Spicy, Lemon and Pepper, Coriander and garlic.
A line of soups Excellence such as Pumpkin, Chicken with corn, Asparagus, Spinach, Broccoli, Mushroom.
The classic MAGGI soups such as Tomato and Beef Oat, Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, Vegetable, Chicken Oat, Lentil, Chicken with ABC pasta, etc.
I have used a number of these in my cooking and noticed they added a layer of flavor and enhanced the dishes noticeably. The mixes were a lifesaver in terms of ease of use and literally allowed one to make a wholesome meal in just minutes. As for the chicken stock, its strong chicken/herby flavor is a boost to just about anything requiring a liquid, be it soup, sauces, marinades, pasta, casseroles, even crumbled-up as a crust on roasted protein. (Check out the salmon recipe below)
In addition to visiting one of MAGGI’s factories (in Dubai) and meeting the executive chef Mehdi Katanbaf, I attended a conference hosted by Nestlé Middle East focused on highlighting the changes and directions MAGGI was implementing with speakers such as international nutritionist and public health expert Sarah Kanaan and head nutritionist Lynn Al Khatib. The following are the goals:
1. To provide ingredients people love and would find in their cupboard. The coined “kitchen cupboard” motto was born.
2. To make food healthier, by cutting out trans fat, reducing salt and sugar,
and saturated fats.
3. To increase veggies, grains, seeds, nuts and legumes in the products.
4. To put nutrition at the core of the efforts in creating these products
5. To transmit the goodness of “homemade” in cooking
6. To care from field to home.
These goals have been executed and are totally in line what I and millions of others would wish a giant food company to implement.
Check out this salmon recipe (quick and easy) for an elegant and fuss free meal.
Anyone who has grown-up in Lebanon will attest to the fact that zaatar is as essential to a Lebanese as milk and cereal to an American. Most of us also recognize that we will not get the best zaatar from a supermarket’s shelf. The lucky ones could count on a grandma or aunt who would painstakingly harvest the wild...
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The Ksara winery is a Lebanese success story. Lebanon’s most famous wine producer, Ksara was founded in 1857 by Jesuit priests. It is Lebanon’s oldest and largest winery and the third most visited tourist attraction. When the winery was founded, Lebanon was under Islamic Ottoman rule; the Ottoman masters in Istanbul allowed the production of wine as long as it was...
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I am luckier than most in that I am spending my Summers in the Chouf Mountains in Lebanon and all the veggies are local or homegrown in our kitchen garden. In any case, here is a simple dish using a bunch of veggies and a MAGGI soup mix for a quick and easy boost of flavor. The veggies can be...
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This is a lentil soup that I had fun making. I love lentils, and lentil soup, but truth be told, lentil soup does get a tad, well, boring. This one is not. Its super easy to make but it has lots of textures and (compatible) flavors. I got inspired reading up on a lentil soup from Kurdistan (Iran) in Najmieh...
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