Category Archives: Traditional dishes

Iranian eggplant and tomato dip (Mirza Ghassemi)

My childhood friend Constantin took me out  in Dubai to a really fancy Iranian restaurant, knowing that I love Iranian cuisine. He ordered a medley of dishes including this one called mirza ghassemi, which I had never tasted before. One bite and I was enraptured. It was light, full of tomato and garlic flavor, and […]
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Cream of wheat pudding (Ma’mouniyeh)

Here is a traditional (and ancient) Middle-Eastern pudding that can be prepared very easily with ingredients from any mainstream supermarket. It is named after the ninth century Caliph Ma’moun (revered by some and loathed by others). It is so simple to make, yet it is a celebratory dessert. It is also prepared for a special breakfast […]
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Bell peppers stew (Shakshuka)

A perfect Summer dish, this (vegan) stew is a mixture of bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic, all pan-fried in olive oil. It is served at room temperature and eaten with pita bread. It is considered an appetizer (mukkabalate).  INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings 1/2 cup olive oil 3 bell peppers, one of each color or […]
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Foraging with Um Elias

Um Elias and her husband of 50 years, Philippe, are part of a dwindling group of authentic Lebanese farmers. They married when she was 15, an acceptable age to marry off a girl in those days, and have raised six beautiful, intelligent and learned children. Even though Philippe is a sixth-generation Lebanese farmer, none of […]
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Kibbeh Tartare, Lebanese-style (Frakeh)

I can pinpoint the exact time when I first heard of frakeh. I was having dinner in Beirut with my childhood friend Youssef, telling him about my plans to write a Lebanese cookbook; he asked me if frakeh was going to be included. I was puzzled. What? frakeh (fra-keh)? “Yes” said he, “it is the essence […]
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