One thing I can’t wait to experience when I go back to Beirut: drinking a jellab! Back in the sixties and seventies, we used to order it at the Riviera, one of the many beaches that studded the coastline right outside of the city. A waiter would approach and present this tall glass of sweet, wine-hued beverage, with a faint taste of grape and smoked caramel. Encased in a thick layer of crushed ice and floating on top like jewels, pine nuts and golden raisins. Oh delight! Drinking it in the heat of summer! I would try to get a mouthful of ice and some pine nuts (my favorites) in one gulp. Making jellab involves combining the pulp of raisins with some grape molasses, rose water and sugar then smoking the mixture. A daunting task. The good news is that the syrup is available at middle-eastern stores in the US and elsewhere and makes for a fine substitute.
Jellab is served today in traditional Lebanese restaurants and cafes as well as all the beaches that pepper the Lebanese coastline. In addition, it is sold in Beirut at Souk el-Tayyeb, the organic farmer’s market, homemade by an artisan who specializes in all kinds of sweet syrups, such as mint, mandarin, rose, lemon, toot (mulberry), etc.
INGREDIENTS: Enough for one serving
2 Tablespoons of jellab syrup
6 oz of water
1 cup of crushed ice
2 Tablespoons each of pine nuts and golden raisins
- Pour the syrup in a tall glass. Add the water and stir.
- Add the crushed ice, and sprinkle the pine nuts and raisins on top.
Almonds and pistachios can be substituted for the pine nuts and raisins, as well as added to the mixture.
17 Comments • Comments Feed