Kaak is a dry breadstick covered with toasted sesame seeds and flavored with mahlab, a very popular spice in the Lebanese pastry world.
A traditional kaak recipe is available here.
Kaak is also made with grape molasses, which makes it sweet and richer-tasting. It can be flavored with zaatar, which gives it a little pungent taste. Kaak is not sweet as a rule. It comes in three basic shapes, a stick, a small ring or a little button. It is offered in every neighborhood bakery. In the US, kaak can be found at Middle-Eastern grocers.
I could not live without a daily consumption of kaak. Love that crunchy and light texture.
Kaak can be used in lieu of breadcrumbs as a coating for breaded meat or fish; to add texture and body to a sauce. A few seconds in the food processor is all that is required.
I like it for breakfast with a cup of coffee. And for an afternoon snack, with a cup of tea. And whenever I feel like munching on something that is not an apple or a carrot.
The above photo is of a tiny restaurant in Beirut that is mentioned in every tour guide. Subsequently, most of its patrons are foreigners wanting to get a taste of the couleur locale (a feel for the place).
My daughter had insisted that we go there one night, so we went and had dinner. The place is, well, grungy. The food is good in a homestyle from the fifties kind of way; stews and traditional dishes are offered which are tasty but in which the amount of fat is unrestrained.
What amused me the most was the behavior of the owner (or manager) who was wearing a stained shirt and parked himself in front of the door. Every time he spotted someone walking by (even if it was across the street) he would bellow out in English ” WELCOME!!!!!”; his voice so deep and raspy (everyone smokes in Lebanon), he’d jolt the passers-by out of their wits and manage to get a few of them into his eatery.
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