The Chouf mountains are the one area of Lebanon that I missed the most as an expat; I missed the smell of the parasol pines and the constant creaking noise of the crickets, so relentless that we would stop hearing it.
We stopped by the side of the road to buy some prickly pears and there was one car parked ahead of us: a BMW with a couple inside; out comes a young woman in a sleeveless, bustier skintight dress and spiked heels; beautiful and bronzed throughout; well this sight would have drawn stares and whistles in my time: not anymore!
We are flooded with our bodacious mountain tomatoes here so-called jabaliyeh.
• 2 cups of Basmati or long-grain rice
• 2 cups of tomatoes, stewed for one hour in sauteed chopped onions and olive oil
• 1 cup or more of green peas
• 1 cup or more of shelled corn and 1 cup of chopped green pepper and carrot
• spices such as paprika, garlic, cumin
• 1 pound of sujuk sausages (or any spicy sausage of your choice)
Olive oil, as needed
1) Grate the tomatoes and collect all the juice and flesh in one big pot.
2) Chop some onions and fry in olive oil; add the tomatoes and stew for one hour over low heat.
3) Fry the rice in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes until translucent; add the stewed tomatoes and one cup of water with the spices.
4) Cover and simmer till the rice is cooked; about 10 minutes before, add the peas, corn, carrots and green peppers.
5) Roast the sujuk sausages in a 375F oven with a bit of oil until sizzling. Pat dry and serve on top of the rice. Can also be sauteed in a skillet and cut in chunks and added to the rice.