Saturday, 24 October 2015

Lebanese Home Cooking Review and Giveaway

The title struck me as I adore home cooking, recipes that are enjoyed by families and Lebanese cuisine is one that I am not familiar with, so I was, understandably excited to receive my glossy copy of Lebanese Home Cooking by Kamal Mouzawak and published by Quarry books. It was only when I read the sub title: "Simple, Delicious, Mostly Vegetarian, Recipes from the Founder of Beirut's Souk el Tayeb Market I began to think could I cook anything from this book. 
Vegetarian food is not really my number choice in cuisine and I rarely cook a meal without meat, I took a breath and opened the cookbook. The contents page included photographs and all the recipes are in English alongside spelling in (what I believe to be) Arabic which I found charming. My thoughts changed when I saw the Mujadara and Stews recipes. I also gained insight to a cuisine that do not feature heavily in  the high street of restaurants in the UK.  Mujardara, for example are cooked lentils cooked with rice, a grain and topped with onions. There is also a fascinating insight into the cuisine of Lebanese cooking and also the regional difference in North and South of the country.


The chapters in Lebanese Home Cooking is split into:
Kibbeh - recipes include Armenian Lentil Kibbeh and Fish Kibbeh.
Grains - dishes to try include Bulgur with Tomatoes and Peppers and Smoked Green Wheat with vegetables.
Mujadara - recipes to try include Southern-Style Split Lentils with Rice and Red Beans and Bulgur.
Stews - dishes to try include Okra Stew, White Butter Bean Stew, Stewed Green Beans and Spinach Stew with Pine Nuts.
Vegetables - dishes to try include: Eggplant Fatteh, Fried Taro with Chickpeas and Onions and Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce.
Salads and Breads - recipes to try include: Bread Salad, Thyme Bread and Cheese Pies.
Good Friday Food -  dishes that caught my eye Homemade noodles with Lentils and Kibbeh with Chickpeas
Souk and Street Food - recipes to try include: Eggplant dip, Hummus and Falafel.
Sweets - dishes to try include: Turmeric cake, Fried Biscuits in Scented Syrup and Sesame Bars.

I've tried a couple of dishes from this book including the spinach stew with Pine Nuts (I used flaked almond) and the BEST hummus ever. I wanted to try the Okra stew but my local market sold out of okra by the time I got there (I never knew there was okra in Lebanese cuisine!) so that's the next on my list. I must share the recipe for hummus, you will never buy shop brought ever again, I have eaten it most days this week. Rich, creamy and thick, simply gorgeous.
Spinach Stew

Spinach Stew

Hummus
 Kamal Mouzawak states that hummus is the definitive non-home food, a dish a good restaurant is measured by, one which should not have an overwhelming taste of tahini or lemon and one must have a fine enough consistency. The recipe stipulates for dried chickpeas, but being time pressed I used tinned chickpeas which worked fine - of course skip the soaking if section if using tinned chickpeas.

Hummus - Serves 4
18 ounces (510g) dried chickpeas
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons (150g) tahini
3/4 cup (175ml) lemon juice (around 6 lemons)
salt
olive oil

Method
Soak the chickpeas in water to cover for 10 hours. Drain, put in a pot, add fresh water to cover and then set to cook over low heat till very tender.
Some purists would take off the chickpeas outer layer or peel after soaking (by crushing the grains in a  kitchen towel) and then boil the peeled chickpeas - it makes the end result "finer". To cook the chickpeas well the easy way is to add baking soda  1tsp per 1 cup/200g chickpeas to the cooking water. 
In a food processor, place the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and salt to taste and mix long enough to obtain a smooth, silky paste. A hummus should have the constancy of a dip and not be too thick nor too runny.
Transfer to a bowl, let cool and firm up, and serve with a generous drizzle of olive oil and the accompaniments of your choice.

The lovely people at Quarry Books are offering one lucky reader of my a blog a copy of Lebanese Home Cooking.

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104 comments

  1. I don't have one, but would love to learn how to cook some :)

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  2. I don't know enough about North African cooking to say but I recently went to a Lebanese restaurant where I had a chicken gratin which I fell in love with at first bite so I'll go with that. Their whole menu sounded amazing to be honest.

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  3. I love B'stilla - a delicious chicken pie!

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  4. HAVE NEVER TRIED NORTH AFRICAN FOOD

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  5. the few I`ve tried I can`t remember what they were but would love learn more about them

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  6. I love goat curries - delicious!

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  7. I love anything with hummus, rice, beans and veggies!

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  8. I really like the Fried Almond Pastries. Gorgeous. :)

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  9. lamb tagine, chermoula, shakshouka, hummus - lots!

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  10. lamb tagine, shakshouka, chermoula, hummus, merguez sausage- lots!

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  11. I have never tried but would like to

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  12. Chakchouka (Shakshouka) is yummy

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  13. Has to be a Moroccan pastilla - unusual flavour combination, but works so well!

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  14. Chickpea tagine with cinnamon, cumin and carrots.

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  15. Hummus and turmeric rice with vegetables

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  16. i love north african foods. i do love apricot and coriander tagine , just with veg , no meat

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  17. Traditional Tagine does it for me

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  18. Preserved lemon, black olive & chicken tagine, or chicken pastilla as I love the combined savoury and sweetness

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  19. I absolutely love cooking in a tagine- tender meat, aromatic spices and soft fruit, served with couscous and warm bread. Lush!

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  20. Roasted aubergine....oh and lamb with pomegranate

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  21. Clay pot chicken with preserved lemons

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  22. I can't remember the names of them but they were delicious

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  23. Traditional Tagine is scrum - leanne weir

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  24. I love spicy Moroccan vegetable tagines.

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  25. I love the bbc good food recipe for Pumpkin, cranberry & red onion tagine - it's really tasty!

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  26. I love couscous. It's so versatile

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  27. I'm going to have to go for hummus. Which is my second favourite, as my friend once made me an incredible lentil dish....but can't remember what it was :(

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  28. I am new to this type of cooking but would love to learn more.

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  29. I have never tried any yet but am really looking forward to changing this!

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  30. i havent tried any but would love to

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  31. I love Lamb Tagine, with apricots, and also falafel is a big fave in our house.

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  32. I love Chicken Hashweh and my family love it! EJ Dunn

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  33. Absolutely love a Lamb tangine xxx

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  34. Haven't got favourite as not tried any but if I WIN I will have an answer for you!!

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  35. We are a vegetarian family who love cooking and discovering new recipes and food. We have never tried Lebanese so thanks for this opportunity!

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  36. I too love hummus but I do mine with added roasted rhubarb. ..sounds ghastly but works a treat esp in summer

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  37. Shakshouka and a lovely fresh khobz

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  38. Have tried any North African dishes but would love to try out some of the recipes.

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  39. Vegetable Tagine, or annything with Hummus

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  40. Vegetable Tagine or anything with Hummus

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  41. I love Egyptian Ful Medames, slow-cooked fava beans with cumin, especially nice when eaten with freshly baked flatbreads.

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  42. I'd love to try some. All the ones the previous comments mention sound so tasty! :-)

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