By Malak Khaled
There is something so special about Levantine cuisine. We always hear about Fattoush and Tabbouleh but we never really delved deep into this very special cuisine that is full of so many flavors that will make your mouth water; we decided to show you a different side of this cuisine. Here are some of our favorite Levantine recipes that you will for sure fall in love with!
-1 cup brown or green lentils.
-6 cups of water.
-8 or 10 ounces of pasta.
-1 large onion (sliced into rings).
-1 and a half tablespoon of olive oil.
-1 and a half tablespoon of vegetable oil.
-1 and a half tablespoon of dried mint.
-2 teaspoons of sumac.
-1 teaspoon salt.
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
-3 quarter cup of chopped cilantro.
-2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses.
For the Pita chips, you’ll need:
-2 pita rounds.
-1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
-Pinch of sea salt.
1) Preheat oven to 400 F.
2) Rinse and drain Lentils then put them in a pot with medium-high heat water and bring it to a simmer.
3) Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until cooked.
*Water level should be above the lentils at all times, if not, add half a cup more of water.
4) Separate pita rounds with a knife to be one thick layer then cut the rounds into small squared and add in the 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt.
5) Placing it on a baking sheet in line with parchment paper then sprinkle the sea salt (optional) and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until crispy.
6) During this time, in a saucepan, sauté the onions in olive oil and vegetable oil over medium-high heat until crispy and caramelized and browned on the edge which will take 20 minutes.
7) In the lentils and water pot, add the sumac, dried mint, salt, and dry pasta and bring to a simmer on medium heat (there should be enough water left in the pot to cook the pasta).
8) Cook the pasta with the lentils for the accurate time.
5) Drain the caramelized onions and reserve the remaining oil then place the onions on a plate lined with paper towels.
6) Add half of the onions to the pasta and lentil mixture and reserve the remaining onions for topping later.
7) In the remaining oil, sauté the cilantro and garlic until fragrant for 2 or 3 minutes then add half to the pasta and lentil and reserve the remaining for topping later.
8) Add the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses to the pasta and lentils.
9) Top it with the remaining onions, cilantro and garlic and the pita chips, serve hot and you can drizzle some extra pomegranate molasses or sprinkles of sumac, you can even serve with lemon.
Tas’eya (Chickpea Fatteh)
-3 pita rounds .
-1 and three-quarter cups/275 grams of chickpeas.
-1 cup of plain yogurt.
-3 cloves of garlic.
-Half teaspoon of cumin.
-3 tablespoons of lemon juice.
-2 tablespoons tahini paste.
-One-third cup of toasted pine nuts.
-Chopped parsley or cilantro.
1) Using kitchen scissors or your hand cut the pita into small wedges.
2) Deep fry the pita wedges until golden brown, then remove it and place it on a paper towel-lined plate.
Or place the pita wedged on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes on 400 degrees until light brown and crispy.
3) Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a small pot and warm it in the water on medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes then set it aside.
4) In a bowl, mash the cloves of garlic then add in the plain yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and a dash of salt then whisk until combined.
*Whisk in a little amount of water if the mixture is too thick.
5) On a serving platter, arrange the pita wedges in an even layer and top with the warm chickpeas then the yogurt sauce then sprinkle the nuts and parsley or cilantro.
-1 lb of lean goat leg meat (not fat), frozen for 2 weeks prior.
-Half a cup of fine burghul.
-1 small white onion.
-One-third of green/bell pepper (Optional).
-20 leaves of green mint.
-10 leaves of green marjoram/mardakoush (Optional).
-Half teaspoon of 7 spices.
-Half teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
-Half teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
-A two-third teaspoon of salt.
-High-quality olive oil.
-Optional sides like green onions, white onions, radish, mint, pickled pepper.
1) Place the 2 weeks frozen meat in the fridge for 2 or 3 hours to thaw it halfway then place it in a food processor with 5 cubes of ice, a one-fifth teaspoon of ground cinnamon and spin for 3 to 5 minutes until it gets a fine consistency.
*Better to stop the processor every minute to feel the temperature of the meat to make sure it’s not warming up, if you feel it warm up, add a bit more ice or quarter a cup of icy water and continue.
2) Place the burghul in a small bowl and rinse it with cold water and squeeze a bit to get rid of the water then set aside.
3) Put the green pepper, mint, marjoram, onion, salt, cayenne pepper, and 7 spices in a food processor and mix them well.
4) Place the ground meat in a large bowl, add the wet burghul, and the spice mix and mix it well with your hands for a few minutes t make sure all the ingredients are well infused with one another.
5) Keep wetting your hand in icy water with a tiny bit of cinnamon while mixing every now and then.
6) Keep the dish in the fridge until serving because the Kibbe should be served cold.
7) When ready, make the Kibbe mix into balls and line them along with the dish then spread them with your hand or spoon until no more than a three-quarter inch thick.
8) Make some patterns on it with the fork or knife.
9) Add a lot of olive oil on it and serve with the optional sides.
Lebanese Lentil-Spinach Soup
-2 teaspoons of olive oil.
-1 medium diced yellow onion.
-Half teaspoon of kosher salt.
-Half teaspoon of black pepper.
-1 tablespoon of cumin.
-Half teaspoon of coriander.
-5 cups of vegetable stock.
-2 cups of picked over and rinsed split red lentils.
-Pinch of cayenne.
-2 squeezed lemons and an extra lemon wedges for topping.
-2 or 3 cups of thinly sliced fresh spinach leaves.
1) Heat the olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat.
2) When hot, add the onion, salt and pepper then sauté until the onions are soft for 4 to 5 minutes.
3) Add the cumin and coriander and sauté an additional 30 seconds then add the vegetable stock and lentils and bring to a simmer.
4) Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 or 20 minutes, until lentils start falling apart.
5) Remove it from heat and puree it until smooth with an immersion blender or batches of it in a regular blender but the steam has to have some room to escape to avoid exploding.
6) Stir in the cayenne and lemon juice then taste and adjust the seasoning.
7) Put in bowl and top each with a handful of sliced spinach leaves then serve with the extra lemon wedges.
Jordanian Mansaf Recipe
-2 lbs of lean lamb or beef.
-Half a cup of butter.
-1 egg white.
-Half teaspoon paprika.
– One and a half teaspoon of cumin.
-1 medium chopped onion.
-Half teaspoon of coriander.
-2 cups of plain yogurt.
-A quarter teaspoon of cardamom.
– Half a cup of whole blanched almonds.
-Half a cup of pine nuts.
-4 to 6 loaves pita bread.
-3 cups of uncooked rice.
-Parsley or chives for toppings.
1) Rinse the meat cubes and set in a container with a lid then cover the meat with water and place it in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.
2) When ready, heat a skillet to medium-high then melt quarter the butter in the skillet.
3) Drain and pat the dry meat cubes using a paper towel then add the meat to the melted butter and cook until brown on the sides.
4) Season the meat with salt and pepper to your preference.
5) Add enough water to cover the meat then reduce the heat and cook for an hour then add the onion and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
6) While they are simmering, place the yogurt in a saucepan on medium heat then whisk it until it gets a liquid consistency then whisk the egg white and the half teaspoon of salt.
7) Bring the yogurt mixture to a boil, stirring it consistently in one direction with a wooden spoon.
8) Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and make it simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
9) Add the yogurt mixture to the meat then adjust to taste and continue simmering on low for 15 minutes.
10) In a small skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add the almond and cook for 5 minutes then stir the pine nuts in for an additional 3 minutes then stop the heat and set aside.
11) Spread open the pita or naan and arrange on a large serving tray then brush the break with 2 tablespoons of butter
12) Arrange the rice over the bread leaving the center to the meat then spoon the meat into the well and add the butter and nut mixture on the meat.
13) Top it with parsley or chives.
Shish Barak (Lamb Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce)
For the filling, you’ll need:
-1 lb of ground lamb.
-1 finely minced clove garlic.
-Half teaspoon of ground cumin.
-1 tablespoon of harissa.
-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.
For the dough and the dressing, you’ll need:
-1 cup of all-purpose flour.
-1 pinch of salt.
-1 tablespoon of olive oil.
-Three-quarters cup of hot water.
-4 tablespoons of butter.
-1 teaspoon dried mint.
-Half teaspoon of Aleppo pepper (Optional).
-1 cup of thick yogurt (Labneh or Fage).
-A quarter cup of toasted pine nuts.
For the filling:
1) Mix the ground lamb meat with the rest of the filling ingredients and mix well to amalgamate and leave in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to overnight.
For the dough and the dressing:
1) Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle then add salt, olive oil, and water into the well.
2) Using a fork, beat the flour into the dough and change to kneading with your hands when the dough thickens on a smooth surface until very smooth and elastic then wrap in a plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes.
3) For the dumplings, roll a quarter of the dough out on a flat surface to about 1/16-inch thin then cut into circles using a ravioli stamp or biscuit cutter.
4) Place a small ball of the meat filling in the center of the dough and fold it into a moon shape, pinching hard around the edges to seal.
5) Pinch together the two tips shut and place it on a lightly floured sheet tray or flat plate.
6) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
7) In a skillet, melt the butter with the dried mint and Aleppo pepper.
8)When the water boils, fill a large serving bowl with a ladleful of the cooking water to warm the bowl and move it around then dump all but about a quarter cup.
9) Whisk the yogurt in the water to thin it out and warm it.
10) Boil the dumplings in the water and once they float to the top let them bob for 3 to 4 minutes then taste one to see the if cooked or not.
11) Place them in the warm bowl with the yogurt then swirl to coat and drizzle the butter over and sprinkle the nuts on top.
Toshka is meat only and Maria is Meat and cheese.
– Half lbs of ground lamb and beef Or only beef.
-2 crushed garlic cloves.
-1 tablespoon of chopped parsley (Optional).
-4 large opened pita bread.
-White cheese slices (For Maria).
-Hot green peppers and fresh mint leaves (Optional).
1) Mix the ingredients with the meat the divide it into 4 balls.
2) Spread each ball onto one of the pita layers, dipping hands in water to help with the spreading of the mixture.
3) If making Maria, Add the cheese.
4) Add the hot pepper slices.
5) Cover the bread/meat side of the pita with the plain side; you can cook it in a sandwich maker or on a grill or a stove.
6) Use a non-stick pan on low heat and place a small size plate on the bread.
7) Put some weight on the plate like a teapot of water or stone then let cook for 5 minutes.
8) Turn to the other side and cook until it crisps.
9) You can add tomatoes and fresh mint.
Dawood Basha (Syrian Meatballs)
-1 lb of ground beef or lamb.
-3 lbs of fresh tomato.
-1 medium chopped onion.
-1 cup of chopped parsley.
-2 tablespoons of ghee or canola oil.
-Half teaspoon Bharat.
-Salt and pepper.
1) Mix the meat with one-third cup of chopped parsley and half teaspoon of salt and some black pepper.
2) Form the meat into multiple small 1 inch balls.
3) Brown the meatballs in ghee/oil for a couple of minutes on medium heat and make sure the sides are browned; you can also brown them in the oven on 250 degrees for 30 minutes but turn them halfway through.
4) Remove the meatballs and sauté the onions with the drippings.
5) Peel and dice the tomato and add it to the onions.
6) Add salt and leave it until it boils then let it simmer for 30 minutes to thicken then add the meatballs and leave it to cook for 30 more minutes then add the spices and the chopped parsley 5 minutes before turning off the heat then serve it with rice.