• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
FoodMan

Lebanon Trip Report 2007

44 posts in this topic

That would be terrific - thank you!

Better late than never. Here is the lost of ingredients from the packet of Shawarma spices:

Allspice

Cinnamon

Ginger

Black Pepper

Nutmeg

Cloves

Coriander

White Pepper

Garlic

Salt


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lebanese Sweets

I am really not going to do the sweets you can find in Lebanon any justice here. As far as I am concerned (and a few million others in the region might agree), the place called Abdul Rahman Hallab & Sons (a.k.a The Sweet Palace)in Tripoli, North Lebanon, is the best middle eastern pastry maker in the world. This place is simply unrivaled in terms of freshness, artistry and taste. I never think of driving through Tripoli without a stop here. Unfortunately, my useless brain managed to forget the camera when I did stop on this visit and the chance of taking photos of the place is lost till next time. So, here is the consolation prize. My grandmother on her way to Beirut stopped there and picked up a couple of trays of delicacies. Glad she did!!

gallery_5404_5167_1721652.jpg

These here are ‘Znood El Sit’, meaning ‘The Lady’s Arm’. You’ll find many Arabic desserts named after women’s anatomy. I guess, they are more attractive than saying ‘Big Burly Guy’s Arms’. Anyways, these particular ones here are delicious for only a few hours after they are made. They are filo dough, brushed in butter, filled with cream, deep fried and soaked in syrup!! They are absolutely addictive when fresh.

gallery_5404_5167_1762658.jpg

The picture above is of the usual ‘Mshakal’ (Combination) tray you get from Hallab. This one travels very well, and I made sure to bring a couple of pounds with me. All I have to do is let them know that I need them packed for travel and they’ll give me individually wrapped pieces in a strong cardboard box.

The following pictures are from another well known sweet shop called Sea Sweet. There are a few of them around the country, mainly in and around Beirut. Sea Sweet makes very good western style pastries and candies in addition to their -mediocre- middle eastern stuff. They do make excellent ice cream though.

gallery_5404_5167_1305005.jpg

gallery_5404_5167_641256.jpg

gallery_5404_5167_119799.jpg


Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Elie,

I don't see much use of chocolate in Middle Eastern sweets. I've noticed it before in Egypt, and your photos above seem to support that: the photo with the "western-style pastries" shows some chocolate frosting, but even then it seems less emphasized than in this country. Honey, nuts, fruit, syrups seem to prevail over chocolate in the Middle East. Can you comment? Is there generally a disinterest in chocolate, or am I just looking in the wrong places?


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Elie,

I don't see much use of chocolate in Middle Eastern sweets.  I've noticed it before in Egypt, and your photos above seem to support that: the photo with the "western-style pastries" shows some chocolate frosting, but even then it seems less emphasized than in this country.  Honey, nuts, fruit, syrups seem to prevail over chocolate in the Middle East.  Can you comment?  Is there generally a disinterest in chocolate, or am I just looking in the wrong places?

Certainly you are correct about the 'no chocolate in middle eastern desserts' observation. Although -THE HORROR OF HORRORS- we do see chocolate kenafi (as opposed to the cream or cheese filled ones) in many a shop now :smile: . I certainly would not say there is a disinterest in chocolate though. It is very much used in cakes and western pastries as well as in many bonbons and other confections. Like I said, my post does not do sweets in Lebanon justice.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that, much appreciated :-).

That would be terrific - thank you!

Better late than never. Here is the lost of ingredients from the packet of Shawarma spices:

Allspice

Cinnamon

Ginger

Black Pepper

Nutmeg

Cloves

Coriander

White Pepper

Garlic

Salt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Labib

gallery_5404_5167_1093423.jpg

As you can se, Labib’s bakery is nothing to write home about if you simply drive by. However, this little one man show in the Dekwani area in Beirut is the best new discovery on this trip. My brother kept saying “You have to go to Labib’s bakery for Mana’ish baked on the Saj. They are like no other’s mana’ish.” A quick tutorial might be in order. Mana’ish (the plural of Man’oushi) are a typical breakfast/snack food in Lebanon. Think of them as Lebanese pizza pies. Traditional topping is made from zaatar (wild thyme, sesame, sumac and olive oil), but other toppings include cheese, kishik (fermented yogurt and cracked wheat), Qawarma (lamb cooked in lamb fat = lamb confit?) and Armenian sausage to name a few. These can be either baked in a regular gas powered oven or on a Saj. Both are good, but produce different results. The Saj looks like an upside down wok and is fueled traditionally by wood, but in most cases by propane (or butane?).

Oh boy was my brother right! As opposed to almost all other Saj places, Labib’s pies are very rustic. His dough is very wet and cannot be handled and rolled paper thin as is the norm. Instead he removes a ball of dough from the stash and puts it straight on the hot Saj where he uses his hands to ‘form’ it into a roughly round shape. Then he applies, again using nothing but his hands, the topping. The result is a wonderfully light, crispy and airy Man’oushi. I loved these so much I came back the next day to snap all these pictures.

gallery_5404_5167_499516.jpg

Ok, Labib’s menu includes:

Zaatar plain, with creamy cheese, with regular cheese (probably salty Akawi), with Labneh or with Kashkaval cheese.

Lahm bil Ajeen (meat pie)

Sujuk (Armenian Sausage)

Kafta

Kishik

Qawarma (with all the variations of the zaatar one)

Cheese, also in several variations and styles and with meats or without

Chocolate (usually Nutella) with banana and hazelnut

A couple of things to drink.

I tried a few of these. My favorites were the Cheese with vegetables (tomatoes/mint/olives all placed in the pie after it’s baked), the Zaatar in the same style and the Qawarma with Labneh (boy is this one rich).

gallery_5404_5167_935212.jpg

gallery_5404_5167_1217987.jpg

gallery_5404_5167_444432.jpg

gallery_5404_5167_1540484.jpg

You can see a cheese pie in the back and he is working on a meat one in the front here.

gallery_5404_5167_576526.jpg

I am pretty sure the one in the forefront is mine here. It’s half zaatar and half cheese.

gallery_5404_5167_1008843.jpg

gallery_5404_5167_7083.jpg

A finished and sliced pie ready to eat. This was my cheese and vegetable pie.

gallery_5404_5167_286280.jpg

A closer look.

gallery_5404_5167_278069.jpg

This was the Labneh with vegetables.

I crave these simple pies on a daily basis…another three years or so before I can have another…


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Holy cow. That food looks remarkable. Can you say more about qawarma?

Qawarma or Awarma is a traditional ancient Lebanese pantry item dating back to the days when mountain residents had to endure all winter with limited access to fresh foods and meats. Just like confit or other charcuterie it is a method of preserving meat for the winter and it is still done today because it is so tasty. The lambs found in Lebanon are typically the ones with a fat tail (liya). The tail alone is a huge lump of fat that weighs several kilos. When the lamb is slaughtered the fat from the tail and other places is rendered and is used to cook minced pieces of the lamb's meat along with spices and salt. This then is kept in crocks under the rendered fat for the winter. Qawarma is used sparingly to flavor soups, mixed with scrambled eggs or labneh, as a topping for Mana'ish or really as a fat/salt base for anything. It is usually on the salty side and has an assertive lamby/gamy flavor.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those Mana’ish look extraordinary. I have only ever seen them coming out of an oven. Is this a known variation (regional?) or is it idiosyncratic? It reminds me a lot of Turkish Gözleme, even the griddle is the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Those Mana’ish look extraordinary. I have only ever seen them coming out of an oven. Is this a known variation (regional?) or is it idiosyncratic? It reminds me a lot of Turkish Gözleme, even the griddle is the same.

Cooking on the Saj is very common in Lebanon. You even find very fancy local chains now serving a variety of Manaish on the saj like the place called 'Zaatar W Zeit'. Their stuff is pretty good, even though it is served in a hip environment that reminds me of Starbucks. The dough is usually hand rolled to be very transparent and then placed on the Saj. What is unique in Labib's case is his method. His dough is very wet and soft and cannot be handled. He told me he has semolina in it as well as whole wheat. It's that process of spreading it AFTER putting it on the wok like griddle that gives his pies a unique and amazing texture.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jabbour

In 2.5 weeks in Lebanon, I think I ate here maybe 10 times. The Shawarma at this place in Beirut’s Dora area is sublime, the best anywhere. Not just the beef/lamb one but also the chicken version is juicy, packed with flavor and delicious. Jabbour’s Shawarma is always a highlight of any of my trips to my home country.

gallery_5404_5167_136409.jpg

Chicken Shawarma on the right, the beef/lamb one on the left

gallery_5404_5167_307201.jpg

Shawarma is the main attraction for me and Diana here, but Jabbour is a full fledged Lebanese restaurant/sandwich shop. In this one display you see some of the possible choices like lamb kebabs, kefta, lamb liver, tongue, kidney and one of my favorites lamb testicles! You just place and order and the guy in the back grills the skewer over charcoal and makes you a nice fresh pita bread wrap with it (i:e Lebanese sandwich).

gallery_5404_5167_1583773.jpg

This is a not so good closeup of a chicken Shawarma and a glass of cold no-corn-syrup-included Pepsi. All of us look forward to drinking this Pepsi! This sandwich contains in addition to the chicken pickled cucumbers, lettuce, french fries and lots of garlic sauce…it could be messy. The beef/lamb one will have tahini sauce, pickled turnips, parsley, raw onions and tomatoes.

More Lebanon trip photos to come…

Hi Foodman,

The top of the picture with the Chef standing to do a carving on the big skewer, may I know what is the name of the machine? Thank you.


主泡一杯邀西方. 馥郁幽香而湧.三焦回转沁心房

"Inhale the aroma before tasting and drinking, savour the goodness from the heart "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Foodman,

The top of the picture with the Chef standing to do a carving on the big skewer, may I know what is the name of the machine? Thank you.

Hmm...I think the proper English name for it is 'Vertical Grill' or maybe 'Vertical Rotisserie Grill'. Usually in Lebanon, since it is used exclusively fro Shawarma, we just call it 'Shawarma Grill' :smile:.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Foodman,

The top of the picture with the Chef standing to do a carving on the big skewer, may I know what is the name of the machine? Thank you.

Hmm...I think the proper English name for it is 'Vertical Grill' or maybe 'Vertical Rotisserie Grill'. Usually in Lebanon, since it is used exclusively fro Shawarma, we just call it 'Shawarma Grill' :smile:.

Thanks you.


主泡一杯邀西方. 馥郁幽香而湧.三焦回转沁心房

"Inhale the aroma before tasting and drinking, savour the goodness from the heart "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Holy cow. That food looks remarkable. Can you say more about qawarma?

Qawarma or Awarma is a traditional ancient Lebanese pantry item dating back to the days when mountain residents had to endure all winter with limited access to fresh foods and meats. Just like confit or other charcuterie it is a method of preserving meat for the winter and it is still done today because it is so tasty. The lambs found in Lebanon are typically the ones with a fat tail (liya). The tail alone is a huge lump of fat that weighs several kilos. When the lamb is slaughtered the fat from the tail and other places is rendered and is used to cook minced pieces of the lamb's meat along with spices and salt. This then is kept in crocks under the rendered fat for the winter. Qawarma is used sparingly to flavor soups, mixed with scrambled eggs or labneh, as a topping for Mana'ish or really as a fat/salt base for anything. It is usually on the salty side and has an assertive lamby/gamy flavor.

that sound like what the kurds call Kalia (I think that means fried?), they would fry chopped meat with salt and fat to preserve it and store it in clay jars. This they used to stuff their kubba (dumplings). what does Qawarma mean in Arabic?


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Those Mana’ish look extraordinary. I have only ever seen them coming out of an oven. Is this a known variation (regional?) or is it idiosyncratic? It reminds me a lot of Turkish Gözleme, even the griddle is the same.

Cooking on the Saj is very common in Lebanon. You even find very fancy local chains now serving a variety of Manaish on the saj like the place called 'Zaatar W Zeit'. Their stuff is pretty good, even though it is served in a hip environment that reminds me of Starbucks. The dough is usually hand rolled to be very transparent and then placed on the Saj. What is unique in Labib's case is his method. His dough is very wet and soft and cannot be handled. He told me he has semolina in it as well as whole wheat. It's that process of spreading it AFTER putting it on the wok like griddle that gives his pies a unique and amazing texture.

Interesting, this reminds me of the way warka (Moroccan filo pastry) is made, by using very wet dough and spreading it around. I tried doing it once but it was horribly messy and the dough stuck to everything. I wonder where he learned his technique.


Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

any pointers on how to find jabbour short of just telling them dora and getting lost?! looks delicious and a damn site cleaner than most of the other places ive been too


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

any pointers on how to find jabbour short of just telling them dora and getting lost?! looks delicious and a damn site cleaner than most of the other places ive been too

Well, I would tell the taxi driver to take you to Jabbour and Makloof on Dora. They should know where that is. It is on the beginning of Arax Street and there are several sandwich shops, and "Cocktail" places there. If not, ask them to take you to the CIT institute. Once there ask anyone where Jabbour is and they should know. It's right across from it..more like daigonal to it I guess :).


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that - although i undersetimated the high esteem Jabbour is held in, i mentioned to a work colleague that i was going to Dora soon for shawarma as i had a recommendation and before i could say the name he guessed Jabbour! This then led to a huge discussion about shawarma and about 1/2 dzn people volenteering

to take me next week so i'll keep you posted - looking forward to it!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.