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22 Oct


“I’m sorry I called you worthy, tabbouleh, I was just infatuated with kisir…”

Now that I’m working more hours at the office, tabbouleh is becoming a weekly staple around here. I’ve been putting it in packed lunches with olives, cucumber slices and maybe a piece of feta on the side.

It’s also featuring in serve-yourself, mezze-style dinners on evenings where conflicting schedules prevent us sitting down together for a family meal.

Measurements aren’t that important with tabbouleh – I like mine to have roughly equal amounts of bulghur wheat and chopped herbs, but have eaten versions that were 90% herbs – find a balance that works for you.

Avoid the possibility of worthiness by seasoning generously (and seasoning again to brighten it up before serving if made in advance.)

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2 Oct


Fattoush – that tasty Middle-Eastern salad of chopped vegetables and bread – is worth eating just for the opportunity to say it. “What’s for dinner, mum?” “Fattoush – we’re having fattoush tonight.”

I’ve made several versions of fattoush over the years, all of which call for the bread to be toasted or fried. The fattoush recipe in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook is a bit different.

The bread is not cooked, for one thing. And instead of the usual olive oil and lemon juice, the salad is tossed with a yogurt-based dressing.

I love the way the dressing soaks into the bread, softening it and leaving it to the vegetables to deliver the crunch. Continue reading

Homemade tahini

5 Sep


The other day, I asked my husband to pick up some sesame seeds on the way home. Instead of the little packet I was expecting, he plonked a 500g bag on the counter. That’ll to take years to get through, I thought ungratefully…

I know that I have nothing to complain about. My husband and daughters are willing to pop to the shops at a moment’s notice, and generally return with a reasonable approximation of the requested item.

(Not like a former housemate who went to buy half a dozen eggs and returned with a six-pack of beer. “I knew it was six of something,” he said.)

And without that enormous bag of sesame seeds, I might not have discovered how easy it is to make tahini. Or how there is no comparison between fresh tahini and the pale lump of hardened sludge submerged in low-grade oil that is most store-bought tahini. Or how amazingly good it tastes.

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Falafel with tahini sauce

22 Jan

Falafel 2

Falafel are another standby from my student days. With one tin of chickpeas you can produce a dozen crunchy little nuggets to eat alongside a salad, or stuff in a piece of pitta bread with tahini sauce.

Traditionally, falafel are made with uncooked chickpeas or fava beans that have been soaked overnight before being  coarsely ground. This results in a nuttier texture than these falafel. While the outsides are crisp, inside they are soft – almost fluffy.

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