Celebrating Lebanese Cuisine

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The Lebanese Recipes Kitchen:  Add some meze to your meal with these authentic Lebanese recipes from Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, Lebanon.

For a taste of Lebanese culture, try making meze specialties such as fresh hummus and falafel.

Meze is a celebration of Lebanon’s culture and cuisine. Throughout the country you’ll find plates of hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, falafel and other Lebanese specialties, prepared with the freshest ingredients according to local custom and served during festive social gatherings and elaborate dining rituals. Meze may be distinctly Lebanese, but this most social of dining experiences can be savoured anywhere by anyone. Here, from Chef Shadi Deeb of Four Seasons Hotel Beirut, are three basic yet delicious recipes for meze staples: hummus, falafel with tahini dip and spicy meat samboosak (samosa). The recipes serve 4 to 6, but can be doubled or tripled for a larger crowd.

Hummus

Ingredients:
2 pounds dry chickpeas
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 1/2 ounces tahini
2 teaspoons lemon salt
2 teaspoons table salt
Cold water

Directions:
Soak chickpeas in water and baking soda for 12 hours, then boil. When the chickpeas are fully cooked, blend with tahini, adding lemon salt and table salt, then stir in cold water until the mixture is smooth. (Reserve some cooked chickpeas for garnish.) Garnish with chopped cucumber or pickles, cooked chickpeas and fresh parsley.

Samboosak

Ingredients:
 3 1/3 pounds flour
3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sugar
3/8 cup corn oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 tablespoons milk
Warm water
1 3/4 pounds minced lamb meat
7/8 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup pine nuts
Seven-spice powder (available in specialty or Middle Eastern food shops) or cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and white pepper to taste.

Directions:
Mix first 6 ingredients. Add warm water and knead until the dough is smooth. Let dough rest for 1 hour.

Cook onion in butter, add the lamb and sauté for 10 minutes. Add spices and mix well.

To make the patties: Roll out the dough and cut into circles. Place lamb mixture inside circles and fold the dough to seal, creating a half-moon shape. Deep-fry patties in corn oil and serve hot.

Falafel With Tahini Dip

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups chickpeas
7/8 cup fava beans
1/4 cup onion
2 tablespoons garlic
2 tablespoons coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon baking soda
Juice from 1 lemon
Prepared tahini
Salt

Directions:
Soak the chickpeas and the fava beans in water for 10 hours. Blend the chickpeas and fava beans with onions, garlic and coriander until fine, then add salt, cumin powder and baking soda. Roll mixture into balls and fry until evenly browned. Serve with tahini dip.

To make the tahini dip: Put tahini in bowl, then add lemon juice to taste. Stir in cold water until sauce is smooth. Add salt to taste.

Read more about other meze specialties in the picture: Grape leaves, tabouli, and sfeehas (spinach turnovers) Recipes

Source: Four Seasons Magazine
By: Callie Young

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