Times change, people change, but that doesn’t mean that food has to change. Lebanese cuisine prides itself on being healthy, wholesome and bursting with flavor.
The Banquet of Old Times, published by Balamand University, is a book that includes a collection of traditional Lebanese recipes, as well as information on the traditions surrounding the creation and consumption of the cuisine.
According to the book, a statistical study showed that Lebanese restaurants, cafeterias and even households are turning to foreign foods like hamburgers and hot dogs, and are turning away from their traditional cuisine.
“They argue that they are “modern” and “trendy,” whereas traditional dishes like moujaddara, koussa bi laban and makhlouta are boring and outdated. The book states that globalization is to blame for this rise of “trendy foods” and the decline of interest in traditional dishes. The process is relentless, threatening to detach our modern generation from its culinary heritage, and thus from its historic identity,” the book tells us.
Let’s start a new trend, bringing some traditional favorites back to modern times. Here are two recipes selected from the book that will have you turning away from that burger and reaching for the laban.
Eggplant with Pomegranate
. 2kg eggplants
. 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
. 3 tbsp olive oil
. A few pomegranate seeds
. 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
. Pinch of salt
. 1 hot chili pepper (optional)
– Grill the eggplant, peel the skin and chop finely
– Add pomegranate molasses, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, parsley, salt and red chili pepper.
Fattet Kafta bi Laban
. 600g of finely ground meat
. 200g onions, finely chopped
. 40g parsley, finely chopped
. Salt and pepper to taste
. Oil for frying
. 400g yogurt
. 2 garlic cloves, minced
. 1 tsp dried mint
. 50g pine nuts
. 1 tbsp clarified butter (samneh)
. 1 pita bread
– Mix the meat with onions and parsley
– Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and knead well until the kafta comes together
– Divide the kafta into small fingers and fry in oil
– Mince the garlic and mix with the yogurt and dried mint
– Toast the bread and cut into medium-sized pieces
– Fry the pine nuts in clarified butter (samneh)
– To serve, put the toasted bread on a plate, followed by the fried kafta and yogurt.
Garnish with fried pine nuts.