Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lebanese Meat Pie Recipe - Sfeeha - Lahm bi Ajeen

Take a walk on virtually any street in Lebanese cities, you will run into a recurring theme, a ubiquitous “delicacy” store that is on almost every corner, but it’s not Starbucks! We’re talking here about Lebanese bakeries, aka “furen,” Arabic for “oven.”   Such bakeries are flocked by Lebanese peeps mostly for a nice breakfast of flat bread pies, or mini “pizzas” baked with any of the following toppings: ground beef,  Zaatar (thyme mix), Cheese, Labneh (dried yogurt), deli cold cuts or a creative mixture of such and other ingredients like olives, tomatoes, mint etc…

Lebanese Meat Pie

One traditional way of making such pies is to bake them on a “saaj,” a dome-shaped metal oven fired by wood or gas (see photo below).  My late grandma in the village of Douma used to have one, and back in the day, every other weekend her neighbors would come over and they’d all bake bread for their families on the “saaj” along with delicious meat and zaatar pies, just like the aunties in the photo below. Good ole’ days.

The meat pie recipe we’re featuring here is the recipe that mom makes at home.  Apparently it can be made differently but we LOVE this version! It’s the flat open one that you could also find in most Lebanese bakeries.  It can be simply called Lebanese Meat Pie, or sometimes they use the Arabic name in various spellings like Lahmajun, Lahmajin, or if you have it at a Turkish place it’d be Lahmacun or Pide eventhough that may be slightly different.

Our meat pie recipe is easy to make especially if you use pre-made flat bread or thin-crust pizza dough to save you some time.  So here we go:

Lebanese Meat Pie Recipe - Sfeeha - Lahm bi Ajeen

Author: Esperance Sammour

Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Prep time:  30 mins
Cook time:  13 mins
Total time:  43 mins

Lebanese meat pies are flavorful flat bread pies with spicy ground meat toppings.


Meat Topping Ingredients (5 servings)
1 lbs lean ground beef (no fat)
1 large red onion finely chopped
1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
¾ cup of pine nuts
2-3 tablespoons of Pomegranate Molasses
1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
½ cup of finely chopped Parsley leaves
2 teaspoons of 7-spices
1-2 teaspoons of salt
a dash of cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Dough Ingredients
6 cups of multipurpose flour
½ teaspoon of yeast melted
2 and ¼th cups of warm water
1 and ¼th teaspoon of salt


Dough Preparation Method

  1. To save time, you could substitute with fresh thin-crust pizza dough. But if you’re more adventurous, here’s how to make this simple dough from scratch.
  2. Melt the yeast in ½ cup of warm water along with a tiny bit of sugar (1/8th of a teaspoon)
  3. Add all dough ingredients to your food processor, and let it knead for a few minutes until you get a dough. Alternatively you could also knead by hand by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes as you now prepare the meat fillings.
Baking the Pies
  1. Preheat oven to 500-520 degrees F
  2. Once dough is ready, make it into rounds of 8 inches in diameter and ⅓ inch thick
  3. Place dough on baking tray that has had some flour sprinkled on
  4. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of meat topping evenly on every dough
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes or until dough turns a bit golden. You could also end it with a 2-minute broil on High.
Serve hot along with any of the following side toppings: additional cayenne pepper, freshly squeezed lemon juice or even Tabasco sauce! You could also offer a Ayran Yogurt drink with it if available, this is basically plain yogurt watered down a bit and blended with some salt and ice. In Lebanese parties, meat pies and other similar pastries are sometimes served as Hors D’oeuvres and appetizers. You would typically find them made into small “mini-pizzas” of about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter and served along a rainbow of other appetizers and mezza.

Lebanese Savory Lamb Fatayer Recipe

Lebanese Savory Lamb Fatayer

Try a simple and exotic Lebanese lamb fatayer with a simple dough and an incredible spice mixture. This is a Lebanese version of a calzone and will be a family favorite and fun to make too!

Course Main dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings: 4  pieces


1 3/4 cup flour all purpose
3/4 cup warm water (about 100'F)
2 tsp yeast rapid rise
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

8 oz lamb ground
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion dices
2 garlic cloves minced
1 Roma tomato cored, seeded, and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp zatar
1 Tbsp curly parsley chopped for garnish
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water for egg wash
1/2 tsp nigella seeds for sprinkling


  1. In a large bowl place flour and salt and mix well.
  2. In a small bowl place the warm water (the water should be between 100-110'F)). Add the yeast and sugar, stir lightly and let it sit until frothy ( this will take about 5-10 minutes).
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and blend well until a soft dough forms.
  4. Rub a deep bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside the oven. Cover and let it sit until double in size (between 1-2 hours).
  5. Preheat oven to 400'F
  6. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Punch down and knead for about 5 minutes.
  7. Roll dough into the shape of a cylinder, and cut into 6 equal parts.
  8. To make the filling, heat the oil in a non stick skillet and saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the tomatoes, and the ground lamb.
  9. Use a spatula to break lamb into small pieces, and sprinkle in the salt, allspice and zatar.
  10. Cook completely.
  11. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, and roll out each part into a 9" x 3" oval.
  12. Place filling down the center of the oval and then brush around the edges with the egg wash.
  13. Pinch the top and bottom of the oval to create a boat shape, and fold sides inwards.
  14. Place individual fatayer on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle each individual fatayer with nigella seeds.
  15. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until fatayer appears golden and crispy. Garnish each fatayer with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Maamoul Cookies With Pistachio and Walnuts Recipe – Mamoul bi Joz w Fustuk

Maamoul Cookies With Pistachio and Walnuts

Maamoul is a delicious traditional Middle Eastern cookie that is typically made on religious holidays such as Easter or Eid. What makes maamoul distinct are the subtle flavorings used in the dough and in the filling, including “Mahlab” aka Mahlepi an aromatic spice, rose water, orange blossom water, mistika, and in some cases acacia incense.

Maamoul’s paste is prepared from semolina (aka “smeed” in Arabic) which is the coarse, purified wheat middling of durum wheat. Coarse semolina is typically a bit yellowish in color and is known as “smeed khishin” in Arabic, or coarse “smeed”. Fine semolina is another ingredient in Maamoul and can be known as “farina”, or in Arabic “smeed naaim” or fine “smeed.”  Such ingredients are typically found in local Arabic grocery stores, or can also be found on Amazon.

Maamoul fillings can include dates, walnuts, pistachio, or a combination of both or other nuts. Traditionally, maamoul with dates (also called maamoul bi siwa) is made with a round shaped mold, and maamoul with nuts with an elongated shape mold.  Only nuts-filled maamoul gets sprinkled with powdered sugar. Dates-filled maamoul is baked slightly longer to get light brown cookies, whereas nuts-filled maamoul is removed from the oven at the slightest hint of browning.

Making Maamoul Using a Traditional Wooden Mold

Traditionally home-made Maamoul is molded using a wooden mold. In the US such molds can be purchased at Arabic grocery stores, or can also be found online for around $4-5.  A piece of dough that is a bit smaller than a golf ball  is placed in the palm of the hand, flattened, fillings is placed in its center and the dough is then closed by folding the edges over the fillings. It’s then placed inside the mold, flattened and the mold is slammed against a cutting board a couple of times until the dough falls nicely shaped to the mold.

Making Maamoul Using a Muffin Mold or Cookie Cutter

Since many people don’t have the traditional wooden mold, we tried making maamoul using regular cookie cutters or muffin molds and it worked nicely. Using a muffin mold, flatten a piece of dough inside it all along the edges to a thickness of about 1/3 inches or less, then about 1 teaspoon of fillings is added in the center and is then covered by another piece of dough that is made flat with the edges of the mold. The mold is than slammed against a cutting board a couple of times until the dough falls. You can also prime the mold with some butter to make the cookie fall easier.

Learn how to make delicious Lebanese Maamoul cookies like a pro.


Maamoul Dough Ingredients
1 lb coarse semolina (smeed khishin)
5 oz fine semolina (smeed naim), or Farina
0.5 cup of regular sugar
0.6 lb of sweet butter, melted
4 oz of rose water
1 oz of orange blossom water
⅙ teaspoon of yeast
¼ cup of warm water
Ground "mahlab" to taste (optional, but recommended)
¼ teaspoon of ground Greek Mistika (optional)
A bit of acacia incense (bakhoor) (optional)
Nut Fillings Ingredients
¾ to 1 cup of regular sugar
2 cups of powdered sugar
0.5 lb of unsalted pistachio nuts
0.5 lb of unsalted walnuts
1 oz of rose water
1 oz of orange blossom water


Maamoul Dough Preparation Method

  1. Mix the coarse and fine semolina, along with 0.5 cup of regular sugar with hands or in food processor (we used a food processor).
  2. Melt the butter on low heat, let cool down, then pour on top of the semolina mix and work it with your hands into a paste. You can also use a food processor and knead for 4-5 minutes on low speed.
  3. Warm 4 oz of rose water, 1 oz of orange blossom water in a pot along with the Greek mistika (optional) and pour on the paste.
  4. Dilute the yeast in ¼ cup of warm water and add to the paste.
  5. Add a dash of Mahlab powder and knead the dough with your hands, or in the food processor for 3-5 more minutes.
  6. You should now have a nice dough that needs about 7-10 hours of rest, covered, at room temperature.
Maamoul Fillings Preparation Method
  1. Mix your choice or pistachio, walnuts, or a mix of both along with sugar in a food processor and grind at high speed for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add the rose water and orange blossom water and grind for a couple more minutes
  3. Don't grind them too much as you want the filling to still have chunks of nuts, and not turned into a paste
Molding and Baking the Maamoul
  1. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of maamoul dough, place in the palm of your hand and flatten it to a thickness of ⅓ inch
  2. Add about 1 heaping teaspoon of fillings to its center then bind the edges together and close the dough on the fillings, as in the photos
  3. Place the dough in the wooden maamoul mold, press it gently with your fingers until it becomes even with the mold surface and add more dough to even it out if needed.
  4. Slam the wooden mold's edge on a cutting board a couple of times until the molded maamoul drops out of it
  5. If you don't have a traditional wooden mold, you can use a metal cookie molding/cookie cutter to mold the dough.
  6. Place molded maamoul on an aluminum foil or cookie tray that has been dusted with regular flour, semolina, or even slightly buttered
  7. Bake at 430F for 13-15 minutes, or until the maamoul begins to turn slightly pinkish/reddish
  8. As soon as you take them out of the oven and while still hot, place powdered sugar inside a strainer and sift/shake on top of the maamouls to fully cover them. The powdered sugar will eventually melt and turn a bit glazed.
  9. Let cool down at room temperature, and then sprinkle some more powdered sugar until fully covered
  10. Your maamoul is now ready to be devoured. You can keep them in an airtight container for a few days at room temperature or in the fridge.

Optional for the adventurous: If you have Acacia incense (Gum Arabic, aka "Bakhoor") handy, you can burn a bit of it in the pot that you're going use to warm the rose water for the maamoul dough. This gives a subtle but complex traditional flavoring to the dough.

Lebanese Moussaka Recipe – Sauteed Eggplant – Musakka3at Batinjan

Lebanese Moussaka

This recipe showcases the Lebanese version of the popular Moussaka eggplant sautee.

Moussaka Ingredients (4 servings)

3 medium size eggplants (about 1.5 lbs total)
1 medium size garlic head
2 large onions (yellow or white)
2 large tomatoes (1.5 lbs)
1 large green peppers
1/2 cup of quality olive oil
a dash of cayenne pepper
a dash of salt

Moussaka Preparation Method
  1. Chop the vegetables in chunks as in the photos. The eggplant in cubes of about 1.5 inches, onions cut in length, tomatoes in chunks.
  2. Add the eggplant and onions with the oil and salt to a stew pot and sautee on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and green peppers to the pot, mix , lower the heat, and then let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cayenne pepper, mix in, close the lid, and let simmer for 20 minutes while mixing the pot every few minutes. The lid has to be closed so the juice doesn’t evaporate as quickly from the tomatoes.
  5. Once ready, let cool down and serve cold (hence the name) along with pita bread and an optional side of garden veggies such as mint, and green onions.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 35 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Low calorie
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: Middle Eastern

Source: Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Grilled Kafta Kabob Recipe – Kafta Mishwiyyeh

Grilled Kafta Kabob

In Lebanese cuisine, Kafta usually refers to spiced ground meat that can be fried, baked or bbq’d.  It is then called Kafta Kabob (or Kabab) if it’s meant for the BBQ grill, and this is what we’re featuring in this recipe. There are of course many ways of spicing up your Kafta, it’s a matter of taste and culture, and in this post we’re showcasing a rather mainstream Kafta Kabob recipe that mama makes at home, and that is juicy and delicious.

Grilled Kafta Kabob is a very juicy and delicious bbq treat that is easy to prepare.

Grilled Kafta Kabob Ingredients

1 lb of ground beef (20% fat)
1/2 lb of ground lamb (optional, if not available use 1.5 lbs of ground beef total)
2 large yellow or red onions finely minced
1/2 parsley bunch finely chopped
2 teaspoons of 7-spices
1-2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
a dash of Cayenne pepper (optional)

Preparation Method

  1. Finely chop or mince the onions in a food processor and strain the liquid/juice that comes out of them. This is important to get rid of, otherwise the meat paste will be loose and won’t hold together easily.
  2. Finely chop the parsley leaves (discarding the stems)
  3. Mix all ingredients well together and make into patties or put on Kabab skewers
  4. Grill on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes max
  5. Serve Kafta while hot along with some Lebanese pita bread, grilled onions and vegetables.  Kafta goes VERY well with a side of  Tabbouleh Salad.. try it out 🙂
Making The Kafta Stick 🙂

Putting the Kafta on skewers may be a bit challenging as sometimes it doesn’t stick well, especially if the fat content isn’t enough. Here are some tips to help making the Kafta stick:

Onions: after you grind/mince the onions in the food processor, make sure to strain them very well and get rid of all extra moisture/juice. The more juicy the onion is the less stickier the kafta is.

Parsley: Parsley has a considerable amount of moisture as well, so after chopping it let it dry a bit on a piece of towel

Chilling Kafta: Once you’ve made the Kafta mix, you can skewer it and let it rest on a plate in the fridge for a couple of hours so that it sticks well on the skewers. The colder the meat is the stickier it is. If you have the flat metal skewers as shown in this post those are the best for such Kabobs.

Eggs: As our friend Joumana from Taste of Beirut noted in the comments you may also want to add some eggs or bread crumbs to the mix make it stick.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Diet tags: High protein
Number of servings (yield): 5
Culinary tradition: Middle Eastern.

Source: Mama's Lebanese Kitchen

Vermicelli Rice - Ruz Ma Shayreeyeh Recipe

Vermicelli Rice - Ruz Ma Shayreeyeh

This dish is a regular in Syrian and Lebanese homes, eaten alongside meat and vegetable dishes. The bronze, glistening vermicelli add another visual as well as textural dimension to the dish. These tiny vermicelli can be found in Middle-Eastern specialty stores. This dish is also lovely if eaten with a slathering of yoghurt. A Syrian lady taught me the 2:3 for rice:water ratio, which always seems to produce a light and fluffy grain.

Serves 4

2 cups Basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil (canola, sunflower or peanut)
1/2 cup vermicelli (can be found in Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian, Egyptian stores)
3 cups boiling water

Wash the Basmati rice in water till the milky colour turns clear. Let the rice soak for minimum 30 minutes, preferably one hour.

Heat oil on medium heat in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, add the vermicelli and stir till they begin to change colour a bit, around 3 minutes.

Add the rice, hot water, salt. Cover pot with a tea towel and lid.

Turn the heat to low and allow the rice to cook for 18 minutes. (If you are using an electric burner, you could transfer the pot to a new burner- sometimes the coil takes too much time to cool down, burning the rice in the process).

Turn the heat off and let the rice rest for another 10 minutes. Decant with a wide-rimmed spatula or teacup saucer, to prevent the grains from breaking.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Lebanese Vegetarian Potato Kibbe Recipe – Kibbeh Aat’aa

Lebanese cuisine is famous for offering a wide array of Kibbe dishes. For those who are not familiar with the term, Kibbe generally refers to ground meat mixed with burghul (cracked weat), spices and herbs and then baked, fried or grilled into an amazingly savory dish. In this recipe, we’re going to feature a vegetarian version of Kibbe patties made with potatoes and chickpeas. Featured in the photo below are Kibbe Patties with Tabbouleh Salad.

Author: Esperance Sammour

Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time:  30 mins
Cook time:  50 mins
Total time:  1 hour 20 mins

Lebanese Vegetarian Potato Kibbe Recipe is a tasty traditional dish for kibbe lovers. It is healthy and rich in fibers and nutrients. Check our easy recipe.


2 cups of Burghul (cracked wheat/bulgur)
2 cups dry chickpeas
3 medium sized potatoes, boiled, mashed
2 cups general purpose flour
½ bunch parsley
½ bunch mint
½ bunch green onions
1 medium sized white onion
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon Lebanese 7-spices
⅔ teaspoon of salt
2 cups of Olive oil (about 1 cup per pan of Kibbeh)



  1. Chickpeas: The goal of the process here is to skin and halve the chickpeas. If you are able to find skinned chickpea halves at your grocery store, you can just soak them overnight and skip the remaining steps in this process. If you have regular chickpeas, then soak them in water overnight. On the day of, rinse them well then warm in a pot of water on the stove for a few minutes. Drain, then spread warm chickpeas on a towel then break them open by rolling a rolling pin on them a few times with force. Place broken chickpeas back in a pot, fill with water then rub them with your hands to separate the skin. Repeat the process a few times so that you rid the all of the chickpeas from their skin. Once done, drain the skinless chickpeas and place in the “mixing” pot.
  2. Potatoes: Boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, let cool down a bit, peel, mash and add to the “mixing” bowl.
  3. Burghul: rinse the burghul with water, let dry for 30 minutes and then add to the “mixing” bowl
  4. Mint and Parsley: Cut stems away, then finely chop the leaves and add to the “mixing” bowl
  5. Green Onions: Chop finely then add to “mixing” bowl
  6. White Onions: Chop finely then add to “mixing” bowl
  7. Flour & Spices: Add flour on top of all ingredients in the “mixing” bowl, add the 7 spices and cayenne pepper and salt, and mix and knead well with your hands for a few minutes. The result should be a dough.
Cooking Method
  1. Brush olive oil on your Pyrex glass baking pan (or your preferred aluminum baking pan)
  2. Pat Vegetarian Kibbe dough into pan with a thickness of about ½ to ⅔ of an inch but not too thick
  3. With a knife, cut deep lines into the dough to form square shapes. Then makes small cuts in the center of each square. The purpose of this is to allow the olive oil to seep through the dough and make it easy to cut when cooked.
  4. Gently and slowly soak the pan with olive oil until it’s fully covered and the olive oil level is right above the surface of the dough. This should be about 1 cup of olive oil per pan.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until the dough turns brown and a bit crispy. Poke to make sure the inside is well cooked.
  6. Enjoy it hot or cold, and serve with Lebanese pita bread.
The vegetarian kibbe can last for a few days covered in the fridge. If you make extra dough, you can place the surplus in ziplog plastic bags and store in the freezer for a few months. To cook, thaw at room temperature for a few hours then follow the baking process above.


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