Vegetarian & Lebanese Recipes

Vegetarian & Lebanese Recipes

Lebanese and Middle Eastern food is wholesome and good for you. Made with lots of fresh vegetables and whole grains, you can taste the earth's goodness in every bite. As the Lebanese people immigrated over the centuries, they brought these tasty recipes to east and west, to Europe, Latin America, the United States, and to various parts of the world. Enjoy, and Bon Apetit.

Lebanese Kibbeh

Lebanese Food Recipe
2 1/2 cups cubed tender lamb
2 cups burghul (crushed wheat)
2 medium sized onions
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. pepper
Ice water

Kibbeh is virtually the national dish of Lebanon and to call it a meat loaf does not quite raise it to the heights it deserves. Its traditional preparation is dramatic. It requires a stone mortar and a heavy pestle called the jorn and modaqqa (see photo below). The meat is pounded with rhythmic motions until it is smooth and pasty. All the neighborhood knows the sound of kibbeh in the making.

Select lamb from loin of the animal. Pound the cubed meat with a teaspoon of salt in a stone mortar with a wooden mallet (jorn and mudaqqa). Remove meat from mortar when it becomes pasty. Now pound onion with a teaspoon of salt and the pepper until it is reduced to a pulp. Combine meat and onion and pound together until very smooth. Wash burghul well in running water but do this quickly so that it does not soften. Press to remove water. Knead burghul and meat with the hands. Pound together in mortar. Add salt to taste. Dip mallet in ice water occasionally to keep meat moist and smooth. Properly prepared kibbeh must be pounded at least an hour. Then it is ready to be eaten as it is, or cooked in a variety of ways.

Preparation time may be shortened considerably by grinding meat several times through fine blade of meat grinder. Grind onion twice. Grind onions with meat once. Combine washed burghul with meat-onion mixture. Knead well, seasoning with salt and pepper. Grind this mixture three times adding a table-spoon of ice water to keep it smooth.

Jorn and Mudaqqa is like a very large mortar and pestle. Made of carved stone, it is very heavy and many Lebanese households own one. It is even passes on from generation to generation. The Bottom part (jorn) is made of stome. The top part (mudaqqa, or "pounder") is typically made from wood. Lebanese cooks put meat in the jorn and pound it rhythmically with the mudaqqa until the meat is smooth and pasty. Yummy!!

Fried or Broiled Kibbeh

Lebanese Food Recipe

There are various sorts of kibbeh, and here is another favorite. Sometimes this kibbeh is molded into two pieces stuffed with lumps of lard, formed like a tea cup and broiled over charcoal on the grill which Lebanes call a manqal (see photo below), or made into one round piece like a biscuit and fried.

Prepare a recipe of basic kibbeh (see above) and one of stuffing described in Kibbeh bi Ssanieh (see below). Or, work a cup of lard with salt, pepper and cinnamon for the stuffing material.

Form kibbeh into balls the size of a walnut. Smooth the meat ball with fingers dipped in cold water. With the thumb, form a hole in the meatball. Fill it with half a teaspoon of the meat stuffing, push meat into place, closing the opening, and pat the meatball into an egg shape. Fry in hot fat. Or stuff with the same quantity of seasoned lard and broil in the oven or ever charcoal fire. If they are broiled, they are usually dipped in sizzling fat just before serving. This is the Syrian way. They are often served with a salad, laban or with the cucumber-laban mixture called Laban bi khyaar.

The Manqal is a Lebanese Charcoal Grill

Kibbeh 'qras mashwieh
(Char-grilled Kibbeh Burgers)

Kibbeh in a Tray

Lebanese Food Recipe

Grease a shallow 12 x 18 inch baking pan. Pat a layer of basic kibbeh smoothly and firmly over the bottom of the pan to the depth of one inch. Cover this evenly with with a layer of stuffing (see below). Top with a second layer of kibbeh slightly thicker than the first. Score into diamond shapes with a sharp knife (see image below). Pour one cup melted samneh or butter over all. Bake in moderate oven about 20 minutes, or until well browned. Serve hot or cold. Serves 8 persons.

1 cup ground meat
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup cooking fat
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Heat fat. Fry chopped onions in it until soft. Add meat and fry until lightly browned. Add pine nuts and continue frying until they are slightly browned and the meat has lost its pink color entirely. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Pour off excess fat.

Kibbeh bi-ssanieh
Kibbeh in a pan, cut into diamond shapes
The diamond shapes are a Lebanese tradition, and every Lebanese cook masters this art

Kibbeh in Laban (yoghurt)

Lebanese Food Recipe: Prepare one recipe of Kibbeh 'Qrass Mashwieh (above)and one of cooked laban. Form kibbeh into 18 balls the size of an egg. Boil one cup of rice, until tender. Combine meat balls, rice, laban and half teaspoon each of crushed garlic, salt and dried mint which have been fried lightly in samneh. Simmer gently first on medium fire and later on a low fire as the sauce thickens. Add salt to taste. Serve with rice. Serves 6.

Meat Loaf in a Tray with Sauce

Lebanese Food Recipe
1 lb. lamb
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup tomato juice or diluted tomato paste

Grind meat twice. Mix thoroughly with other ingredients. Butter a pie tin. Spread meat on the pan. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Bake in moderate oven until meat is done. Serve with potato salad and greens.

Meat Loaf with Potatoes

Lebanese Food Recipe
For a one dish meal try this combination of meat loaf baked with sliced, boiled potatoes.

Prepare meat as for Kafta in a Tray (see above). Spread the meat on an oiled tin or baking pan. Cover with a layer of thickly sliced boiled potatoes topped with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Combine a cup of tomato juice with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the vegetables. Bake in a moderate oven until the meat is well cooked and the sauce has thickened like gravy.

Fried Meat Patties

Lebanese Food Recipe: Combine one pound of ground lamb with an unbeaten egg white and salt and pepper to taste. Form into patties the size of biscuits. Dip in flour and pan fry in hot fat. Serve with salad and potato chips.

Meat Balls on a Skewer

Lebanese Food Recipe
1 Ib. lamb neck meat
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley

These are best when broiled over charcoal. The Lebanese eat them hamburger fashion inside a loaf of Arabic bread which catches all the well flavored meat juices.

Grind meat several times through fine blade of the meat grinder. Mix well with other ingredient, and form into balls the size of an egg. Thread the meat balls onto skewers for broiling. If the meat balls are to be broiled in an oven they should be sprinkled lightly with olive oil. Broil until rare, medium or well-done, according to taste. Serve with laban (yoghurt) and green salad.

Vary these meat balls by adding an unbeaten egg white to the mixture. Form into patties, dip in flour and pan-fry in hot fat. Serve with potato chips and salad, or a sauteed vegetable such as green beans, carrots or peas.

Kafta 'al-a Sheesh
Kafta on a skewer, a variation of Shish kabob

Meat Balls in Tomato Sauce

Lebanese Food Recipe: Make a sauce by diluting a tablespoon of tomato paste in 1 1/2 cups water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Drop fried kafta cakes into the boiling sauce and simmer for 40 minutes (or cook under pressure for 15 minutes). Serve these meat balls with mashed potatoes and a cooked green vegetable.

Meat Loaf in Tray

Lebanese Food Recipe
2 1/2 Lbs. lamb or beef
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup samneh (or other shortening)
1 cup fresh tomato juice, or 1 tsp, tomato paste diluted in one cup water
1 cup chopped onions
1 egg white

Kafta is classical in the Lebanese cuisine. This is an old recipe but its appeal is the same today as yesterday.

Grind meat through the fine blade of meat grinder several times until it is almost pasty. (In Lebanon the meat is pounded to a pasty consistency in a mortar and pestle called jorn and mudaqqa). Now pass the ground meat through the food chopper several times with the chopped onions until thoroughly blended. Add salt and pepper. Spread meat mixture evenly about one inch thick on a large baking pan. Bake in moderate oven until lightly browned. Spread the samneh (or other shortening) over the meat and continue baking until well browned. Add tomato juice and bake until half the juice is absorbed. At this point Lebanese cooks place the pan on top of the stove to finish cooking. The sauce must be almost entirely absorbed. Cut into squares to serve. Accompany with fried or mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables and a green salad.

Broiled Lamb

Lebanese Food Recipe
1 Ib. smaiskeh (baby lamb fillet)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
12 small onions (optional)

Foreigners call this dish shish kebab or Shish Kabob. It tastes best when made with very young spring lamb. Lebanese cooks broil the skewered meat over charcoal on their braziers called manqals (see photo below). The juices which drip during the broiling are caught inside a loaf of Arabic bread. When the meat is done, it is slipped off the skewer into the bread. In Turkey the meat is marinated in olive oil before broiling.

Chop meat into one-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper and let stand for an hour. Spear onto skewers, allowing six pieces of meat per person. Alternate lean and fatty meat with onion. Broil under a very hot flame, or over charcoal until outside is well browned and sizzling. If broiled in the oven, sprinkle a little olive oil over meat before broiling so that it will not dry out. Excellent accompaniments to this meat are laban and the savory Arabic sauces called hummus hi taheeni and baba gharmouj.

Manqal, or Lebanese Charcoal Grill, with Kabob skewers

Pounded Meat Patties

Lebanese Food Recipe
2 Ibs. boneless lamb
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Pound meat in a mortar until pasty or grind it several times through the meat grinder. Add salt and pepper. Form into patties two inches in diameter and about three-quarters inch-thick. Pan-fry in samneh or other melted shortening. Or place on baking sheet, dot each with shortening and bake in moderate oven until brown.

Meat Patties with Laban

Lebanese Food Recipe
1 cup ground meat
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup samneh (or other shortening)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. chopped kizbara (coriander)

This is a well flavored dish of very small meat-filled turn¬overs smothered in a rich laban gravy. The unusual flavor comes from the combination of garlic and coriander.

Prepare a dough with 1 1/2 cups bread flour, half cup shortening, 1 tsp. salt and half cup cold water. Knead lightly and roll out a thin sheet on floured board.

Make the stuffing as follows: Fry onions, pine nuts and meat lightly. Season and mix well.
Cut the dough into circles not larger than two inches in diameter. Put a teaspoon of stuffing on each and fold over. Press edges together firmly. Now bend the half circle so that both ends meet. Place on a tray and dry in a slow oven for 15 minutes. Heat one recipe of cooked laban and simmer the skish barak until the dough seems cooked. Crushed garlic, salt and kizbara should be fried separately and gently in a small amount of samneh to enhance their flavors. If fresh kizbara is not on the market, use the dried or substitute a few pounded seeds. Add to laban and simmer. Serve tepid with rice. Serves six.

Savory Meat Balls

Lebanese Food Recipe
2 Ibs. ground beef or lamb
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup samneh (or other shortening)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water

This dish carries to posterity the name of a Turkish Pasha who lived in Lebanon and who was very fond of these well seasoned meat balls.

Grind meat several times through fine blade of meat grinder. (In Lebanon the meat is struck in a mortar with a pestle until it becomes quite pasty.) Mix meat and seasonings together well, using the hands to achieve a smooth blend. Form the meat into small balls the size of marbles. Fry until brown in the hot samneh or other fat. Add sliced onions and pine nuts. Continue to fry gently until well sauteed. Add tomato paste diluted with the water. Simmer until meat is well done. Serve with rice. Serves 8 persons.

Ground Meat Rolls

Lebanese Food Recipe
2 1/2 lbs lean meat (beef or mutton)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 egg whites
1/2 cup white toine
1/2 cup vinegar
I tsp. tomato paste
1 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves

Pound meat in a mortar until pasty or grind several times through fine blade of meat grinder. Mix well with seasonings and egg whites. Form into rolls about two inches in diameter and four inches long. (A hard boiled, shelled egg may be placed inside each roll.) Dip in slightly beaten egg white, then in toasted bread crumbs and brown well in hot samneh or other shortening. Make a sauce with one cup water, the wine, vinegar, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and tomato paste. Cook meat rolls in sauce until meat is done and sauce thickened. Lift meat from sauce. Cool. Slice. Serve hot or cold. Thin slices are good appetizers with cocktails. Hot, the meat may be served as a main course, accompanied by its own sauce, and fried potatoes, vegetables and salad.

Laban with Meat

(*) His mother's laban

Lebanese Food Recipe
2 cups leg of lamb cut in one-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Several lamb bones

Bring meat to a boil with water and salt. Skim off foam. Add onions (small whole white onions may be used). Cook under pressure for 30 minutes. Open pressure cooker and let simmer until liquid is reduced to less than one-half cup. Cool. Add laban which has been prepared according to the recipe for cooking laban (see below). Simmer over a low fire until the sauce thickens. Crushed garlic and crushed dried coriander seeds should be fried quickly in fat and added. Serve tepid with riz mufalfal (rice). Serves six.

Cooked Laban

Lebanese Food Recipe
1 1/2 quarts laban (yoghurt)
1 eggwhite
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt

A number of favorite Lebanese dishes call for laban in somewhat the same way as sour cream is used elsewhere. Laban can be successfully cooked but this must be done carefully for tt curdles easily on account of its delicate acid balance. Laban made from goat's milk (Laban Ma'aza) can be boiled satisfactorily with only the addition of salt. Cow's milk laban must be stabilized with starch and eggwhite.

Two rules always apply. Laban must not be covered during cooking, and it must be stirred in one direction only. Lebanese cooks say that one "gets the feel" of cooking laban just as one learns to make good bread.

Force laban through a fine strainer (see photo below). Mix well with other ingredients, always stirring in the same direction. Cook over a high fire until well heated and lower the fire as the mixture starts to bubble. Boil gently until it is of a rich, creamy consistency resembling gravy. It is now ready to be combined with meat or vegetables.

Fine Strainer

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Thank you to everyone who contributed recipes and photos in the past years to help us share Lebanon's beauty with the world. Thank you especially to Aunt Maheeba's friend (sorry I forgot her name) who was originally from Saghbine (Lebanon) but who lived in Brooklyn and gave me many of these authentic recipes that she had saved from the old country. She shared them with all the young Lebanese wives who grew up here in the United States and did not have access to authnetic Lebanese recipes or training in Lebanese cooking "the right way". May she rest in peace.

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