When you traditionally think of Middle Eastern food you might think of mezze, which are small dishes, hot and cold, like hummus and tabbouleh prepared to share. This is the food you would be served in Lebanese restaurants, similar to the tapas of Spain.
Lebanese home cooking is actually very different and based around simple dishes such as stews (yakhnehs) served with bulgar wheat, which is the traditional grain of the Levant.
The typical flavours of Lebanese cuisine include olive oil, herbs, garlic (lots and lots of garlic) and lemon. It is traditionally healthy and very friendly to vegetarians, with orthodox Christians in the region even following a strict vegan diet during lent.
I was sent the cookbook above to review and found it very inspiring. I haven’t cooked properly in a while but the food looked simple to prepare and I was amazed by how few ingredients many of the recipes actually involved….
I decided to cook the Red Bean Stew, which is beans, onions, garlic stewed in tomatoes and oil. The dish should have been made with kidney or pinto beans but as I only had one can of kidney beans I substituted in some broad beans as well. I didn’t feel bad doing this as in the introduction to the book Kamal explains that you don’t learn to cook by reading books, you learn to cook by actually cooking and experimenting and also that you are cooking for your family, not a panel of judges. It was very tasty and I served it with some left over lentils and rice from a previous meal.
There were plenty of leftovers so the next day I made up some hummus (which is a very simple recipe) and roasted some courgette in lemon, salt, olive oil and garlic to serve it with. Again, very filling, very tasty and very satisfying.
This cookbook has over 50 recipes to choose from and will keep me busy for quite a while. If you want to own your own copy, Lebanese Home Cooking by Kamal Mousawak is released on the 5th November by Quarry Books. It is also available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk