slow food snail trails by Lebanon Traveler Magazine Issue
6 March - June 2013
photographer, food consultant and TV host, Barbara
Abdeni Massaad follows the Kebbeh trail:
is considered one of our most cherished dishes. We are all
accustomed to eating kebbeh in all its forms- vegetarian
varieties included for those who can't eat meat or abstain
from eating it during certain periods of the year. But what
is Kebbeh? Kebbeh is simply seasoned ground meat or mashed
vegetables mixed together with burghul. That's all!
most of us probably don't know is that kebbeh is produced
and cooked differently across the country. From the north
to the south of Lebanon, there is a whole range of regional
varieties. Its diversity is derived from local traditions
in a given region, especially the availability of certain
ingredients on hand. Kebbeh is served raw, boiled, baked,
grilled or fried.
the north of Lebanon, goats herd on high mountains therefore
raw kebbeh is made mostly with goat meat. In Zghorta, they
pride themselves on their kebbeh. Who hasn't heard of the
kebbeh Zghorteweh? This kebbeh, stuffed with animal fat,
garlic and dry mint, is usually cooked on a barbecue. Alternatively,
a mixture of sautéed onion and minced meat is used
as stuffing. Fresh raw meat, which has been cooled, is also
made with tender loving care by pounding it in a huge mortar
with a large pestle. It takes a lot of strength to pound
the meat and most women who do this exercise develop muscles
in their arms.
the coast in Tripoli, where fish is abundant, kebbeh is
made with ground fish instead of meat, mixed with burghul.
White pepper is added to the mix with the salt. The mixture,
which is almost dough-like, is made into oval balls or spread
to cover the bottom of a round baking tray. It's stuffing
is vegetarian and in the case of the tray, another layer
of kebbeh is used as a cover. The quality and freshness
of the fish is important to ensure good results.
balls are used in cooking and make up an important ingredient
in local soups and stews. Kebbeh drenched in yogurt (laban)
is a family favorite eaten throughout the country. This
recipe may have been derived from the Bekaa Valley where
cow milk is abundant. A piece of awarma, a meat preserve
made of lamb conserved in fat, is also added to the yogurt
in the Chouf to make the dish heartier. In the high mountains,
goat milk is used instead, giving the stew a pungent, tangier
taste. The benefit of cooking with goat milk is that it
doesn't curdle. Therefore adding an egg and / or cornstarch
to the yogurt is not necessary.
way to serve kebbeh balls is in a sauce made with tahini
diluted in citrus juice, made mostly of bitter Seville oranges.
This may be served with chunks of slow-cooked meat, beef
or lamb. In the Kesserwan, kebbeh balls are served in a
kishk soup. Kishk is yogurt with burghul that has been fermented
for a few days then dried in the sun and finally ground
into a fine powder. Awarma is added too for peasants who
need extra strength.
the South of Lebanon, mostly in Sidon, kebbeh balls are
stuffed with butter mixed with walnuts and hot red pepper
paste. This type of stuffing is also found typically in
Syria and the red pepper paste that is used is also imported
from there. We call it ''shattah''. Variations of red pepper
paste exist ranging from mild to spicy hot. Cooks tend to
agree on a milder paste. In Nabatieh, raw kebbeh is pounded
on a marble slab called ''blata'' and mixed with a special
local spice called ''Kamouneh''. It is made mostly of cumin
and a mixture of fresh and dried herbs. Dried rose petals
(Jurri) are also added to the spice. This type of kebbeh
is called ''Frakeh''.
is worthwhile to take a journey to discover the richness
of one of our most important national dishes, kebbeh. You
will find similarities in different regions, but mostly
you will enjoy its diversity whether in the use of ingredients,
method of preparation or, finally, in the way it is cooked.
Rass: Kebbeh shells empty or stuffed with sautéed
meat (beef, lamb or goat), onion, and roasted pine nuts
with local spices. Shells are eaten deep-fried as an appetizer
or become a main ingredient of traditional dishes.
Saniyeh: Kebbeh baked in flat round trays in
the oven. Two layers of meat mixed with burghul with stuffing
in between. Stuffing is made of sautéed meat, onion,
roasted pine nuts and local spices.
Sajiyeh: Large round stuffed shells grilled on
Kebbeh: Kebbeh made with raw minced meat with
burghul served fresh.
Kebbeh: Kebbeh made with fish.
Kebbeh: Kebbeh shells made with mashed pumpkin,
potato, rice or chickpeas instead of meat
recently chicken kebbeh balls have made their way into the
Beirut - Tawlet +961 1 448129
Chouf - Salim Achkar Guesthouse +961 3 354558
Bekaa - Casino Mhanna +961 8 800634
North - Ras El Nabeh restaurant +961 6 590118
South - Abdel Wahab +961 7 751966