Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lebanese Brunch

Brunch is my favourite meal. It's my luxury meal. My slow-down-and-linger meal.

Brunch: my slow-down-and-linger meal
A typical Sunday brunch in AK's Kitchen means massive omelettes, pancakes, sausages, cheeses and fruit. And of course, pots of strong coffee and morsels of dark chocolate. When I'm too lazy to cook, I serve up a Montreal-style brunch with bagels, cream cheese and lox. And of course, pots of strong coffee and morsels of dark chocolate.

My dear friend Maya wanted to introduce me to new brunch flavours, sans chocolate. She invited me to a traditional Lebanese brunch prepared by her favourite cook, her mom, Raja.

Traditional Lebanese brunch 
When I arrived, I was immediately greeted by a symphony of wonderful aromas. Lemon. Mint. Garlic. Thyme. Raja was rolling out her fresh dough for our Lebanese pizzas. The pizzas were just the starters for a delightful three-hour meal.

The main dishes were fool and fatteh. Fool is a mixture of chickpeas and beans. Fatteh is made with a layer pita bread, topped with yogurt, sprinkled with fried minced beef and toasted pine nuts. A pinch of cumin and a drizzle of olive oil add another layer of taste. Raja served fresh parsley and mint to help us digest the heavy fatteh.
This is the kind of dish I can eat anytime. It sticks to your ribs. It's loaded with good stuff -- probiotics from the yogurt; anti-inflammatory ingredients from the olive oil; vitamins and dietary fibre from the pine nuts. Raja she makes fatteh only on weekends because, she says, "It's so heavy, you have to have a nap after you eat it."

Assorted dried fruit and nuts
We went from savoury to sweet with a platter of dates, dried cranberries, goji berries, along with hazelnuts and walnuts. I was so satisfied, I didn't even miss my chocolate.

We topped off our traditional Lebanese brunch with high-octane Turkish coffee.

Many, many thanks to Raja and Maya for giving me a taste of Lebannon. I can't wait to return the favour and a few new flavours of my own.

Note: Aren't the photos sharp and luscious? They were all taken by Maya Shoucair. Her camera and eyes are much better than mine.   

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