Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions

Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions
Spring time always inspires me...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Zizo Lebanese Restaurant in New Delhi India

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India is calling me!!!! Flying off to my dream destiny (India) to the launching of ZIZO.... get it, like Zizzzz....the beetle...

I will take photos of the food!

Fouad Abdel Malak, CEO of ZIZO restaurant: "I'm helping to bring a timeless slice of Lebanon to India through a fast-casual restaurant franchise concept I helped create. “Zizo is a fast casual dining experience that presents a timeless slice of authentic Lebanon, with a healthy modern twist. Everything we create is hand-made with the freshest locally sourced ingredients; served in our uncompromising style of light-hearted, contemporary hospitality.”

"I want to ensure people have access to good wholesome food at a reasonable price point, all while extending authentic Lebanese hospitality and culture the world. " — traveling to New Delhi, India.

http://zizo.in/ please listen to the Zizo song, it is soooo cute!!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eating is a Sacred Act

Eat foods that are in alignment with our spiritual values-don't involve exploitation of the earth, workers, or animals.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Apricot Jam in Ballouneh

Every year the Massaad family heads to the mountains to our summer house. It's a time of reflection, slowing down and enjoying nature's bounty. This year Mother Nature was very kind to us. We have two apricot trees blooming with large fruit. It's a joy to pick them and make my favorite jam. I have so many pots now that I think I am going to give away jars as people come to visit us this summer.

Sarah, my daughter took this photo of me
 The recipe is quite simple. Pick the apricots, wash them under cold running water. Cut open the fruit. Watch out for worms, yes these critters love the taste of apricots. Weigh the cut fruit. Add 1/2 kg of sugar for each kilo of fruit. Some add more (700 g to 1 kg, which I think is excessive). Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight. This will give the fruit enough time to soak in the sugar, the result is beneficial to obtain enough liquid to cook the apricots. Start cooking on high fire, when boiling starts you can lower the fire. Stick around and mix carefully using a wooden spoon. You don't want the fruit to stick to the bottom of the cooking pan. Cook until the mixture becomes thick. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon for every kg of fruit. You may want to put the jam in the hot sun during the day to ensure that the liquid is evaporated. Don't forget to put the jam inside during the night. The consistency of the jam depends on your preference. It has to set but you can choose to have it thicker or looser. I prefer the jam to be loose. It just melts in your mouth.

Enjoying my summer with my dog Belle

I eat apricot jam now with labneh every morning. The mixture of both (sweet / sour) is excellent!
Try it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Lebanon

The situation in Lebanon is getting harder and harder... As I struggle to keep an image of what Khalil Gibran wrote at the beginning of the century and yet still applies today ... This image is fading from my memory quickly. What can I do to keep it alive, to continue dreaming, to keep faith? I feel helpless struggling to ignore the corruption, the disrespect of nature and men, the chaos.

" You have your Lebanon and I have mine. You have your Lebanon with her problems, and I have my Lebanon with her beauty. You have your Lebanon with all her prejudices and struggles, and I have my Lebanon with all her dreams and securities. Your Lebanon is a political knot, a national dilemma, a place of conflict and deception. My Lebanon, is a place of beauty and dreams of enchanting valleys and splendid mountains. Your Lebanon is inhabited by functionaries, officers, politicians, committees, and factions. My Lebanon is for peasants, shepherds, young boys and girls, parents and poets. Your Lebanon is empty and fleeting, whereas My Lebanon will endure forever."

As these positive words resonate in my inner conscience... They are fading away quickly. We have not learned from the past. We keep repeating the same mistakes, over and over again. We destroy the bounty of our land - nature, our most important heritage for quick money to be able to live in a society where one is judged by how much worldly goods one has. Let's not kid ourselves, finally it's all about money - the god of our century (not only in Lebanon but everywhere in the world).

What can be done to make a difference? How will we safeguard our country for the next generation? Will our children all become eligible for immigration? Will they become orphans in new territories where hope still lies?

It's becoming harder to stay positive. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Booklist's Man'oushe Book Review

A review that just came in from the American Library Association’s Booklist magazine for the book Man'oushe:

“Despite the dislocation caused by its civil war and the continuing conflict with its neighbor to the south, Israel, Lebanon has managed to nurture its justly admired culinary traditions. Among these institutions are the city’s bakeries, each unique to its neighborhood and serving deliciously fragrant breads and pastries. Massaad’s book celebrates these bakeries and teaches how to replicate their products in a contemporary American kitchen. Specifically, man’oushé refers to breakfast bread, a disc of flat bread perfumed with sesame and wild thyme. Working from just several basic yeast doughs, Massaad shows how to form and bake a host of Lebanese breads and meat pies. A reasonably adept home baker will find Massaad’s recipes easy to follow, and thanks to the Internet, assembling ingredients is not a burdensome challenge. The book’s full-color photographs bring into focus not just the foods but also the lively characters who constitute a remarkably diverse nation. Especially useful for libraries with significant Middle Eastern immigrant populations.”


Man'oushe in the USA at Barnes & Nobles

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Soup for Syria in Revolt Magazine

Read the interview I had with Revolt magazine concerning my new book project Soup for Syria. 

© Barbara Massaad - Syrian Mother and child in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mezze : Shortlisted in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Mezze : A Labor of Love has been nominated on the short-list of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It is competing with these books. Awards will be decided in May. May the best win!


- Albania – Kuzhne Mesdhetare, Katerina Gremo, Mirela Vasili (Mali Peshti)
- Australia - Colour of Maroc, Rob and Sophia Palmer (Murdoch Books)
- Canada – Three Sisters back to the Beginning, Bakopoulos (Adelfos)
- France – Passedat (Flammarion)
- Israel – A Week in Lesbos, Adi Strauss, Jonathan Roshfeld, Ron Kedmi
(Adi’s Lifestyle)
- Lebanon – Mezze, Barbara Abdeni Massaad (Massaad)
- Spain – Oleum – La Cultura del Aceite de Oliva, Carlos Falco,
Marqués de Griñon (Grijalbo)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cookbook effort aims to feed Syrian refugees

Cookbook effort aims to feed Syrian refugees 
This is the link to the article that was printed yesterday in Lebanon's Daily Star.

January 29, 2014 12:35 AM
By Brooke Anderson

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Last month, as people across the Lebanon huddled under their covers trying to keep warm during a brutal winter storm, Barbara Abdeni Massaad was at home in Beirut thinking of those who must be suffering even more from the cold – Syrian refugees in makeshift tents in the Bekaa Valley. She had to act. “It was very cold that week. I thought: What about the people in the Syrian camps? I couldn’t sleep. I had to do something. Everyone has to do something,” she says, sitting at her booth at the farmers market in Hamra where she runs the Slow Food Foundation, which aims to promote wholesome and traditional food.

This is where she sells her cookbooks every Tuesday morning and where she also collects clothing donations which she distributes to Syrian refugees. It is also where at the end of the year she will be selling a new self-published book of soup recipes whose proceeds will go to Syrian refugees, whose plight she says is the worst she has seen in her 25 years of living in Lebanon after having moved here from the U.S.

“If I were a barber, I would go and cut their hair for free. But I write cookbooks, so I did a book. I decided to do soup,” says Massaad, who has been a serious cook since the age of 15. “The most 
important thing is empathy. We can’t be indifferent.”

On her book’s Facebook page, Soup for Syria, she quotes Matt Flannery, founder of the micro-finance group Kiva: “Whatever your skill, whatever your expertise, there’s a way to apply that to help people you care about.” She also quotes he 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi as saying, “If you have much, give of your wealth. If you have little, give of your heart.”

With this book, which she believes could generate thousands of dollars, her goal is to raise money to build a temporary pop-up kitchen in the Bekaa town of Zahleh, where Syrian refugees can have wholesome hot soups such as lentil and vegetable – the same recipes likely to make it into the book. Other proceeds would go directly to refugees to pay for their needs. And while the book will be in English, she might have it translated to Arabic to distribute among interested Syrians depending on the project’s success.

“My dream is to give them a kitchen where they can have healthy meals,” she says. “There’s a war and people shouldn’t go without food.”

So far, the response to her endeavor has been enthusiastic, with people eager to give their time and skills in the printing and recipe contributions. She has already started getting contributions from Lebanese farmers who sell their goods at the market. She is expecting more submissions from local chefs, restaurateurs and foodies. The soups will all be regional dishes that can be made with local ingredients so that Syrians themselves can make them.

“The book won’t be too sophisticated. I want the Syrians to be able to make the soups,” she says.
Massaad also wants the project to be a message to everyone that they can use their time and skills to help Syrian refugees.

“I want the world to see what’s happening here and I want to show rich countries that this is not permissible in 2014,” she says.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Being a War Refugee - Last Night's Dream

Dreams speak to us sometimes if you are willing to listen...
I woke up this morning very confused.
Confused because I was still in my bed, in my home, in my country...
We take those things for granted, at least most of us do.
I had a dream that I had to flee Lebanon, chaos... war... very loud noises.
My age:15 years old at least, still a teenager ... today my daughter's age.
I did not have responsibilities, no family, no husband, no children.
My parents were vaguely present in the dream.
I remember we had to flee to a neighboring country: Syria.
We were not welcomed. We were treated like dirt, like cattle in a crowded field of animals.
Our car, which is the one I own now, a 4-wheel was packed with comforters and clothing.
We passed the borders with resilience.
I arrived wearing a summer dress. The village looked crowded.
A woman came to me and said, "hurry the supermarket shelves are emptying by the minute, don't forget to buy peanut butter."
I felt so insecure for I felt unwanted, lost and confused.
What future did I have here or anywhere else?
I was a refugee in a foreign land.
Was this dream God's way of giving me empathy, quietly in the middle of the night?
I am not a refugee.
Yet, I can relate to those who are living as one today in my country.
May God give me and others the strength to make a difference in their lives: men,  women and children alike.

It was a horrible feeling to be in this situation.
I felt it.
I have empathy.
I can walk in their shoes.
Can you?

Passion for Adventure

A book worth reading sometimes in your life:
“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
A picture take by my loving husband...in a field of wheat in Belgium