Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

Introducing Shahiya.com

Today I received an interesting press release from Shahiya.com, I'd like to share it with you. It is a good initiative taken by food lovers who wanted to document our "Arabic" food heritage. The site lets one interact and share recipes and is designed in a professional and computer-friendly way. I think if someone has time, one can stay for a while browsing and tasting the virtual foods. I have not tried any of the recipes yet, I am very tempted to do so. The site is available for both Arabic and English readers alike.

To visit the website: Shahiya.com

The press release:

The Arab Food Revolution:

 The words “food revolution” might conjure up images of Jamie Oliver, whereas the “Arab revolution” refers more to the recent Arab Spring uprisings.

However, for Hala Labaki, Carole Makhoul Hani and Daniel Neuwirth, the three co-founders of shahiya.com, their “Arab Foodie Revolution” has been quiet, subtle and tasty.

It all started with a simple realization: for all Arab cuisines, finding reliable online sources of recipes was close to impossible. The Arab culinary heritage had been stored forever in family notebooks, lying on the shelves of every grandmother’s kitchen. But most of the time, it was only transmitted to the close family, sometimes even being lost with the departure of the elderly.

“We thought of the idea for this site while studying abroad. We craved Lebanese food, but couldn’t find a single dependable online source for Lebanese recipes, especially in Arabic”, says co-founder Hala Labaki. “We used to call parents and friends, wasting hours in international calls to be able to make this or that dish. But for other cuisines, French, Italian, American or Chinese, reliable recipes were all over the net. This is how we first identified a need.”

When the three friends rejoined in Lebanon, they shared their concern for safeguarding their culinary heritage and their desire to make it more accessible. With the rise of online social platforms, the solution was plain to see, and shahiya.com was born.  

The 100% user generated website aspired to be a platform where home cooks from all over the Arab world could create a free profile and add their own recipes. They would share recipes they had tested and cooked many times - hence offering reliable, feasible and authentic recipes. 

Today, a year and a half after it was launched, shahiya.com is well on the way to fulfilling its initial aim: with more than 25,000 members viewing, reviewing, and trying out the 2,200 recipes shared since on the site, it is quickly becoming a first point of call for authentic and reliable Arab food recipes. Currently more than 60% of visits are from the KSA, making shahiya.com the number one food website visited in the Kingdom. 

What makes this site unique, among other things, is a feature found on no other Arab food site: each published recipe gets its nutrition facts calculated. So if you always wondered how many calories there are in your sayyadieh, now all you have to do is to post the recipe on shahiya.com and when it gets published you’ll find out! This service, along with diet recipes and an online free nutritional profile, is provided under the supervision of Carole Makhoul Hani, an RD.

“Cook Lebanese- 101 recipes” iPhone application

Encouraged by the success of the site, the trio decided to take their idea further; to bring Arab food home to even more people, they launched an iPhone application. “For our first iPhone application we decided to focus on what we know best: Lebanese Cuisine”, says Daniel Neuwirth.

101 quintessentially Lebanese recipes were selected by the Shahiya team. The team then actually cooked, tasted and fine-tuned these recipes. The resulting final, foolproof set of recipes made it into the app. The 101 recipes are divided into nine categories with a vegetarian filter offered for each. The dish pictures are not only beautiful; they genuinely illustrate the expected end result.

The app ‘Cook Lebanese – 101 recipes’ is available in six languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese). Conveniently, all the listed ingredients are readily available anywhere in the world, and all recipes can be emailed to friends with a click of a button. In a nutshell, that’s the Lebanese culinary heritage meeting the entire world, 21st century style.

“Food is at the heart of our lives”, says Labaki. “It’s a great vehicle for drawing people together, and introducing them to new experiences and cultures. It is also such a huge part of our heritage, and we hope to keep it alive on the web with shahiya.com.”

Cook Lebanese is available on the iPhone App Store
at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cook-lebanese-101-recipes/id443934198?mt=8&ls=1#

For additional information about Cook Lebanese, including screenshots, a demo video and more, please visit http://shahiya.com/english/app_iphone.aspx or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z_t61HlEmU