A journey to Lebanon through food

If someone had told me I would be eating raw lamb and going back for seconds and thirds I may not have believed them, but kibbeh has become one of my favourite dishes. If you are looking to broaden your cooking skills, learn more about a culture or just try something different, you will not be disappointed with this this cooking class Lebanon’s Trademark Dishes.

Our class starts with an introduction to our chef Norma and a handout that includes all the recipes we’ll be cooking, along with helpful hints and tips. We also get a jar of Lebanese spices to take home with us – very handy for me in the next coming months as I recreate the dishes!

Norma’s hands-on approach to teaching, along with her passion and excitement for cooking, makes it very easy to pick up the skills you need to become a master of Lebanese cuisine.

We start off with something nice and easy – tabbouleh – where we learn important tips like not to cut wet parsley as it ruins the flavour. Upon my first try, it’s the BEST tabbouleh I have every eaten and never again will I settle for the supermarket stuff! The ready-made version doesn’t even begin to show you how fresh and full of flavour this dish should be!

Lebanon's Trademark Dishes

Lebanon's Trademark Dishes

Now to the raw meat dish kibbeh. We start with good quality lamb bought from a trusted butcher. You have to be very very careful with who you buy meat from if you are making a raw meat dish, and Norma explains that only the best quality meat is put into the blender with the spices mix.  She glides through her presentation. We make a cooked version for those not as adventurous, and pop the cooked one into the oven and the raw version in the fridge (it’s important to keep it cool before serving – another great tip from Norma).

During a slight hiccup with the pastry for the baqlawa and a quick shopping trip by our lovely front desk rep, we create a delicious hummus (a mammoth batch enough to feed a small army, in fact). All this food is making me very hungry!

We create the stuffing for THE GREATEST dessert I have ever enjoyed – baqlawa.  I am the first to put my hand up to have a go at rolling one. It’s less technical than it looks and takes a lot of patience.  While the baqlawa bakes in the oven, we have a chat about the Lebanese culture over a cool refreshing drink which can only be  described as Turkish delight in liquid form.  It’s very sweet and very tasty! After trying everything (three times, just to be sure), we get a taste of the baqlawa being served with sweet sauce drizzled over the top – it’s still warm with adds to its deliciousness!

Everything is served with traditional Lebanese bread and all the extras you need with plenty to go around. The table erupts into chatter about which dish everyone likes most and I keep coming back to the raw kibbeh, with a little olive oil drizzled over the top with a few flakes of chilli. I’m thinking these dishes are a great for those looking for different twist to the standard barbeque.

The moral of this food adventure – get out of your foodie comfort zone and try something new. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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