Lentil With Dough (Hara’a Ousba’ou)

hor osba'a

“Hara’a Ousba’ou” is a funny name for a dish because in Arabic it means “Burning Finger”. Despite its strange name, it is still a delicious dish. While popular in its county of origin Syria, it is still a hidden gem of Lebanese Cuisine, taking side-stage to more known dishes like hummus and mjaddara.

The lentils are cooked with home made dough in this recipe, but you can save time by using fried pitta bread instead, it works equally well.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 1 cup flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • about 1/3 cup water (more or less depending on the flour used)

Preparation of the dough:

  • Mix the flour with salt , add the water little by little until you have a smooth dough
  • Cover with cling film and let it rest for one hour

Ingredients for the lentils:

  • one cup green lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 large onions, cut into wings
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 5 garlic gloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Wash the lentils, and place in pot with water, boil until tender, it will take about half an hour
  • Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, fry the onions until brown and put aside
  • Crush the garlic with a teaspoon of salt and mix with the chopped coriander
  • Heat the other tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic with coriander then put aside
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C
  • Roll the dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 cm thickness, and cut into small square, place them into a slightly greased tray and bake half the quantity in the oven until they turn golden, leave the remaining uncooked

hor osba'a 1

  • When the lentil is cooked add the lemon juice, the pomegranate molasses, half the fried onions and half the fried garlic, leaving the remaining to decorate the plate
  • Adjust the seasoning to your taste, then place the uncooked dough with the lentils and let it cook on a very low fire for about ten minutes
  • Place the lentils onto the serving plate, decorate with the remaining onions, garlic coriander and the cooked dough and serve


Kibbe Arnabiyye

kibbe arnabye 1 Kibbe Arnabiyye is the Queen of kibbe recipes. Its been kept in our family for generations and is considered very special because it can only be made in the winter when all the citrus ingredients are ripe, especially the Seville orange also known as bitter orange or Abou Sfeir in Arabic. Also, this dish is usually made for just for VIPs or loved ones. My mother used to make it in huge quantities and would send a big plate for each of her 9 sisters and brothers and had enough still to feed her 6 children and husband. This delicious recipe is very dear to me, and I am so proud to share it with you today. I do hope you try it and if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. Since the procedure to prepare it is long, I prepared the kibbe balls and onions one day ahead. The day after I started cooking the dish itself. I also use the peel of the Seville orange to make jam, so don’t throw them away when preparing this dish and I will soon post the recipe. Ingredients: for the kibbe:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup fine brown bulgur
  • 300 grams  beef meat
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon seven spices


  • Wash the bulgur and drain it from water
  • Grate the onion until fine
  • Mix the meat with bulgur and grated onion, add the salt and spices
  • Place in a food processor a little at a time until all the quantity is used
  • Your kibbe is ready place it in the fridge until you prepare the stuffing

Ingredients for the Kibbe stuffing:

  • 300 grams minced meat
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon seven spices
  • a handful of pine seeds (optional, but it enhances the flavor of the stuffing)
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation of the stuffing:

  • In a saucepan heat the oil, fry the onion until golden brown
  • Add the meat and fry with the onion for about 10 minutes, then add the pine seeds, season with salt, spices and the molasses
  • Cook for about 10 minutes until the pine seeds turn golden

Stuffing the kibbe: Your going to need an additional ingredient, a tablespoon of corn flour

  • Dissolve the corn flour in a cup of cold water
  • Make a medium sized ball from the kibbe dough with you wet hand (dip it in water and cornflour), and using your index make a hole in the ball of kibbe, and with the other hand (wet also) turn it around your index until it thins out and the hole becomes wider
  • Place 1 teaspoon of the stuffing inside and close it, turning the ball in your hand to form a nice shape
  • Your kibbe is now ready to be used in the Arnabiyye

Ingredients for the Arnabiyye:

  • 1/2 kilo kibbe balls
  • 1 kilo tahini
  • 1 kilo oranges
  • 1/2 kilo mandarin
  • 1/2 kilo Seville orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 kilo onions cut into wings
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup pine nuts


  • Fry the kibbe balls half way, for a few minutes only, then place them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil and keep aside
  • Fry or roast the pine nuts and also leave aside
  • In a medium pan, heat the oil and fry the onions until slightly golden then cover with 3 cups of water and boil it for half an hour until they soften; puree them keeping the water with them
  • Extract the juice of all 3 citrus fruits and keep in a pitcher

kibbe arnabye

  • In a large pot, place the tahini, the juice and the pureed onion and mix well
  • Place the pot on a medium fire and stir constantly until it starts boiling and forms bubble on the top; when you can see the oil of the tahini coming on the surface you know the sauce is done
  • Add salt, cinnamon and the pomegranate molasses and adjust the seasoning up to your taste
  • Place the kibbe balls and boil on a very low heat for about 10 minutes
  • Pour into deep plates and decorate with pine nuts. Enjoy it warm or cold. You could have it with cooked rice if you’d like.


Spaghetti With Spicy Shrimp

Spaghetti with spicy shrimp

In my pantry there is always spaghetti because it is  appreciated on our table. Yesterday my son had three of his friends at home and after studying all day, they felt hungry. Having not prepared enough food for everyone and with very short notice, I automatically  decided to prepare spaghetti. Me being who I am, I wasn’t satisfied with making just plain old pasta; luckily I had frozen shrimps in the freezer and I came up this dish with a very large bowl of salad and some appetizers.  There were no leftovers, so I think it turned out alright. Try it yourself 🙂


  • 1 packet spaghetti 500 grams, the thicker the better
  • 1 bag frozen shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 1 can of peeled and crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste, if you like it more spicy you can always add more
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine


  • Boil the spaghetti as per instructed on the box then drain
  • In a saucepan heat the oil and fry the garlic until transluscent
  • Add the shrimp and fry the for few minutes until they change color
  • Put in the tomatoes, salt and chili paste and mix in with the wine; let it boil for about 25 minutes until thick
  • Add the spaghetti to the sauce and mix well while cooking
  • When well cooked, mix in the chopped parsley and serve


Fish Cake

fish cake

My mother insisted on feeding us fish once a week when I was little, but my brother didn’t eat fish in any form. Frustrated after trying so many recipes and failing to get him to eat fish, my mother asked our neighbor, one of her best friends, who gave her this recipe to try. My little brother looked at them and decided they looked yummy, and had a few not knowing  that he was eating fish!

My daughter had the same problem with her baby boy, so I followed mother’s trick and made this fish cake and guess what? It worked like a charm; there’s nothing like your parents wisdom sometimes. If you have the same problem, try out this recipe and let me know if it worked out for you too.


  • 500 grams fillet fish ( I used hammour/grouper; use what you prefer)
  • 2 medium size, boiled potatoes
  • 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 2 leaves fennel, chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • one cup canola oil for frying


  • Preheat the oven to 180 C
  • Place the fish in a tray with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper until cooked
  • In the meantime heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until slightly colored
  • Mash the potatoes, mix with fennel, capsicum, onion
  • When the fish is grilled, chop it in small pieces and add it to the potato mixture, season with salt and pepper and add the lemon zest
  • Place the beaten eggs in a plate, and the breadcrumbs in another one
  • Make small balls from the fish mixture and flatten it with your hand, dip it in the eggs and then roll it in the breadcrumbs, until all the quantities are finished
  • Heat the canola oil and fry the fish caked until golden for few minutes, then turn them on the other side too


Ablama (Stuffed Zucchini)

ablama 2

I’m back home in Lebanon and I plan to post more regularly! After a long vacation in Abu Dhabi with the family, I feel relaxed and ready to cook again 🙂 Today I made zucchini stuffed with meat; this dish is called Ablama, which means “ahead of time” though I don’t know why. Previously, I’ve made Ablama served with yogurt, you can find the recipe here, however this time I’ve cooked it in tomato sauce. Every time I make it, I’m reminded of my best friend M. About twenty years ago when M was newly wed, she invited me and my husband for lunch and prepared Ablama. She  is french educated and followed the instructions in a french cookbook. While we were eating, we noticed something different in the taste and when we asked her, she replied with her adorable french accent ” Oh! J’ai oublié  le 3ement”. Translated, it means “I forgot to do the third instruction” which consists of frying the zucchini. Now, every time I cook this meal, I remember M and the look on her face when she forgot to fry zucchini. Don’t forget to fry it when you try it yourself 🙂


  • 1 kilo of baby zucchini
  • 200 grams minced meat
  • 1 medium onion, finely shopped
  • 1 handful pine seeds
  • 1 tablespoon tomato pureé
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon 7 spices
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • frying oil


  • Wash the zucchini, cut the head and remove the inside with a corer; don’t throw them, you’ll use them to make omelette with them (stay tuned, it will be in the next post)


  • Heat the frying oil in a saucepan and fry the zucchini until slightly colored, then place them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess of oil and allow them to cool

ablama 1

  • In another saucepan, heat the canola oil, fry the pine seeds until golden color then put the onion and cook until the onion is colored, add the minced meat and let it cook. Season with one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon seven spices
  • Fill the zucchini with the meat, place in a pot, cover with about 3 cups of water and tomato paste; season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of spices
  • Let it boil, then reduce the fire and let it simmer for about 25 minutes
  • Serve it with cooked rice, and enjoy


Steak Indonesian Way

A few years ago, when I worked as a journalist in a Lebanese magazine, I received an invitation from the Indonesian Ambassador in Lebanon to visit Indonesia. There was an important seminar, and people from 40 countries participated in this big event. I was so excited to visit this country. I traveled  from Beirut airport and after nearly fourteen and a half hours of flight, I finally arrived at Jakarta.  A seminar representative received me and took me to my hotel which was located near the  seminar’s venue. I spent a lovely week there, and met people from all around the world – the trip was a great experience. And above all I discovered the Indonesian cuisine which is very rich in flavors. This is a recipe I took from a lady I met there, but I made some changes to the original one to suit  me and my family.


  • 500 grams sirloin steak
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger 
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 can mushroom, sliced
  •  1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • Heat the oil in a skillet, cut the steak into thin strips
  • Fry the onion in the oil until light golden, add garlic and leave it for one minute
  • Add the carrots, the the mushroom, let them cook for a further 5 minutes
  • Add the beef strips, stir well, then add the ginger, the beef broth, soy sauce, salt and pepper
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the meat is cooked
  • Served with cooked rice ( I cook it with some mixed vegetables)


Chicken Stew With Olives

From time to time, I like to try new recipes, especially when I want to make chicken. A friend of mine who lives in a village, invited me once for lunch. And among the food she prepared, she made this chicken stew with olives as a main dish which we enjoyed a lot. I took the recipe and tried it at home. It was so good and so I decided to share the recipe with you today.


  • 1 whole chicken for about 1.5 kilo
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • about 10 baby onions
  • 1 cup black olives, seed removed and sliced


  • Mix the coriander, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, saffron, turmeric, basil, lemon and marinate the chicken with this mixture for around 10 minutes
  • Heat the oil in a pot and fry the chicken from all sides until it becomes golden
  • Add the onion and the olives, cover the chicken with about 4 cups of water and let it cook on a medium heat, when the water starts boiling, reduce the fire, cover the pot and let it cook until the chicken softens (to save time you can use a pressure cooker)
  • When cooked, place the chicken in a plate with all the vegetables with olives around
  • You can drain the remaining water and use it to cook rice with this stock, the rice will be flavorful


Artichoke Gratin

Artichoke is the kind of vegetables that can be cooked in so many ways. It can be used in salads or in a stew, it can even made into a gratin with white sauce and cheese. Since I love cheese, I decided to cook the artichoke for the lunch today the gratin way 🙂


  • one frozen bag of hearts of artichoke, about 500 grams
  • 150 grams minced beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of pine seeds
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoon corn oil
  • cooking grated cheese, use the kind you like, I mix 1 cup of Emmental and one cup of Mozzarella cheese

Ingredients for the white sauce:

  • 50 grams butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg


  • In a large pot boil about 1.5 liters water, add one tablespoon salt, and the artichoke then boil for about 10 minutes
  • In a saucepan heat 1 tablespoon corn oil, fry the onion until golden then add the pine seeds then the meat, cook until brown, season with  salt and some pepper to taste
  • Prepare the white sauce: melt the butter, add the flour, then gradually pour the milk whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, season with 1 teaspoon salt and nutmeg
  • Now you can assemble the dish:
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C
  • In a baking dish put one tablespoon oil, place the hearts of artichoke, fill each one with meat, when all they are all filled, cover with the white sauce, then sprinkle the cheese over, bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the top turns golden
  • Enjoy it with salad


Potato Stew With Meat

When me and my siblings were young, and for as long as I remember my mother used to make this meal at least once a month. She liked to have HEALTHY children. And by healthy I mean she wanted us to be  fat!

Regardless, there is nothing more comforting than tucking into a bowl of hot stew, especially as the warm weather starts to cool down and we need crave some warming comfort food. We Lebanese always serve our stews with rice, but if you feel that you would rather not it tastes just as good without.


  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 200 grams beef cube
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon seven spices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoon canola oil


  • In a large pot of pressure cooker, heat 1 tablespoon oil and fry the meat, add 1 teaspoon salt, half teaspoon seven spices, cover with 6 cups water and cook until tender
  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes
  • Heat the frying oil, fry the potatoes until golden, remove the potatoes from the oil and place on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess of oil
  • In a pot, place the cooked meat, cover them with some of the meat stock, add the potatoes and the tomato puree, and let it cook on medium fire
  • In the meantime, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a casserole, mix the crushed garlic with the fresh and dried coriander, fry them in the casserole
  • When the stew starts boiling add the fried garlic and the lemon juice and let it cook on low fire or further 5 minutes
  • Serve with cooked rice


Shrimp With Vegetables

After eating a lot the past few days, with all the gatherings, dinners and family lunches, my son and I decided that we have to eat something light and healthy. I looked through my cooking notebook and found this recipe I used to make as a starter whenever I had to prepare for a big dinner. I decided to prepare it as a main meal instead for our lunch.


  • 500 grams shrimp
  • 2 red capsicum
  • 2 zucchini
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • juice of half lemon


  • Peel the shrimp, remove the head and tail and wash properly
  • Cut the red capsicum into strips
  • Slice the zucchini
  • Peel the carrots and cut into fine strips
  • In a large saucepan heat the oil, fry all the vegetables with the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes
  • In the meantime preheat a non stick casserole, place the shrimp and sautee for three minutes, season with salt and pepper, add the lemon juice, then place the shrimp over the vegetables, and serve