Salma & Her Food

‘ I’m a professional English cook. I went to college and worked for over 30 years as a cook, but at home… I cook Lebanese ’ – Salma Hage

 

Salma Hage, a Lebanese housewife from Mazarat Tiffah (Apple Hamlet) in the mountains of the Kadisha Valley in North Lebanon, has over fifty years experience of family cooking. She learnt to cook from her mother, mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, and, having helped bring up her nine brothers and two sisters, would often cook for the whole family. She has also spent many years working professionally as a cook.

Salma’s Food

‘For me family and cooking are inseparable, and they are the things I love most in life. So it makes sense that since my son and grandson George have become vegan, I too have returned to my roots and gradually become much less interested in meat’ – Salma Hage

 

Salma’s eating habits have come full-circle in the some fifty years in which she has been cooking. For the first two of three decades of her life, as it had been for many earlier generations, her diet was mostly vegetarian, with meat very much reserved for celebrations. Then, after the Second World War, as luxuries gradually became more available, she began to cook with more meat. Over the years, she compiled her definitive book on her home country’s cuisine, The Lebanese Kitchen.

 

More recently though, Salma and her family have found themselves becoming less and less interested in meat once again.

Cooking at home has once more become about eating more vegetables, pulses and grains. At first, it was a challenge – my husband especially associated being vegetarian with being poor. We have begun to realise that we simply don’t need a lot of meat to eat well or feel satisfied. – Salma Hage

 

And so, though she will still cook meat for a large party or special occasion, Salma’s latest book is about how she likes to cook at home now – simple, vegetarian, mezze-stlye dining.

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‘Reading Salma's book, I feel an intense sentiment of familiarity.'

Allain Duncasse

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‘Hage's falafel are without a doubt the best falafel I've ever had, especially dipped in her zinging garlic and sesame sauce'

Alex Renton, The Times

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‘Hage's food is solid and satisfying.'

The Washington Post

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THE MIDDLE EASTERN VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK

“Middle Eastern food is about getting the best flavours from simple seasonal ingredients. It’s not about what you leave out, but what you put in.” – Salma Hage

 

A collection of vegetarian dishes influenced by Middle Eastern flavors from Salma Hage, author of the bestselling classic, The Lebanese Kitchen.

 

A definitive, fresh and approachable collection of 150 traditional recipes from an authoritative voice on Middle Eastern home cooking, Salma Hage’s new book is in line with the current Western trends of consciously reducing meat, and the ancient Middle Eastern culture of largely vegetarian, mezze style dining.

 

Traditionally, the Middle Eastern diet consisted largely of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, pulses, grains and legumes. Salma simplifies this fast becoming popular cuisine with easily achievable recipes, many with vegan and gluten-free options.
Drawing inspiration from ancient and prized Phoenician ingredients, from grassy olive oil to fresh figs and rich dates, this book offers an array of delicious breakfasts and drinks, mezze and salads, vegetables and pulses, grains and desserts. Salma shows how to easily make the most of familiar everyday fruits and legumes, as well as more exotic ingredients now widely available outside of the Middle East, with nourishing recipes so flavourful and satisfying they are suitable for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

THE LEBANESE KITCHEN

“Soulful, traditional family recipes from a Lebanese grandmother who knows her food.” Fran Miller, Acquataste

 

Following on from Phaidon’s classic home-cooking bibles of national cuisines, which started with The Silver Spoon in 2005 and has continued with 1080 Recipes, Vefa’s Kitchen, I Know How to Cook and India Cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen is the definitive guide to traditional cuisine from Lebanon.

 

The Lebanese Kitchenbrings together more than 500 recipes, ranging from light, tempting mezes to rich and hearty main courses.

On the shores of the eastern Mediterranean and a gateway to the Middle East, the food of Lebanon blends textures, colours, scents and flavours from both, and has long been regarded as one of the most refined cuisines in the Middle East.

 

Many areas produce a range of home-grown fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, apples, figs, beans, grapes and citrus fruits, and there are many traditional recipes that show the uses that resourceful home cooks have developed to make the most of seasonal produce.

 

Lebanese food has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and is nutritious and healthy (based on vegetables, oil and pulses and a balanced use of meat), as well as aromatic and tempting.

A combination of old favourites and some inspiring surprises, The Lebanese Kitchen is a must for everyone with an interest in this wholesome and delicious cuisine.

breakfast

Breakfast

Rosewater pancakes with pistachio and honey

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Rosewater pancakes with pistachio and honey

Known as ataif, this is usually a crispy and indulgent Arabic treat. Here, I make a breakfast-friendly version that is much less sweet, but still has that fragrant yet subtle flavor of rosewater contrasted with the classic combination of crunchy pistachios and sweet honey. An 8-inch/20-cm crepe pan is perfect for this recipe.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes per pancake

Serves: 4 (1 lb/450 g batter makes eight 8-inch/20-cm pancakes)

 

Put the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center, add the eggs (or add the egg substitute), then pour in the milk slowly.

Add the rosewater and whisk the mixture thoroughly to make a smooth, pourable batter.

Grease the crepe pan with oil. Set over medium heat and

add enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for

2–3 minutes, or until the edges of the pancake begin to pull away from the pan. Flip the pancake over and cook the other side for another 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a warm plate while you cook the remaining pancakes.

Serve the pancakes immediately with drizzled honey and pistachios.



V – Replace the milk with soy or almond milk, then replace the eggs with 2 teaspoons egg substitute (such as Orgran No Egg) and add an additional 2⁄3 cup (5 fl oz/150 ml) water.

G – Substitute the flour with a gluten-free flour and add an additional 4 tablespoons water or milk.

1 1⁄4 cup (5 oz/ 140 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
pinch of salt scant
1 cup (7 fl oz/ 200 ml) milk
2 eggs

1 teaspoon rosewater olive oil, for greasing honey or maple syrup, to drizzle
1 cup (5 oz/150 g) pistachios, finely chopped

mezze

Mezze

Baba ganoush

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Baba ganoush

Creamy, garlicky, and addictive, it is no wonder that baba ganoush is famous around the globe. For the perfect accompaniment, carefully toast some Pita Bread (page 70) directly over a low gas flame of your stove and use to dip them in.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes + cooling time

Cooking time: 30–45 minutes

Serves: 4–6

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6. Put the eggplants (aubergines) onto a baking sheet, prick them all over with a fork, then roast in the oven for 30–45 minutes, until soft. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and discard. Set the flesh aside to cool completely.

Put the garlic into a mortar with a little salt and crush with a pestle, then add the tahini and lemon juice and mix well.

When the eggplant flesh is cool, chop it finely, transfer to a bowl, and add the garlic-tahini mixture. Season well and thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Place on a serving plate, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the pomegranate seeds.

3 eggplants (aubergines)
2 small cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Tahini
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
handful pomegranate seeds, for sprinkling
salt and pepper

salads

Salads

Eggplant and pomegranate salad with toasted pine nuts

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Eggplant and pomegranate salad with toasted pine nuts

Meaty eggplant (aubergine) and sweet-and-sour pomegranate make a delicious pair here, with toasted pine nuts offering
a finishing crunch.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

 

Preheat the oven to 400oF/200oC/Gas Mark 6.
Put the coriander and cumin seeds into a mortar and crush

them with a pestle. Toast them in a dry skillet or frying pan for a few minutes, or until fragrant.

Put the eggplants (aubergines) into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle on the toasted coriander and cumin seeds.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil onto a baking sheet. Dip the eggplants lightly in the flour. Place them on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until chargrilled and slightly crisp. Let cool.

While the eggplants are roasting, mix all the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

Put the roasted eggplants into a bowl, pour 1–2 tablespoons of the dressing, and toss well. Let stand for 10 minutes so the dressing can absorb.

Heat 2 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet or frying pan and lightly toast the pine nuts until golden.

Add the chopped parsley, spinach, and pomegranate seeds to the eggplants and toss together well. Sprinkle on the toasted pine nuts and serve with the remaining dressing.

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 eggplants (aubergines), peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying
2 garlic cloves, crushed
gluten-free flour, for dusting
2⁄3 cup (3 1⁄2 oz/100 g) pine nuts
1 bunch parsley, leaves coarsely chopped
handful baby spinach leaves, chopped
handful pomegranate seeds
salt and pepper for the dressing
4 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
juice 1⁄2 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

desserts

Desserts

Konafah with lemon syrup

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Konafah with lemon syrup

This typical Lebanese dessert is creamy and indulgent. Thought often made with vermicelli, I like to use bread crumbs for a different texture. The orange flower water custard is beautifully offset by golden crumbs.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Serves: 6-8

 

Preheat the oven to 400oF/200oC/Gas Mark 6.
Pour half of the bread crumbs into a 9-inch/23-cm square

baking dish and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, or until just brown.

Reduce the oven to 350oF/180oC/Gas Mark 4.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, semolina, sugar, and orange flower water, mix well, and cook for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Pour the cream mixture on top of the bread crumbs and top with the rest of bread crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden and the mixture is firm. Sprinkle with edible flowers, if desired.

For the syrup, combine the sugar, lemon leaves, and a scant
1 cup (7 fl oz/200 ml) water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until it becomes a thick syrup. Remove the leaves, add the lemon juice, and mix well.

Serve slices of the dessert warm with the lemon syrup.

 

1 1⁄2 cups (5 oz/150 g) dry bread crumbs
1 1⁄4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) soy cream
2 1⁄2 cups (20 fl oz/ 600 ml) soy milk
2⁄3 cup (4 oz/120 g) fine or coarse semolina
1⁄2 cup (3 1⁄2 oz/100 g) superfine (caster) sugar
1 tablespoon orange flower
water edible petals, to serve for the syrup
1 cup (7 oz/200 g) superfine (caster) sugar
2 lemon leaves
juice of 2 lemons

SALMA IN THE PRESS

Vegetarian Living. June issue 71

‘Rather than serving up a formal three-course meal, why not try Salma Hage’s make-ahead authentic Middle Eastern mezze feast that everyone can dip into?’

Qatar airways. Five minutes with Salma Hage

“It wasn’t a matter of being the right time, more something that came naturally to me.”

The Sunday Times. Travel Special

‘Following the worldwide success of her debut cookbook, accidental author Salma Hage returns with a vegetarian take on the exciting flavours of the Middle East.’

About Time Magazine. Perfectly in tune with current trends of consciously reducing meat consumption…

‘A vibrant and approachable collection of more than 140 Middle Eastern vegetarian recipes.’

The Independent on Sunday. Middle Eastern food will remain an influence.

‘The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook by grand-dame Salma Hage, author of the bestseller The Lebanese Kitchen, is out in April.’

Out Magazine. HOW THE MIDDLE EAST IS CHANGING OUR DIET.

‘In the introduction to her latest release, The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook, Salma Hage recalls the communal nature of preparing food in the Lebanese village in which she grew up—stringing together beans to dry, pickling turnips, and making batches of her grandmother’s beloved tomato paste. Hage is not vegetarian, but when her son Joe axed […]

THE NATIONAL. Lebanese granny Salma Hage puts Middle Eastern vegetarian fare on the map.

“They push me to try new things every week and that keeps me interested,” she says. “They’ve become passionate vegetarians, so I’ve started to revisit the recipes I used to cook as a child.”