Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Not Leb? That's OK, I'll show you!

From a young age, food has always been an important part of my life. I get excited when I'm about to try a new restaurant, I love trying new kinds of recipes and sitting down and enjoying the food with a good glass of vino. For me, that's priceless.  I have been living on my own for quite some time now and I decided that I would learn to cook my ethnic meals. I'm Lebanese (well half-lebanese...anyways). I'm actually 4th Generation Lebanese, it's actually my great-grandparents who were "off-the-boat". My grandparents were born here and barely speak any Arabic, so you can imagine, my knowledge of the language is basically what I learned at work (owned by a Lebanese family)! So I decided that because I don't know the language or have been to Lebanon, I should learn how to cook lebanese food. Now, I am not some kinda haute-cuisine chef, I don't make many Leb recipes, but there is one that I want to share with you, that you can do at home SUPER EASILY! 

It's actuallly SHISH TAOUK chicken!!! Yes, no need to run to Amir or Basha, you can make your own! But I gotta say Boustan makes the most amazing shish taouk sandwiches in Montreal. So you should try that! You want to impress your guests or your man, or your woman with a new recipe, well give this a try!

The recipe that I use calls for 6 chicken breasts, in my opinion, doesn't really matter how many you use, you will just have extra marinade left.

- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp allspice (you can find this at any grocery store, or Adonis, or whatever!)
- 1/4 lemon juice
- 1/4 cup oil

1. Now you can really do what you want with the chicken, but I like to keep as a filet, but you can cut it up and make a brochette with it if you want. Or cut it up if you want to make sandwiches.

2. Peel and mash garlic with salt. Add other ingredients in small bowl

3. Take out a Ziploc bag or any plastic bag. Put chicken in bag and then pour the marinade in the bag. Usually your chicken should marinate for 4-5 hours or overnight, but if you're in a rush, get home, do this, put the chicken in the fridge and then work on your sides.

4. Turn your oven on to BROIL. Make sure your highest tray in the oven is at the highest level. Put the chicken on a cookie sheet lined with foil, don't pour the entire marinade on the chicken if there is extra, it might catch fire in the oven (it happened to me!). 

5. Cook chicken on BROIL for about 10 min on each side - until the top of the chicken is quite dark. While the chicken is cooking, keep the oven door open to keep a good eye on it. 

6. Then serve, with rice, or veggies - if you want, you can make a FATOUSH salad (you can look it up online) or Hashwat Rice (which is a favorite of mine - Meat and Rice, my grandmother makes the best, I also have a recipe for that one, but I think the shish taouk one is key! You can also pick up some garlic sauce, tomatoes, pita bread, lettuce, and make your own sandwich! You can go to Adonis and get all your stuff! There is also another Leb grocery store I found on Sherbrooke called Akhavan.

If you are interested in more Leb recipes, you can buy this cookbook my Granny bought me - The Lebanese Kitchen. But I can't seem to find it anywhere online, oh well, I have found some great lebanese recipes online before actually getting this book. E-rcps.com  is a good site, and if you have any questions, just ask and I can provide you with any type of recipe.

And if you're too lazy to cook and want to try some yummy leb cooking, here are a few great leb places in and around the city!

CASUAL / FAST FOOD
- Boustan on Crescent is my favorite
- But you also have Sindibad on Cote-Des-Neiges who grills their sandwiches and there's a little hint of "je ne sais quoi" that makes those shish taouk sandwiches DELISH
- Arroush in Laval- you can pick up some killer Zaatar
- Andalos on Lebeau in Ville Saint-Laurent, makes AWESOME Leb sandwiches with flavored pita.
- Antabli - on L'Acadie right in front of Marche Central - serves some excellent fruit cocktails with lots of fruit and real fruit juices, most of them covered with a coat of Ashta (white cheese), honey and nuts. My favorite is the Turbo with extra ashta, so delicious! I use to go in the summer with my friend Gabrielle, play cards, eat fruit and smoke shisha. Didn't get better than that!

ACTUAL RESTAURANTS
- Daou - both locations - Marcel Laurin and on Faillon in Villeray
- La Sirene de la Mer with 3 locations - Laval, on l'Acadie corner Sauve and on Jean-Talon. They also have a take-out counter with the freshest fish! Their fish is AMAZING! 
- EZO on l'Acadie I heard was great - my grandparents have gone and loved it
- Alep et Petit Alep on Jean-Talon, more or less only Leb food, but really Middle Eastern

I suggest you try the Kibbeh Nayeh which is the raw meat with mint and some pita bread. You can also add a little onion to it, just delicious! And if you are new to this, ask your waiter to help you out. He might have some great ideas. I really enjoy the chicken, some tabouleh, with some fries, some fish, (La Sirene makes an excellent salmon), kibbeh nayeh to start and maybe a little baklava at the end. I'm not a fan of rose water, but if you like it, they have some excellent deserts at Daou with the rose water.

I can keep on writing, because I'm seriously bursting with ideas. So if you are interested in making a great leb meal, please let me know, I can help you out and if I don't know the answer, I'll ask my Granny!

As my last words of wisdom, TRY IT! You won't be disappointed. If you have never had Leb food, well WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Get to Daou with some of your peeps, I'm telling you right now, the decor is super outdated, but the food, mouth watering!

Happy Eating!!!

Bil hana wish shifa! (arabic translation)

N.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Basha in Boulevard Des Laurentides is terrific!

Their Shawarma's make me wanna catch some beautiful lebanese women lol