Posts Tagged ‘Ingredients’

Ingredient: Parsley

January 10th, 2010 Leave a reply »

Wikipedia will tell you that there are two types of parsley: curly leaf parsley and Italian/flat parsley. In Lebanese cuisine, however, I have only seen one type of parsley so far, namely Italian/flat parsley. Although many restaurants may serve tabbouleh with curly parsley, using Italian/flat parsley gives the salad more aroma. And although curly parsley is more decorative, Italian/flat parsley tends to soak up sauces better than curly parsley, making the salad juicier and tastier.

When buying Italian/flat parsley, I usually rely on the herbs’ aroma rather than on its appearance as Italian/flat parsley can often be confused with coriander (also called cilantro). At the supermarket, make sure to read the labels carefully and select parsley, not cilantro.

How to chop parsley and similar herbs? In Lebanon, one does not cut off each leaf from its stem, because the stems contain much of the herb’s taste & aroma. We usually keep the leaves on the stem and regroup all the leaves into a small bush, as shown below.


It is then easier to chop the leaves and the thiner stems into small pieces. You can disregard the larger stems.

Chopped Parsley

Ingredient: Sumac

November 6th, 2009 Leave a reply »

Despite the name “Lemon Vinaigrette”, the salad dressing used in Fattoush requires very little lemon juice. Why is that so? It is all thanks to a wonderful spice called sumac (also spelled sumach). This spice is made from the dried, powdered berries of the Sumac tree.




Wikipedia states that Sumac trees “grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in North America”. I had no idea. And yet, their berries are “ground into a deep-red or purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat”. It amazes me how small the world is.

So, where can you buy sumac? I would be interested to know if you can find it in a general supermarket in the US. You can definitely find it in Middle Eastern stores or online at


Ingredient: Tahini

October 14th, 2009 Leave a reply »
    So what exactly is tahini? Can’t I just make hummus without tahini?There are many ingredients used in Middle Eastern cuisine that are not common in the Western world, one of which is tahini.


    Hummus without tahini is like guacamole without sour cream. Tahini gives hummus its distinctive nutty flavor as well as silky smooth texture. You can use tahini to make various dips such as hummus and babaghanouj as well as many sauces to accompany asparagus, fish, chicken, lamb and more.

    Tahini (aka. sesame seed paste) has an oily, creamy texture. You can find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores.

    Essentials: make sure you buy 100% ground sesame. Cheaper brands may contain peanut and peanut butter, so make sure you buy quality sesame seed tahini. While you are at the grocery store, make sure you also get Arabic/pita bread as well as extra virgin olive oil.