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Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Christmas eve was celebrated Lebanese style at somerville kitchen. Festivities began with Arak, a Lebanese drink that is similar to Ouzo but with unsweetened anise flavour base. You add some water, then ice (in this order) and you have a tasty, albeit strong drink, to go with your meals. Never drink it as a shooter - you will become incoherent in 2 minutes...

The dinner was Moughrabieh, the middle-eastern version of the North African couscous (In fact, North Americans refer to it as Isreali couscous). 

It is mainly semolina, salt and water that is made into these tiny balls, typically by hand (mine were store bought). Just imagine the hours it would take middle eastern women to roll enough of those to serve a big family over a holiday dinner.

You then boil chicken with lots of onions, and use the broth, including the onions, as the base for a stew that goes over the Moughrabieh. 

The broth is flavoured with salt, cinnamon, all spice and caraway. The smell of this meal when you walk into the kitchen is simply heavenly.

Close to midnight, a typical Lebanese holiday (Christmas or New Year) dessert - Knefeh - was served. This is simply two layers of shredded dough (sold in Greek stores as Kataifi) with heavy cream (Iranians refer to it as "Puck") in between (more on this cream at  September 12 entry - Sunday Morning Snack). This is then baked and served soaked with Kater - Lebanese syrup made with sugar and water and flavoured with a bit of rose water and lemon juice. Knefe is also popular as breakfast in Lebanon, so left overs will be the Christmas breakfast tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!

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