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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

White & Creamy Lebanon

The name Lebanon (Libnan) comes from the Semitic root Labn meaning white. This is in reference to the snow that covered Lebanese mountains year round until a decade ago given global warming.

Labn is also the word for yogurt. So it is very appropriate that I start the list of my favourite white and creamy Lebanese foods with home made Labn. Mom makes it from dry milk - look how thick, white and creamy it comes out.

From Labn we make Labneh - a thickened yogurt that is a typical Lebanese breakfast. While it is mainly eaten spread on a pita loaf, my father likes to serve it on toasted sweetened church bread.

Basma or Knefeh, depending on which part of the country you are from, is a favourite breakfast from my childhood. Served warm, it is three different white cheeses melted under a semolina top and covered with Quater, the Lebanese sweet syrup. Talk about a morning kick off!

The mid-morning snack is Riz bi Haleeb - Lebanese style rice pudding flavoured with rose and/or orange blossom water. The ultimate white and creamy.

And the afternoon snack is Raha - the Lebanese name for Turkish Delight. Typically we flatten a piece of Raha between two plain biscuits. Unlike the Turkish varieties, Lebanese Raha (at least the one I grew up with) is always plain sugar, white and gooey rather than creamy; sprinkled with white icing sugar.

In the evening, and when in season, nothing beats breaking open an Ashta. The insides of this fruit are layers of naturally sweet, white and creamy edible pulp wrapped around large black pits. 

 Too bad Lebanon could not hold on its white and creamy mountains year round.

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