Yellow Cake with Grape Molasses “Sfouf b’Debes”

Sfouf b’Debs

Yellow cake with grape molasses “Sfouf b’Debes”

Grape molasses has many uses. It can be used to sweeten cookies, cakes and breads. It can be made into a refreshing drink and can also be used to flavor puddings, BBQ sauce and gravies. We recommend you try “Sfouf b’Debes” for a truly delicious food experience.

Recipe: Yellow cake with grape molasses or “Sfouf b’Debes”

Ingredients: (makes 11 pieces)

150g of ferkha flour

150g of flour

200g of grape molasses

75g of vegetable oil

20g of powdered milk

5g of baking powder

200g of warm water

5g of instant yeast

5g of powdered aniseeds


Pinch of sesame seeds

Preparation steps

  1. Preheat the oven to medium heat.
  2. Mix flours, powdered milk, instant yeast, baking powder and the powdered aniseeds.
  3. Add the vegetable oil and rub well.
  4. Add the grape molasses and the warm water.
  5. Spread the tahini in a nonstick oven pan and pour the mixture.
  6. Spread the sesame seeds.
  7. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes, and then put it in the oven for 25 minutes
  8. Serve cold.

Learn more about molasses!


Rose Petal Jam

Rose petal jam is used mainly in pastry. It adds a sweet taste to your cake and biscuits. Rosa damascena petals are gathered in the morning before they start to fade. They are washed to remove debris, soil or dust, then they are air-dried. Petals are separated, pollen grains are removed through a filter net – this will also remove other “impurities” – then petals are weighed.

Make sure your roses are not sprayed with any pesticides;
When picking the roses, pluck roses by hand just below the calyx, in other words remove the whole rose and not only petals.


4 cups of clean rose petals, well packed

4 cups of sugar

1 ½ cups of water

½ cup of rose water (mawared)

½ cup of lemon juice

Rubbing rose petals with sugar will accelerate the release the rose aroma

Preparation Steps:

  1. In a cooking pan, mix the rose petals with the sugar. Rub them well to drain water from the petals. Roses will release their aroma and the sugar will soak in the dark pink juice
  2. Add the water, water rose and lemon juice then place the pan on medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes from boiling
  3. Remove the mixture from heat, set aside to cool overnight and cover with a kitchen towel
  4. On the next day, cook again on medium heat for another 10 minutes until the required consistency is obtained. Total cooking time should not exceed 30 minutes
  5. Fill clean jars with rose jam while hot. Tightly close the lids and turn the jars upside down for a couple of hours. Store jam in a cool place. Place the jar in the refrigerator once opened

Freekeh Soup

Freekeh is an excellent source of fibers very important for the digestive system. It has been used in numerous recipes, traditional and “novel” ones. Freekeh chicken soup offers a number of benefits. It is a great source of proteins, fluids and minerals. It helps in boosting the immunity system and providing energy and nutrients to the body.

Freekeh soup

Region: Bednayel – Bekaa

Number of persons: 6 persons

Calories: 280 Calories/portion

Preparation Time: 90mns


1 cup of Freekeh

1 big onion, finely chopped

8-10 cups of chicken broth

1 tbsp. of vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation Steps:

  1. Under running water, rinse the Freekeh to clean it from dust and debris
  2. In a cooking pot, stir fry the onions in the vegetable oil until golden
  3. Add the Freekeh and stir well then add the salt and pepper
  4. Pour the chicken broth and leave on a low heat until it boils
  5. After boiling, leave the soup to simmer on a low heat for around 30-35 minutes until the Freekeh is well cooked
  6. Enjoy with a dash of lemon juice

Meshtah el Jreesh

Meshtah is a long oval flat bread typical to the South of Lebanon and its name is derived from the Arabic word Ishtah – “to flatten”. Although commonly prepared during Ramadan, Meshtah can be found all year-round in Lebanese bakeries. It is savored with labneh and vegetables.

Home-made meshtah. Photo ©Bayan, Deir Kanoun Ras Ein


3 cups of Jreesh

½  cup of whole grain flour

½ cup of white flour

2 cups of warm water

1 Tbsp. of yeast

1 Tbsp. of fennel powder

1 Tbsp. of Nigella seeds

1 Tsp. of salt

¼  cup of  oil

1 Tsp. of sugar

Pinch of turmeric

Preparation steps:

  1. Soak the Jreesh in a cup of water for about 3h
  2. After 3 hours, add the remaining ingredients to the soaked Jreesh and make the dough
  3. Let the dough rest in a warm place for 30mns
  4. After 30mns, divide the dough into balls
  5. Stretch each ball into a long « flat bread » and shape it
  6. Put the bread on oven trays and mark the bread with a spoon. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to rest for 30mns
  7. Brush the bread with olive oil mixed with turmeric and sprinkle with Nigella seeds
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven (180 degrees celcius) for 15mns until the bread is golden
  9. Let cool and serve with labneh, olives, makdous and vegetables

Mujaddara Hamra

Mujaddara Hamra”, which literally translates to “Red Lentils”, is based on cooking lentils with a lot of onions until they are dark and one step before being burnt. Traditionally coarse bulgur is added to the lentils to give a nice texture. This dish is also known as “meat of the poor”, and it is frequently prepared during the months of fasting, by all social classes, given its nutritional value parallel to that of meat. You can eat this dish hot or cold with a side plate of salad or cucumber and yogurt.

In Rmeish, “Mujaddara Hamra” is traditionally prepared on Good Friday: as Easter usually coincides with the tobacco planting season, farmers with their families are busy working in the fields, preparing the land and seeding tobacco. Women who also work in the fields, have enough time to prepare “Mujaddara Hamra” for lunch, a wholesome vegetarian and filling meal full of proteins, iron and fibers, served a “sliqa” salad or salad of green wild edible plants. On Easter Sunday, another simple dish is prepared: “Kibbeh nayye” (raw meat with bulgur) served with “hawseh” a dipping sauce which consists of fried onions and tomatoes.

Mujaddara hamra. Picture ©Joanna Elias

Region: Rmeish, South of Lebanon

Total Servings: 7 (250g/serving)

Calories per serving: 405 calories/250g

*Calories are an estimate based on closely matched ingredients.

Preparation time: 50 mns


1 kilo of red lentils

3 red onions, preferably local “Baladi” onions

1 cup of coarse bulgur

2 liters of water

½ cup of olive oil

¼ cup of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of each salt, seven spices and black pepper

Preparation steps:

  1. Under running water, wash the lentils several times, and strain well from the water
  2. After washing the lentils, place them in a cooking pot with 2 liters of water and let them cook for about an hour on medium fire
  3. While lentils are cooking, finely chop the onions then fry them in the vegetable oil in a separate pan, on a medium fire until caramelized
  4. Add a ladle of water from the lentil pot to the caramelized onions and mash the onions with a fork
  5. Incorporate the caramelized onions to the cooked lentils
  6. Add the previously washed bulgur to the lentils and onions, mix well then add the salt and spices
  7. Let simmer on low fire for 15 mns until bulgur is well cooked, while stirring occasionally to avoid the lentils and bulgur from sticking to the bottom of the pot
  8. When bulgur is done, stir in the olive oil before serving
Mujaddara hamra served with eggplant makdous and green onions. Picture © Zein Khatoun


Naoumi (النعومي) originally refers to a sweet snack prepared with crushed roasted chickpeas (Qdameh – قضامة صفراء) mixed with sugar and drizzled with orange blossom water (mazaher) and served in a paper cone. Our grandparents and even some of our parents are still fond on this snack which brings them back beautiful childhood memories. The recipe below originates from Rashaya el Wadi in the West Bekaa, known for its Qdameh production. Naoumi is here presented as small pieces of sweets, instead of powder, decorated with sesame seeds and served for visitors and guests.

Total servings: 40 pieces

Preparation time: 2 hours


1 kg of roasted chickpeas (قضامي صفراء), finely ground

½ kg of liquid grape molasses

300 g of White Almonds coarsely ground

2 sachets of Mastic or Arabian gum (مستكة)

Roasted sesame for decoration

Preparation steps:

  1. In a bow, mix together the ground chickpeas and almonds together
  2. Finely pound the Arabian gum and add it to the chickpea and almond mixture
  3. Gradually add the grape molasses to the mixture while kneading the with hands until obtaining a cohesive and gummy dough
  4. Portion the dough into small balls then shape them as per preference and top them with the roasted sesame. Chocolate molds can be used to shape the Naoumi balls
  5. Leave at room temperature to dry and harden
  6. Store the “Naaoumi” sweets in a dry and airtight container.

Saff (Tabbouleh Saff)

Saff is a traditional Lebanese salad similar to the Tabbouleh we all know but with more sources of proteins and fibers. Saff is renown in Rashaya region and is prepared during summer and fall when all ingredients are available.

Fresh Saff ready to be served

Total Servings: 8

Preparation time: 30 mns


1 ½ cups of chick-peas soaked in water overnight

1/3 cup of fine Burgol

3 bunches of Parsley

Half bunch of Mint

5 Green onions

3 Tomatoes, medium size

5 Cucumbers, medium size

Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, Salt, Black Pepper according to taste

A pinch of Sumac

Carrot, Radish, Cabbage and Garlic are optional ingredients added according to taste

Preparation steps

  1. Finely chop all vegetables
  2. Grind the chickpeas
  3. Add chickpeas and burgul to the chopped vegetables
  4. Mix with all the seasoning ingredients (sumac, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper)
  5. Serve cold as a side salad

Beetroot Tabbouleh

Beetroot Tabbouleh (Tabboulit shmandar) is more of a winter salad when beetroot are abundant. This specific recipe is a highlight of Khairat Bekaina community kitchen in Khiara, West Bekaa.

Total Servings: 4


1 kg of beetroot

250 g of fine white burgol

1 ½ bunches of parsley

½ bunch of mint

1 small onion

½   of one sour pomegranate

2 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses

Olive Oil, Lemon juice, salt to taste

Preparation steps

  1. Boil, peel and finely chop the beetroots. Save the cooking water
  2. Soak the burgol in enough cooking water until all water is absorbed by the burgol
  3. Finely chop parsley, mint and onion
  4. Mix all aforementioned ingredients with the pomegranate seeds and seasoning (olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and salt)
  5. Serve chilled

Mafroukeh b Laban

“Mafroukeh b Laban” or yogurt mafroukeh (مفروكة بلبن) is an egg-less mafroukeh prepared in Dar el Wasaa in Northern Bekaa. It is a refreshing side dish prepared during summer and eaten with either roman lettuce leaves or vine leaves.

Total servings: 4


1 cup of fine bulgur

1 cup of yogurt (laban)

1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup of mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup of green onion leaves, finely chopped

1 cup of cucumber, diced

1 tbsp dried mint leaves

salt and cinnamon, to taste

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tsp of melted butter

Preparation steps

  1. Soak the fine bulgur in the yogurt for 30 minutes
  2. In the meantime, combine all the other ingredients
  3. Add the bulgur to the mixture and mix again
  4. Serve cold with lettuce or vine leaves

Shmameet b laban – Poached eggs in yogurt

“Shmameet b laban” (شماميط باللبن) is a rural dish consisting of eggs cooked in goat yogurt and served with rice on the side. The recipe is prepared in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and other Arabic countries as well. It can be cooked with or without meat but the vegetarian version is more common.

“Shmameet b laban” is a rich and consistent meal, part of our Lebanese culinary heritage.

Total Servings: 4


1 kg of goat yogurt (laban)

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of water

10 eggs

1 tbsp of flour

2 large onions

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of white pepper

1 tbsp of cornstarch

Preparation steps

  1. Cut the onions into slices. Saute the onions in a saucepan with the butter on medium fire until browned
  2. In a small bowl, mix the water with flour then add them to the onions. Cook on a medium fire until the mixture thickens
  3. Add salt and white pepper to the mixture and stir well
  4. In a separate bowl, add the cornstarch to the cold yogurt and stir until the starch dissolves. The starch will keep the yogurt from curdling
  5. Slowly add the yogurt to the mixture and stir continuously until the mixture is homogeneous and it slightly boils
  6. Break the eggs one after the other, slowly on the surface of the yogurt and leave for about ten minutes without stirring allowing the eggs to cook without breaking
  7. When the eggs are cooked, the “shmameet” are ready to be served hot with rice on the side