Mansoufeh: A Flavorful Dish from West Bekaa and Al Chouf

Flattened mansoufeh balls

Mansoufeh is a comfort food in West Bekaa villages like Kherbet Qanafar, Ain Zebdeh and Mashgara and in villages across the Chouf district. It is a traditional vegetarian meal containing a delicious and healthy mix of wholegrain carbohydrates and veggies, which makes it a satisfying and energizing main dish.

Typically, mansoufeh consists of bulgur (burghul) rolled into small flat balls that are cooked in tomato sauce with chopped onions that are seasoned with sumac. It is customary for mansoufeh to be prepared on Good Friday.

Preparation of the mansoufeh dough

Bulgur (burghul) which is an important ingredient in Lebanese cuisine produced in the Bekaa Valley and one of the key ingredients of mansoufeh, is a great source of complex carbohydrates packed with vitamins, minerals and fibers which can improve digestion and gut health.

Another ingredient in mansoufeh is pumpkin, which is a superfood containing tons of minerals and vitamins and has low caloric content. Pumpkin, which is harvested in the Bekaa during fall, is an excellent source of vitamin A and C which helps boost the immune system. Mansoufeh contains a generous amount of onions, which are nutrient-dense and are high in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that help prevent several diseases.

Mansoufeh Recipe:
(Recipe courtesy of Noha Bou Rached’s Guesthouse in Ain Zebdeh, West Bekaa)

Preparation time: 1 hr 30 min

Recipe serves: 8


• 3 cups of fine bulgur
• 2 cups of flour
• 1 cup of pumpkin, boiled and drained (keep the pumpkin water for later use)
• 2 kg of onions, sliced into shreds
• 2 tbsp. of verjuice
• Water (enough to fill the cooking pot up halfway)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup of olive oil divided (to fry the onions and to serve mansoufeh)

Boiling mansoufeh balls boiling in water
Frying onions and mansoufeh balls in olive oil


  1. Chop and boil pumpkin until the pieces are soft, then drain the pumpkin and save the water.
  2. In a bowl, mash the cooked pumpkin and mix them with bulgur, flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Gradually add the pumpkin water until the dough becomes firm.
  4. Shape the dough into small balls and flatten them between your thumb and index finger.
  5. In a pot, boil water and salt. Add the flattened balls and let them cook for 2-3 minutes or until they float on the surface, remove and drain.
  6. In a saucepan, fry the onions in olive oil and keep them aside.
  7. Spread the remaining olive oil over a big tray and add the flattened mansoufeh balls and onions.
  8. Pour the verjuice and mix all the ingredients together gently.
  9. Serve warm!
Adding tomato sauce to the fried mansoufeh and onions

Where to Enjoy Mansoufeh?

The Bekka Valley:
Noha Bou Rached’s Guesthouse – Ain Zebdeh, West Bekaa: 08-670-572
Lina Saade’s Guesthouse – Kherbet Qanafar, West bekaa: 70-671-399

Al Chouf District:
Eid Guesthouse – Ain Zhalta, Al Chouf: 71-131-104
Streech Guesthouse – Brih, Al Chouf: 76-711-811 (Cezar Mahmoud)
FarmVille Barouk – Barouk, Al Chouf: 76-711-811 (Cezar Mahmoud)
El Achkar Guesthouse – Khreibeh, Al Chouf: 03-354-558
KAÏA Guesthouse – Barouk, Al Chouf: 81-060-621


Sirdeleh Workshop & Goat Cheese Training in Shouf

During the group session, participants discussed the challenges and opportunities of producing Sirdeleh

On July 16, 17 and 23, the Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) delivered three training sessions and workshops on Sirdeleh and soft goat cheese making in Deir al Qamar. These sessions were commissioned by the Secours Islamique France (SIF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chouf Biosphere Reserve. FHF supports the SIF objectives in enhancing the preservation of authentic food in the Chouf region.

Doing so, Eng. Nadim Rawda began the first session with a general introduction workshop in dairy products and white cheese making. Local farmers, cooperatives and cheese makers where taught the extensive knowledge of Baladi Cheese making with a focus on the production of goat soft cheeses flavored with sun-dried ingredients such as herbs and tomatoes.

Preparing white goat cheese

On the second day, a participatory workshop facilitated by Eng. Mabelle Chedid and Mrs. Marwa Soubra gathered Sirdeleh producers from the Chouf area and aimed at identifying the Sirdeleh production method while pointing out the challenges that the producers face at different levels of the production process. The participants were motivated to share their experience and talk about challenges which they are facing mainly related to the lack of good quality clay jars and lack of marketing. The negative aspects of using plastic jars were addressed in the Food Safety session that was followed by a presentation on Occupational Health.

Everybody wanted to participate!

In an attempt to promote and preserve the traditional method of Sirdeleh making, SIF will distribute to the participants, later this summer, clay jars produced by a local potter.

All participants agreed that hygiene is a key success for the production of quality products

Finally on the third day of training, the basic training on Sirdeleh making was delivered: participants learned how to prepare the clay jar prior to use and how to safely fill in the jar with goat milk. At the end of the training they all tasted freshly made Sirdeleh cheese prepared by a local farmer from Baaqlin.

While pouring milk inside the jar, one should be careful not to splash milk on the sides to avoid molds


Sirdaleh is a climate-smart product which makes use of the seasonal goat milk production and is preserved for use during winter when goat milk is not available. Similarly to Ambarees, Sirdeleh is made exclusively with raw goat milk. During the production process, Sirdeleh cheese is removed from the vessel and used to make kishk, but the bulk of the production is left to ferment in the jar to gain its acidic taste and conserved in glass jars covered with olive oil.


The preservation and documentation of the Sirdeleh cheese by passing on traditional production methods and expertise is a major concern to FHF who has previously teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Zahle and the Bekaa (CCIAZ ) to survey producers of Ambarees, another iconic dairy product prepared with raw goat milk, and which is facing similar threats such as lack of good clay jars and absence of marketing. The collaboration between FHF and CCIAZ also included a workshop and distribution of jars.

Preparing the jar prior to use can also be fun!


Holiday cookies – Chouf, Lebanon

Kaak el Eid – Chouf, Lebanon

Kaak el Eid or Holiday cookies are traditionally prepared in the Chouf mountains of Lebanon during the Adha holiday. Big quantities of cookies are usually prepared and baked.

Total servings: 5 kilos of Kaak

Preparation time:  1:45 hours

We would like to thank our friend Mrs. Hanaa Hamza for sharing her recipe.


2 kg of semolina

1 kg of flour

6 cups of margarine

6 cups of sugar

2 cups of milk powder

1 tsp of crushed clove

1 tsp of “Mahleb”

1 tsp of cardamom powder

1 tsp of musk

3 tsp of baking powder

Roasted sesame for decoration

You can either sprinkle sesame on the cookies or roll the cookies in sesame 🙂

Preparation steps:

  1. In a big bowl, mix the semolina, flour, sugar, milk, clove, Mahleb, cardamom powder, musk and baking powder
  2. Add the margarine when the mixture is homogenous
  3. Mix well until the dough becomes smooth and elastic then set aside for 1 hour to rest
  4. Heat the oven to 180 degrees
  5. Divide the dough into small pieces, then shape them into elongated forms of approximately 10 cm
  6. Shape the fingers into circles by connecting their ends, and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds
  7. Arrange the cookies on a baking tray
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 min or until slightly gold


Hosts and local guides

Elissar Temrez, Maasser el Shouf

A mother of three, Elissar is married to Chawki, a farmer both in practice and at heart, a true lover of mother earth. Elissar and her husband have several orchards in which they mainly plant tomato jabaliye, olives and figs.

Akkoub kebbeh (Eryngo) one of Elissar's specialties
Akkoub kebbeh (Gundelia) one of Elissar’s specialties

In season, her husband will be glad to take you fig-picking after a delightful breakfast at Elissar’s balcony. Her delicious Tlameh bi bayd is one of the many local dishes that Elissar would serve you for breakfast. She is equally skilled for making mouneh and especially dried figs and tomato paste, all products from her land, cultivated with much care and love by her husband.

Where to eat and sleep

Samia Merched, Niha Al Shouf

niha host

Samia and Chafik Mershad had been hosting trekkers on the Lebanon Mountain Trail since 2008. Samia will make you feel at home at all times and her food reflects the local cuisine of the region. After a visit to the Sirdeleh producer Abla Majed, to see how this traditional dairy product is processed, pass by Samia’s table d’hôte to taste local specialties made with sirdeleh, such as kebbeh and fatayer.


Capacity: 8 persons


Eat Local

Breakfast at May’s house in Mresti


Mresti, one of the highest villages in Shouf is known for its old Oak trees. On the food trail, you will also be in touch with its hospitable and friendly inhabitants,  Like May, the owner of a minimarket in the older part of the village. May is known for the bread she bakes and her whole wheat mana’ish.




Hosts and local guides

Raed Zeidan, Mrosti


Raed Zaidan never originally thought of becoming a beekeeper but after his father suffered an accident, he found himself assisting with the family beekeeping business. In 1992 Zeidan discovered and gathered a naturally occuring beehive, motivating him to start his own beekeeping business. Twenty years later and Zeidan now teaches beekeeping in the technical agricultural school of Baakline, passing on the trade to to new generations.

He moves his bees several times a year, allowing them to forage in the flowers from which he  wants to produce honey; from orange blossom located east of Tyre to wild flowers and thistle blossoms found at mild and higher altitudes. Towards the end of  september, Zeidan places his beehives in areas where Inula blossoms, so that his bees collect their winter reserves from the nectar of this nutritious plant for the harshest days of winter.

Raed will host you for a beekeeping and honey extraction activity in Mresti where you will get to know more about the life of bees, the cycle of honey production and much more.