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

Kaak Khamis

Kaak Khamis or Kaak Helo shaped with a special mold
Kaak Khamis or Kaak Helo shaped with a special mold

According to the Arsali, “kaak khamis” or Thursday cookies also known as sweet cookies (kaak helo) are prepared on Thursday preceding Holy Friday. Although Arsal is Muslim-Sunnite town, the villagers have always celebrated this Holiday with their Christian neighbors in the surrounding villages. “Women gather to prepare kaak together, it is a beautiful social event” says Halima.

The traditional mold used to give kaak khamis its shape
The traditional mold used to give kaak khamis its shape


4 cups of flour

1 cup of powdered milk

2 eggs

1 ½ cup of sugar

200g of butter

1 cup of vegetable oil

1 tsp of vanilla

1 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of anise, powdered

1 tsp of mahleb

1 tsp of yeast

½ cup of water

Grease the mold and don't press hard on it to avoid the dough from sticking
Grease the mold and don’t press hard on it to avoid the dough from sticking

Preparation Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, milk, butter, baking powder, vegetable oil, vanilla, mahleb and yeast
  2. Add the water gradually while mixing with both hands
  3. Add the flour when the mixture is homogeneous
  4. When the dough becomes smooth and elastic, cover and set aside for 30 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180⁰C (356⁰F)
  6. Divide the dough into several pieces. To make the traditional cookies use the special molds to make imprints on dough disks. If the molds are not available, you can make different shapes such as circles or even braids. When using the mold, brush it with vegetable oil and make sure not to press hard to avoid the dough from sticking
  7. Grease the baking tray with vegetable oil and place on it the cookies
  8. Bake for 15 mns

Arrange the cookies on the tray 2.5 cm apart
Arrange the cookies on the tray 2.5 cm apart

Eat Local

Easter traditions: how to decorate Easter eggs naturally

Simmering the eggs in different natural dye solutions (Photo ©Mabelle Chedid)
Simmering the eggs in different natural dye solutions (Photo ©Mabelle Chedid)

Natural dyes and herbs was the only option for our ancestors for decorating Easter eggs. Our grandparents used spring flowers and plant leaves to create imprints on the eggs, and simple kitchen ingredients such as spices and coffee bean and vinegar to stain them.

Making use of these natural ingredients ensures the eggs are healthy to consume.

To decorate Easter eggs this year, all you need is:

1 dozen of white eggs, hard boiled. The exact color below will be obtained with white eggs, and the stain on brown eggs will be slightly different

White vinegar



Vegetable oil

Green leaves from the garden: you can choose compound leaves (divided into many separate parts or leaflets) to have nice designs

Naturally decorated Easter eggs
Easter eggs decorated with leaves imprint

Vegetables and spices for the dyes:

Orange: 3 chopped carrots and 5 tbsp. of paprika

Blue:  1 cup of red cabbage, chopped

Reddish-brown: 1 cup of onion skins

Pink: 1 cup of beetroots, shredded

Yellow: 2 tbsp. of turmeric, grounded or I cup of wild chrysanthemum flowers

Green: 2 cups of green leaves (preferably spinach), chopped

Nylon stocking

Place the flowers and leaves in the position you want (Picture from
Place the flowers and leaves in the position you want (Photo

To prepare the dyes:

  1. To prepare each dye, add the needed ingredient to a pot with 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to boil and then let simmer for 30 mns.
  2. Add 3 tbsp. of vinegar and the eggs you wish to dye, and bring to boil again.
  3. Remove from fire and let simmer for 15 mns.
  4. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Every cup of coloring solution can dye 3 eggs.

Close the stocking tightly to hold the leaves in place (Photo
Close the stocking tightly to hold the leaves in place (Photo

To add the pattern:

  1. Place the leaves and patterns on the hard-boiled egg as you wish them to be and wrap it tightly with the stocking.
  2. Put the eggs in stocking in the dying solution and let simmer for 15 mns. Make sure the eggs are well submerged.
  3. When the wanted color is obtained, remove the eggs from the solution gently and let dry.
  4. Remove the eggs from the stocking and put them to chill in the refrigerator for an hour for a more intense color. For a more vibrant color, rub them gently with vegetable oil using a paper towel.

Naturally dyed Easter eggs (Photo
Naturally dyed Easter eggs (Photo



Events Souk aal Souk

Easter Farmers’ Market in AUB

Easter Souk

Celebrate Easter this Wednesday April 1st, 2015 with the farmers and producers of Souk aal Souk – Farmers’ Market.

Join us in the courtyard the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences – AUB from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm to support local producers and enjoy delicious sweets and maamoul!


Wheat with Laban

 wheat with laban
This dish is popular in Akkar as well as other Lebanese regions where it is prepared on Easter Saturday. Given that during the lent period people fast on dairy products, people celebrate the end of Lent and the resurrection of Christ with this “white” dish. Wheat and laban called “labaniyeh” is savored with a boiled egg.
This recipe provides a great source of fibers – known for their benefits for the heart and for prolonging the feeling of satiety.
Total Servings: 5

Preparation Time: Overnight soaking + 30 min preparation of recipe


4 cups of pealed wheat

1 cup pf chickpea

3 kg of fresh plain yoghurt (Laban)

Preparation Steps:

  1.  Soak the wheat and chickpea in water overnight.
  2. Wash the wheat / chickpea mix the next day under running water and put it in a pot with twice as much water as there are grains. 
  3. Leave the grain mix on fire for around 30 minutes (decrease the fire once the water is boiling).
  4. Poor the plain yoghurt (Laban) on the grain mix and stir until the yoghurt spreads all over the grains.
  5. Leave it to cool for a bit and place it in the fridge as it is mostly enjoyed cold.