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


Lentil and fennel kebbeh (kebbit aadas b shoumar)

Fennel kebbeh ready to be cooked

This recipe from the northern village of Endket (Akkar) is a vegetarian type of kebbeh usually prepared during lent season. Lentil and fennel kebbeh can be fried or boiled in salty water. The boiled kebbeh is either served with oil and garlic sauce or with fried julienne onions.

Serving: 4

Caloric content: 250 calories / serving


For the dough:

½ cup of fine bulgur, soaked in water for 30mns

1 cup of flour

1 medium onion, shredded

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp of pepper

¼ tsp of hot pepper (optional)

1 tsp of orange zest

½ tsp of dried marjoram

For the filling:

1 medium onion, chopped in julienne and fried

½ cup of small red lentil, cooked

1 cup of fennel, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation method:

  1. Combine all the kebbeh ingredients to obtain dough. Add a little bit of water to avoid stickiness
  2. In a skillet, add the filling ingredients and cook on medium fire for a couple of minutes
  3. Form small dough balls to make the kebbeh
  4. Hold the kebbeh in one hand and with the index of the other hand, make a whole in it while turning the kebbeh and pressing it against the palm of your hand to widen it. Make sure your hands are wet so that the kebbeh doesn’t stick
  5. With a spoon, stuff the kebbeh with the lentil and fennel mixture
  6. Close the kebbeh and cook for 2 minutes in boiling water to which 1 tbsp. of salt was added
  7. Make sure not to boil for long to avoid breaking of the kebbeh
  8. Serve the kebbeh with a sauce of garlic and olive oil.
  9. You can deep fry the kebbeh in vegetable oil if you like it crispy



Fava Beans and Chard – Foul b Selek

“Foul b Selek” – Chard and beans

Foul b Selek” is a Beirut recipe prepared mainly by the end of winter season when swiss-chard is still available and spring fava beans are harvested. It is a balanced vegetarian starter rich in protein and iron. It is best enjoyed cold with some lemon juice that helps increase the iron absorption.

Serving: 4

Caloric content: 75 calories / serving


1 kg of Swiss chard, cleaned and chopped

1 cup of coriander leaves

200 g of fava beans soaked overnight

2 garlic cloves, minced

100 g of chopped onions

2 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 tsp of cumin

salt and pepper to taste

2 L water

Winter chard at a local market in the West Bekaa

Preparation method:

  1. Add the fava beans to 1 L of water and bring to boil
  2. While boiling add 500 ml of water and cover. Stir occasionally
  3. After 1 hour, add another 500 ml of water
  4. In a large pot, stir fry the onions and garlic in vegetable oil until they wilt
  5. Add the chopped Swiss chard and coriander and cover until they are well cooked
  6. While on heat, add 1 tsp of cumin and the strained fava beans
  7. Tune the salt and pepper according to taste
  8. Serve cold with a slice of lemon

Mallow leaves with chickpeas – Khebbeyze w hommous

“Khebbeyze bi hommous”

Mallow or malva (khebbeyze) is a wild edible plant known around the Mediterranean for its medicinal and culinary. It grows under a variety of climate and soils conditions. The edible leaves of Malva sylvestris, rich in minerals and vitamins A and C are harvested in spring. Stems are also used in the kitchen. Cooked green leaves create a mucus very similar to okra’s, and the dried leaves are used for tea making.

Total Servings: 5

Preparation Time: 30 minutes


1 kg of mallow leaves

1 cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight

¼ cup of vegetable oil, or olive oil

½ kg onion, chopped in julienne

½ cup of lemon juice

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste


Mallow leaves ©

Preparation method:

  1. Wash the mallow leaves and chop them finely
  2. Drain the chickpeas, and with a pestle, gently squash them to de-hull them (remove the skin) and separate the two cotyledons
  3. Boil the chickpeas in water until half-cooked. Drain excess water
  4. In a saucepan, fry the onions with the oil until gold then add the chickpeas and stir in the mallow leaves
  5. Add ¼ of a cup of water and let simmer on medium fire while stirring from time to time
  6. Season with the salt, pepper and lemon juice
  7. Remove from fire once the mallow leaves have completely wilted
  8. Serve cold with pita bread and an extra dash of lemon juice

Baked pumpkin kebbeh – Kebbit Lakteen bil Siniyeh

Baked pumpkin kebbeh

Kebbit lakteen” is a vegetarian and version of kebbeh. It can be stuffed with seasonal greens along with the basic stuffing ingredients such as chickpeas, walnut and onions. If shaping the kebbeh into balls is hard for you, opt for this pan-baked version easier to prepare and of course healthier!

Total Servings: 5

Preparation Time: 1 hour


500 g of pumpkin, cooked, strained and mashed
2 cups of bulgur
1 tbsp. of all-purpose flour

1 ½ cup of onion, chopped in julienne
½ cup of chickpeas, cooked, peeled and drained

2 cups of green leafy vegetables (chicory or spinach), boiled and strained
½ cup of walnuts, toasted and chopped
¼ cup of sour pomegranate seeds
3 tbsp. of sumac
olive oil
Salt, pepper, all-spice to taste

Preparation method:


  1. In a mixing bowl, add the mashed pumpkin, the bulgur, spices and flour
  2. Mix and knead well. You may need to add more flour if the pumpkin is still wet. Add flour until the dough is not sticky anymore


  1. In a pan, sauté the onions until soft and transparent using the olive oil
  2. Add the chickpeas, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, spices and the greens and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Set aside

Cover the first layer of dough with enough stuffing

Preparing the kebbeh

  1. Grease an oven pan with olive oil and spread half of the dough into an evenly thick layer
  2. Cover evenly with the filling
  3. Sprinkle the sumac on all the surface
  4. Pat the rest of the kebbeh dough over the filling into an even layer
  5. With a knife, make decorative patterns on the kebbeh 
  6. Grease the surface of the kebbeh with olive oil
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve warm or cold with a salad on the side



Red vermicelli soup

This easy recipe makes a great starter before lunch or dinner

Soups are always a great way to start your meal. Vermicelli soup is an easy and quick recipe to prepare. It is suitable for vegetarians and kids, and helps replenish body fluids and sodium during sickness. To have it as a main course instead of only a starter, cooked chicken slices can be added.

Total servings: 5


1 cup of vermicelli

3 tbsp. of tomato sauce

3 tbsp. of vegetable oil

¼ bundle of parsley, finely chopped

Salt and 7 spices to taste


Preparation Steps:

  1. In a cooking pot, fry the vermicelli in 3 tbsp. of vegetable oil until golden. Remove the excess of oil
  2. Add 3 cups of water and stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the parsley
  3. Let the soup cook until boiling, while stirring occasionally
  4. Add the chopped parsley just before serving hot

Kebbeh sumakiyeh

kebbe sumakiyeh.2

Kebbeh sumakiyeh is a vegetarian type of kebbeh, one of the too many kinds prepared with the simple ingredients of flour, bulgur and salt. What makes this veggie kebbeh  special is the sour sauce that accompanies it and which is constituted of cooked lentils and potatoes and sumac which gives it its name.

Preparation time:  2 hours

Total servings: 10



1 kg of fine bulgur

½ kg of flour

1 tsp of salt

5 cups of water


1.5 kg of potatoes, finely chopped

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 tsp of dried mint

1 tsp of 7 spices

1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil


1 cup of green lentils, rinsed

2 medium potatoes, chopped in cubes

1 Tbsp. of sumac

1 liter of water

Preparation steps:


  1. In a large bowl, soak the burgul in 1 cup of water with 1 tsp of salt for about 20 mns, and then add the flour while sieving it over the bowl
  2. Mix well until you get a dough texture, add water as much as needed until the dough stops sticking on your hands.
  3. Knead the dough and leave aside to prepare the stuffing

Frying the chopped onions and potatoes
Frying the chopped onions and potatoes


  1. In a saucepan, fry the chopped onions in the vegetable oil and let simmer on low fire for 10 minutes
  2. Add the potato, dried mint, salt and 7 spices and stir until well cooked

The kebbeh balls ready to be cooked
The kebbeh balls ready to be cooked in the sauce

Make the kebbeh:

  1. With the kebbeh dough, form balls the size of a golf ball. Hold the ball in one hand and with the index of your other hand make a whole it the ball. Widen the hole by turning the kebbehand pressing its inside walls gently against your palm. Make sure the kebbeh is uniformly thin.
  2. Moisturize your hands in cold water as you work to avoid the kebbeh from sticking to hour hands and to give it a smooth finish
  3. Fill the kebbehwith the stuffing and close it. Make an oval shape with 2 pointed ends.

Prepare the sauce

  1. Cook the lentils in 1 liter of water then add the potatoes and sumac and let boil

 Cooking the kebbeh

  1. Boil the kebbehballs in the sauce
  2. When the kebbeh floats to the surface, move it to the serving plate

Serving the kebbeh sumakiyeh

The kebbeh balls are served hot in individual plates with the sauce

Serve the kebbeh with a little sauce
Serve the kebbeh with a little sauce


Vegan chard kebbeh

Vegan chard kebbeh is a vegetarian Armenian kebbeh that is traditionally prepared during the lent season. It is a particular kind of kebbeh as it is boiled in salty water instead of being fried and it contains semolina and bulgur together. Vegan chard kebbeh can be served either with a hot dip sauce or with yogurt.

Vegan chard kebbeh served with a hot dip sauce
Vegan chard kebbeh served with a hot dip sauce

Preparation Time: 1 hour



1 cup of fine burgul

¾ cup of semolina

1 tsp of grounded hot chili




1 cup of swiss chard leaves, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tsp of tomato paste

½ tsp of hot chili paste

1 tsp of vegetable oil

1 tsp of pepper



Spicy dip sauce

1 tbsp. of hot chili paste

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced


1 tsp of cumin

Preparation method:


In a large bowl, mix the burgul, semolina, grounded hot chili and salt with 1 cup of water. Knead well and put aside


  1. In a saucepan, add the chopped onions to the vegetable oil and let simmer on low fire for 10 minutes
  2. Add the tomato and hot chili paste, the cumin, pepper and the chopped swiss chard and stir while cooking

Make the kebbeh:

  1. Form balls the size of a golf ball. Hold the meat ball in one hand and with the index of your other hand make a whole it the ball. Widen the hole by turning the kebbeh and pressing its inside walls gently against your palm. Make sure the kebbeh is uniformly thin.
  2. Moisturize your hands in cold water as you work to avoid the kebbeh from sticking to hour hands and to give it a smooth finish
  3. Fill the kebbeh with the stuffing and close it. Make an oval shape with 2 pointed ends.

Cook the kebbeh:

  1. In a large cooking pot, add water with salt and bring to boil
  2. When the water starts boiling, add in the kebbeh balls
  3. When the kebbeh is well cooked when it floats to the water surface

Make the dip sauce:

  1. Mix the hot chili paste, minced garlic, salt, cumin and olive oil

Serve the Kebbeh with the sauce on the side



Moujaddara served with cabbage salad
Moujaddara served with cabbage salad

One of the most common vegetarian recipes in Lebanon, and in the Arab world, moujaddara or mjaddara is highly rich in proteins, carbs, iron and fibers. There are many variations in the recipe, according to the region and the type of lentils that is used.

Arab Christians traditionally prepare moujaddara on the first day of Lent but during the Lent season as well.

Moujaddara is served hot or cold, with a green salad or a bowl of laban (yogurt) on the side.

Total Servings: 5

Preparation time: 2 hours


1 cup of lentils (green or brown), sorted and rinsed

½ cup of white short grain rice

2 Tbsp. of coarse bulgur (cracked wheat)

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. of olive oil

4 cups of water

Pepper and salt to taste

Cumin, optional

Preparation Steps:

  1. In a sauce pan, add the lentils and water and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and keep cooking for 1 hour, or until the lentils are very tender and the water is reduced by two thirds.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the onions until they become soft and transparent.
  3. When the lentils are done, add the rice, bulgur and onions (with their oil).
  4. Season with the spices and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Stir regularly to avoid the moujaddara from burning.
  6. Poor into a plate while hot, and allow to cool. The moujaddara will thicken while cooling.



Loubye b zeit

Loubye b zeit decorated with fresh mint leaves
Loubye b zeit decorated with fresh mint leaves

Loubye b zeit is a popular vegetarian dish in Lebanon. It is usually prepared in summer and spring when fresh green beans and tomatoes are available. However, it can be made all year long with frozen beans and tomato paste. Loubye b zeit can be served either as a side dish or considered as a main course for its nutritional value.


2 small onions, coarsely chopped

1 head of garlic, pealed

1 kg of green beans, cut

1 kg of tomatoes peeled and finely chopped or 1 tbsp. of tomato paste

¼ cup of vegetable oil

3 cups of water

Salt and sweet pepper to taste

Green peppers and onions for serving

Preparation steps:

  1. Put the oil in a pot, add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until the onions become soft and not brown
  2. Add beans, tomatoes (or tomato paste) water, the salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes on low fire and stir occasionally until the beans are soft and well-cooked
  3. Serve warm or cold with Lebanese pita or saj bread and vegetables