Eat Local

Kishk, the warmth of Lebanese winter

Kishk in the preparation

Undoubtedly one of Lebanon’s delicacies, a product of thousands of years of culinary refinement, “kishk” equals the world’s most renowned dairy products.

The name “Kishk” originates from the Persian word “kashk”, referring to a mix of cracked wheat and cracked Barley.

Characterized as a fermented milk product, “kishk” is made of bulgur – cracked parboiled wheat – mixed with either milk or yogurt.

A common food in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Turkey, “Kishk” season starts in the summer, when milk production is at its best and sun heat at its peak. Cracked wheat is soaked in milk or yogurt for almost a week and fermentation is kept under control by adding small amounts of dairy every few days. After cracked wheat soaks in the dairy products and fermentation reaches the right degree, the pre-final product is an edible dough named “kishk akhdar” or “green kishk”. At this stage, this type of “kishk” can be formed into small balls and conserve them in olive oil for consumption in wintertime.

To get to the final “kishk” product, the dough is spread onto clean white sheets, on village rooftops, for the heat of the summer to dry it rock hard. Once totally dry, tradition calls for women to come together for a wonderful communal work: rubbing off dried “kishk” with the hands to obtain a fine, off-white powder, winter’s most nutritious preserve.

Not all “Kishk” varieties taste the same: producers, kishk peculiarities and specialty dishes

Though all “kishk” in Lebanon is powdery in texture, the taste varies widely depending on the type of ingredients used in “kishk” making. It can be made out of cow, goat or sheep milk or yogurt or an alternation between milk and yogurt, or yogurt and strained yogurt, better known as “Labneh”. The type of wheat used equally affects the taste and color of “kishk”. Baladi wheat, salamouni wheat and white wheat confer different flavors, texture and color to the final product.

Halima making her famous “mankoushe b kishk” at the Garden show 2016

From Aarsal: Halime el Houjeiri and Kishk with vegetables

Aarsal’s mountainous community has a long pastoral history, and goat and goat milk products are highly valued by local people.

Halime Al Houjeiri, president of the Women Coop on Aarsal takes pride in the “kishk” quality the women produce. Her “kishk” is sour in taste, a reflection of the high quality milk produced by goats grazing on wild herbs and highland thistles.

[quote]A taste from Aarsal: Kishk with Khodra[/quote]

kishk” powder is mixed with cold water to form a soft dough to which chopped tomato, cucumber, radishes, onions, mint and crushed garlic are added, with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

From Kherbet Qanafar: Lina Haddad and “Kishk Akhdar

Food producer for the longest time, Lina recently established her table d’hôte as part of a “darb El karam”, a growing food tourism network in West Bekaa. Lina’s brothers owns a dairy farm and Lina makes her dairy products at home. One of her bestselling products is Kishk and Green Kishk. In season, visitors of her table d’hôte can enjoy this delicacy and other kishk specialties.

[quote]A taste from Kherbet Qanafar: Kishk Akhdar with Walnuts[/quote]

“Kishk akhdar”

kishk akhdar is spread in a plate and adorned with chopped walnuts, onions, mint and tomatoes. The tangy taste of Green Kishk combine heavenly with the nuttiness of the walnuts.

From Maasser el Shouf: Elissar Temrez and “Omayshe

Farmer and food producer, Elissar specializes in items solely cultivated in her land and processed by her and her husband. Her “kishk” is a mixture of cow and goat milk with baladi wheat, softening the strong taste of pure goat “kishk”, a perfect match to the locally known dish “Omaysheh

[quote]A taste from Maasser el Shouf: Omayshe with grilled onions[/quote]

Omaysheh served with roasted onions

Omaysheh is a dish widely known in the Shouf area and the regions of Hasbaya and Rashaya. It is simply made of “kishk” and fine bulgur mixed with lukewarm water then combined with olive oil to soften the dough. The dish is eaten along with grilled onions.

Featured recipes were published in Lebanon Traveler magazine 



Sahlab served hot with “kaak orchali”

Sahlab is a popular drink in Lebanon and the countries that were part of the Ottoman empire. It is prepared from the tubers of a rare orchid flower by drying the tubers then grounding them into a fine powder. Sahlab powder is rich with aromas and gives the drink a smooth and fluffy texture. Today, when real sahlab powder is not available, it is substituted with corn or potato starch. A sahlab mixture is also available in supermarkets, and is easy to prepare.

Total Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 15 mns


4 cups of milk

3 tsp. of sugar

1 tsp. of sahlab

1 tsp. of orange blossom water (mazaher)

Cinnamon to decorate

Preparation steps:

  1. In a saucepan, mix the sugar with 3 cups of milk and bring to a simmer while stirring
  2. Dissolve the sahlab in the remaining cup of milk, then add to the milk and sugar
  3. Keep on stirring until the solution thickens and becomes sticky
  4. Stir in the mazaher and mix
  5. Transfer the sahlab to cups
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon powder on the sahlab and serve while hot with kaak orchali or cookies

Cauliflower in Tahini sauce – Arnabit b Thineh

For a healthier version, steam the cauliflower instead of frying it

Tahini sauce or sesame paste sauce is at the base of different Lebanese traditional recipes such as “kebbeh arnabieh”, “mansoufi kolkas” and others… “Arnabit b Thineh” is a winter dish prepared when cauliflowers are available. It is delicious and consistent. Usually the cauliflowers are deep-fried, but here we propose a healthier version with either boiled or steamed cauliflowers. Cauliflowers are packed with dietary fibers and vitamins (C, K and B6); they are also rich with folate and omega-3 fatty acids.


1 medium cauliflower, washed and steamed or boiled

1 cup of tahini paste

5 cups of water

½ cup of orange juice

½ cup of lemon juice

1 medium onion, finely sliced

1 tbsp. of olive oil

2 tbsp. of roasted pine nuts

2 garlic gloves, smashed

Pepper, salt to taste

Preparation steps:

  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients: tahini, water, juices, spices and garlic. You may need to add more water if you prefer a more liquid sauce. Remove tahini clumps with a fork
  2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and fry the sliced onion until gold
  3. Strain the onion from additional oil
  4. In a baking dish, line the cauliflowers and cover with the sauce, then add the strained onions and decorate with the pine seeds
  5. Put the baking dish in a heated over for 20 minutes or until the sauce starts boiling
  6. Serve hot with cooked rice on the side
Before baking the dish, add some roasted pine seeds

Beirut “Assida”

Porridge-like Tunisian Assida ©

Assida is an Arabic dish popular in several countries like Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Oman, Sudan and Yemen, with versions varying according to the country of origin. Assida is usually eaten by hand, and prepared on religious holidays and special occasions like the birth of a baby. Modern versions of Assida include serving the pudding with honey, or pistachio, or date and carob molasses etc. In Sudan, Assida is sometimes served with a tomato based sauce.

Algerian Assida ©

In Lebanon, Assida also called Harira is a Beiruti dish prepared for breakfast or as dessert, and commonly enjoyed during cold days of winter.  Based on popular folk stories, Assida was originally invented in the Ottoman period by women facing financial constraints. The created dish was not only consistent but also cheap to prepare and loved by the kids. The Beiruti Assida has a pudding consistency similar to “Sahlab” and is usually consumed with “kaak Orchali”- the long kaak cookies covered with sesame.

Beiruti Assida makes a wonderful meal on a cold day 🙂

For a healthier option of Assida, replace the butter with vegetable oil and include milk instead of water.

Servings: 4

Calories: 510 calories/serving


1 cup of flour
1.5 cups of sugar
65 g of butter
8 cups of water
2 tbsp. of blossom water

Preparation steps:

  1. In a big bowl, mix the flour with water until well diluted
  2. Use a strainer to remove big clots and obtain a homogenous mixture
  3. In a large cooking pot, add to the flour mixture to the sugar and butter and leave them to a boil
  4. Keep stirring for around 1 hour until you get a thick consistency
  5. Add 2 tbsp. of orange blossom water
  6. Serve hot
A modern version of the Moroccan Assida. It actually looks like “meghle” with its decoration! ©HuffingtonPostMaghreb

Red lentil soup – Shorbit adas

Enjoy your red lentil soup with a dash of lemon juice and oven-toasted pita bread

Lentils in general are a great source of protein. They are rich in fibers and micro-nutrients and low in calories. Red lentils are hulled lentils split in half; they cook relatively faster. Red lentils are the main ingredient of Shorbit el adas, a soup commonly prepared in Lebanon and other Arab countries where it is usually prepared during Ramadan for Iftar. All in all, red lentil soup makes a perfect nutritious meal, especially on cold winter days.

Total servings: 6-8


¾ cup yellow onion, chopped

¾ cup carrots, cubed

½ cup potato, diced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1½ cups orange lentils

3 tbsp. rice

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp white or black pepper

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

8 cups water

3 tbsp. lemon juice

Preparation Steps:

  1. Rinse lentils and rice in cold water
  2. In a cooking pot, heat extra virgin olive oil and saute the onion and garlic. Season with the cumin, turmeric, pepper and salt
  3. When the onion turns soft, add the water and vegetables (potato and carrot) and bring to a boil
  4. Stir in the lentils and rice and  bring to a boil one more time
  5. Reduce the fire and let simmer with the lid on for 30 mns on until the lentils are well done
  6. When the lentils are tender enough, remove from fire, add the lemon juice and serve hot with oven-toasted pita bread on the side

Maacaroun bil-Kishk

Maacaroun bil-Kishk (all photos courtesy of Dalia Mahmoud)

Maacaroun bil-kishk combines dough balls cooked with kishk and qawarma! Rich with carbohydrates and proteins, this dish is commonly prepared by dwellers of the elevated mountains during cold winter days. The dough balls are pressed on a fork or a sieve which gives them the pattern of the “sweet maacaroun” and makes them absorb the mix easily. Qawarma is sometimes added to the kishk, hence enhancing its caloric content. In the Soueida region in Syria, Maacaroun bi kishk is also prepared with slight differences; the dough is cooked in hot water, drained then sprinkled with kishk, olive oil and minced garlic.

Total servings: 4

Caloric content: 400 calories/serving


Maacaroun dough

1 cup of flour

¼ cup of water

A pinch of salt


4 garlic gloves (2 chopped and 2 whole)

3 tbsp. of qawarma

1 cup pf kishk powder

2 cups of water

Preparation steps:

Maacaroun dough

1. To make the dough, mix the flour with salt and water.
2. Knead well and cut into small pieces.
3. Make balls with the dough pieces.
4. Roll each ball against a fork, sieve or a grater to give it a patterned texture (like the sweet maacaroun).
5. Cook the dough in hot water, then drain it well.

Pan full of maacaroun bil-kishk
  1. Stir-fry the garlic in the qawarma until it is soft.
  2. Pound garlic in a mortar, add a pinch of salt and continue pounding to a paste.
  3. In a large plate, put the pounded garlic, two spoons of qawarma and add the cooked maacaron.
  4. Sprinkle the kishk over garlic, qawarma and maacaron.
  5. Add boiled water and mix it all together.
  6. Serve hot.

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

Lentil and chard soup – Adas bi hamoud

Adas bi Hamoud soup. Photo©BeirutRestaurants

Adas bi hamoud is a soup commonly prepared in all Lebanese regions. Its main ingredients, as its name suggests are lentils, chard and lemon juice. Chards being usually harvested during winter, this soup makes a good source of energy during cold winter days.  Adas bi hamoud is a consistent soup that fulfills your stomach and boosts your immunity by its high content in vitamin C which also enhances the absorption of iron that is provided by the lentils.

Swiss chard, one of the main ingredients of Adas bi Hamoud. Photo©

Total servings: 8


1 cup of brown lentils, rinsed with water
4 cups of Swiss Chard stems and leaves, cleaned and chopped
4 medium potatoes, cubed
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
¼  cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of lemon juice
1 tsp of coriander leaves, chopped
salt, cinnamon and pepper to taste
Preparation Steps:

  1. In a large pot, cover lentil with water and bring to boil over medium heat
  2. Meanwhile in a separate pan, stir fry the onions in the olive oil until golden
  3. When the lentils start boiling, add the potatoes, swish chard, garlic, lemon juice and fried onions
  4. Pour in enough water so that the mixture is well covered and leave on medium heat until the lentils and potatoes are tender
  5. Add the salt, lemon juice and spices according to taste
  6. Stir in the coriander before removing from fire

Serve hot with roasted pita bread loafs.

Learn more about Swiss chard on the Only Foods site:


Kishk Soup or “Kheshkiye”

kebbe b kishk

Kishk soup is a nutritious soup consumed especially during winter. The soup can be served as a side with baked meat kebbeh. Alternatively, raw or oven baked kebbeh balls can be placed in the boiling kishk soup till they are well cooked. For a lighter and healthier version of this recipe, substitute kawarma with lean cow meat.

Total Servings: 6

Preparation time: 45 minutes


1 cup of kishk powder
2 tbsp. of qawarma (cow or goat meat preserved in sheep fat)
4 garlic gloves, chopped
1 small potato, finely diced (optional)
5 cups of water

Preparation Steps:

  1. Put the qawarma in a pot on the oven fire and stir slowly
  2. Add the chopped garlic and the diced potato
  3. Stir well on low heat until the potatoes are cooked well
  4. Add the kishk to the mixture in the pot
  5. Stir for 2 minutes and add the water
  6. Cook over low heat until the soup starts boiling
  7. Serve hot