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 


Apple Cider

Apple cider ©TastyOasis

The alcoholic fermentation properties of apples have been known and used by men since ancient times. The recipe for what has long been called the “apple wine” has evolved over the centuries, but the principle remained the same.

The apple juice-based drink has been first mentioned in the 13th century in Spain; it was called “sydre”. The manufacturing technique was then imported across Europe, mainly in Normandy – France, and reached later the American states and other parts of the world.

The first time I tried home-made apple cider in Lebanon, was in this lovely village of Bkaatouta, a village known for its apple production, delicious apple gaining their special taste from the typical soil and favorable climate of the region. The family I visited, an old-time producer of apple, decided to take advantage of the potential of their apple orchards and their know-how to produce cider. The ample quantity of apple cider they produce in respect of traditional methods is consumed at the household level, but also makes special gifts to be enjoyed by their friends.

Autumn golden apples picked freshly to make cider

Preparation steps:

  1. Old varieties of apple are used to make cider. But a blend of new varieties – sweet (Red Delicious or Fuji) and sour (Granny Smith) is used to give a balanced taste. Make sure that the used apples are freshly picked
  2. In the traditional way of making apple cider, no yeast is added, nor water
  3. Before starting the process, make sure all used equipment, utensils and containers are sanitized
  4. Autumn apples are selected, washed and pressed with a kitchen juicer
  5. The obtained sweet juice is then put in glass gallons and allowed to stand, for 6 weeks minimum, to ferment naturally, in a cool and dry place. Gallons openings are closed with a cloth mesh, allowing contact with air, and preventing anaerobic fermentation. The slower the fermentation process, the tastier the cider
  6. After 6 weeks, the cider is filtered to get rid of impurities and then bottled. The natural fermentation of this artisanal cider proceeds in the bottles using natural yeasts, but on a slower rate, allowing its conservation for years
  7. The final product is a “demi sec” apple cider with an alcohol degree usually reaching 5-6, and is often consumed chilled

[quote] When it comes to consuming alcohol, the key is moderation*! We all know the dangers of an excessive alcohol intake, however moderate drinking can have certain health benefits such as: increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL); and lowering the chance of diabetes and heart disease. If you drink, keep it moderate! Cheers.  

*Up to 1 drink per day for women; up to 2 drinks per day for men [/quote]

Ginger spiced cider ©76.photobucket



Kamhiyeh is a delicious and nutritious dessert usually prepared for Eid el Berbara or St Barbara’s day on the 4th of December. The name derives from its main ingredient “Ameh” meaning wheat. It is also prepared when a baby has his first tooth, then it is called Sneyniyeh and is decorated with candies.

Kamhiyeh makes a warm and tasty dessert for winter days and its preparation is easy.

Total servings: 7

Preparation time: 2 hours


1 cup of whole wheat grains

1 liter of water

1 Tbsp of anis seeds

Rosewater (mawared) to taste

Orange blossom water (mazaher) to taste

Sugar or honey to taste

Walnut, pine nuts and raisins to decorate

Preparation steps:

  1. Wash the wheat thoroughly under the water then drain
  2. Put the wheat in a slow cooker and add the water. Bring to boil over a high heat then add the anis seeds
  3. Reduce the fire and leave to cook over slow-medium fire for one hour
  4. Serve the wheat while still warm, in small bowls
  5. Add sugar or honey, rosewater and orange blossom water according to taste
  6. Decorate with nuts and raisins

Winter Tabbouleh or Qawarma Tabbouleh

Qawarma tabbouleh served with boiled cabbage leaves
Qawarma tabbouleh served with boiled cabbage leaves

Qawarma tabbouleh is prepared in the Lebanese mountains during winter when summer vegetables (tomato, parsley and green onions) are out of season. It is cooked in the West Bekaa and Shouf villages with “Qawarma” or lamb meat preserved in fat and served with boiled cabbage leaves.

Total Servings: 4


1 cup of coarse bulgur

1 cup of chickpeas, pealed and boiled (save the water when you drain)

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 cup of Qawarma

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small cabbage

1 Tbsp. of dry mint

 Preparation Steps:

  1. Wash the cabbage leaves and cook them in the chickpea water
  2. In a pot, melt the qawarma and stir in the onions, chickpeas, and bulgur
  3. Season with salt, pepper and dry mint
  4. Serve the tabbouleh hot with the cooked cabbage leaves