One of my interests as of late is Lebanese cooking. Lebanon is a small country on the shores of the Mediterranean, which recently has been at the center of Middle Eastern conflicts because of its borders with Syria and Israel. The first time I heard about Lebanon was in the late 50s in the then popular Danny Thomas show. Thomas was of Lebanese descent, and now and then the show featured the irascible Uncle Tanoose (portrayed by actor Hans Conried), and whose antics were legendary in the program. I knew nothing of Lebanese cooking, but that soon changed. I became enamored of its varied cuisine, especially it’s vegetable dishes with its stuffings of grape leaves, zucchinis and eggplant. In terms of taste, health and nutrients, Lebanese cooking is right up there with the best of them.
For today’s rendition we have some simple and delicious Lebanese offerings which should give you an idea of the nature of this cuisine. The recipe is Fried Cauliflower, serve with Sesame Oil Sauce; and both dishes come from one of my favorite cookbooks, Lebanese Delights, The Art of Lebanese Cuisine by Raymonda Khoury Naaman (Beirut, Lebanon).
So, for a change, enjoy some Middle eastern magic. You won’t be disappointed.
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp vegetable oil for baking, or
1 cup vegetable oil for deep frying
Heat 1 cup of oil in a deep frying pan. Fry 4 to 5 florets at a time until they turn golden in color. Drain on a paper towel.
Place the florets in a baking pan and pour 2 tbsp of vegetable oil over them. Bake in a 350-degree over until golden in color.
180 calories per serving (fried)
100 calories per serving (baked)
Serve with taratour bittahini (recipe follows)
(Sesame Oil Sauce)
1/2 cup tahani (sesame oil)
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp mashed garlic
Cold water if needed
Salt as desired
Place the tahini in a bowl and gradually stir in the lemon juice. Add cold water if needed and keep stirring, until the tahini is smooth and creamy. Add the mashed garlic, salt and mix.
Sesame oil sauce can be used on fish, fried cauliflower, fried eggplant, falafel and shawarma.