November 2009

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2009.

It is an authentic Lebanese dish, quite suitable for the sharp chill of autumn. The burghul is added last thus allowing lamb meat, chickpeas, onions and spices to mingle together. This in fact is what gives it such a distinctive taste.


Serves 4




  • 120g / 4½ oz chick peas soaked overnight in water with ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda. Alternatively, use tinned chickpeas.
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 550g / 1¼ lb lamb neck fillet (or any lean part) cut into large cubes
  • 3 medium onions  quartered or the equivalent amount of shallots
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 6.5cm /2½ inches long each
  • 1.5 litres / 2½ pints water
  • 275g /10 oz coarse bulgar wheat / burghul
  • Salt &freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 450g / 1lb plain yoghurt to serve




  1. Rinse chickpeas with fresh water, transfer into a large saucepan (large enough to take at later stage the meat – onions mixture), cover with water (3 times their amount) and add 1 tsp of salt. Using a high heat setting, bring to the boil removing any scum, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for half an hour checking occasionally.
  2. While chickpeas are cooking, heat up the oil in another non stick saucepan or deep frying pan and brown the meat to seal it, season with freshly milled black pepper, then stir in the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Now transfer the mixture onto a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain excess fat.
  3. By that stage the chickpeas should have been boiling for half an hour or a little over, a time suitable to add the meat-onions mixture. Top up with some boiling water, increase the heat and boil for 5 minutes, check whether any scum needs removing, then reduce the heat. Give everything a good stir and simmer for 50 minutes or until both chickpeas and meat are done and the cooking liquid is reduced to about 650ml / 1 pint 2 fl oz.
  4. Discard cinnamon sticks, season with allspice, taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add in the burghul, give it a good stir and let it simmer gently until the burghul is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. It takes roughly 15-20 minutes, the burghul should be swollen and tender.
  5. Let it stand covered for 5 minutes before serving. Some cooks prefer to cover the pan with a kitchen towel to absorb the steam and achieve a perfect texture.
  6. Serve hot topped with well chilled yoghurt, as the contrast of hot versus cold gives this dish an unusually succulent taste.


At home, mother used to serve this dish with an additional side one: Beetroot Salad (Salatit Shmandar: See Salads Section) which I think works well.    


Facts. Did you know?


  • Bulgar wheat or burghul is high in fibres and carbohydrate and low in fat.
  • It is rich in “B” vitamins, iron, phosphorous and manganese.


Find out more on:

This is a simple salad that works well as a side dish or as a starter, the beetroot itself, especially when it is freshly boiled, has a full sweetish flavour that is fulfilling, with no fat content. It has many other benefits, for example, it is a rich source of fibres and carbohydrates. In fact the pigment that gives the beetroot its red colour, possesses antioxidant properties which can help to fight some diseases. If you can, try to buy small bunches that have small tender leaves, because the leaves are also edible, in addition, they provide iron, foliate and beta-carotene.

At home, we used to combine vinegar with olive oil to make the dressing. In this recipe, I substituted the vinegar with the balsamic one and added a ½ tsp of sugar.  

If you like to know more about beetroot, here are two useful websites:


Serves 4


  • 2 small bunches of beetroot with leaves
  • A pinch of salt

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sugar (optional)


Cut off the beetroot leaves, discarding any that are discoloured or tough, then wash thoroughly, drain excess water and dry.

Wash beetroots then transfer to a pan, wide enough to fit them, cover with plenty of water, add a pinch of salt and boil for about 30 minutes or until tender.

Once cooked, peel off the skin in a bowl of cool water, placing them as you finish on the cutting board. Slice the way you like, I normally quarter them, tip in a large salad bowl, then thinly shred the leaves. Add to the beetroot. 

Whisk thoroughly all the dressing ingredients and mix well with the beetroot mixture. Serve at once.


NB. If you think that the leaves are not as tender as you would like them to be, and you still want to add them to the beetroot, this is my suggestion: heat up about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the leaves as whole tossing frequently until they have just wilted. Divide between four serving plates and top with the dressed beetroot.