March 2010

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This is similar recipe to shortbread, however, traditional flavourings are added which gives it an authentic Lebanese taste. The dough is cut out into individual biscuits made into different shapes: round ones, coiled, diagonals or even rectangular and topped with pistachio nuts or almonds. They go well with tea or coffee and are ideal to take on picnics. Whether you are using your hands or food processor, try not to overwork the dough because it can become very soft as the heat may turn the fat into a slurry-like consistency. Therefore, speed is important.


As a child, it always fascinated me the way the different shapes were stacked on top of each other shining with snow-like white colour. This is something I couldn’t achieve, for my Ghraybeh biscuits always come out with a slight tinge of gold but still have an exquisite taste.

Makes about 20 medium sized





  • 150 g/ 5 oz icing sugar
  • 150 g/ 5 oz butter at room temperature
  • 300 g/ 11oz  plain flour
  • 2 tbsp of each orange flower and rose water


  • You also need 2 or 3 baking sheets (depending on the size you have) lined with baking parchment




  1. Cream icing sugar and butter until smooth, then, fold in the flour and mix well. It will look crumbly to start but as you add the flavourings, the dough will bind together. If it is too soft, let it rest for about 10 minutes in the fridge.
  2. To make the coiled shape. Take a small portion of the dough, roll it out with your hands on a floured surface and make a sausage shape,1.25 cm ( a little over ½ inch)  thick and 12 cm (4¾ inches) long. Next join both ends of the sausage, press one pistachio nut or an almond if you prefer (in fact any type of nut works) at the intersection, transfer immediately onto the lined baking sheet.
  3. For the ordinary biscuit shape. On a floured surface and using a slightly dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1cm (½ inch) thickness. Take a 5 cm (2 inches) round pastry cutter, insert into the dough, cut and transfer onto the baking sheet. Do likewise with the trimmings until you have used all of it.
  4. For the diamond shape. 5 cm (2 inches) for the sides and 1cm (½ inch) thickness. Use the same method as with the round ones.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC (fan oven) 400ºF for about 12 minutes until they start to turn slightly golden.
  6. Leave them to cool completely on the baking sheet, although they are delicious when they are still warm.


NB: These biscuits keep well in an airtight container for a few days.  

The name of the soup derives from the verb khalata which means, mix things together. In this instance, it refers to the mixing of different pulses or beans together to produce an earthy nourishing soup, great for vegans. The amount given in this recipe is a suggestion, you can vary it according to your liking, you can even omit one of them if you don’t like it and increase the amount of the one you like or substitute it with lentils. Before mixing the beans, I tend to boil them separately because each type takes a different time to soften, especially haricot beans. Alternatively, you can speed up this recipe by using tinned beans, they work well. 


The dried broad beans I use here are the Lebanese ones which I believe have more flavour than others. They have a brownish colour and tend to be plumper but smaller in size than the ones that are usually available in general supermarkets. Tinned broad beans (or Foul Medammas) are also available in Lebanese grocers.  



Serves: 4 – 6




  • 75 g / 3oz chickpeas soaked overnight in water which is three times their volume, stir into that ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75 g / 3 oz haricot beans soaked overnight in water with ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75 g / 3 oz dried broad beans soaked overnight in water with ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2.25 litres / 4 pints stock made up from the juices of the beans and added water.
  • 75 g / 3 oz green or brown lentils (optional)
  • 20 g /  ¾ oz rice
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 85 ml / 3 fl oz good brand olive oil
  • Salt to taste and freshly milled black pepper
  • 1tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 30 g / 1oz fresh coriander chopped, you could also substitute it with parsley, chives or freshly chopped spring onions
  • Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle (optional)




  1. Rinse chickpeas, haricot beans and broad beans then place in separate saucepans with three times their volume of water, add 1 tsp salt and bring to boil. Remove the scum, then cover and let them simmer until they begin to feel tender.
  2. When they are ready, drain them but reserve the liquid in a measuring jug, you may need to top it up with water to make up the quantity required.
  3. Heat up the oil in a deep saucepan (preferably non-stick), wide enough to mix all the ingredients, fry the onions for about three minutes, then add the three beans, sauté for a couple of minutes to give them a good coating, season. If you want lentils, you could add them to the mixture at this stage, do likewise if using tinned beans. Pour in the stock (or water if using tinned beans) and bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and let the whole mixture simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, the beans should be really soft, otherwise cook for longer. 
  4. Next, stir in the rice, check again whether you need topping up with hot water. Give the whole thing a good stir, simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the rice is cooked, taste again and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, scatter generously with chopped coriander or parsley or any herbs of your choice. Delicious with freshly baked crusty bread!