Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Glossary: Of Dishes—Ingredients—and Terms

'Awwamat - Small dough balls made of flour, milk and soda or yeast, deep-fried and drenched in sugar syrup scented with orange-blossom water.

Baba ghannuj - A dip made of mashed cooked eggplant mixed with lemon juice, garlic and tahinah.

Baklava - A pastry made of many paper-thin sheets of dough (filo) brushed with butter, layered with nuts, and coated with sugar - or honey syrup.

Burghul - Cracked wheat. Made by first boiling, then drying and grinding whole wheat; available either fine - or coarse-ground.

Halal - Prepared according to the requirements of Islam. In the case of meat, the procedure includes invoking the name of God and bleeding the animal.

Hummus - Literally, chickpeas, but usually refers to hummus bi tahinah, a dip made from mashed cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahinah, and eaten with bread and olive oil.

Kabsah - A lamb, chicken or (less commonly) fish stew with rice, tomato and spices.

Kubbah - A mixture of ground lamb, fine burghul and grated onion pounded to a paste and served raw or cooked in a number of ways.

Kunafah - A sweet pastry made with strands of butter-coated dough that look like shredded wheat, filled with ricotta-like cheese or nuts.

Kuskus - Couscous, a steamed semolina dish served with a meat-and-vegetable stew.

Labnah - "Yogurt cheese," or yogurt that has been drained of its whey. Usually eaten with olive oil.

Lahm m'ajun - "Arab pizza," pita bread topped with a thin layer of finely ground meat, onions, tomatoes and seasonings.

Mahshi kusah – Zucchini (courgettes) hollowed out, stuffed with a mixture of fried ground meat, spices and pine nuts, and fried.

Majlis - Reception or sitting room.

Manqush - Bread baked with a topping of za'tar mixture and oil. Also called simply za'tar.

Mazzah - Hors d'oeuvre such as stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ghannuj, pickled turnips, olives and raw kubbah.

Mulukhiyyah - A dark green leafy plant with a sour, viscous juice, used to make a chicken dish or a soup much loved by most Arabs. The plant is a member of the mallow family.

Sambusak - Deep-fried pastry triangles stuffed with spiced ground meat. Familiar throughout the Islamic world under many names and in many variations.

Shish kebab - Cubes of meat grilled on skewers, often separated by bay leaves or pieces of vegetable.

Shawurma - Layers of marinated and ground meat of different kinds, interleaved with fat and flavoring, roasted on a vertical spit.

Tahinah - A paste of crushed sesame seeds, used as the base for sauces and halvah, and as an ingredient of many other dishes.

Water-buffalo milk - This extremely rich and creamy milk is widely used from southern Asia to southern Italy. Diluted with cow's milk, it is used to make butter and ice cream; the heavy cream is used on some pastries.

Za'tar - Literally, thyme, but also refers to a mixture of herbs and spices that, though it varies according to family recipes, always includes thyme and sumac, and commonly also salt and sesame seeds. Eaten with labnah or olive oil and bread. See manqush, above.

Zaytun - Olives.

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