Ara­bic sweets and their mas­ter pastr y chefs

The Food Her­itage Foun­da­tion’s Zeinab Jeam­bey vis­its Le­banon’s main cities to high­light lo­cal pas­tries and their mak­ers

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENT - Food Her itage Foun­da­tion, 71 731437 Food Her itage, food-her itage.org

Equal to our fa­nati­cism for Le­banese gas­tron­omy is our pr ide in Ara­bic sweets and desser ts. The legacy of our desser ts lies in the hands of mas­ter pastr y chefs, known as hal­wanji, who spend years per­fect­ing a desser t recipe and r ise to fame with their sweet spe­cialty.

Ha­lawet a’rozz bi ashta by Had­dad Pas­try

A tes­ta­ment to the her itage of Had­dad Pastr y Shop, the great grand­fa­ther’s work per­mit dates back to 1933. They star ted their busi­ness by spe­cial­iz­ing in jazariyyeh, se­same, ha­zlenut, pis­ta­chio or cashew br it­tles; and r ice desser t filled with cream, named ha­lawet a’rozz bi ashta, or bet­ter known as ha­lawet shmay­seh. The word shmay­seh der ives from shams (sun), re­ferr ing to the ver y low fire over which the r ice, sugar, wa­ter and rose wa­ter cook for seven hours, un­til they be­come a ho­moge­nous gelati­nous mix­ture. The mix­ture is then formed into small disks, filled with cream and spr inkled with pow­dered sugar. Al Had­dad ex­per imented with the recipe and cre­ated a ver­sion mixed with pow­dered pis­ta­chio nuts. This desser t is mostly con­sumed dur ing Ra­madan and in sum­mer, since it is light and con­tains no ghee.

Had­dad Pas­try Shop, 06 440174, 06 439093, Abu Samra, Dan­nawi Square, Tripoli

Ha­lawet a’rozz by Hal­imeh Har­mouche

For the past 30 years, Hal­imeh Har­mouche has been work­ing in the fam­ily busi­ness mak­ing dair y prod­ucts, and spe­cial­iz­ing in hal­loumi cheese and jeb­neh chaghale, the sweet cheese used in her fa­mous ha­lawet a’rozz. Made of r ice, sweet cheese, sugar, wa­ter, or­ange blos­som wa­ter and mas­tic, the process is la­bor in­ten­sive: all in­gre­di­ents are pounded over a fire for two to three hours un­til the r ice and cheese form a ho­mo­ge­neous white mix­ture with an “out of this world” taste. Har­mouche’s ha­lawet a’rozz is spe­cial as she makes the cheese out of fresh whole milk brought from nearby farms.

Har­mouche Pas­try Shop, 06 435766, 71 654582, Tripoli

Tam­riyyeh by Abu Ad­ham

Mo­ham­mad Khafaja, also known as Abu Ad­ham, is a mas­ter pas­try chef in the dessert tam­riyyeh, a skill passed down through his fam­ily. Mo­ham­mad’s grand­fa­ther mas­tered tam­riyyeh in its birth­place, Nab­los, Pales­tine. The dessert is orig­i­nally made dur­ing Saints’ hol­i­days and As­sump­tion Day and was once sold in quarts (four cups) in front of churches. It con­sists of a thinly spread dough made from semolina, wa­ter and salt, cut into cubes and filled with a cooked paste of thick semolina, sugar, wa­ter, or­ange blos­som wa­ter and mas­tic. It is then fried in sun­flower oil and sprin­kled with pow­dered sugar. Ex­empt from any dairy or an­i­mal prod­ucts, it is ve­gan and can be con­sumed dur­ing Lent. In Pales­tine, peo­ple use the term moutam­mar, orig­i­nat­ing from the word tamer (mean­ing dates,) to re­fer to some­thing roasted, grilled or fried to a golden color, thus the name tam­riyyeh. To­day, Abu Ad­ham is the only pas­try mas­ter chef in Le­banon spe­cial­ized in tam­riyyeh and has trained his nephew to con­tinue the legacy.

Patis­serie Ward, 03 915306 (Jul – Oct), Bham­doun To tr y the del­i­cacy all year around con­tact Abu Ad­ham, 03 675901

The re­shap­ing of ghray­beh by San­ioura Pas­try Shop

The San­ioura fam­ily has built their rep­u­ta­tion for pastr y mak­ing since 1859. The chefs at San­ioura ex­plain that their an­ces­tors were ex­per iment­ing with dif fer­ent in­gre­di­ents when they came up with a “strange” dough, in Ara­bic, “gharibeh,” from which the name of the desser t, ghray­beh, was der ived. Later on, they re­molded the dough into lozenge shapes, which were eas­ier to fill with dates and pis­ta­chio and to pack for ex­por t to Syr ia and Pales­tine. The new shaped pastr y was called san­ioura, af ter the fam­ily name of its mas­ter pastr y chefs. Made solely from ghee, flour and pow­dered sugar, san­ioura pastr ies preser ve well.

San­ioura Pastr y Shop, 07 724157 Riad el Soloh Street, Sidon

Qazha by Patis­serie Gon­do­line

Qazha is hardly known out­side of Sidon, yet it is by far the health­i­est of Ara­bic desser ts. Known as “the food of the poor” and usu­ally home­made, qazha (also known as hab­bet al baraka in Ara­bic, and mean­ing nigella seeds in English,) is or ig­i­nally from Jerusalem, Pales­tine. It is made of corn flour, se­same, sugar, olive oil and nigella seeds ground to a paste and is black in color. Qazha is usu­ally pre­scr ibed for breast­feed­ing women to in­crease their milk flow and for its health ben­e­fits for new­born ba­bies, since it is r ich in good fatty acids. Ah­mad Al Jouaidi, owner of Patisser ie Gon­do­line, renowned for its qazha, re­calls how his grand­mother of ten used to make it at home and conser ve it in large glass jars.

Patisser ie Gon­do­line, 07 725906, Was­tani Street, Sidon; 01 858556, Bir Has­san - near Ira­nian Em­bassy, Beirut

The San­ioura fam­ily has built their rep­u­ta­tion for pas­try mak­ing since 1859

Had­dad Pastr y. Photo: Elias Kh­lat

Ha­lawet a’rozz. Photo: Elias Kh­lat

Abu Ad­ham mak­ing tam­riyyeh. Photo: Food Her­itage Foun­da­tion

San­ioura sweets. Photo: Fi­ras San­ioura

Home­made qazha. Photo: Fi­ras San­ioura

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