Culinar y heritage
Mouajanat: regional specialties
Once you’ve sampled traditional Lebanese savory pastries, known locally as mouajanat, it is not difficult to understand why they have been enjoyed since the early days of Mediterranean civilization. The juxtaposition of crispy pastry and meat or vegetarian filling is truly divine, with each region specializing in its own unique variation of the popular item.
FATAYER WITH SHANKLISH - TASHEA, AKKAR
Shanklish is a specialty of northern Lebanon made from cow or goat’s milk. It is curded milk, which is drained and molded into tight balls. The balls are then coated with paprika or dried thyme and left to ferment and dry.
To make the shanklish into a traditional fatayer pastry, the cheese is mixed with onions and baked on a saj or in a tannour oven. You can sample the shanklish fatayer in the Akkar region. A good option is the Abou Marwan Guesthouse in Tashea (70 449616).
WILD PLANT PASTRIES - QEMAMINE, DINNIYEH
Qemamine is a beautiful village at the bottom of Wadi Juhannam, surrounded by steep mountain peaks. Qemamine is characterized by its unique biodiversity, which produces a wealth of fresh plants and foods.
Villagers have a deep knowledge of the edible plants that grow wildly on the sides of the mountain and their diet depends heavily upon them during the spring season. A popular way to prepare the plants, which range from hindbeh to qors aane, is to use them to fill pastries. Several types of chopped greens are mixed with onions, pomegranate seeds or pomegranate molasses, stuffed into fresh dough and baked on the saj. A great place to sample the pastries is the Taleb Guesthouse in Qemamine (70 937284).
DARFIEH CHEESE FATAYER - TANNOURINE
Darfieh cheese is one of the most traditional cheeses produced in the highlands of Ehden, Bcharre, Hermel and Aarsal. The cheese is made from goat’s milk, which is aged in goat’s skin in cool mountainous in the highlands of Batroun. The cheese is salty and slightly tart, making it particularly tasty when it is baked. To enjoy these fatayer, contact Rita Sarkis at Ecodalida in Tannourine ( 71 679055/03 679055).
POTATO AWARMA FATAYER - BAROUK
A potato and meat pastry is the staple winter meal in villages dotted across the Lebanese mountains. Traditionally, these hearty fatayer pastries are eaten in the winter months. Villagers mix diced potatoes with awarma and spices and bake them in the iron stove. Sample these fatayer by contacting Aida Boustani (03 420495).
EGG AND WALNUT SAMBOUSEK - MARJAOUN
Sambousek are fried pastries whose exact shape and stuffing vary by region. In the southern area of Marjaoun, vegetarian sambousek are common. The pastries are stuffed with scrambled eggs, walnuts and seven-spices, and deep-fried to a glorious shade of golden brown. For orders of this sambousek, contact Majed Makhoul ( 03 903060).