As a country in its own right, Lebanon is relatively young, only coming into existence under French control as the state of Greater Lebanon in 1920. Prior to this the region had been part of the Ottoman Empire since the 16th century. Lebanon as we know it today gained its independence in 1943. But a political state and the people are not the same thing, and the earliest evidence of civilisation in the area dates back to 5000 BC. As we have already seen with other countries of the Middle-East, merchants who travelled the trade routes brought with them new methods of cooking and spices from distant lands. The Ottoman Turks introduced a variety of foods many of which have become a staple partof the Lebanese diet. Olive oil, fresh bread, baklava, laban, stuffed vegetables, to name but a few. The French also had an influence with croissants and caramel custard becoming firm favourites.
It is easy to see why, with such diverse influences, Lebanese cooking is some of the most popular in the Middle-East
What you need:
2kg chicken pieces
5 medium potatoes
4 tbs olive oil
Pinch Lebanese 7 spice (See below)
2 lemons, juiced
15-20 cloves garlic (less if you don’t like too much garlic)
To make Lebanese 7 spice mix
Mix together the following
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground black pepper
Store in an airtight jar in a cool dry place.
How to make:
Make cuts in the chicken then place in the bottom of a roasting tin or dish. Rub with 1 tbs of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of Lebanese 7 spice and salt to taste.
Wash and peel the potatoes then slice about 1cm thick. Cover the chicken with the potatoes and lightly salt.
Bake at 200 deg C for 40-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking put the garlic and 3tbs of olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and continue blending until the sauce is well mixed.
Once the chicken is cooked, drain any juices from the pan then pour the garlic sauce over the potatoes, mixing well.
Grill for 5-10 minutes until the potatoes start to turn golden-brown.
The journey we are undertaking finds its roots far earlier than my childhood, when I helped my mother to bake. In fact we need to go back to 1873 when something occurred that would influence me as a child and throughout my adulthood. It took almost a hundred years for there to be any effect on my life, but that happened when as a child I was allowed to borrow some books from the adult section of a library. The first was ‘Around the World in Eighty Days.’The author, Jules Verne, was a great visionary in his writing, with prophecies of going to the moon, and travelling vast distances under the sea. But it was the journey of Phileas Fogg that first captured my imagination, inspired me to write, and gave me a yearning to travel which is still with me this day. I am not a professional cook or chef; I am an aircraft engineer by trade, as well as an author of crime fiction. From an early age I had an interest in the preparation and consumption of food (particularly the consumption!), often helping my mother bake. As I grew older, I tried making my own variations of recipes, sometimes with disastrous results, but on occasion something edible emerged. So it seemed the most obvious thing to do would be to combine my love of food with my desire to travel, and embark upon a journey of discovery of the foods and people of the world. Welcome to my ‘Around the World in Eighty Dishes.’ Glen R Stansfield. Author, biker and nutcase.