A Taste of Lebanon

Don Duncan shares Lebanese recipes involving pomegranates.

Journalist Don Duncan wrote about the role of pomegranates in Lebanese culture in the November 2012 issue of ONE. Below, he shares a delicious discovery from his time reporting.

Since I moved to Lebanon in 2009, I’ve come to enjoy learning and practicing Lebanese recipes. The cuisine here is delicious and I was delighted, once I began reporting on the role of pomegranates in Lebanon, to discover Lebanese recipes involving the yummy fruit. Below are four such recipes. Enjoy!

Stuffed Vine Leaves with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves six.

  • 400g (14 oz.) minced lamb
  • 100g (3-4 oz.) rice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 200g (7 oz.) vine leaves
  • 600g (21 oz.) lamb chops
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 lemons, juiced

Mix the minced meat, rice and butter with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Boil the vine leaves for a few minutes, then, one by one, lay them flat on a chopping board. Cut off the stems and place a little of the meat mix in the middle. Fold up the sides of the leaves, then roll tightly, so the filling is enclosed within.

In a frying pan, melt a little more butter and gently sauté the chops. Now cover the bottom of another pot with any leftover blanched vine leaves, place the chops on them and lay the stuffed leaves on top in a circular pattern. Add enough water to cover, put a heavy plate on top, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and cook for an hour and a half.

Mix the molasses with the lemon juice, add a pinch of salt, stir into the pot and cook for half an hour. Invert the pot on to a serving plate and serve.

Eggplant Sandwich with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves four.

  • 500g (17-18 oz.) baby aubergines (eggplant)
  • 200g (7 oz.) Middle Eastern thyme (or arugula)
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 wholewheat pita breads
  • 16 black pitted olives
  • A few pomegranate seeds

Cut the aubergines in half, remove the stem, then sauté in a little olive oil until soft. Season with salt. Mix the thyme with the molasses diluted in lemon juice. Cut open the pitas, so they open like a pocket, add the eggplant, thyme, olives and a few pomegranate seeds.

Baked eggs with Pomegranate Molasses

Serves four.

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, diluted in 2 tbsp water
  • Pomegranate seeds, for decoration

Heat the oil in a baking dish, in a medium-heat oven. Once hot, break in the eggs, add the salt and return to the oven. When almost cooked, add the diluted molasses, and return to the oven until it starts to bubble. Throw a few pomegranate seeds on top, and serve piping hot.

Sweet Pomegranate Salad

Serves four.

  • 6 pomegranates
  • 125ml (½ cup) rosewater (found in Middle Eastern stores)
  • 125ml (½ cup) orange blossom water (found in Middle Eastern stores)
  • 150-200g (⅓-½ oz.) pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp sugar

Peel five of the pomegranates, remove their seeds and set aside. Juice the remaining fruit. Add the rosewater and orange blossom water to the juice, then stir in the reserved seeds. Sprinkle with pine nuts and sugar. Serve cold.

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