Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Middle Eastern specialities have an attractiveness that I can't quite explain, something nearly magical. Maybe it is due to the delicate taste of the food, it's disguised simplicity or because of the bread (barbari/nan-e barbari = Lebanese, sangak = Iranian, lavash = Armenian/Middle Eastern or pitta/khubz = Greek/Middle Eastern, naan = Indian) that is always (mostly) eaten together with the meals. I can't quite say... But, one thing I know is that eating Middle Eastern food is always an extraordinary taste experience full of voluptuousness; like a journey through centuries of ancient culinary traditions which have been kept and transmitted religiously from generation to generation!...

Those "Lebanese Meatballs" are quite "humble", but in no way they are plain! The diverse herbs and spices confer a warm conforting taste. All the aromas mingle perfectly together and in no way they are overpowering, just well-balanced. The yoghurt sauce adds a pleasant sourness that contrasts superbly with the meatballs' frangrant spiciness and the obligatory flat bread completes the dish gloriously!...

This recipe comes from Anne Wilson's "Cuisine Libanaise" book released by Könemann Verlag. I have freely changed a few details to make it my own...

Serves 2-3 people

500g Ground beef
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbs Dill, chopped
1/2 Tsp Ground cardamom
1 1/2 Tsp Ground cumin
1/2 Tsp Garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbs Quick oats

2 Tbs Olive oil
Salt to taste
-Lavash Bread-

Yoghurt sauce:
500g Full fat yoghurt
1 1/2 Tbs Cornstarch
3-4 Tbs Fresh coriander, chopped
1 Tsp Cumin seeds, toasted
Salt to taste
-Barbari Bread-


1. In a big bowl, mix together the ground beef, chopped onion, chopped dill, cumin powder, cardamom powder and the garlic powder. Salt to taste and knead well for about 5 minutes.
2. Form meatballs.
3. Heat up the oil and fry the meatballs for about 5 to 10 minutes or until golden.
4. Pour the yoghurt into a pan and add the cornstarch (previously stirred into water).
5. Bring it to the boil, while constantly stirring and simmer for about 5 minutes until it is thick.
6. Place the meatballs in the yoghurt sauce and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
7. Add the fresh coriander, the cumin and salt. Mix well.

The cornstarch will prevent the yoghurt from curdling.
You can use ground lamb instead of beef and replace the fresh coriander by mint (in the sauce).

Serving suggestions:
Serve the meatballs with onion rings (uncooked) and lavash or pitta bread. You can also serve them with rice (preferably Basmati rice or Pilaf).

(Lavash -Pic by www.foodsubs.com)
(Barbari -Pic by www.foodsubs.com)
(Baalbeck,Lebanon Marc St Germain -Pic by www.trekearth.com)


  1. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I'm gonna give this a try!!

  2. saw you on obachan's! had to click your link ... i LOVE middle eastern too, tho there are very few restos here in the philippines that servev it up. great to see your recipes!

  3. PAMELA: No problem! I hope you'll like it...

    PASION: Thanks for passing by! Here also there are not too many Middle Eastern restaurants, but as I love to cook it's not really a problem since I can cook those specialities myself!...

  4. I love Lebanese food! The one thing I miss about Ottawa is shawarmas. There don't seem to be any restaurants that do that out west, probably because the immigrant groups are different in this part of the country. I've seen a few falafel places; maybe I should check them out.