Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews with a heavy emphasis on San Diego. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: Lebanese Cuisine

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, February 16, 2016

Rice to the Middle Easterner is what potatoes are to the Irishman.

Garlic, eggplant, and chickpeas. You can’t hardly go wrong with Lebanese food, and this book is great.

AuthorMadelain Farah
Year1974
Length156 pages
Book Rating7

Ever since I discovered the amazing Zankou Chicken in Los Angeles, I’ve been on the lookout for a good Lebanese or Armenian cookbook1. When I ran across Lebanese Cuisine at Twice-Sold Tales and saw how much eggplant and garlic it uses, it was a no-brainer to pick it up. It’s always hard to tell how good a spiral-bound cookbook is going to be, but it seemed hard to go wrong with these recipes. They seemed simple enough and different enough to make the cookbook worth it.

After using several of the recipes, I’m very glad I bought it.

So far I’ve found two new favorites in it: a garlic sauce that rivals Zankou Chicken’s, and a simple tomato salad that also inspires my new favorite sandwich. Slatat al-Banadura is nothing more than tomato salad, but the combination of ingredients—garlic, lemon juice, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, olive oil—is the best simple salad I’ve ever made. And the Tum biz-Zayt, a garlic sauce with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt is probably going to end up being the most common sauce I’ll be using on steak, chicken, and pork. It’s a snap to make. And I have a suspicion that if I switched out half of the olive oil for chicken fat, I’d have Zankou Chicken’s garlic spread.

There’s an interesting idea for “tabbuli” that uses cinnamon, a potato-ground lamb casserole that also uses pepper, cinnamon, and allspice, and some very nice zucchini dishes. There are also several desserts, from cookies to crescents, that use mahlab, a Middle-Eastern spice I’ve only recently discovered from The Art of Syrian Cookery.

I’m probably going to skip the brain and lamb tongue, but Lebanese Cuisine is filled with some great ideas for eggplant, garbanzo beans, lentils, and lamb. I expect to be using this cookbook a lot, and it’s going to be a long time before I run through all of the recipes I want to try. It’s one of the rare cookbooks where I don’t even bother to bookmark the recipes that interest me, because they all interest me.

Note that I’ve linked the latest version of the book, because the plastic comb version I have appears to be mostly unavailable. Using the “look inside” feature on Amazon, the latest version is the same as the version I have. The main difference is that the recipes are more spread out, and they place the English name above the Arabic name.

Mnazlit Batinjan

  • 1 large onion, chopped,
  • ½ cup olive oil,
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained,
  • 1 large eggplant,
  • salt and pepper to taste,
  • 3 fresh tomatoes.
  1. Peel and cut eggplant into 3-inch wedges.
  2. Sauté onions in olive oil in saucepan.
  3. Add garbanzo beans and eggplant.
  4. Add seasonings.
  5. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes (toss, holding lid to keep covered, a couple of times).
  6. Add tomatoes.
  7. Add water to half the depth of the vegetables.
  8. Cook on medium until eggplant is done.
  1. Zankou Chicken was founded by Armenians in Lebanon.

Lebanese Cuisine

Madelain Farah

My cost: $4.80

Recommendation: Wonderful