Khibz Kmej - Pita Bread - Pita brød

Pita bread is served at just about every meal in Lebanon. It can be used for dipping, or to make delicious sandwiches.
Pita brød serveres til nesten alle måltider i Libanon. Man dypper det i supper eller sauser og man bruker det til smørbrød.

Ingredients for 6 breads:
6-7 dl of flour
2 1/2 dl water
30 gram of yeast (use 50gr. if you want to double the ingredients)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Oppskrift til 6 brød
6- 7 dl. hvetemel
2 1/2 dl. lunkent vann
30 gr. gjær (50 gr. hvis du dobbler oppskriften)
1 1/2 ts salt
1 ts sukker
2 ss olje

Mix all ingredients together.Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or use a Kenwood mixing machine. When the dough is no longer stick and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.
Bland alt sammen, spar litt på melet, deigen skal være jevn og smidig, ikke tørr.

Allow to sit in a warm place for about 1 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
La den heve minst 1 time.

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 6 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 275- 300 degree.
Del deigen i 6 og trill dem til boller, legg bollene på et linhånkle eller frottehåndlke.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick. Bake each circle for 3-4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2-3 minutes. Remove each pita from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.
Dryss litt mel på bollene og kjevle de forsiktig ut til 1/4 cm. tykke, la dem etterheve på håndkle i 45 minutter.
Vipp brødene forsiktig over på stekeplate (husk bakepapir på plata), dryss over et tynt lag mel.
Stekes midt i ovnen på 275- 300 grader i 3-4 minutter, deretter vend dem forsiktig og stek videre i 2- 3 minutter. Tro det eller ei hvis du kjevler tynt nok og har varm nok ove så vil de blåse seg opp og bli hule invendig.

Pita bread can be stored for up to a week in a bread box, and up to a month in the freezer.
Pita brød kan du lagre i brødboksen intil en uke, og intil en måned i fryseren.


7 September, Mayhem Night in Maghdouche

The 7th. of September, in Maghdouche, this year was exceptional. People have never witnessed such a celebration of "Eid e Saydeh" before. It was the best celebration ever, people say, even better than the celebration before the "Tihjir" refering to the golden days of Maghdouche before people were forced to leave their beloved village due to the war of 1985.

After that the official religious ceremony is over and after that the people of Maghdouche walk the icon of the Virgin Marie from the church to the grotto of "Saydet el Mantara" in a long procession with hymns and traditional songs... a crazy sleepless night starts...
The 7th. of September is the Virgin Marie night but also the night of barbequeue and Arak (local spirit same family as the greek Ouzo and the turkish Raki).
But, instead of barbequeueing in family at home, people this year, closed the main road of Maghdouche with tables and chairs and decided to celebrate in the streets.
After few glasses of Arak, heads start to turn and the fire gets to the brain... A whole population was singing and dancing and enjoying a wonderful night till the first rays of morning light.

What was going on ?

Here are some photos of some of the activities that were going on during the night of the 7th. of September 2008.
The famous brass band walking the main street of Maghdouche

Four "zaffeh" bands spent the night walking the main street playing traditional oriental music.

That is what happens to you when you drink lebanese "Arak" !

The children had a share too. They were more awake than the adults !

Singing? belly dancing? or what...?
...and the famous Maghdouche "Dabke" that lasts and lasts until the morning !
We will be there next year... That is for sure !!!


Zaatar - Thymes

During our market day, I had a little surprise. One of the sellers was selling aromatic herbs and among the boxes she was displaying, I spotted a plant that I recognise more than anything. I had to chew on one of the leaves and admire the taste... Indeed, as I was told when I was child, zaatar has the ability to refresh the memory and open up the brain... That is why, as children, we always had a zaatar sandwitch on breakfast, before we headed to a school exam... I wonder if it has ever worked?!
Zaatar plant (Origanum Syriacum Land Thymus Vulgaris L)

But, what is zaatar?
According to slow food Beirut, the name zaatar refers to two different products:
1. The aromatic plant Origanum syriacum Land Thymus vulgaris L. (see photo 1).
2. A mixture of thyme, sumak, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sometimes other spices.
Zaatar, sumac, salt and roasted sesame mixture

This combination of dry herbs and spices is typically eaten mixed with olive oil, used as a garnish for strained yoghurt and other dairy products. It is also the main ingredient in the topping for manaqeesh and fatayer (zaatar pies).
The Middle Eastern zaatar plant is a short shrub, reaching a maximum height of around 30 cm. It is a perennial plant that is easily grown from seed. Thyme can be planted indoors or outdoors. All thymes grow best in light soils since their fine root structure is prone to rot in heavier soils. It does best under partial to full sunlight, and should be planted half a meter apart in the field.
Zaatar flowers mixed with wild pine seeds (7abb Ereish)

The flavor of Middle Eastern zaatar (wild thyme) is largely modulated by its main active ingredient, thymol. It is spicy-sweet; with subtle notes of mint, bay and marjoram. Its aroma is said to be sweet, pungent and earthy. it is usually consumed fresh in salads and with cheeses.
The ancient Greeks embraced the zaatar herb after they discovered the taste of honey made by bees feeding on it. Zaatar honey is popular for its distinctive spicy flavor.
Dry mixed zaatar is processed as follows:
Zaatar is harvested (usually in early summer) and washed in water several times to clean its cottony leaves of accumulated dust and dirt. It is left to dry outdoors in the shade for a period of 3 days, after which it is packaged in bundles which are then left to rest indoors for a further 7-10 days until they are completely dry. The plants are then beaten with a stick in order to detach the leaves. After the separation process, the product is sifted first in a sieve that removes the stalks from the leaves.
Finely ground into thyme powder which is used in cooking and salads, or more coarsely ground and used as a base for the zaatar mix, combined with sumac, roasted sesame seed and salt in equal proportions. Salt is added to taste
. This mixture is then ready for consumption (a salt free mixture can also be produced).


Maghdouche celebrates " Saydet el Mantara"

On the 8th. of september of every year, Maghdouche celebrates "Saydet el Mantara" (Our Lady of the Awaiting). Local people call the celebration: "Eid e Saydeh" and they combine it with a big festival called "Kroum e Shams" which is traditionally the celebration of the harvesting of Maghdouche's grapes.
"Dabke" a folk dance performed by youngsters of Maghdouche (photo: Toni Abboud)

For the occasion, Maghdouche presents 2 kinds of festivities: religious celebrations and entertainments that last for arround 3 weeks and end on the 13th. of september with the celebration of the cross "Eid Essalib".
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