Kitchen Whispers

LEB gone VEG: a guide for Lebanese Vegans-to-be.

if you eat homemade Lebanese food, there’s 100% chance this post will hurt your inner-whiner. It will also greatly hurt the precious disputes you’re having with the person cooking at home by decreasing them greatly.
Side effects might manifest in Arab relatives being more accepting of your diet.

I am never as shocked as when a person of Lebanese descent/living in a Lebanese culture tells me they won’t go vegan because the food is too expensive.

I think that especially because we’re Lebanese/familiar with Lebanese cuisine, we’re already 1000 steps ahead of non-Arab Vegans, health and budget wise!

Our culture has been using and experimenting with different kinds of (very cheap) beans, greens, vegetables and sauces in such a diverse and wonderful way.

We play around with: Tahini, Pomegranate Molasses, Karoub Molasses, Rose Water, Orange Blossom, Sesame seeds, Zaatar, Summac, Hummus, Vine Leaves, Lentils, Kidney Beans, Chickpeas, Okra, Courgettes, Cauliflower, Pumpkin, Potato, Mint, Bulgur, Couscous, Nalta Jute, Anise, Bay Leaves, Cumin, Turmeric, Rosemary, Parsley, Coriander etc…. more than anyone in the entire world! Our taste buds are acquainted with all these beautiful plants, and just the thought of any of them teleports us right back home.

Not convinced? I’ve compiled a list of Lebanese stews and dishes that are already vegan, and others that can easily be turned Vegan:

Already Vegan Can be made Vegan
Vine Leaves ورق عنب Red Bean Stew فاصوليا
Pumpkin Kebbe كبّة يقطين Courgettes and Laban كوسا ولبن
Loubieh bel Zeit لوبية بالزيت Molokhye مولوخية
Mdardara/Mjaddara مجدّرة و مدردرة Spinach Stew سبانغ ورز
Falefel فلافل Arnabyye ارنبية
Borghol bel Banadoura برغل بالبندورة Peas and Rice Stew بزلّا ورز
Kebbit Batata كبّة بطاطا Sfouf صفوف
Makhlouta مخلوطة/ Kebbe كبّة
Tabboule, Fattoush, Hommos, Spicy Potato Cubes تبولة، فتوش، حمص، بطاطا حرة/بالكزبرة Rose Pudding رز بحليب
Okra Stew باميه بالزيت
Lentil Soup (2 kinds) شوربة عدس/ بحامض عدس
Man’oushe Zaatar* منقوشة زعتر
Tahini and Karob/Grape Molasses دبس بطحينة
Halawa حلاوة
Meghli مغلي

**Mana’ish doughs don’t usually contain any dairy. However, I’ve been to a few bakeries where they do add milk powder. Do inquire about this before ordering your man’oushe! Also, our traditional pita bread IS VEGAN. BUT watch out for the ball-like bread served in Lebanese Restaurants; some do contain milk.

I am sure you can add at least 2-3 additional recipes to my list, as we’ve all grown in different households, and it is in our culture to tweak and play around with recipes.

What I am going to share though, is how to transform the dishes on the right of the table to a full, vegan meal. (Stay tuned as I might share the entire recipe for some)

Type A – Red Beans Stew (فاصوليا), Peas and Rice Stew (بزلّا ورز), and Arnabyye (ارنبية):

In my opinion, these dishes do not need any tweaking to provide you with a full nutritious meal, except removing the meat element. Why? Because the beans, peas, and chickpeas in them contain protein, fiber, fat, magnesium, and iron (simple google search).

However, and if you wish to add even more protein to them, then you can opt for my Type B technique (I wouldn’t recommend this taste-wise except for the peas and carrots stew).

My little trick: I add Cauliflower to the Arnabyye. When I’m in Lebanon, I replace the meat with Pumpkin Kebbe. Check out my Recipe for this here!

Type B – Spinach Stew (سبانغ ورز) and Molokhyye (مولوخية):

When we make the Spinach Stew at home, I eat the same dish, except that I fry my onions with Brown Minced Soy* instead of meat, and add it to the dish!

The same goes for Mlokhyye, although I prefer it without any soy. You can also experiment with adding Chickpeas to it!

*Stay tuned for a blog post on where I get my minced soy from, and how I prepare it!

Type C – Courgettes and Laban (كوسا ولبن) and Sfouf (صفوف):

I’m placing these two together, because they both require a dairy equivalent. For the Courgettes Stew, I make my own “Laban” out of Soy Yogurt, Lemon Juice, and Salt. Concerning the Sfouf cakes, all you need is to replace butter (if you use it) with vegetable butter, and milk (if you use it) with plant milk!

As for the meat in the Courgettes recipe, here are the alternatives I propose for the filling:

  • Same mix as regular, but instead of meat minced soy (Follow Type B) or Lentils
  • No meat, no rice, but with Quinoa and Mushroom
  • No meat, no rice, but with Quinoa and Carrots

Stay tuned for my own Courgettes and Laban Stew Recipe !

With the hope that this post is alleviating a lot of weight from your shoulders and the ones living with you, let me know if you use any of these techniques, tweak them, hate them or love them !

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