Orange blossom water – Maghdouche

Food

Almost every Lebanese village has a specialty. Whether it is a local product, a tradition, a dance…

Maghdouche’s specialty is made during springtime, and I can assure you that this product is present in every Lebanese pantry.

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Orange blossom water. 

The bitter orange trees are blooming in every yard, every street, every corner and garden of this village. The moment you step into the southern village, the strong citrus aroma tickles your senses, and you can feel right away that springtime is close by.

Workers start harvesting flowers since the early morning. Men, women, and teens are standing on ladders, reaching even the highest branches. Of course, working gets better with some background music playing on their mobile phones.

The bloomed flowers are the best to pick. they hold all the aromas, and the yellow pistil is the part that helps to make the essential oil.

Floors are covered with burlap or plastic sheets to help gathering the flowers. While the burlap covered yards help you connect to nature due to the silence and bird sounds, the plastic covered floors sound like pouring rain with all the flowers falling continuously on the sheets.7Orange Blossom

Obviously, falling on the ground are flowers as well as leaves. Table stations are installed in the shade for sorting all imperfections such as small branches, leaves, and insects. And this is where the kids are helping.

Every tree produces an average of 50-70 kg/harvest for a duration of 3-6 weeks, depending on the weather.

In another scenery, people are installing the “Karakeh” or the distiller, to extract Orange blossom water. The distiller is a double Copper pot with the top pot facing down. In the bottom part, flowers and water are poured. The process starts with high heat until the water reaches the boiling point, then the heat is reduced to prevent the contents from overflowing. The steam reaches the top pot and flows within a tube through a cold water barrel or tank(the cooling system) and pours as a thin stream into a glass jug covered with cotton pads for more filtering. This is when Maghdouchians say: “قطرت” with great joy.

It takes 1kg of flowers to make a 1L bottle of orange blossom water. Only the first batch produces the essential oil: a dark liquid floating on the surface of the orange blossom water. The oil is then gathered separately, and a very small amount is poured in every bottle for conservation. This also serves as a sign of quality for the buyers. All this procedure takes up to 12 hours from beginning to end.

Orange blossom water is a necessity to Maghdouche and Lebanon. For the villagers, it is a profitable trade. Maghdouche produces approx. 100.000Kg of orange blossoms per year, making thousands of bottles sold by the farmers for extra income. As for the Lebanese people, it is a tradition to use orange blossoms every now and then: some just put the flower in their cup of Turkish coffee. Others drink orange blossom water and boiling water instead of Turkish coffee, calling it white coffee. The local product is also part of many Lebanese sweets, especially the maamoul. And last but not least, some use this water for stomach ache relief.

This whole scenery is a heritage in Lebanon. Keeping it alive means preserving traditions, farmers, traders, and aiming for sustainable development.  By buying this product from our website, you are not only supporting this heritage, but also, supporting Foodie on a mission to produce more videos.

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Nepal – Land of Colours and Flavours

Food

I am inviting you to join me on my trip to Nepal that was not only eye-catching but was also very interesting on the gustative level.

 

It has been a week or so since I have returned from Nepal, and I still can’t get over the fact of how much the Nepali people love colors! In a way or another, colors are just part of their lives. You can find it in their buildings, prayers, clothes, streets and certainly in their food. In food, not only do I mean because of the spices. But also, the flavors of whatever food you are having just bursts into your mouth giving you many sensations such as sweetness, spiciness, and even bitterness. I went there, thinking that the local food was limited, and I could taste everything in two days maybe. BUT! little did I know, turns out Nepali cuisine is very rich and there are a lot of specialty delicacies.

Dal Bhat

dal-bhat

First things first. Dal Bhat. The national dish of Nepal. Just like its name says it: Dal meaning lentils and Bhat meaning Rice. This dish is a mix of many combinations: of course, there is the steamed or boiled rice. From left to right, some fried potato wedges sprinkled with a few dry herbs. Then, comes the radish that lifts the whole dish by giving it a fresh taste and a lot of crunchiness. The fried omelet provides the proteins (as if Dal wasn’t enough :P) on the right a small number of scrambled eggs if I may say, with also potato and coriander. The Goblets above contain some steamed spinach (The best spinach I have ever tasted) and this one provides the bitterness to the dish; Last but not least, the Dal. It’s a lentil soup made with onions, coriander a bit of ginger and fresh herbs.
Now to the eating part: all these “side dishes” are combined in one plate, and traditionally, it is eaten with the fingers. Let’s face it. I wanted to try it the traditional way but it was too much for me as a first visit. So I stuck to the spoon and combining Dal and Bhat. I ate all the other sides…aside.

Next up:

MOMOS!!

momos

This version is an open version of the momos. These dumplings are made with wheat dough, filled with your choice of veggie, chicken or meat and steamed. On the side, a sauce is served, or in this case three sauces. The spices included depending on the recipe or the area you are tasting the momos from. I think this was the best thing I tasted in Nepal…Right after:

Naan Bread

 

 

Naan is the amazing hand kneaded bread, baked in a hollow oven heated from underneath. True it has a plain flavor but the buttery aftertaste is unbelievable! It can be paired with pretty much anything. From Dal to apricot curry to chicken…. the choices are endless. It pretty much resembles the Lebanese Tannoor bread which by origin, comes from Iran.

 

naan-and-bhat

Naan is not the only food that resembles a Lebanese one.

 

Sel – Samosas

Please do not be confused. These are two separate and very different dishes but I have combined them into the same category because of their resemblance to Lebanese dishes.

This round fried bread infused with cardamom and cloves (sometimes a bit of cinnamon) tastes like Lebanese “Zlabiya”. Not only do they look alike, the recipes are also very similar and the reason why they are made also match. They are both made for celebrations: The Zlabiya are made while celebrating the epiphany, as for Sel, they are mainly made while celebrating Tihar.

 

sel-and-puri1.jpg

Another Lebanese lookalike dish is the Samosa. And this one not looks like “Sambousak” but they even kept the name!  So Samosas are, again, veggie, chicken or meat filled small doughs, this time fried and served as snacks with a side sauce. The second dish that you can see down below, are grated vegetables that are rounded and deep fried also served as a snack with a side sauce.

 

samosas

Speaking of snacks, this type of meal is very important for the Nepalese because of eating Dal Bhat as a main dish before going to work and for dinner. So the variety lies in the snacks. Some fresh snacks include watery cucumbers sprinkled with some salt and spices, sliced coconuts and even peanuts from the cart.

 

Puri is also a snack that you can find all over Nepali corners and streets. The puffed fried bread is cracked open and filled with spices. You can eat it while wandering between the many temples of Kathmandu. I had the chance to watch the making of this small bread, the authentic way on my way to “Manthali”.