Your Lebanon Chef Feature: Rana’s Kitchen Lab
Rana shares with her followers new ways to present traditional Middle Eastern recipes, and a collection of her own recipes as well as those passed down to her. We appreciate her beautiful work and the love for Middle Eastern cuisine that she demonstrates through her posts!
- Instagram: Instagram.com/Ranas_Kitchen_Lab
Guest Recipe Features:
- Mhalbieh (Almond Pudding)
- Kibbe Arnbieh (in Citrus Tahini Sauce)
- Rice Pudding Fig Parfait
- Sheikh el Mahshi
Q & A with Rana
Please tell us about yourself:
Food is a language, through it we express our love to all those we cook for.
My name is Rana Kebbi Damaj. I’m Lebanese, from Beirut. Married with two adorable kids, Omar and Hala. I hold a Pre-Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry and worked as a teacher for several years. In 2006. I moved from Lebanon to Salalah, Oman. Missing our Lebanese authentic food, I started exploring our traditional recipes. I directly felt how much I love cooking and how much I enjoy my time in the kitchen. My kitchen was literally my LAB. Meeting friends from different countries and cultures, sharing with them their traditions and food widened my experience in cooking some international dishes. I remember how I invited my Moroccan friends over for harira soup and Moroccan traditional bastila and they were totally impressed. Now my kids are old enough (13 and 8) to give me help in the kitchen. They feel excited when they learn a new recipe. Cooking is a skill, pass it on to your kids. It gives them confidence and helps them be more independent.
Food is a language, through it we express our love to all those we cook for. I love to share with everybody a piece of my kitchen through my Instagram page, hoping to show them how easy it is to cook and present your dish in a beautiful way.
Where are you from:
Where are you currently residing:
What is your favorite Middle Eastern dish to make:
Hummus, I feel captivated by the harmony of flavors of ingredients. The sweetness of tahini sauce and chickpeas, the sourness of lemon juice and the strong hint of garlic, all come together to perfect the taste.
Do you prefer traditional Middle Eastern dishes or Modern/fusion Middle Eastern dishes:
I always prefer going authentic, with a modern presentation.
But I’m always open to try new flavors and twists of Middle eastern food. One fused appetizer that I liked is Basil Hummus, it is so delicious. The basil added a fresh aromatic taste to the original taste.
Rana’s Kibbe Arnbieh
What do you love most about cooking Middle Eastern cuisine:
Middle Eastern cuisine is the fusion of all civilizations that passed through its countries, it is so rich with flavors and fresh ingredients. The climate and richness of soil gave it a wide range of vegetables, fruits and green herbs.
Middle Eastern cooking is much more than food to eat. It is rooted to family, culture and traditions. Grandmas, moms and young girls all gather to shape kibbeh, cut and fold Shishbarak dumplings or roll and bake fresh Manaeish (pies) for breakfast, make maamoul for holidays. It is the secrets of a good recipe inherited from one generation to another. It is food cooked with lots of effort and love and that’s the heart of middle eastern food.
What is your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant:
It’s a Lebanese Restaurant called “The Lamb House”. Located in Hotel Mediteranee, Manara, Beirut. They serve authentic Lebanese food, seafood and some international dishes. What I like about this restaurant is the consistency of taste through the years.
What is your favorite food blog:
Jamie Oliver: @jamieoliver
Joudi Kalla: @palestineonaplate
What is a must have tool in your kitchen for making Middle Eastern food:
Food processor for my homemade kibbeh, Hummus and Falafel. It’s a must.
Rana’s Mhalbieh (Almond Pudding)
What advice do you have for someone just starting to find their way around the kitchen:
Your kitchen is your own pace.
Never be afraid to try and fail and always be proud of what food you prepare. Ask elders in your family for tips and secrets when it comes to authentic recipes. Add your personal touch to every recipe you prepare.
What nostalgic candy bar would you grab on walks to the local deken when you were a kid:
Definitely Unica and Tarboush Aka “Ras el 3abed”
I would like to thank YourLebanon for giving me this opportunity to talk about my passion and for considering me to be featured on their website. -Rana