Beirut’s Mayrool offers home cooking with a twist for iftar

The Iraqi kibbeh Mosul at Mayrool. (Photo supplied)
Updated 11 June 2018
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Beirut’s Mayrool offers home cooking with a twist for iftar

  • The Ramadan menu features Moroccan lentil soup, garden salads and a selection of main dishes
  • The restaurant’s subtle decor — traditional terrazzo tiled walls and hardwood tables — is cozy and inviting

BEIRUT: In the back streets of Beirut’s Mar Mikhael, Maryool could easily be missed if not for the sketched donkey sign hanging above the littered street — an interesting way of inviting customers in.

Maryool colloquially translates to apron and for any Lebanese person, hearing the word may bring memories of mothers and grandmothers wrapped in their kitchen aprons ready to cook a warm Sunday lunch.

The restaurant’s subtle decor — traditional terrazzo tiled walls and hardwood tables — is cozy and inviting.

As we sat down, the waiter offered us satisfying crudités accompanied by a mysterious bright green, layered dip: A cream cheese and feta layer with a rocca wasabi puree and crunchy crushed almonds. It was a delicious, and unexpected, start to the dining experience.

The Ramadan menu features Moroccan lentil soup, garden salads and a selection of main dishes, including Lebanese couscous, locally known as moghrabieh, and spinach and chard stew.

Our meal, however, started off with the hummus chorizo. A tough choice had to be made from a selection of signature hummus toppings, with Portobello mushrooms and merguez sausages among the options.

We opted for the small, spicy sausage bites that generously occupied the deep oil-filled well of the hummus swirl.

Our main course parade began with the kibbeh Scotch egg, a Lebanese twist on an all-time British classic. A soft-boiled egg hugged by a beef kibbeh croquette arrived at our table, however, it sadly lacked flavor and crunch.

Then came the more appetizing Iraqi kibbeh Mosul, a flat charcoal grilled robust beef pie lightly stuffed with a coriander, parsley and onion filling — a successful update on the classic beef and onion padding.

Rounding out the main course were the chicken and beef tacos with such an Arab twist you’d think they had moustaches and played the dirbakke.

However, the chicken musakhan taco was disappointing and can be better described as an elevated Mediterranean chicken fajita with its strips of chicken on a bed of lettuce, topped with crispy shallots and a mild garlic yoghurt sauce.

The rib-eye shawarma tacos were the heroes of the evening, boasting well-seasoned steak that was enhanced with the tang of tahini, tomato and parsley.

For dessert, the tamriyye is a must-order. A crunchy Palestinian sweet and a traditional delicacy to enjoy after a long day of fasting.


Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

Ta’ateemah includes a variety of dishes such as dibyazah, red mish, chicken and lamb stew and bread. File/Getty Images
Updated 19 June 2018
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Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

  • Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread
  • The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it

JEDDAH: Ta’ateemah is the name of the breakfast feast Hijazis enjoy on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. It is derived from the Arabic word, itmah, or darkness, because the dishes served are light, just like midnight snacks.

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Fitr to feast after fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. But it is called Al-Fitr from iftar, or breakfast when translated to English, which is a meal Muslims do not get to experience during that month.
The first day of Eid is a day where they finally can, and they greet the day with joy by heading to Eid prayers and then enjoying this traditional meal.
Amal Turkistani, mother of five from Makkah who now lives in Jeddah, told Arab News all about a special Eid dish.
“The most famous dish is the dibyaza, and making a dish of it is a work of art that I can proudly say I excel at. Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread.”
She revealed that dibyaza is not a quick meal — it is usually prepared a day or two before Eid with the ingredients simmered to reach the correct liquid thickness.
No one can trace the origins of dibyaza — it remains a mystery. Some people claim it originated in Turkey, while others attribute it to the Indians.
A number of women who are famous for their dibyaza agreed that it is a Makkawi dish. This marmalade dish was developed and improved, with tiny details to distinguish it.
The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it.
Turkistani said sweet shops sell 1 kg of dibyaza for SR50 ($13), competing with housewives who make their own.

 

“I think it is always tastier when it’s homemade because of all the love that goes into making it. It’s also a wonderful way to greet your family and neighbors with this special dish that you only enjoy once a year.”
Her younger sister, Fatin, said: “My siblings always have Eid breakfast at my place, so it’s up to me to prepare the feast. My sister spares me the exhausting dibyaza-making, so I prepare two main dishes: Minazalla, which is a stew of lamb chops with tahini and a tomato chicken stew.
“She also serves what we call nawashif, or dry food, like different types of cheese and olives, pickled lemon, labneh, red mish — a mixture of white cheese, yogurt and chili pepper and halwa tahini,” Amal said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, from Makkah, told Arab News: “It always feels unique to have minazalla and nawashif during Eid, and not just because it is followed by the Eidiyah.”

Decoder

What is Eidiyah?

It is money elders in the family give to the youth to celebrate Eid and to congratulate them on completing Ramadan fasting.