Inside Loulou’s Kitchen

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Updated 23 July 2014

Inside Loulou’s Kitchen

Louloua Elazzah is an ambitious and enthusiastic Saudi chef who lives between Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Greece with 19 years of experience in the field of culinary arts.
Elazzah created a cooking academy called Loulou’s Kitchen that offers special cooking classes as well as basics in kitchen management.
The ability to recognize different cultures and traditions of people through cooking is what first attracted Elazzah to cooking. Even though, she has a passion for Asian cuisine, she considers herself as an international cook who gets creative with globally celebrated cuisine.
Arab News met with Elazzah to talk about her cooking classes, her passion for food and future plans.

You give cooking lessons to people, tell us more about this.
Yes, I teach young ladies, housewives, teenagers and cooks how to prepare meals in little time, how to acquire time management and how to budget their kitchen groceries.

How many meals do you teach in each lesson?
I teach 3 dishes in each lesson.

How often do you give lessons?
I give a session every 2 weeks.

You have been on a number of TV shows, tell us about the experience and name the shows you were on.
I have been on Top Chef Middle East, Dr.chef, and “Tabkhet Elyoum, Arabic for Today’s Dish” on Rotana Khalijia during Ramadan. All of them were great experiences especially Top Chef. It was a cooking competition with contestants from the Middle East. We had judges from all over the world. Plus, it was great to learn about molecular cuisine from Chef Tierry Marx.

What kind of food did you make when you were starting out?
I started with the most traditional Mediterranean dish Moussaka, a three layer cooked eggplant with potatoes and meat.

Does your mom influence your cooking?
Yes. She’s also specialized in many Syrian dishes.

How does your academy work?
It’s a two week program that includes 4 classes. Each class takes 2 hours.

What is the most important dish in your menu? Soup, salad, dessert, or main dish? How do you plan your menu?
I focus on the main dish. For the menu, I can either include one appetizer and two main dishes or two appetizers and one main dish. It all depends on the difficulty and the expense and how I can balance them out.

Do you face any difficulties finding ingredients in local supermarkets?
Yes a lot. I always find lots of difficulty in buying international ingredients such as buffalo mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, dried mushrooms and many more. It is even harder if the ingredient cannot be replaced.

Do you think people like to try new trends or stick to the traditional with the same known flavors?
Yes. I think the new generation is more excited to try different non-traditional dishes. Even the old ones like to try the traditional recipes with a twist.

Do you make your own recipes or follow the traditional well-known dishes?
I try twisting the traditional dishes with a little change and addition.

How do you update yourself with new recipes?
I get updated from reading cookbooks, magazines, articles, and watching YouTube channels from all over the world.

Who is your target? Who can join your academy?
My target is the young generation; I want to change the ideas that people have about cooking and the chef in general. I’m trying to encourage the young generation that cooking is fun.

What is the most valuable tip you can give to our readers who cook at home?
I want to tell them that cooking is not a difficult task. It only needs time management and organization.

What is the essential kitchen tool? What’s the modern kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without?
For me, the knife is the most important tool. I also cannot survive without the mini chopper as it facilitates the cooking procedure and makes cooking so quick and easy.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten or cooked?
Fresh oysters.

Do you tend to cook traditional Saudi or modern Western dishes?
I cook both Western and traditional Saudi dishes. But in Ramadan, I try to focus more on Saudi food.

From living abroad, have this influenced your taste? Did you try to mix between international recipes?
Of course living abroad and being exposed to different cultures helped me a lot to acquire amazing flavors and international taste. I make different famous dishes from all over the world.

Have you tried to mix between the Syrian and Saudi food?
Not yet.

From your experience or opinion, which city has the best food?
Every place has its special taste. But in the Arab world, I think that the Syrians and Moroccans have the best food.

Do you have any bad cooking or eating habits?
Yes. I used to deep-fry all vegetables when cooking but now I try to pan-fry them.

Are you a food critic? What do you criticize mostly in a dish? The combination, sauce or how cooked is it?
The result is always the most important to me, which is the taste of the food and the flavor of the dish. I don’t care about the way it’s cooked.

What do you cook in Ramadan? What is your favorite dish for Eid?
We cook wheat soup and buff sambosa on a daily base in Ramadan. For Eid, we like to eat out and try new restaurants.

In your opinion, what makes a restaurant survive and fail?
I think what makes a restaurant survive is the efficiency of the chef. If the chef is good, people will keep coming and the restaurant will survive.

What’s your ideal meal for a summer’s evening?
I would like to eat a pasta dish and refresh myself with a summary salad.

What were your favorite foodie discoveries from your travels?
I discovered the green and red curry paste and how it can add a delicious flavor in the dish.

What is your dream? Do you wish to open your own restaurant or write a book?
My dream is to have my own cooking show on TV and to open a restaurant.

Are there any foods you dislike cooking with?
Yes. I don’t like cooking or eating liver.

What are the best and the worst things about being a chef?
Cooking is very rewarding but the worst thing about it is that it’s physically a very difficult task.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure when no one else is around?
Yes. I love sweet pastry.

Chef Louloua shares with us one of her famous recipes:

Beef fillet in toasted coconut
Ingredients

500g beef fillet
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tsp. grated ginger
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 spring onions cut into strips

Procedure

Slice the beef thinly; combine garlic, lemon rind, ginger, coriander, turmeric, sugar and 2 tbsp. of oil in a bowl. Marinate for one day.
Heat remaining oil in a frying pan, add beef, and fry until brown. Add coconut and spring onions; fry for 1 minute or until brown. Serve with steamed rice.

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Step aside Burger King, Lebanon’s Malak Al-Batata is claiming the French fries sandwich

Updated 19 February 2020

Step aside Burger King, Lebanon’s Malak Al-Batata is claiming the French fries sandwich

LONDON: Since time immemorial, Arabs and their ancestors have laid claim to some of the world's most renowned inventions. From coffee, to soap and Algebra, the world can pay tribute to Arabs for their role in creating and exporting some of today’s most used inventions.

The same can be said about Arab food creations. With Burger King’s latest announcement of the possible introduction a French fries sandwich in New Zealand, Arabs across social media were quick to remind the world of the sandwich batata (French fries sandwich) and attempt to lay claim to the delicious creation. 

In Beirut, nestled among Hamra’s brandless shops and street vendors, through the chaos of taxi horns and grilled corn vendors, stands Lebanon’s Malak Al-Batata (King of Fries) on Hamra Main Street. The sign, which has changed throughout the years from an artistic vintage look to a more modern logo with the rounded face of a king, can be identified from afar — a beacon for hungry travelers along the road.

The neon red menu charts all the sandwiches the “king” is ready to serve, especially the shop’s namesake best seller — the batata sandwich. 

For a mere LL 3,000 ($2), a diner can get the large, toasted, fry-filled sandwich and even watch the chefs prepare it behind the glass counter in typical deli fashion.

(Arab News)

Open up a pita, stuff it with crunchy coleslaw, sweet ketchup, crispy golden French fries, then give it a slight toast and the best example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts is achieved.

(Arab News)

When news spread of Burger King’s French fry sandwich, Arabs took to social media in their droves to defend the beloved batata sandwich.

“They’ve appropriated the batata sandwich,” tweeted Abed Ayoub, the legal and policy director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“The only true kings of this sandwich (are) Malak Al-Taouk and Malak Al-Batata. Y’all are frauds,” tweeted Ibn Battouta Jr.

“Feeling like a hipster (because) in Lebanon we (have) been eating sandwich batata since like 1914,” another user, Batenjeen, tweeted.

While Arabs may lay claim to this invention — and have been quick to call Burger King out for being late to the game — they aren’t the only ones with similar sandwiches.

The UK version is named the chip butty, while the South African fare is called the chip roll — both of which are made with chips (fries) on buttered white bread or a bread roll, often with an added condiment such as brown sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise or malt vinegar.

In 2018, Business Insider rolled out a video showcasing the Turkish version of the batata sandwich called the Patso, which is cheesy bread stuffed with French fries and topped with ketchup and mayonnaise. 

The video prompted a similarly strong reaction form the Middle East, with many teasing the US’s “lateness to the game.”

“Bro I’ve been eating this for 21 years,” Mustiddies tweeted back in 2018, adding that, “Whenever my mom wouldn’t have the energy to cook, she’d shut us up with a fries sandwich.”