Food tips: the Middle East

It all comes down to the mixture

A good cure for homesickness: new arrivals tell us where to find a taste of home in Munich. Episode 4: the Middle East. Jihad Lamaa from Beirut talks about his brother’s falafel, the best minced meat and crucial spices.

“In my home country, Lebanon, food is more than mere dietary intake. It is the mainstay of our lives. Every day, the whole family comes together for dinner. And when you are invited to a party, you take baklava, our sweet national pastry. To be honest: my mother’s food is the very best. She cooked for us every evening in Lebanon. And when we fled from the war to Germany in 1986, and ended up in Munich a year and a half later, she continued to make our favourite dishes for us here.

On the subject of spices: they are very important in Arabic cuisine. One of the most important Arabic spice blends is seven spice, which includes ingredients such as cumin and chilli. There are a few good spice retailers in Munich’s Bahnhofsviertel (railway station district).

I am very lucky, because my wife is also an excellent cook, and my brother Khudor even makes his living from Lebanese food. When I am feeling homesick, I go to his snack bar Beirutbeirut in Sendling (Valleystraße 28). After ordering, you can watch the staff preparing the food behind the counter. I recommend the falafel sandwich with tomatoes, pickles and beets, parsley and sesame paste.

Khudor recently opened a second shop, Manouche (Valleystraße 19). where you can get a kind of Lebanese pizza. I also recommend Arabesk in Schwabing (Kaulbachstraße 22). Their minced lamb on a spit is excellent. It goes great with tea – they serve it in genuine Arabian teapots. Alternatively, there is also Ksara (Haimhauserstraße 7), one of the oldest Lebanese restaurants in Munich. You should definitely try their Kibbeh – minced meat with bulgur. Cardamom restaurant is a little newer (Gabelsbergerstraße 50).

The chef there previously worked in the Mandarin Oriental and makes a wonderful Shish Taouk, chicken in a marinade made from lemons, garlic and other spices. On the subject of spices: they are very important in Arabic cuisine. One of the most important Arabic spice blends is seven spice, which includes ingredients such as cumin and chilli. There are a few good spice retailers in Munich’s Bahnhofsviertel (railway station district), such as Derya Market (Schwanthalerstraße 25).

Then there is Verdi just around the corner (Landwehrstraße 46–48), a supermarket which has one of the best Arab butchers in Munich, and which offers a wealth of lamb specialities. And anyone wishing to smoke a water pipe while sitting on some comfy cushions can head to Millennium (Schwanthalerstraße 12).”

 

 

Interview: Nansen & Piccard; Photos: Frank Stolle