Lebanese cuisine is a hodgepodge of culture and history. Lebanon’s fertile land and many climates has dictated its traditional earthy, hearty fare; while it’s challenged history has incorporated various European flavors and techniques into its gastronomy. Salma Hage, a Lebanese author and cook, details her home country’s cuisine in her cookbook, “The Lebanese Kitchen.”
“Why did you make this?” “Cous… cous I want to.”
Our video director Dan already knew she’d make a recipe from Hage’s cookbook since we started our Cook the Book series. “I chose this because I really wanted to try my hand at making a dish that uses a lot of spices and fragrances to build flavor. I’ve also been craving Mediterranean food in general lately so it seemed like a good idea to make my own from scratch,” she explained. So she decided to make Lebanese Chicken Couscous.
To Dan’s surprise, the recipe was very prep heavy. So she spent a bulk of her cooking time just getting every ready. Though her biggest struggle was figuring our which ingredient went where. “This dish [had] a lot of different components and the recipe didn’t fully say which ingredient was supposed to go in which component. So I panicked.”
But towards the end, Dan stuck to her gut, mixing things she thought would work well together. Everyone loved her final dish. The chicken was well-seasoned, and the couscous burst with flavor. (We even tried to recreate the couscous another time just because we wanted it again.)
Although Dan now only recommends the cookbook to someone who knows their way around the kitchen (” or someone who has zero knowledge but wants to challenge themselves… and has 3 hours to spare”), she admits that the experience helped her trust her instincts better. “Who knew I could actually prepare a full meal? This is coming from a girl who constantly burns bacon and still gets slight anxiety when cracking eggs. Look mom, I can cook-ish!”