Garnished with Passion

Post 1511 of 1734


Ingredients (4 to 5 persons)

  • Lentils greens      1cup
  • Rice long grain     1cup
  • Olive oil           4table spoons
  • Water               4cups
  • Onions julienne     2


  • Place the lentils in a pot, cover with about 5 cups of water and boil until it is half-cooked then discard the water.
  • In another pot, heat the olive oil and fry the onions finely chopped until transparent.
  • Add the half-cooked lentils to the onion with rice and salt; cover with 2 cups of water and let it cook on a very low heatuntil the rice is cooked and the water absorbed.
  • In a saucepan, heat the frying oil to fry the sliced onions until brown. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt for crispiness.
  • In a serving plate, place the mdardara and add the fried onions on top.



  • Kebbe dough : Meat lamb 1kg
    Cracked wheat           800gr
    Salt                     25gr
    Onion chopped           20gr
    Black pepper             15gr


Walnut              750gr
Onion               500gr
Cumin               15gr

The wheat is rinsed and soaked for thirty minutes in enough water to cover. Drain it and mix in a large bowl with the ground lamb, the chopped onion and the salt and pepper. In a blender or food processor grind the onion, the cumin and the walnut with some canola oil. Spread a thin layer of dough and cut it in circles. Add in each circle the filling and cover with 3another thin layer of dough. Close the edges properly so it does open while cooking Fry the kebbe until golden brown.

“Just be around and feel at home!” says Mireille Hayek Alais Em Sherif, the owner and founder of a gourmet Lebanese restaurant by the same name. Renowned for its fabulous lunches and dinners, the place blends fine cuisine, signature décor, innovation and ambience, observes Yasmeen Maqbool

Venturing Out
Married in her twenties, Hayek stepped into the kitchen for the first time on the insistence of her husband to prepare a three – course lunch and dinner every day. En route she developed a hobby for cooking and tried out different cuisines! With every new flavour and ingredient she put on the platter, she learnt. Gaining more confidence, with every compliment that came her way, she opened her first Argentinian steak house, La Parrillathe first steakhouse in Lebanon with support from her husband and brother. Within two years, Hayek launched her second restaurant Yasmina – an Indian restaurant, and eighteen years later, the oriental-themed Lebanese diner, Em Sherif (Em is the Lebanese colloquial for Um – which means mother in Arabic)

No Menu ?
“No menu! You eat whatever is served. Like at home!” she says. The cuisine is authentic Lebanese food, dished traditionally in silverware, as in any local Lebanese household. A gallery for music: The Tarab and Kulsoom, delights the diners. However, music is played and staged, after dinnertime For she believes that at the table
bonding and interaction is at its best and you need to completely submit yourself to the flavour.

Authenticity Always
Em Sherif is authentic not just in its flavours, but in its interiors as well. Crafting the ambience of a traditional Lebanese house, Hayek embellishes it with her touch. “There is finesse in my house and I want the same in my restaurant.” She aims to present before her customers a true Lebanese woman’s house. “I have divided the place into three elements- couchy sitting area, diwan and the table area,” describes Hayek. Colouring the walls in a Gobland Blue, mirroring old Lebanese palaces, the colour is warm and welcoming.

The Right Ambience
Hayek believes that feasting is a time for bonding. Russian cutlery on the table, long swishes of material flow elegantly from the ceiling, giving an air of Arabian extravagance; delicate lamps hang around the room, offering an incandescent light. The roof is hand painted keeping its original details.

Quality Consciousness
“While setting up a restaurant, never compromise on quality. Use the best available resources, not giving a second thought on the price tag,” she says. Hayek is also very careful about whom to work with. “Never ever hire people who feel no passion and do not attach themselves to the place. To perform better at the kitchen you need passion, which is an essential curriculum vitae for all those I hire,” says Hayek.

Accolades Galore
What has been the best compliment she has ever received? “For me a true compliment is from the aged, as they truly understand the flavours and taste of the bygone era. Old flavours are nostalgic,” she states. The best compliment Hayek has received is from an old couple, “Em Sherif is more authentic than authenticity. Compliments and criticism help me evolve,” she adds.

Personal Favourites
After Lebanese food Hayek loves Indian food! “The way the cook adds spices to the recipe while cooking fascinates her, giving rise to an arresting aroma,” she adds.