Five minutes with Salma Hage

Attention: open in a new window.  E-mail| Print | Bookmark Added: 31.03.2016, 12:19

Following the success of her debut cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen, Salma Hage became an unlikely champion of Middle Eastern cuisine.

 

The eldest of 12 children, the unassuming housewife grew up in the mountains of northern Lebanon, learning to cook by necessity, before moving to London. Despite the lack of a Michelin-star restaurant or any TV appearances, her recipes have won her thousands of fans – one of whom is French superstar chef Alain Ducasse. Her second book, The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook, is out April 25, through Phaidon (phaidon.com/store).


Why was it the right time to launch a vegetarian cookbook?
It wasn’t a matter of being the right time, more something that came naturally to me. It’s largely how I ate as a child growing up. We had the most amazing climate, one that was ideal for growing delicious fruit and vegetables, and meat was something we could rarely afford. In the last few years, my family have become vegetarian, and I’ve started to revisit recipes I used to cook as a child.


Is there a growing trend for vegetarian food in the Middle East?
Definitely. You get fruit and vegetables like nowhere else on earth because of the perfect climate. Naturally, this has meant so many vegetarian recipes have their roots in Middle Eastern cuisine and so many great restaurants, chefs, and cookery writers are now celebrating that. In fact I would go as far as Chef Ramzi (Lebanon’s famous TV chef) in saying our cuisine has overtaken Chinese and French in terms of popularity and influence. It’s more versatile and lends itself better to healthier eating, which is becoming more important to people.


Are people’s attitudes changing towards food from the region?
The world has become a much smaller place since I was growing up, so I think they are. When the first car came to our village, everyone wanted to ride in it. How many people can you usually fit in a car? Four or six, maybe? Well, we used to fit 20. Nowadays, people have far greater access to information, and this is breaking down cultural barriers. Now, you can walk out in London and buy falafel as tasty as you can in Beirut (well, almost!).


What dish do you think would surprise people in your new cookbook?
I don’t want people to be afraid of vegetarian cooking, so I wanted to include vegan versions of many famous meze staples. Kibbeh is one of my all-time favourites, and although it’s more often made with lamb, I’ve created a recipe that uses lentils, bulgur wheat, flour, potatoes, coriander, parsley, and seven-spice seasoning. I make them like burgers and fry them in olive oil. The texture is similar to traditional kibbeh, but without the meat. It’s delicious.

Write comment

Write the displayed characters:

security code
smaller | bigger

busy

Oryx Magazine December 2016

Oryx Cover December 2016


View the Oryx eMagazine archive

Oryx Premium December 2016

Oryx Premium Cover December 2016


View the Oryx Premium eMagazine archive

Oryx Updates

If you would like to be notified
when the magazine is updated,
please click below
 

Email updates

Latest Features

  • From the mountains... with love

    If you’re looking for inspiration for a romantic snow-filled getaway, then look no further. For many... 
  • A heart-warming winter in Denmark

    If you’re looking for cheer during dark December days, then Denmark provides plenty of hygge. Writer and... 
  • Qatar: Past and present

    Qatar celebrates its National Day on December 18, commemorating the birth of the modern state.  

Most read

Comments

Copyright © 2009 ORYX Digital Magazine. All rights reserved.

Powered by Agency Fish   |  Endorsed by Qatar Airways