In the event that you ever need to determine whether or not a person is of Lebanese descent, say if you’re a diplomat, international spy or want to learn a new party trick, there is a litmus test that almost never lies. A Lebanese nose is usually distinctly-shaped; but if that fails, look them in the eye and ask the individual in question about the Seven Spices. No, this isn’t middle eastern code. It refers to a combination of spices that are found, or should be found, in every Lebanese kitchen. It is made up of equal parts black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, fenugreek and powdered ginger. One can find these pre-mixed at middle eastern grocers or, if you’re in a hurry and short on ingredients, try the Three Spice version: allspice, pepper and cinnamon, which tastes nearly as good. These spices are an integral part of the recipe below, which has been in my grandmother’s repertoire for 92 years (except for the Uncle Ben rice part, of course).
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
Olive oil, for rubbing
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 heaping tsp seven spices
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp seven spices
1 cup long grained white rice (My mom and I use Uncle Ben’s)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 pomegranate seeds (for garnish)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (for garnish)
Pine nuts or slivered almonds (for garnish)
1.Cut chicken into pieces. Wash and pat dry with paper towel. Rub generously with oil using hands.
2. In a small bowl, crush the peeled garlic with salt (for ease of crushing), then add fresh lemon juice. Add remaining spices to this mixture. 3. Rub each piece of chicken all over with the mixture and in one layer, place on greased baking dish. Cover with foil.
4. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, covered.
5. Remove foil, and bake another 20 minutes (approx.).
1. Melt butter in large pot and add almonds. Stir constantly for 2 minutes then add pine nuts (snuba). Stir regularly until the pine nuts brown or turn golden (be careful, as once the pine nuts start turning brown, they will burn quickly afterwards). Remove from heat immediately.