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“No authentic Lebanese food in India”

Lebanese food in India

Lebanese food in IndiaThe exotic sounding manoushes, hummus, fatoush, halawas or even small plates of dips and salads known as meze platter, all common Mediterranean food can be found now in eateries across the country.

However, says Lebanese chef Maroun Chedid most of such eats are just washed out versions of authentic Lebanese cuisine and often don’t contain authentic ingredients like, sumac, a traditional cherry coloured spice or zaatar, a thyme-based spice mix.

“Actually I was curious to know the taste of Lebanese food being served across the world. So when I came to India, I teamed up with some friends and went on a all-India expedition for the best Lebanese food. We were shocked that nowhere was it Lebanese, it was not even close to Lebanese,” says Chedid.

he chef who was here recently to launch Zizo, a chain of fast casual food chains, points out that most local eateries “charge a lot for the fake Lebanese food.”

“Actually they use cheap variants of authentic ingredients sourced from the local markets and somehow manage to cook something and serve it in the name of Lebanese” says Chedid.

he chef, who has won a coveted culinary honour ‘Chef of the Year 2013′ by the Toques Blanches du Monde in Monaco is
also a popular face on TV, with several cooking shows on a number of channels.

eaming up with his Lebanese friend Fouad Abdel Malek who launched the fast food chain here, Chedid says he is “working
hard to bring the real taste of Lebanon” to people.

According to Chedid, Lebanon’s food is all about “smell of earth and the freshness of farms”.

“The food we eat is lot similar to Indian. There is a lot of real similarities, like the bread and the spices we use and moreover the way we all sit together and share it is also similar,” he says.

ypically Lebanese cuisine includes starches, whole grain, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood. Most foods are either grilled, baked or sauteed in olive oil. Vegetables are often eaten raw or pickled as well as cooked.

o suit the culinary tastebuds of locals, Chedid has created a desi variant of Hummus- a dip made from chickpeas.

“India loves spicy food, so I have tried to make humus and Moutabal (eggplant dip) a bit spicy, but these are with the original spices from Lebanon,” he says with a laugh.

However, both Chedid and Malek agree that they do not want the ‘shawarma’ or the ‘hummus’ to become the next ‘chowmein’.

“Chinese food has now grabbed most foreign markets. But I don’t want Lebanese cuisines to be like that. Yes obviously when people eat your nation’s food, you feel great but actually the taste gets distorted. Like the Chowmein you get here is only an Indian version and not the authentic Chinese,” says Malek.

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