Lebanese chef Mariam Al-Raz: Cooking is a way to evoke childhood and homeland

She left Lebanon at the age of 22 and the void almost killed her, so she asked for what she wanted. At first cooking was just filling a gap and she had no idea about his world but turned to a passion when she met photography. She is mostly a photographer. Photographing her dishes with their magic of color, in a new and artistic way, and then opening her blog to share with others ways to prepare new, delicious and healthy recipes in a presentation way innovative.

How did you decide to enter the kitchen, what challenge pushed you?

I learned to cook from the ground up

I wanted to prove to myself in exile that I could be creative in this country and that my mastery in portrait art was a strong motive; Where I learned to cook from the ground up, with whom I lived with great pleasure.

My childhood and pastry bread

What about your childhood memories, what did you take with you from Beirut to America?

Kitchen and cooking are a way to evoke childhood, family and homeland. The smell of homemade dough, manakish and markuk bread reminds me of the best days of my life. I do not forget the aroma of fresh cakes during the holidays, and the growing seasons of vegetables and fruits.

What is the difference between Arab and American food culture?

Kitchen and cooking are a way to evoke childhood, family and homeland

The secrets of Arabic food lie in its indescribable spices and aroma and it is healthy, despite all the rumors about its cream, even in the main dishes, like octopuses and oily peas, which can be served without meat, which are plates. that are comfortable for the stomach, if not combined with rice.On the table is meat full of gluten.

Surely, you have served your dishes to American families around you? What is her reaction?

Americans consider Arabic food the best for its aroma and taste, we have our choices in meat and vegetables. They love hummus in all its dishes but eat it ready and when I served wet and boiled hummus at home, they discovered the difference, and before I went from state to state, all my neighbors asked me to learned the recipe.

I am not deprived

Did you try to mix the two cultures, maybe you got an idea from American cuisine and presented it in the Arabic way?

Americans love hummus

I took salmon tacos (which is of Mexican origin) and served it with Lebanese cabbage salad, parsley, green onions, olive oil sauce, lemon, dried mint and sumac, which is strange to them, even sweets that I did using alternatives. I am not deprived.

Have you attended festivals, events or events in America?

I participated in “Master Chef” with 50 chefs and that day I prepared for them kofta, hummus, salad and fattoush.

What is the biggest table you have prepared and that has amazed others and what is its case?

American cuisine is based on simplicity, so what is grilled is considered a dish, so I surprised them with occasional tables; Because there are details they did not imagine.
What is the difference between Arab and American women in cooking, is there any affinity?

Most American women rely on ready meals under the pretext of their job

Most American women rely on ready-made meals under the pretext of their work, while Arab women worry about the nutritional values ​​of their family members, even if they are working. She also has ideas for preparing healthy and tasty fast food at the same time. But the American is more self-reliant and shares household chores with his wife, especially cooking, perhaps more than an Arab, as far as I know.

Have you ever failed to make a prescription, is there any particular incident?

Not completely, but sometimes I repeat the recipe twice, especially if it was my invention, until I get the result I expected and I do not think it fails.

What are the mistakes of the Arab woman in the kitchen “practical mistakes in food preparation”?

Arab women increase the amount of salt

1. Add a large amount of salt.
2. Many women take out the frozen meat and place it in water or outside to be ready for use. It is fairer to thaw it in the fridge the day before and then take it out at room temperature.
3. Our women still use a cutting board for vegetables and meat.
4. Using olive oil for frying is wrong.
5. Washing vegetables and not drying them well, especially for salads.
Learn more: Middle East Chef Olcay: Dancing in the kitchen relieves my stress!

What are your dreams?

My dream is to publish a cookbook and another book on how to professionalize food photography and then open a very simple cafe.

Chicken with spinach, tomatoes and olive salad

Chicken with spinach, tomatoes and olive salad

The recipe is enough for one person


Chicken breasts (cut into small cubes, optional)
garlic clove (minced)
2 tablespoons soy sauce + 2 tablespoons orange juice + 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice + 1 tablespoon honey + 2 tablespoons avocado oil
Salt + pepper + 1 teaspoon spice peppers + ç teaspoon onion powder + ç teaspoon nutmeg
To prepare the salad with spinach, tomatoes and olives:
Two cups of fresh spinach + a cup of cherry tomatoes (sliced) + a cucumber + a green onion
½ cup of mixed olives without crust (green olives and kalamata)

For the dress:

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Half a lemon peel + half a lemon juice
1 clove of garlic (minced)
Salt and pepper

To decorate:

Black seeds + 2 tablespoons sumac + 2 tablespoons thyme

How to prepare:
In a medium bowl, mix garlic, onion powder, all spices, nutmeg, soy sauce, honey, orange juice, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon salt and pepper, then add chicken for at least 30 minutes to be marinated.
Arrange spinach, cherry tomatoes, olives, green onions and cucumbers.
In a small bowl add the Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon peel, juice, lemon and olive oil, then pour the sauce over the salad and sprinkle with sumac and thyme.
4. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a little oil and turn the chicken on each side until fully cooked.
Sprinkle sesame or black seed over the chicken and serve with the salad.
Learn more: Lebanese chef Wedad Zarzour: I need peace of mind to create new dishes

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