June 03, 2016 Lebanon Middle East

A Special Delivery from Arsal: The BOX of June!

You have just received The Box this morning and surely you've noticed how special it is. The monthly box of goodness always includes a handpicked selection of the finest food, goodies and gadgets from across Lebanon but only this time all its contents are entirely produced in Arsal and delivered in a wooden box.

www.TheBox.boutique

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Every month we deliver local treats, little-known regional delicacies and local innovative creations. A culinary journey around Lebanon, The Box takes people into the mountains or far down South to discover all sorts of edible delights, delights that might not appear on your radar otherwise. 

Hand chosen by NGNO, each edition of The Box is sure to inspire. 

This Box is special because it has been entirely produced and packed in Arsal.

Nestled on the foothills of the North Eastern Lebanese mountain range, Arsal is one of the largest border villages in the Bekaa valley with fascinating culinary traditions and crafts. This special edition of "The Box" gives you an unprecedented glimpse into an array of delicacies and handpicked goods that mirror the spirit of hospitality and kindness of the town’s people. 

This Box is made entirely in Arsal: The wooden box was crafted by local carpenters and all preserves were freshly produced by the Arsal Cooperative using their traditional recipes. This edition of The Box also includes handmade coasters carefully weaved by Arsali women who inherited their skills from previous generations. These unique pieces reflect the rich heritage of the town. We hope you enjoy the Arsal Box and look forward to your continued contribution and support to these artisans. 

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In this Box, you have will find 15 products. Three kinds of jams, kechek, eggplant makdous, kawarma, traditional biscuits, sundried tomatoes, chili paste and even a portion to cook your own makhlouta.

Open it and enjoy its rich aromas and freshness!

  • Pumpkin Jam made of whole pumpkins dunk overnight in a saline solution to preserve their crunch and firmness. They are cooked in syrup for long hours and can be enjoyed with cheese, in a sandwich or to bake your favorite cake.
  • Grape Molasses: A sweet-tasting molasses;  a natural sweetener made from fresh grapes harvested in the fall. It is very rich in minerals. It can be used to sweeten cookies, cakes and breads; it can be made into a refreshing drink; it can flavor puddings; it can be used in BBQ sauce and gravies.
  • Local thyme, Zaatar mix: Handpicked by the ladies of Arsal, this Zaatar is prepared using ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt.
  • Keshek: Cracked wheat, Goat yogurt, Cow yogurt and salt. Keshek is a very traditional food made every year by Lebanese villagers with bulgur and milk at the end of summer as part of winter’s provisions. Eat kechek with kawarma, on a flatbread or add it to your favorite dish.
  • Eggplant Makdous: Whole eggplants stuffed with walnuts and sun-dried red pepper then pickled in sunflower oil.
  • Cow Labneh balls in oil: Usually labneh balls are made of goat milk but the ladies of Arsal managed to dry milk cow preserving it in sunflower oil. Their acidic and intense taste is best enjoyed with olive oil on flatbread.
  • Kawarma: Kawarma is a traditional Lebanese meal, usually made of lamb meat naturally preserved in lamb fat (Liyye). Arsal’s tradition is to make it from sheep and cow meat. This technique originated by our ancestors in high mountains to be able to preserve the meat from summer till the winter season. Kawarma is a nutritious food and is best enjoyed when cooked with fried eggs or “Keshek”. 
  • Tannour Bread: A tannouis a one meter by fifty centimeters oven made from a special kind of clay that retains heat. Usually, four to five families share a tannour, so it is placed in a location convenient for all the families involved. Handmade one at a time, the ladies of Arsal prepared this bread which is part of their daily life.
  • Traditional Biscuits: A typical and traditional Arsal treat, it’s the kaak every household makes using wheat flour, sugar, vanilla, anise, butter, olive oil, yeast.
  • Sundried Tomatoes: Only summer plum tomatoes are sliced and dried under the sun of the Bekaa valley of Lebanon. Then it is carefully sterilized and seasoned. It can be directly used in your food preparations. The final product is tangy and full of taste, it is proudly the only sun dried tomato made in Lebanon.
  • Chili paste: This is an old authentic recipe, made with an exclusive sundried variety of chili peppers. Its mild hot aromatic flavor enhances the taste of all kinds of meats, cold cuts, and stews. It is excellent when used on Lebanese Tabboule.
  • Strawberry jam: Strawberry fruits are picked at the right stage of maturity to gain maximum taste and flavor. Then the fruit is carefully mixed with a low proportion of organic brown sugar and slowly cooked to have our final authentic and healthy assorted ingredient.
  • Makhlouta recipe mix: (red beans, chickpeas, lentils, bulgur). Leave the chickpeas and beans in a pot of water overnight. Wash thoroughly the next day and leave to cook with sliced onions until well cooked. Add bulgur wheat and eat with cooked potatoes and butter.
  • Apple Jam: Made of freshly picked apples, this jam is mixed with sesame seeds for more texture and flavor. Best enjoyed on buttered toast.

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We hope you enjoy The Box of Arsal which employed more than 30 families in Arsal and 10 from Baalbeck injecting a total of $60,000 in the Arsal economy. 30 students from Beirut helped with the packaging and delivery using 20 taxi drivers for distribution. Together we are making a change hoping for more support given to the residents of Arsal.

If you would like to order more items, you can contact the Arsal Cooperative at +961.3.110802

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About NoGarlicNoOnions

NoGarlicNoOnions.com (NGNO) is the result of passion, passion for food, passion for people, passion for travel, passion for experiences and, above all, passion for Lebanon. NGNO helps people discover great new experiences and provides insights into culinary trends while helping local and international foodies find the right spots to enjoy good food, new innovations and more…NoGarlicNoOnions spreads happiness. In addition to the reviews, NGNO has a popular television segment on national television, Meshwar takes the form of a 20-minute show that takes viewers across Lebanon. Meshwar is an insider’s guide to Lebanon like no other. NGNO is also behind Souk El Akel, Lebanon’s Street Food Market, a travelling culinary feast that journeys across Lebanon spreading a love of local products, providing a platform for local producers and inspiring local cooks and chefs. Souk El Akel’s mission is simple: To bring people together through a shared love of great food and a sense of pride in their community. 

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