On the last Friday before Easter Sunday (also known as Good Friday), Christians all around the Middle East prepare to mark one of the most important holidays of the year.
In Lebanon, this time of year is filled with traditions that bring the family together.
The sound of bells ringing across the country, making ma'amoul with teta, the smell of kebbet el 7eele, the sound of pouring rain, and spending time with family... a few of the things we cherish most.
But it's also the special food served during this time that always leaves a mark. Here's a closer look at the dishes we serve on Good Friday and Easter:
1. Kebbet el 7eele
Kebbet el 7eele is a dish served across the Levant; its name includes the word 7eele which translates into 'fake'.
This is because "kebbe" is usually made of burghul (crushed wheat), onions and meat but with kebbet el 7eele, flour, vegetables, lentils, sumac and other spices are mixed together to imitate the taste of meat.
It is said that the dish was created when a woman living in Qalamoun, Syria wanted to serve her family traditional kebbe, but could not afford to buy meat, so she came up with something that tasted just as good.
Over the years Kebbet el 7eele has become a staple dish served during the lenten season, particularly on Good Friday, and especially in North Lebanon.
2. Kebbe at3a
Similar to kibbet el 7eele, kebbe at3a is baked in the oven and served along with salads or tabbouleh during the period of lent and also on Good Friday.
1. A Lebanese Easter feast
The Easter Sunday feast is a family lunch gathering where families celebrate the holiday together.
If you think by family we mean siblings and parents, you're wrong, because in Lebanon the extended family, neighbors and friends are all welcome to join.
Foods served include meat based dishes, chicken and rice, turkey/lamb and stuffed greens with lamb chops. The reasons there are so many meat based dishes is because lent is broken on this day.
2. The glorious Ma'amoul
Easter Sunday is never complete without Ma'amoul.
Helping our grandmothers and mothers make it is a family tradition.
Who can forget the smell of orange blossom water and all the laughter as we learned how to make the delicacy from the people who mean most to us?
Ma'amoul is a traditional Easter dessert and is usually made of semolina, sugar, butter, rose water, and orange blossom water.
Pieces are filled with either dates, walnuts or pistachios and are often dusted with sugar powder.
Happy Easter everyone!