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Courtesy photo.




Mahrajan Middle Eastern Food Festival

When: Friday, Aug. 18, 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 19, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 20, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Our Lady of the Cedars Church, 140 Mitchell St., Manchester
Cost: Free admission; food is priced per item
Visit: mahrajan-nh.com




World flavors
Mahrajan Middle Eastern Food Festival returns

08/17/17
By Matt Ingersoll listings@hippopress.com



 The Mahrajan Middle Eastern Food Festival, featuring authentic Lebanese pastries, meat and vegetarian appetizers and entrees, returns to the church where it all started as a simple Sunday afternoon meal more than 40 years ago.

At the time it was just one meal, and it was just for members of Our Lady of the Cedars Melkite Catholic Church in Manchester. Now it spans three days, Friday, Aug. 18, through Sunday, Aug. 20, and everyone is welcome.
“There’s probably about 800 to 1,000 portions of everything we make,” event co-chair Marylou Lazos said. “The recipes are from people [involved] in the church, and a lot of them we’ve sort of been building on over the years.”
Visitors will have several options for appetizers to start with, like the tabbouleh salad, made with fresh parsley and cracked wheat, tomatoes and lemon juice; the hummus bi tahini, a mashed chickpea dip with sesame paste and lemon that is served with bread and sweet onions; meat pies and spinach pies that are stuffed with onions, lemon juice and spices; and tzatziki, a yogurt cucumber dip made with garlic and mint.
The entree menu includes barbecue lamb, beef and chicken kabobs that are served with bread, rice pilaf, salad or lubyeh, which are green beans cooked in tomato sauce and served over rice. You can also try the kibbeh platter, a spiced ground beef prepared with pine nuts, lamb and onions.
“We also just recently started doing shawarma, which is a dish with thin strips of spiced meat that are made in a pocket of bread with toppings like turnip or pickles,” Lazos said.
The falafel, a spiced bean patty wrap with tahini sauce and parsley, and the stuffed grape leaves, served with lamb and rice, are also popular items, according to Lazos.
For dessert, enjoy fried dough, baklava, almond butter cookies, coosa pita and maamoul.
“Coosa pita is one of the pastries that only we make,” Lazos said. “It’s a custard made with Lebanese zucchini squash stuffed between layers of phyllo dough. If you refrigerate it, it’s delicious. … You can’t make it too far ahead, though, because you need big zucchini and you need to wait until it’s in season.”
Some foods will even be prepared on site during the festival, according to Rev. Thomas Steinmetz, like the munooshi, a baked bread made with za’atar, which is a sesame and thyme mixture. A bar will also be on site with wine and beer options, as well as arak, a Lebanese liquor Lazos said is not easy to find in the Granite State.
Steinmetz said other features of the festival like music and dancing celebrate Lebanese culture. DJ Kibar Moussoba, who will be there on Friday and Sunday, is this year’s emcee. Other performers include the George Maalouf Band, led by music composer George Maalouf, on Saturday and Sunday. There’s also face-painting, a bounce house, hookah rentals, backgammon games, a gift bazaar, raffles and more.
“It’s become a great family-oriented event for people to come enjoy themselves and find out what this kind of food is like if they’ve ever been interested,” Steinmetz said. “The people who are here making the food are always very happy to show how this type of ethnic food is made.” 





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