If you like yogurt, raise your hands.
Now raise your hands if you like yogurt without added fruit and sweetener.
Ah huh, that’s what I thought. So you can imagine that I was less than enthused when I took a look at Catholic Relief Service’s rice bowl recipe for the week, and saw that plain yogurt played a huge part in it. And with garlic and mint, if you can believe that.
Maybe you can believe it. But it’s not something I’ve ever put together. More and more, as I do these Lenten recipes from other countries, I’m beginning to realize that I haven’t been very adventurous with my cooking. These rice-bowl recipes are teaching me about more than eating simply. They’re teaching me that other countries have some fun ways of combining foods–and doing it in ways that are a lot healthier than some of our fat-laden offerings.
This week we’re in Lebanon, and the recipe is called fattet laban.
I wish I could have learned more about whether this is a main meal, or a light repast. For us, it was a main meal, and a satisfying one at that–much to our surprise. As George took his second helping, we agreed that despite initial trepidation, this recipe was another winner.
Here’s the recipe:
Fattet Laban (serves 4-6)
32 oz. plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 bunch fresh mint
1 t dry mint
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 16-oz cans chickpeas with liquid
1/4 C almonds, chopped and toasted
2 T olive oil
Place a colander into a bowl, line it with cheesecloth and place yogurt in it. Cover and place in refrigerator. Allow yogurt to drain for a few hours or overnight.
Combine drained yogurt, fresh and dry mint, and crushed garlic in a bowl. In a pan, heat chickpeas in their liquid until warm, then drain and set aside. Toast pita bread in oven until golden in color. Break some of the pita bread and place pieces in a large bowl with chickpeas. Add yogurt mixture. Top with fresh mint and toasted almonds. Drizzle olive oil over top. Serve with remaining pita bread.
Meanwhile, check out the info about Lebanon on the CRS rice bowl website’s video. I learned that 3 million Syrians have fled their country since civil war broke out in 2011, and half of them are children. Nearly 4.5 million are displaced within their own country. And 1 million are currently living in Lebanon.
CRS is helping, which is the whole idea of the rice bowl, of course. I just added a bit to ours, and I wondered how many other families in Lebanon might have been eating this same meal today.