July 03, 2014 Zahle Bekaa Lebanon Middle East

Mechtah Bou Elias: Zahle's Famous Bread
Morning Delights Authentic & Traditional

I've been to Zahle before, but I only had time to have breakfast at Massaad and buy some milk cookies. Coming back was a must. My second visit started with Furn Mar Elias, a well-known place in Zahle that produces something called the "Moshtah". Furn Mar Elias has been open since 1962 and is run by Elias Aad, the owner’s son, his sister and wife.
 
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Up in "Hayy el Midan", Forn Bou Elias is an old authentic place, kept as is for decades. Using only natural ingredients, they bake bread the authentic way with water, salt and yeast added to flour.

Don't expect to see a large signboard, the bakery is a tiny spot with a wooden white doors but famous among the locals. Just ask around. We were welcomed by the magnetic smell of fresh bread that takes over the area. Inside this little shop that oozes life, Elias welcomes while busy baking some bread in an old yet huge oven. The long bread loaves are first sent for half a bake then brushed with water to give them a crunchy envelop and sent  again for a couple of more minutes.

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Both wife and sister each have a job. One prepares the buns while the other fills the bags, and Elias, with a smile on his face, happily welcomes customers to enjoy the pieces of wonder he produces daily.

The smell is different, the colors are different, everything makes you want to eat more and more. Bread, Moshtah or Korban, each is delicious. The recipe for Moshtah is simple. Elias uses yeast, flour, salt and water to create bread. Two different sizes and shapes. The Moshtah is a piece of oval bread around 1 cm thick. It has a dozen holes running through it, which makes it more airy. The bread or sandwiches are large in size with a crunchy envelop and a rich condensed core. Hot, they taste like heaven. After that, I decided to have a piece of Korban in which they add a bit of sugar, mahlab and rose water to the recipe: these are different from the ones distributed in Beiruti churches, which are more condensed, sweeter and surely taste more commercial. I just imagined filling one of those with cheese, giving it a quick toast and enjoying a tasty creation.

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To enjoy Moshtah more just add some Zaatar to it. The wife added some homemade Zaatar then folded in two. Yum! So authentic, so simple.
  • Korban brioche: LBP500 each
  • 7 mochtah in a bag: LBP1,500
  • 3 sandwiches for LBP1,000

Do you feel like going to Zahle and discovering some real authentic food? Bou Elias is a place to visit.




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