Food is something close to many of our hearts, and the way we eat says much about our own culture and others. We’ve seen how much you like to talk about your culinary adventures on our forum and now we’d like to invite you to share some of your own cooking with us! Since we’re all in different parts of the world, and since few things bring people together the way food does, we’ve decided to set a cool culinary challenge so that we can all show the world our skills while learning about other cultures and trying something a little bit different.
What? Cooking challenge
When? April 8th - 30th
Where? This very thread on the Gengo Community Forums.
Who? All Gengo translators are invited to participate!
How? Find a Lebanese recipe of your choice and recreate it, take a picture, and share it with us – and of course taste and enjoy it!
The world (or Google) is your oyster – this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about Lebanon while you surf the internet in search of the perfect recipe. Feel free to substitute ingredients to suit your dietary restrictions, or when the original recipe calls for something that’s not available in your country. We’ll be sharing a selection of your submissions on our social media channels, so the world can enjoy what our translator community is up to!
3 lucky winners will be announced at the beginning of May!!! Prizes will be awarded for the most mouth-watering, most creative, and most voted contributions.
And that’s not all! If you enjoy these types of community-oriented activities, we’d also love to hear suggestions for future cookouts or other fun challenges that we could plan for the future! In particular, we’d love to hear about other cuisines that you’d enjoy exploring, since we chose Lebanese at random but there are so many other great options that we could have run with. Feel free to share your feedback directly via email to email@example.com.
Whether you’re an occasional cook or a masterchef in the making, we’d love to see the results of your culinary adventures. We’re already salivating waiting for the first participant!
Some ideas to get you started:
Rose Water and Orange Blossoms
And for those of you on Instagram:
Let’s get cooking!
What an amazing idea!
Syrian and Lebanese cuisines are very similar, so I decided on a dish that is very popular in both countries.
It's called fatteh, and it consists of chickpeas, bread, tahini and butter (what we use is samneh, but butter is a fine and more healthy substitute) among other things.
You can decorate it with fried pieces of bread and/or pine nuts or almonds.
People used to put away the bread they didn't use, and at the end of the week, use it to make fatteh. That's why it's typically a weekend food here, but you can eat it for breakfast/brunch any day you want.
I included a recipe if you'd like to try it, but the one I made was from memory :)
We typically serve it with onions and pickles, also a lot of tea :)
Please excuse the picture, I was really hungry.
Recipe: EASY LEBANESE FATTEH WITH CHICKPEAS
Hello, Petra, welcome to the discussion and thanks for your contribution! No need to apologise for the picture - it looks beautiful! What a lovely meal to get the ball rolling, and it's great that you included a recipe link too (of course, this isn't compulsory, and it's true that a lot of us carry recipes in our minds as you do, but it's always great to get the chance to discover new food blogs, and we hadn't heard about Zaatar and Zaytoun before).
I love the idea of using everyday ingredients in new ways, and I also think it's really interesting to learn about dishes that are common to more than one country. We hope you enjoyed your fatteh - and thanks again for being our first contributor!
I would like to share with you one of my favorite lebanese recipes. It's very popular and easy to make. It's just like bbq in Europe and the US. There are many types of meat you could use, but my favorite is shish tawouk. Give it a try. I hope you like it. I will add the recipe as well.
Hello Nora, thank you very much for sharing your contribution with us! The chicken looks cooked to perfection, and I can almost smell those lovely barbecue aromas! We really hope you enjoyed eating your shish tawouk as much as we liked looking at the pictures of it :)
I had a look at your recipe also - that yogurt marinade looks gorgeous! It's so great to get so many recipe ideas, and I'm sure that we can all inspire one another with these interesting culinary offerings.
Thanks again for your contribution, and bon appétit!
Hello, I would like to add my dish to the table.
It's called Molokhia with chicken and rice. The recipe is from Simply Lebanese. It's very simple and I think you can buy Molokhia in any Arab store around the world. The taste is a little divisive, but I'm a fan.
Thanks, gengo for this nice opportunity
Molokhia with Roz
Hello Wajih, thanks to you for your beautiful contribution and for sharing the recipe with us! The presentation of this dish is stunning. I looked up the recipe on Simply Lebanese and I was really struck by how healthy it looks (the recipe tells us that the jute leaves are 'highly nutritious, and loaded with folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin C and antioxidants' - very nice!)
I'm really curious about trying jute leaves now, and I see that the recipe says that they're available either dried or frozen at Middle Eastern or Indian grocers. That's really cool, because it means that many of the rest of us can have a go at recreating the recipe too, no matter where we are in the world.
Thanks for sharing your photo, Wajih! We really hope you enjoyed eating this lovely meal.
Hi, everyone! First let me thank you, Katrina, for this super interesting challenge, and I must say Lebanese cuisine is a great choice for it is so diverse and rich, and everyone can find in it something to their taste, even if they are vegetarians like me. :-) Several Lebanese recipes have been for years my tried friends whenever I need to prepare some quick and simple but at the same time hearty and delicious meal. And when I found out about the challenge I started racking my brains over which recipe I should opt for, and I must admit it was really hard to decide. )) My first thought was to make hummus, which is something I literally can't imagine my life without. I make it almost every week alternating legumes and spices to prepare this super nutrient-dense and savory dish (for the challenge though I made classic chickpeas version). But I thought maybe hummus, even being one of the most known Lebanese recipes, would be not enough for this challenge as it is considered by many more as a snack, a dip, so I started wondering what else I could make to place next to it. And I decided to cook tabbouleh, which is one of my favorite salads and which I make quite often as well. But then I thought I also should find some new recipe that I never tried to cook before, and only then this would be a real challenge for me. :-) And this was how I discovered Laban wa Khyar — yogurt and cucumber salad recipe, which I fell in love with immediately and which, I know this, will be from now on one of my favorite Lebanese recipes along with hummus and tabbouleh. I really hope I'm not breaking the challenge's rules by posting more than one recipe but I just couldn't help sharing my favorites with you and could not decide which one I should opt for. And, of course, I strongly recommend everyone to try and cook all of these three delicious Lebanese dishes!
Hello d.s.bakida, and thank you for your lovely contribution! The pleasure is all ours - we've really enjoyed watching everybody's amazing photos coming in, and we've been really impressed by the beautiful presentation of all of these dishes, not to mention how tasty they all look! We're also really happy that you like the 'Lebanese' theme, since we also really appreciated how diverse this cuisine is, and how many options there are for vegetarians like yourself.
There's nothing at all to stop anyone from preparing more than one dish, as our thinking was really that one photo equals one submission, regardless of how many dishes are in the photo. It's nice that you've tried a combination of tried-and-tested classics and new ideas (such as the yogurt and cucumber salad, which you said was something you hadn't tried before). Which one did you enjoy the most?
Thanks to everyone for making this cooking contest so much fun, and those of you that haven't taken part yet - please don't hesitate to get involved!
Thank you, Katrina, for you appreciation and encouragement! I could say it was exactly my vegetarianism that was the reason why I turned my attention to Lebanese cuisine a few years ago, since it has so many wonderful and simple vegetarian recipes. As to which recipe I enjoyed more, I must say that each of them is so different that it is hard to compare them. :-) But I would say that, for me, hummus is perfect to have in autumn or wintertime when it's cold and you need something hearty to keep yourself warm. :-) While tabbouleh and Laban wa Khyar are more spring and summer food for they are so light and fresh.
That's lovely! I'm really happy to hear that your vegetarianism inspired you to try out new cuisines. I always think that Near and Middle Eastern cooking is great for vegetarians. I spent some time in Turkey a few years back, and I was always amazed by all of the great vegetarian food on offer. Since leaving Turkey, I've tried to recreate some of my favourite dishes, but my results were not as nice as yours are, sadly. Perhaps I need more practice!
I think the laban wa khyar looks particularly gorgeous and I'd love to try making it some time. Thanks for your recommendations and your lovely contribution to our contest :)
Glad to hear you enjoyed Turkish food, Katrina, since I enjoy it too just as much as the country itself! I'm sure your results were very decent but, yes, cooking always needs practice just like everything else. :-) And your judgment on Near and Middle Eastern cuisines as being great for vegetarians is very true. And it can be applied to Caucasian cuisine too, which I know for sure since I have Azeri and Armenian background (though have lived almost my whole life in Ukraine). I would say Turkish, Azeri and Armenian cuisines share a lot in common both with each other and with Lebanese one. Maybe, this is the reason why I find Lebanese food easy to prepare. :)
That's really interesting to hear, d.s.bakida :) It's nice to hear about cultures that have culinary traditions in common, as indeed Petra was mentioning earlier in the discussion when she talked about fatteh being popular in both Syria and Lebanon. I've always heard really good things about the culinary traditions in the South Caucasian countries. Have you sampled Georgian food at all?
Since I've kind of confessed now about not being the best at cooking, I'll share a photo of my efforts just so that the rest of you have an idea of what my standards are like! Before we started this contest, I actually did cook something just in case nobody else contributed (thankfully you guys have proven me wrong and really risen to the challenge!) I'll share the photos below, but I just want to point out that 1. I'm no culinary expert, and 2. obviously I won't award myself any prizes because that would be against the spirit of the competition. I mainly cooked for the photos, and to get into the mood for the contest :)
I made two different dishes - the rice dish is one that I found on One Arab Vegan, and the other one with the eggplants is an attempt at recreating the many eggplant dishes that I ate in Turkey. The left picture is the work in progress, and the right picture is the end result.
Obviously, this is quite a humble effort compared to everybody else's contributions, but at least now you know what my skills are like (elementary!) In this same spirit, I also wanted to say that if people are reading that, like me, aren't necessarily experienced chefs, please don't be shy about taking part anyway! Your efforts are bound to be better than mine are, and part of the reason for running the competition is so that we can all have fun and do something together, quite apart from the prizes.
Keep your contributions coming, guys!
You surely underestimate your cooking skills, Katrina! What I see on the plates looks yummy. The eggplant dish seems very familiar to me. I think I've definitely cooked one or another version of this vegetable stew quite a few times.)) And, of course, I hope you enjoyed both the process and the results of your cooking! As for Georgian food, yes, I tried it both during my visits to Georgia and here in Ukraine as we have many Georgians living in the country and thus many Georgian cuisine cafes and restaurants. I would say Georgian cuisine (and Caucasian in general) is pretty popular here in Ukraine.
Thanks for this cool cooking challenge and I made shakshouka, a traditional breakfast in Lebanon and Middle Eastern.
There are various spices and a lot of colorful vegetables inside, so it tastes rich, healthy, and goes well with bread!
Hello Joy, welcome to the Gengo Masterchef Challenge! Thanks for being our FIFTH contributor and for starting the week on such a good, and delicious, note with this beautiful creation!
The combination of the rich tomato sauce and colourful vegetables looks stunning. What a wonderful breakfast to start the day with! We really hope that you enjoyed your lovely shakshouka!
Hello again everyone! I'm just dropping a quick comment to say that since we're already on 27 April, this means there are just three days left to submit your entries for the Gengo Masterchef Challenge! If anyone following this thread has been secretly longing to submit their culinary entry - now is the time to do it! We've really enjoyed seeing everybody's contributions so far, and we're sure that the community has taken as much pride and pleasure in these beautiful photos as we have.
Thanks to everyone who's contributed so far - and if you haven't yet, but want to, don't be shy!
hello everyone, it's a very nice challenge, I like to contribute with a simple dish it is called kufta with tahina, it is made of diced lamb meat and sliced potato with tahini sauce made of tahina, lemon, salt, and water, put together in the oven or simply cooked on the stove
Hello misstranslatekh - welcome to our contest, and thank you so much for sending us this beautiful photo! We love what you've done with the table setting - it all looks so wonderfully cosy :)
I love the idea of mixing tahina, lemon, salt, and water - sometimes it's the really simple combinations that can work really well. I'm also more than curious about the noodle soup - that looks gorgeous. What's in it? We hope you enjoyed your meal!
We've really enjoyed seeing everyone's amazing cooking skills, and we urge anyone who's curious about taking part in the challenge to have a go now! We're accepting entries up to and including Friday 30 April :)
Thank you, misstranslatekh, for sharing your lovely meal, and thanks to everyone else that has taken part (and to those of you who have been following our competition and voting). Hats off to everyone!
Lebanese pies, sfeeha and fatayer, have been my inspiration, and especially these food blogs: https://www.simplyleb.com/recipe/spinach-fatayer/
I like to work with dough, and these pies look so delicious. It’s a challenge to prepare the dough and the filling in such a way so the pies don’t get ‘wet’, and the pies turn out crispy outside and soft inside. This time the choice has fallen on the spinach pies. Since I’ve noticed that the filling for these pies depends on the inspiration of a cook, I decided to adapt the recipe and instead of spinach I used the plant which is commonly called patience dock (Serbian: zelje), combined with cheese, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Also, I used my own recipe for the dough (the combination of white wheat flour and wholemeal wheat flour), and it turned out to be perfect for shaping these pies.
This is my version of the Lebanese pies.
Hello Jasmina, welcome to our cooking challenge, and thank you for sending us your photos of these beautiful pies! What a lovely image to start the day with. We're really impressed by the amount of imagination that you've put into this challenge, and the way you've drawn inspiration from both Lebanese and Serbian cooking traditions. I'm also really interested to hear about the patience dock/zelje, as I hadn't heard about this before. With this and the molokhia mentioned by Wajih, it's been a good contest for learning about new ingredients (as well as seeing how useful tried-and-tested ingredients can be).
One thing that I keep saying, but keeps striking me, is how artistic you all are in your presentation of your dishes, and I'm really wondering now if there's some kind of a connection between language knowledge, writing/translation and visual art. You'd all make brilliant graphic designers!
Thanks, Jasmina, for your lovely pastries, and thanks to everyone who's contributed so far! We're down to the last couple of days of our contest, so if there are any secret chefs that are contemplating sending us a contribution - your time is now!
My daughter and I made Lebanese spinach pies(fatayar) and the recipe is from maureenabood.com. I used ready to roll dinner roll dough from market to save time, and I substituted purple onions for yellow ones and switch walnuts to pecans. It's a interesting experience although we are not get used to the flavor.
Hello Ting, welcome to the Masterchef challenge and thank you for sending us your lovely photos! It's always so exciting to see the process of cooking, as well as the end results. I love your daughter's tiny rolling pin. The mixture of the spinach and pecan nuts looks so fresh and appetising, and the pastry looks so golden and crumbly. Did you and your daughter get used to the taste in the end? (I think I would have loved your pies!)
It's always nice to switch up recipes and change some of the ingredients, and I think it's really nice to see how much imagination you've all shown in putting your own interpretation on things.
Thanks again to everyone for sending in your photos (we have eight so far - Petra, Nora, Wajih, d.s.bakida, Joy, misstranslatekh, Jasmina, and now Ting!) We're really happy that so many people have risen to the challenge. For those of you who are still thinking about having a go - remember that today (30 April) is our LAST DAY for accepting entries!
Greetings to everyone from Turkey! I also would like to present my Lebanese Cuisine table :)
Firstly, I must say that I felt quite excited before and while cooking the dishes. We as Turkish cuisine have so many similarities with with Lebanese cuisine due to our close cultural and geographic history. But, I must confess that making searches about it and discovering such authentic recipes made me feel mesmerized. Here is my Lebanese menu :)
I prepared "Hummus". I boiled 1/4 kg cheak-pea, and smashed it with a food processor. Then, I added tahini, spices and stirred it. I made a sauce with butter, tomato paste and parsley and added it on the dish. "Tabbouleh" salad. To be honest, it was such an interesting experience with me since the materials for this salad were all the ones in our kitchen, but I never knew these create such a salad. I tasted it for the first time and quite very nutritious :) "Waraq enab" dish. Such a taste! What makes it so delicious is virgin olive oil. It is prepared with grape leaves, rice and vegetable stuffing, and cooked on steam. Vegetarians' love guaranteed! :))
I also cooked homemade "Pita". I added a little 'bulgur' and dry yeast to the dough, which made Pita much more tasty. Aaand "Tahini". Both yummy and nutritious paste! It has many versions both in Lebanese cuisine and in mine. I prefered to prepare with grape molasses.
It was such a great experience and fun adventure to create this table. Thank you for this amazing challenge, Katrina :)
Hello Busra, thanks to you for sending us these stunning photos of your beautiful Lebanese meal! I love how bright and colourful your place setting looks, and it's lovely to see how you've used inspiration from both Lebanese and Turkish traditions when preparing your meal. I always think that grape molasses are so reminiscent of Turkey! I'm really happy that you enjoyed researching and preparing the different recipes so much, and indeed I hope that we've all been inspired by this contest - I know that I have since, like you, Busra, I was amazed by the sheer variety of Lebanese dishes, quite apart from how tasty they all look.
Well done to Busra for submitting this beautifully-presented and very original Lebanese meal on the last day of our contest (Friday 30 April), and thank you so much to everyone who has taken part in the competition - Petra, Nora, Wajih, d.s.bakida, Joy, misstranslatekh, Jasmina, Ting, and Busra. We're really grateful to all of you for throwing yourselves into the challenge and for sharing your photographs, recipes and ideas about Lebanese cooking. Thanks also to those of you who have been following the contest and voting on your favourite dishes. We hope it's been an interesting contest for everyone involved.
We will announce the winners in early May, so until then, please stay tuned, and if you'd like to share your ideas for future challenges then please go ahead and send these to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best wishes, and bon appétit!
Yes, indeed! As you also know, Turkey is a heaven for vegetarian foods with the contribution of high-quality olive oil and a wide variety of plant species. Discovering such similaries and at the same time some differences between the two cuisines truly inspired me. It was a great Friday activity for me after a long and busy work schedule. I appreciate all the great words a lot! Thank you!
Our inaugural cooking contest has drawn to a close, and the time has come to announce our three lucky - and talented! - winners. With every contribution being so imaginative in its own way, we really struggled to come up with just one winner each for each category, but after much deliberation, our final three contestants are (drum roll!)
Petra was the first contributor to our contest, sending us her beautiful fatteh photograph within twenty-four hours of the contest opening. We loved her enticingly-presented take on this simple yet substantial weekend dish - and so did our community, with Petra receiving the most votes out of all of our contributors. Well done to Petra for getting the contest off to an incredible start and for no doubt inspiring the amazing acts that followed!
With nine beautiful contributions to choose from, it was never going to be easy to choose just one winner for most mouth-watering, but d.s.bakida wowed us with her spectacular triumvirate of hummus, tabbouleh salad, and laban wa khyar. Prepared with great attention to detail and obvious care, it was the final flourishes such as the playful sprinkling of seeds on the salad and the oh-so-appetising drizzle of olive oil on the yogurt that really took this masterful spread to the next level. We hope you enjoyed your meal, d.s.bakida!
And what an entry to finish on! Busra closed off our cooking contest in enviable style with her hummus, tabbouleh salad, stuffed vine leaves, homemade pita bread, and grape molasses-infused tahina. We were impressed by Busra’s creativity in experimenting with a wide range of ingredients, as well as her resourcefulness in drawing on products from her own kitchen to create totally novel recipes. Her sense of culinary adventure has very much inspired all of us, and we bet the results of her efforts tasted amazing!
Now that the results are out, we can announce our prizes for the winning entries - Petra, d.s.bakida and Busra will each receive $60 credited to their Gengo translator account! The money will be in each of your accounts by the end of Friday May 14, and we hope you spend it on something nice!
We’d also like to give a run-down on our personal highlights from each of the other entries, so starting in the order in which we received their contributions...
Nora’s shish tawouk was so appetising that we could almost smell the barbecue aromas emanating through our laptop screens, and the cooking on charcoal was brilliant and original. We loved the tasty addition of yogurt marinade and we think this would have offset the grilled chicken perfectly.
Introducing what may have been a new ingredient for many of us, Wajih’s molokhia leaves with chicken and rice were beautifully presented and struck a fantastic balance - like so much of Lebanese cooking - between being bursting with goodness and utterly appetising. We’d love to track down some of the ingredients and try making our own take on it.
Joy’s breakfast shakshouka was a wonderful one-pot selection that really made the best of the flavoursome ingredients, such as the rich tomato sauce and the eggs. The combination of the perfectly-cooked vegetables and intriguing blend of spices make this dish a real highlight of any morning, and is definitely well worth getting up for!
Carrying on in the spirit of making the most out of wonderfully simple ingredients, we had misstranslatekh’s kufta wa tahina. We liked the balance of smooth tahina with tangy lemon and salt, and the accompanying soup and salad were a lovely fresh complement to the hearty main ingredient of meat.
Jasmina brought us a Serbian twist on a Lebanese classic by using local ingredient zelje to create a totally new take on the traditional favourite of fatayer, or Lebanese pies. We were impressed by Jasmina’s technical expertise in creating just the right dough for the occasion and on the gorgeously crispy-looking corners of these tasty pies.
And finally, we had to take our hats off to Ting and her daughter by going out of their comfort zone and also putting their own spin on the fatayer theme by using the novel ingredient of pecans rather than walnuts. The spinach, pecan and onion mixture looks fresh and zingy yet also hearty and substantial. Well done for making it a family affair and getting involved in our challenge together!
We’re really grateful to everyone who used their free time to contribute something cool to the community, and to those of you who shared recipes, ingredient ideas and expert pieces of advice, over and above the photographs. Thanks also to everyone who has been following the challenge and voting - even if you didn’t contribute this time, we hope you’ve been inspired by everyone’s efforts, and who knows? Perhaps we’ll see you in a future challenge!
And speaking of which! We’d love to hear your thoughts about more culinary activities that we could run, or other community activities that you’d enjoy taking part in, so if you have a burning idea for a challenge or contest that we could all get involved with, please go ahead and email email@example.com.
Once again - thanks to everyone! We hope to see you again for the next challenge!
Congratulations to all the winners of this wonderful challenge!
Thanks to everyone for such a nice presentation of the prepared meals. I really enjoyed watching all these photos, the meals look so delicious, and I’ll surely try out preparing some of them.
Getting to know a new style of cooking, preparing meals by using some new ingredients, spices and seasoning typical of some completely different kitchen from the one we’re used to — it’s such an interesting and refreshing experience! Just as Katrina said, we "get our aprons ready" — and travel the world. :)
Greetings to all from Serbia!
Thank you so much for this fun opportunity. I had so much fun reading everyone's creative contributions
Thank you so much, Katrina and Gengo team, for your appreciation and the prize! I really enjoyed the process of cooking for this wonderful contest but what was even more interesting is to see what other contentast would come up with. This really gives you an opportunity to feel how big and at the same time small this world is and how we who inhabite it are different but also having so many things in common.
What a fun contest and wonderful contributions! Gengo, please keep on doing things like this!