Although it was known as the sustenance of the poor in the villages, the kiosk is very popular with urbanites, expats and foreigners. More than one tourist guide tells that those who visit Lebanon and taste the kiosk or kiosk manakish with the ormah (meat and fat) buy kiosk powder after they learn how to cook it or prepare it as a filling for manakish.
It is the most commonly manufactured mortar in the Bekaa and Al Jabal regions, as it stores the sun to withstand the cold. And the kiosk – as it is called in the Levant – is known by other names in Turkey, Armenia, Iran, the Caucasus and Mongolia. People eat it for breakfast or dinner. Some make sauces from it, such as yogurt or freeze-dried milk, for some cooking.
The kiosk is milk, milk or labneh, with bulgur and salt. These are the ingredients, but each region or family has its own traditional method that it inherited from its ancestors.
In cities, people can make green kiosk (fresh and soft) that is, before it is completely dry and milled, and whoever has his own surface can complete it to turn into a powder that resembles flour.
Kiosk is made from milk, yogurt, or labneh, or by mixing it across stages. Here are 3 ways to make a kiosk that begins in Lebanon from mid-August to the end of September.
Joan Arc Jabbour from Mount Lebanon says she uses medium-sized white bulgur. Soak each kilo of bulgur with a kilo of milk and a tablespoon of salt in a bowl, keep it until the next day so that the bulgur can drink all the milk, then grind it at home or the mill as a first stage.
Then from each kilo of this mixture you put a kilo of labneh, which is added gradually during 5 days, and mixing one-fifth of the kilo every day, and cover and leave, it is better that the weather is not too hot and causes excess acidity, and on the last day you can take a part of it called the green kiosk, make balls and put them in Glass containers with olive oil, and eaten like labneh.
The remaining quantity is divided into pieces that are uniquely placed on a piece of cloth, and turned over every period during a whole day until it dries up and becomes hard and crunchy like wheat, and the dry stall is taken to the mill to grind and sift and it is ready for storage or direct use. Jabbour considers it best to store it in canvas bags or sealed glass containers.
The famous Beqai
Fatima Hamia, from the northern Bekaa, makes the kiosk, as she learned from her grandmother in the village. She has been helping her mother prepare the mortar since she was 10 years old, and she says that every village has its own way of making it.
She adds the milk mixed between cow, sheep and goat milk without boiling it with salt, and leaves it for 3 to 5 days, depending on the temperature of the weather until it turns into milk, then she rinses the white bulgur whole grain, leaves it dry and puts the milk over it until it is covered, and presses it with her hands to prevent air from entering Between the bulgur grains, leave it for several hours, then take it to the grinder and use the kiosk crusher, and it becomes like an ointment.
Then add the labneh over the course of 5 days, rub it and press the mixture to prevent the air in the morning and evening and adjust the salt, then put it pieces on the surface. And you take the green kiosk from it, put the flavors you want and put it immersed in oil in glass containers in the refrigerator.
And leave the rest to dry for two hours in the early morning, and rub it every two hours until it returns to become bulgur, and leave it for an additional day in the sun to get the kiosk that you want, white and sour, with a distinct flavor and a pleasant aroma. And grind it finely after it dries completely, and spread it on a cloth inside to cool down and sift it. And she calls what she is doing Ibn Battuta trip in the kiosk.
Fatima considers that working in the stall is very delicate and requires knowledge and experience, because a small mistake or excessive confusion and not knowing when it is ready spoils the mortar for a whole year and gives it a bitter taste.
Of milk and love
With her hands full of old gold bracelets, Khadija Atwa from the south makes the kiosk from curd in two stages, using coarse white bulgur.
What distinguishes her work is that she does not use any ingredients, but follows the way of looking and touching, that is, she puts an amount of bulgur and drenches it with cow’s milk and a fist of salt, mixes it with her hand and says that working with the hand is a blessing.
Khadija tells Al-Jazeera Net that the people of her village all make the kiosk, but they “wait for me to kiosk (that is, I make the kiosk) and say it is the best you have tasted.” They ask her to teach them her secret, but she swears that she has no secret and that she only uses bulgur and milk.
But she adds that perhaps because she prepares bulgur from the wheat that she reaps, and the milk from the milk of her neighbor’s cows that is not adulterated, she adds that she does not skimp on her stall, and gives it the acidity required by adding milk in stages. She also says, perhaps, because she always brings the booth to her expatriate children and puts all her love and longing in it.
Khadija stores the milled kiosk in small paper bags, then wraps them with cling film to send her children abroad. And put the amount that remains in sealed glass jars because the stall smells strong, and it can spoil if it is always exposed to air.
The citizen uses the kiosk to cook with onions, garlic and minced meat. She says that she puts about 4 to 5 tablespoons of food for a small saucepan, which is enough for breakfast for her, her husband and her son.