News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 16, 2012

Festival to feature Middle Eastern cuisine


Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Guests will walk into the halls of St. George Orthodox Church Social Center on Oct. 7 to an aroma of foods lingering in the air as they see tables laden with the best foods from cities and villages in Syria and Lebanon during the church’s annual Middle Eastern Festival.

The billowy tents covering the ceiling and booths will be reminiscent of a village atmosphere as seen in the streets of Damascus during the Middle Eastern Festival.

Guests’ senses will take them on an excursion through the cuisine of the Holy Land from noon to 5 p.m.

Choose from an array of dishes including the famous fried football kibby, made with cracked wheat and ground steak, filled with fiber and protein. Other menu items: Shish Kebab over rice; rolled and stuffed grape leaves; meat and spinach pies made with homemade yeast dough; green beans cooked in a zesty tomato sauce and served over a bed of rice with orzo cooked in clarified butter; hummus bi tahini; mountain bread; and Middle Eastern tabouli salad filled with bulgur, parsley, mint, tomato, green onions, lemon juice and a drizzling of olive oil.

Another choice is Syrian salad drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, plus yogurt and cucumber salad that’s a good accompaniment to grape leaves.

Vegans will find a booth featuring falafel, a delicious vegetarian sandwich filled with a blend of chic peas, cumin, coriander and herbs, laced with taratoor/tahini salad.

An a la carte menu will also be available with the foods listed above.

A pastry shop will include baklawa, with its layer of filo dough filled with English walnuts and topped with simple syrup. Organizers have been baking the baklawa for several weeks; advance orders are now being placed for baklawa logs.

Also included in the pastry shop will be ma’mool, a butter-nut cookie, and the sweet Ka’ack anise cookie. The booth will also include pickled turnips, breads topped with za’tar and sesame, and mountain flat bread, all made by members of the church.

Activities will include dancing to Arabic music by Middle Eastern dance instructor Judy Hanna of Indianapolis.

And Mousa Khoury of Indianapolis will perform his melodious, almost extinct, string instrument called the oud (lute) in the background intermittently throughout the festival.

A new cookbook compiled by the St. George Ladies Society will be available, featuring recipes from members of the church, friends and founders of the church.

Religious books for children, DVDs, icons and jewelry will be available at one of the booths.

For those who want to make holy bread, the Holy Oblation Seal will be available for purchase. One booth will feature items from Jerusalem made from olive wood.

A silent auction will allow for bids on baskets filled with food items to make a Middle Eastern specialty and other items.

Tours of the church by the Rev. Father Paul Matar and Father Deacon Elias Corey will be offered. They will review the rich history of Byzantine icons that adorn the windows with the religious significance of many items used in the church.

The seat of the church is Antioch, where the “disciples were for the first time called Christians” (Acts 1:26). The Christian faith itself is part of a common heritage from the Middle East.

Advance orders can be placed for kibby, baklawa, mamoul, gribee, ka’ak and meat and spinach pies. To order, call 812-232-5244, 812-249-9247 or any member of St. George Ladies Society. Deadline to place orders is Sept. 24, and orders may be picked up the week of Oct. 1.

Festival tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Tickets for 12 and under are $6. Students with ID will receive a $2 discount off the regular price of $15.

Advance tickets can be purchased from the Saratoga Restaurant, Ellis Law, Corey’s Fine Footwear, Mike’s Food Market, George’s Café or from any member of the St. George Ladies Society.

St. George Social Center is at 1900 S. Fourth St.