From left: Arabic iced coffee; hibiscus and orange iced tea; limonada; pomegranate and rose cordial

Find a new way to create summer drinks with Middle Eastern Sweets

Salma Hage's new book has fresh ingredients and flavours to mix with drinks you love

Even the most familiar of iced drinks turn out a little different when they’re made by Salma Hage. The acclaimed, Lebanese-born cookbook author brings new flavours, ingredients and preparation techniques in her book, Middle Eastern Sweets. In among recipes for familiar desserts, pastries, jams and sweet treats, such as baklava and ma'amoul cookies, that we’ve long associated with this region, are thrilling new versions of classic recipes, such as donuts with orange blossom syrup, rice pudding with cardamom and rose water, and hot chocolate with rich spices.

Even though much of the Middle East is dry, Hage, who grew up in Lebanon (a mixed and permissive state), isn’t averse to adding a shot of liquor to her hot chocolate, and even includes a recipe for pomegranate and rose margarita, complete with a generous shot of tequila, in the drinks section of the new book.


Author Salma Hage
Author Salma Hage


You might be hard pushed to find that particular ingredient in a Riyad supermarket, but there are plenty of other refreshments in the new book that can be made in almost any kitchen, from Beirut to the Bay Area.

Try, for example, her pomegranate and rose cordial, a great high summer refreshment. “Jewel-like pomegranate and regal rose are the perfect match in this mulberry-hued cordial” she writes. “I use the best pomegranate juice I can find—check the ingredients to make sure that it hasn’t been loaded with sugar and that it’s called pure juice, rather than juice drink. Serve this cordial topped with sparkling water over lots of ice or—for a Middle Eastern take on Kir Royale—top with sparkling wine in times of celebration.”

To make eight servings you’ll need 10 cups (4 lb 8 oz/2 kg) of superfine (caster) sugar; six cups (2½ pints/1.5 liters) of pomegranate juice; ½ oz/15 g of dried rose petals, as well as the pared peel and juice of two lemon, and the juice of two limes.

Measure the sugar and pomegranate juice into a large saucepan. Heat over a low heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves but do not allow the mixture to come to the boil. As soon as no sugar crystals are visible, stir in the rose petals, lemon juice, lemon zest and lime juice. Cover the pan with a clean dish towel and set aside for 3 hours. Strain the cordial through a cheesecloth or muslin-lined colander into a large bowl, then use a funnel to pour it into sterilized bottles.


Middle Eastern Sweets
Middle Eastern Sweets


To get recipes for all the dishes mentioned in this piece as well as much more, order a copy of Middle Eastern Sweets here.