Exploring Bentael with Al Wadi Al Akhdar

by Maria Frangieh
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Al Wadi Al Akhdar is introducing us to green destinations that are less known in Lebanon. After visiting  Jisr El Aarous, Ammiq, Kawkaba, Chahtoul, Hammana and Jaj, we have reached Bentael Nature Reserve.

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Photo – Ray Geahchan

Bentael is located eight kilometers from Byblos at an altitude of 300 to 850 meters. The reserve boasts 110 hectares of rich biodiversity, and there is even a watchtower. It is home to more than 330 flora species, of which 60 have medicinal properties.

Bentael Nature Reserve offers visitors an array of activities and hiking experiences, including three formidable hiking trails.
Bird enthusiasts can also enjoy the trails as the reserve is considered a path for migratory hawks, eagles and other raptors.
Visitors can enter the reserve from one of its two entrances: from near the village of Mechehlene or from the upper region of Bentael.

Furthermore, a 12th century hermitage and chapel (St. John’s) can be found inside the reserve. Cut into the rock, it is located eight meters above the ground and dates back 1,500 years. Visitors wishing to see the hermitage and chapel can do so by hiking.

The reserve also cater to families with its newly equipped kids’ playground as well as an insect museum and fire tools museum.

Bentael Nature Reserve’s efforts to promote the protection of the natural environment go beyond the reserve itself. It also advocates the importance of conservation of natural resources to neighboring landowners.

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Mwarraqa

Mwarraqa

Bentael is known for its mwarraqa, a sweet pastry made with crushed walnut and almonds mixed with sugar, flavored with Al Wadi Al Akhdar’s orange blossom water. Don’t miss out on trying it.

Check out how it’s done!

Ingredients
For the dough

2½ cups strong white flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp yeast
1½ cups lukewarm water
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the filling

3 tbsp crushed walnuts
3 tbsp crushed almonds
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp Al Wadi Al Akhdar rosewater
½ tsp Al Wadi Al Akhdar orange blossom water

Finishing

1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil

 

Preparation

  1. Prepare the dough by measuring the flour. Then sieve the flour and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Pour the yeast water and oil gradually into the flour. Knead the mixture to make soft dough. Knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic. Alternatively. use a food processor and turn the machine on for one minute.
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1½ to 2 hours or until it becomes double the size.
  4. Punch down the dough. Add flour to a surface and form a rope-like shape.
  5. Pinch off the dough to form four equal balls.
  6. Add flour to a bowl and leave the balls for an extra ½ hour to rise.
  7. Roll out the dough into a flat thin disc.
  8. Spread the filling evenly on the dough. Roll the dough, starting from the center and working your way outward to form a thin rope-like shape.
  9. Brush softened butter or vegetable oil onto the pastry.
  10. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes.

 

Stay tuned for the next green destination with alwadi.com.

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