Just like how Jeffrey Steingarter is The Man Who Ate Everything, I want to be the Woman that Tried Everything. At least once. Even if it is weird and unheard of on this side of the world, as long as it is edible and not poisonous. Thankfully, what I ate today wasn’t gruesome looking, foul tasting or deadly.
Since I had a sweet tooth and was craving for something a little different, I passed by a Middle Eastern, Lebanese and Mediterranean grocery store to find a treat. I stumbled across something called osmalieh. It looked interesting to me and I’ve seen it multiple times, but never had a chance to try it. Today was the day.
From what I understand, this dessert is made with a bunch of chopped walnuts and pistachios and a crispy layer of sweet vermicelli noodles. I’ve only ever come across vermicelli noodles in East Asian cuisine and some Indian sweets, but I didn’t realize it was used in Lebanese desserts as well. Even though this dessert was displayed as osmalieh, apparently the same word is used to refer to the hard, crispy noodles or “dough” as well.
It’s not the conventional word “dough” as we know it as this osmalieh “dough” is first baked in the oven with some oil until it is crispy. It a sheet of this cooked dough is placed underneath and on top of the filling, like how two Oreo cookies would surround the cream or how two slices of bread would sandwich deli meat or cheese. It’s hard to see in the picture, but it clearly has crispy osmalieh on the top and bottom layer.
I discovered along the way that some osmalieh desserts are filled with a cheese mixture (sounds delicious), but I don’t think there was any cheese in this particular one. I got one that was filled with a hodgepodge of nuts. So my take on this treat? It has a crunchy hard top with a softer body underneath. It is doused in a sweet syrup and has an aromatic orange blossom water flavour to it with undertones of rose water too. It is definitely nutty and quite chewy. It’s a good dessert or snack choice for the nut lover out there. Since it’s full of nuts, it’s very filling. The piece I got was so big that I could only eat half of it!