When it comes to cooking, Sirène Sirin Chami always maintains an open mind. The content creator behind @ssscuisine and self-proclaimed “amateur cook” is always up for a new recipe or preparation technique because it expands both her palate and skill-set. Raised in Montreal to Lebanese parents, Sirène appreciates adventurous eats as much as she cherishes family recipes. And while some of her dishes wind up culturally unconventional, she finds flavor and beauty in the fusion.
How does your heritage or culture influence your home cooking?
My cooking is the reflection of my identity. My parents are both from Lebanon, but I was born and raised in one of the most multicultural cities in Canada: Montreal. Every recipe I share is heavily influenced by the beautiful cultures I was exposed to as I was growing up. Whether it’s Middle Eastern, European, North African, South/East Asian, American, or Latin cuisine, I absolutely love it all. This also affects the openness I demonstrate when I am cooking: I do not shy away from trying new, unfamiliar recipes or cooking techniques. Although some might say this creates non-traditional or inauthentic recipes, I believe I’m embracing differences to create fusion meals with unique, enhanced flavors.
How do you celebrate Eid? What does Eid represent and mean to you?
The morning of Eid al Fitr is always such a special moment. We start by showering, dressing up nicely, and going to the morning prayer where a big part of the community is gathered and celebrating. In my family, we always share a hearty breakfast with our loved ones and take the time to enjoy that special meal together. We also like to spread joy by sending some Eid cookies to our neighbors (Muslims or non-Muslims). Eid al Fitr would not be complete if we did not give back to others. A great way of doing this is feeding people in need — this act of charity feels even more genuine and sincere after 30 days of experiencing hunger. This whole experience helps us be much more appreciative of the blessings we have.
Is there a story or favourite memory behind the recipe youʼre making today?
I made this recipe my own by pouring the tahini sauce on top instead of mixing it with the beans as it is usually done. I find that it makes the dish a lot more presentable as the beans mixed with the sauce can become very pasty-looking. Plus, the contrast between the brown beans, white sauce, bright green parsley, and red tomatoes is absolutely beautiful!
What are some of your other favourite dishes?
An unavoidable Eid dish in every Middle Eastern household is maamoul cookies. These sweet pastries are filled with dates or nuts like pistachios or walnuts. Baking them makes the house smell of rosewater and orange blossom water.
Do you have any memorable stories involving cooking your recipe?
I would always help my mom in the kitchen when I was younger and that’s where I picked up most of my recipes. I did not have enough cooking skills, so I used to be the designated can opener and garlic peeler which was so boring. Boy, am I glad that era is over!
Do you have any tips/tricks or advice for anyone who would like to recreate your recipe?
Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking (more or less lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, etc.). This applies to almost every recipe: Use the measurements as a guide, but don’t hesitate to change the recipe and make it your own!
Sirène’s Foul Moudammas
For the foul moudammas:2 cans of Fava beans (540ml each)
2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
Salt to taste
For the tarator sauce:3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 tbsp cumin
Salt to taste
For the toppings:1 large tomato, diced
1 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup olive oil (be generous)
In your Perfect Pot, combine the fava beans, water, lemon juice and salt and bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes (or until your beans soften up). Remove your Perfect Pot from heat and partially mash the beans.
To make the tarator sauce, add the crushed garlic, tahini, water, lemon juice, and cumin to a bowl. Salt and mix until well combined.
To serve, plate the fava beans mixture with tomatoes and parsley, then pour on your olive oil and tarator sauce. Enjoy with pita bread and vegetables of choice.