For many years now, Lebanese homegrown brand Kababji has earned a special place in our hearts (and tummies). It is our go-to destination for the yummiest Kebbeh Sajjiyeh around town, and incredible mixed grills. This applies to whether we order our Kababji lunches to our offices, or head to one of their five dine-in destinations in Kuwait. Now let me explain one more thing, our love doesn’t come easy! The breakfast platter makes its way to our bazaar offices at least once a week, and we often find ourselves stopping over at their Marina Mall location after a long day at work. It is Kababji’s consistency in always delivering on impeccable flavors, the freshest ingredients and both fusion and classical offerings in the realm of all things Lebanese cuisine that keeps us coming back for more.
This month, we pleasantly found ourselves back again at Kababji. This time, however, we were invited to partake in yet another new development that the clever head chef and brand managers have concocted— a new smoothies menu. An innovative twist on the classic favorite Laban Ayran, we were excited to see how they’ve taken this classic that is centuries old to the modern age in smoothie format. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Ayran is a cool and soothing yogurt-based drink. It is slightly salty, and is usually served alongside mixed grills. Basically, you will find a Laban Ayran concoction around every street corner in Lebanon, as villages all over the country make this drink fresh with every meal. Every town has a recipe, and every grandmother will preach that her Laban Ayran is better than her neighbor’s. That’s simply how it goes when it comes to this simplistic yet highly elusive drink. One version might have more blended ice, and another would be given an added kick of spices for an added je ne sais quoi.
At Kababji, they’ve taken this age-old favorite to imaginative and even colorful heights. Not only are flavors like Thyme incorporated into this classic, but also sweet delicacies like Chocolate and Lemonade have also been released for those of us with a hankering for something sweet. We were so delighted when we were asked to review this all-new range of Ayran drinks, because we knew that we would be trying something we’ve never thought possible. The range consists of three Ayran smoothie mixes, starting with Thyme, Tomato and Cucumber with Mint, as well as the Lemonade and Chocolate smoothies.
Like we mentioned earlier, no mixed grill meal is ever complete without a healthful serving of freshly brewed icy cold Laban Ayran to complement your food. At Kababji, the meal is a Lebanese feast for the senses. Tender and succulent veal pieces, the freshest Kabab, moist Shish Tawouk. You name it, and we guarantee you that they’ve mastered the art of the grilling it. Next to our mixed grill platter of goodness came the salads and the bounties of mezza, or side plates that included classic dips to accompany the mixed grills. When it came to our tasting of the Ayran menu, we were firstly given the Thyme Ayran Smoothie, and this worked perfectly with our mixed grills. It was so surprising! We feared the addition of the very strong flavor of thyme to the basic yoghurt drink, yet the end result was so refreshing, light and beautifully tangy. If anything, we found ourselves ordering another round of grilled Kibbeh to consume happily with this particular Ayran smoothie. Then came the Cucumber with Mint Ayran Smoothie, and we were once again pleased with the result. Perhaps it’s the texture of the Ayran smoothies that eliminated our initial hesitation. Both the Thyme and the the Cucumber with Mint Ayran tasted like a healthy smoothie, with a creamy like texture that didn’t take away from the flavors of the dishes we were trying. The clever utilization of herbs that we would consume with these typical Lebanese dishes in Ayran format is pure genius. We were informed that the creative culinary team spent weeks perfecting these Ayran recipes, and they are best consumed fresh and in-store for maximum enjoyment.
Then came the Tomato Ayran Smoothie, and we officially became Ayran converts. This smoothie served as a flawless palate cleanser before we came to try the sweeter smoothies a la Kababji. We feared that the tomato flavor might overpower our senses, yet the opposite holds true. The tomato flavor was light as air, and proved to be completely refreshing. We downed our Tomato Ayran Smoothie, along with mouthfuls of Shish Tawook. At that point, we’re stuffed, and couldn’t even bear the thought of dessert.
With the sweet Lemonade and Chocolate drinks, the experts at Kababji have struck gold. While we didn’t really see the need to order dessert, the sweet variations offer the best substitute. Where the chocolate smoothie is concerned, think your favorite chocolate gelato, but in smoothie format. What’s not to love about that? As for the Lemonade Smoothie, our childhood memories of days spent by the beach sipping on Granny’s secret lemonade recipe came rushing back. It was sweet yet slightly sour, even candy like, if you may. The addition of milk that you don’t even notice in the flavor balances out the added sweetness from the Lemonade. Many slow slips later, our tummies fell in love all over again with Kababji. While we didn’t think we would be having dessert, we found ourselves ordering one more round of the Chocolate Smoothie. Thank you Kababji, we love you!