Yebra With Maple Leaves

Yebra is a traditional Lebanese / Syrian dish made by rolling a mixture of meat, usually lamb, sometimes beef, and rice, in grape leaves and cooking in a pot on the stove. This year when my mother was visiting she brought some grape leaves from the family vine, and made some yebra. I asked her to do an experiment: make some with maple leaves from the maple trees in front of our house. Early this spring I read up in some of my books about edible weeds and local edible plants, that maple leaves were edible. One evening for supper I made a salad almost exclusively with young maple leaves. It was delicious. I had to see how the leaves would be cooked, and what better way than with a dish prepard with cooked leaves of another variety: traditional yebra.

The experiment worked. There is a slight difference in texture, because the maple leaves are rougher and furry. For taste, it is so similar. Next spring when the maple leaves are young, I will harvest a bunch and make maple leaf yebra. It will be so much easier instead of doing the annual trek to the old country. This West Coast cuisine, this fusion, could become a favourite Lebanese-Canadian dish.

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