British Columbia·The Dish

What Nuba's chef says you should eat other than the cauliflower

Chef Bakhos Mjalleh has shared his love of traditional Lebanese food with royal families in the Middle East, now he's doing it in Vancouver.

Chef Bakhos Mjalleh wants Vancouverites to try lentils and rice dish called mjadra

Next time you're at Nuba, don't get hung up on Najib's cauliflower. Try the mjadra too says the restaurant's chef. (Nuba Restaurant)

If you're ever been to one of Vancouver's Nuba restaurants, you've probably tried or have heard of the much-loved Najib's Special.

The Lebanese-rooted recipe calls for deep frying cauliflower to a golden brown and tossing it with lemon and a sea salt. 

Just thinking about it is saliva-inducing for some — and by some, I mean this reporter who now has a serious cauliflower craving.

Najib's Special is the mouth-watering, deep-fried cauliflower favourite at Nuba Restaurant. (Nuba Restaurant)

But Nuba chef Bakhos Mjalleh wants us Vancouverites to branch out and try something else.

He recommends the dish Mjadra. 

"It tastes like a combination of caramelized onions, the slight heaviness of the lentils and the smoothness of the rice," said Mjalleh.

"We overcook the brown rice to give it the smoothness of risotto but we keep the firmness of the lentils."

The chef, who moved from Lebanon just three years ago, says he recognizes that diners in his new home tend to be health conscious.

Chef Bakhos Mjalleh says he's cooked for everyone from the Royal family of Kuwait to Bahrain. Now he's keen on sharing traditional Lebanese food with diners in Vancouver. (Nuba Restaurant)

He believes his recommendation is both tasty and does the body well.

"Najib's by itself is not a full meal," he said.

"You need protein."

Mjalleh says the "simple" dish of Mjadra, or as it's traditionally known in the Middle East as mujaddara, is often eaten as a meal after fasts or by those abstaining from meat.

Like deep-fried cauliflower, he says it's considered a staple.

"In each house in Lebanon, or in Levantine cuisine ... it's always available on the table," he said.

"It's widely widely famous and loved by the locals."

What he loves now, is sharing a piece of his traditions with those who make their way into Nuba's dining rooms.

Chef Bakhos Mjalleh says mjadra, a mix of lentils and rice, is a staple in Lebanon. (Nuba Restaurant)

​This story is part of the new series The Dish. Keep an eye on this site in the coming weeks to hear from other chefs who tell us what they think we should eat at their restaurants.


Lien Yeung


Lien Yeung is a host and reporter with CBC Vancouver News. She has covered stories locally and nationally from Halifax to Victoria on television, radio and online. Find her on Instagram or Twitter @LienYeung or via email at