Relishing Lebanon’s Delicious Food Culture
The Lebanese have some of the most delicious food in the Middle East. With everything from falafel to kebab to shawarma available on almost every street corner, it can be hard to pick just one cuisine to eat every day. Luckily, you don’t have to—Lebanon’s rich and varied culture makes it possible to enjoy many types of cuisine in one meal! Here are just five examples of how Lebanese food culture enhances your experience in Lebanon.
The Lebanese cuisine is a great example of the healthy and tasty food culture that is easily available in the country. The dishes are prepared with fresh and locally grown ingredients, which makes them nutritious and healthy. The variety of flavors and textures in Lebanese cuisine is also a big part of its appeal. From light and refreshing salads to hearty stews and grilled meats, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The traditional Lebanese cuisine is not just about healthy food and tasty flavor; it is also about experiencing a cultural experience when you enjoy these dishes. Most meals are served in family style, where each person has his or her own small plate. The meal is typically started with mezze, which are small appetizers similar to Spanish tapas. These mezze dishes often feature olives, fresh cheese, pickles and cold cuts. There can be more than one course of mezze before the main meal begins, especially if guests are invited over for dinner.
One of the most popular Lebanese dishes is maza, which literally means the table. In other words, it is a special type of appetizer dish that should be served on a large platter to make it easier for guests to serve themselves. It’s typically a combination of dips and salads, as well as grilled meats such as kebabs and skewers. For example, one version of maza would feature hummus topped with olive oil and parsley. It could also have babaganoush (grilled eggplant dip), falafel (deep-fried chickpeas) and tehina (sesame seed paste). The idea behind maza is that everyone gets involved in preparing their own small plates filled with food they like.
A Lebanese chopped salad made with tomatoes, parsley, onion, bulgur wheat, and mint and typically seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Tabbouleh is a very nutritious dish that is low in calories and fat but high in fiber and protein. This is an even easier dish because the ingredients are readily available in most grocery stores.
It is usually eaten as an appetizer. The parsley and mint leaves have a cooling effect on our body, so it is recommended to be eaten in summer time especially when accompanied with fresh fruit juices or water melon.
Lebanese Salad, also known as Fattoush, is another staple dish of Lebanese cuisine. The difference between Fattoush and Tabouleh lies in its ingredients; fattoush includes pita bread and different vegetables like cucumber and bell pepper that are cut into smaller pieces. In tabouleh, onion and tomatoes are crushed together using either a wooden pestle or a food processor while in fattoush they are left whole.
One of the most popular desserts in Lebanon is baklava. Baklava is easily available in Lebanese bakeries and is often served with coffee or tea. In fact, many people eat baklava for breakfast!
Another popular dessert is basboussa, made of semolina flour, ghee and pistachios. It’s usually eaten at Ramadan when Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours. A sweet dough that is fried, like you would doughnuts, also has its roots in Lebanese culture. Known as foul mudammes , it’s often sprinkled with sugar before serving or dipped in syrup or tahini. Finally, there is mahalabieh . This is a filo pastry layered with chopped almonds and filled with nuts and syrup. What many people don’t realise about mahalabieh though is that it originally comes from India!
There are many other delicious Lebanese treats to sample too. Halva, a paste made from ground sesame seeds is often eaten with baklava and basboussa as it has a similar texture. You should also try knafeh. This treat is made by soaking cheese in starch or flour, then baking it until golden brown and crispy!
Mahlabieh Many people in Lebanon eat mahalabieh on special occasions, but it can be enjoyed throughout Ramadan. It’s also sold in many shops around Beirut.
The popularity of shawarma has spread to other parts of the world, including Europe and North America. In some places, it is referred to as a gyro or kebab. Shawarma is typically made with lamb or chicken, but beef and turkey are also used. It is usually served in pita bread (or a simit), which acts as an edible wrapper for the meat and vegetables, which may include cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles or cabbage. It is then topped with tahini sauce, chopped parsley and diced onion.
A traditional garnish is amba (pickled mango) and it is usually accompanied by french fries. Shwarma is eaten during lunch or dinner, but in some places, such as Egypt, shawarma can be eaten for breakfast. At casual restaurants where shawarma is served (called shawarmatās), single shawarmas are wrapped in paper for takeaway; multiple sandwich wrapping would indicate a sit-down restaurant service.
Lebanon has its own variation of falafel, which includes adding fresh herbs like parsley, mint, and cilantro to the batter. The balls are usually smaller and more delicate than their counterparts in other countries. A tomato-based sauce called Toum is often served alongside the dish with bread. Lebanese cuisine is also known for dishes such as tabbouleh, shawarma, fattoush salad, grape leaves, kibbeh nayyeh and baklava.
Another staple of Lebanese cuisine is shawarma, which is essentially sliced meat that’s placed on a spit and roasted to perfection. Shawarma is typically made with chicken or lamb, but beef and even turkey can also be used. After it’s cooked, it’s placed inside pita bread with lettuce, tomato, pickles and garlic sauce. If you haven’t tried it yet, it might sound a little strange since we mostly only eat shaved meat from delis. But trust us when we say that if you are a lover of gyros or another type of sandwich wrap then you will love shawarma as well!
One of the most popular sweets in Lebanon is gebnaa. It is a cheese-filled pastry that is often enjoyed with coffee or tea. The dough is made from semolina flour and the filling is a mixture of fresh cheese, cream, and sugar. The gebnaa are then fried and coated with a sugar syrup. They are best served warm and are often eaten as a snack or dessert.
In addition to gebna, there are many other delicacies that you must try when visiting. Before diving into a gormeh sabzi or some kafta and tabouleh, you must start with a tasty falafel sandwich. Falafel is made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, onions, parsley and garlic. The mixture is then deep fried in oil before being served inside of a warm pita bread alongside tahini sauce and pickles.