Lebanese cuisine is a Levantine style of cooking that includes an abundance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starches, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten, it is usually lamb on the coast and goat meat in the mountain regions.
Well-known savory dishes include baba ghanouj dip made of char-grilled eggplant; falafel, small deep-fried patties made of highly spiced ground chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of the two; and shawarma, a sandwich with marinated meat skewered and cooked on large rods.
An important component of many Lebanese meals is hummus, a dip or spread made of blended chickpeas, sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, typically eaten with pita bread. A well-known dessert is baklava, which is made of layered filo pastry filled with nuts and steeped in date syrup or honey. Some desserts are specifically prepared on special occasions.
Here are 12 Lebanese dishes you must try in your lifetime.
Hummus is one of the most popular Lebanese dishes that is creamy in texture and is prepared using items such as chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic.
Hummus is super nutritious, both satisfying and remarkable in taste and smell. It is a very popular homemade dip or appetizer that is served with a platter of vegetables or bread such as pita.
Hummus can also be served as a side dish along with delicacies such as grilled chicken, eggplant, fish or falafel.
Tabbouleh is a delicious and wholesome vegetarian salad that is prepared by combining ingredients such as bulgur, tomatoes, onions, mint, parsley, and garlic. It is seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.
Tabbouleh was originally part of the mezze palate but now it has become a popular middle-eastern food representing their culture.
Tabbouleh is so good to eat that it may cause you to permanently shift to a vegetarian diet once consumed regularly.
3. Kibbeh Nayyeh
Kibbeh nayyeh or raw kibbeh is a Levantine mezze. It consists of minced raw lamb mixed with fine bulgur and spices. Kibbeh nayyeh is often served with mint leaves, olive oil, and green onions. Pita bread is used to scoop it. Sometimes a sauce of garlic or olive oil is served.
Kibbeh Nayyeh is a rustic dish that has been a part of the mezze. The specialty of the dish is the use of fresh meat, but it is so flavorful that you will never find out you are eating raw meat. It is drizzled with mint and olive oil and served along with bread and tomatoes.
Baklava is a very popular Lebanese dessert made from phyllo dough, nuts such as cashews, almonds, pine nuts, walnut, and pistachios). It is steeped in a syrup of rose water, orange blossom water, sugar, and water.
Baklava is cut into different shapes like square, diamond, rectangular and triangular. Tripoli city in Lebanon is quite famous for baklava products. The exact origin of this delicacy remains unknown even today.
Many ethnic groups like Turkish, Middle Easterners and Greeks claim it to be their own and also prepare this dessert in their own way.
Manakeesh is a delicious Lebanese dish that is made of flatbread,. It is covered with a variety of toppings. Zaatar manakeesh is a popular variety of Manakeesh that is spread with various aromatic ingredients such as wild thyme, sesame seeds, olive oil, and culinary sumac before it is baked. Manekeesh is consumed at lunch or breakfast.
There are many Lebanese communities that have bakeries that specialize in this dish.
Meat and cheese are the other common toppings used, besides zaatar.
Fattoush is a classic Lebanese salad that is a member of the family of foods known as fattat. Food items that belong to fattat use flatbread as the base.
Fattoush is prepared using crispy toasted flatbread and vegetables such as tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and purslane. The salad is soaked in flavorsome dressing.
The recipe is light and packed with freshness. Generally, it is served as a side dish along with grilled meats.
7. Ful Meddamas
Ful Meddamas was originally labeled as peasant food, but it later got promoted to the status of a national dish.
Now, Ful Meddamas is popular Lebanese street food and is served in restaurants as a mezze. The fava beans used in the preparation are available in various types like small, large and middle-sized, which is all used to make Ful Meddamas.
These flavorful beans are a welcome treat to your taste buds.
Arak is a colorless, unsweetened, flavorful Lebanese alcoholic drink made by distillation of grape alcohol and aniseed. Traditionally, arak is mixed with water in 1:2 ratios and consumed in ice-filled cups. Nowadays, arak cocktails are made by mixing arak with ginger ale, orange juice, green tea, grapefruit juice, etc.
Jallab is the drink associated with lazy, hot summer days! This popular drink is made by diluting the syrup prepared from dates, rose water and grape molasses along with water.
This refreshingly sweet drink is served in tall glasses with crushed ice. Jallab is topped with nuts like pine nuts and also golden raisins.
As it is made with dates, the drink is one of preferred choices for iftars during the month of Ramadan.
10. Shish Taouk
Shish taouk (or chicken kebab) is a Lebanese staple. What makes it so delicious are the spices. Shish taouk is marinated overnight in lemon juice, garlic, paprika, yogurt and tomato paste.
It’s usually served as a platter, or wrapped in hubbus (pita bread) with garlic sauce on the side to create a sandwich.
Sandwiches are quite common in Lebanon, surprisingly. There’s a small pub in Beirut called The Orient Express that cooks up a pretty unique version of this classic dish. They call it “The Ranger.”
Shawarma is traditionally made on a rotating spit and the meat is shaved off. It is served (as you would expect) on pita bread with vegetables.
Shawarma is also served with tahini sauce. It is typically paired with tabbouleh or fattoush.
Basically, it’s a Lebanese gyro.
Aryan is a super refreshing yogurt drink in the middle-east, especially Lebanon. It is a sugar-free drink made by combining fresh curd with milk, finely chopped garlic and salt.
When served with chilled ice on a hot summer day, the soothing flavors of the ingredients are just amazing and out of the world.