Lebanese food (Arabic: المطبخ اللبناني) is a term that refers to the culinary traditions and practices that have their origins in Lebanon.
It comprises an abundance of nutritious grains, fruits, veggies, fresh fish, and seafood. Poultry, lamb, and goat are the most often consumed red meats in the Middle East.
It also contains huge garlic and olive oil, frequently seasoned with lemon juice. The Lebanese food also includes chickpeas and parsley as the main ingredients.
For savory fare, there are several well-known dishes such as the eggplant dip known as “baba-ghanouj,” the chickpea or fava bean patty known as “falafel,” and the sandwich known as “shawarma,” which is created with marinated meat skewered and grilled on long rods.
Hummus, a spread prepared from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, is a staple of Lebanese food. It’s often eaten with flatbread.
A well-known dessert is a baklava, which is constructed of layered filo (thinly rolled pastry) filled with nuts and steeped in date syrup or honey.
Meghli (rice pudding dessert, flavored with anise, caraway, and cinnamon) is presented to commemorate the birth of a new baby in the family, for example.
If you’re in Lebanon, you can’t go wrong with a glass of Arak, a moonshine flavored with anise. Lebanese wine is another ancient and traditional beverage.
History Lebanese food
Lebanese food has a long history and is a component of the region’s culinary traditions. Several traditional Lebanese dishes can be traced as far back as the reigns of Roman and Greek empires and the Neo-Babylonian and Byzantine eras.
Lebanese food has undergone numerous cultural transformations over the last 500 years due to contact with a variety of neighboring civilizations.
As a result of the Ottoman Turks’ dominance of the country from 1516 to 1918, many dishes were brought to Lebanon, including lamb cookery.
Before it gained its independence in 1943, Lebanon was under French authority after the Ottoman Empire was destroyed in World War I (1914–1918).
This includes flan, a caramel custard dish that dates back to the 16th century AD; eclairs; fried potatoes; and croissants.
The Lebanese diaspora that resides globally has contributed new ingredients, spices, and culinary methods into Lebanese food, keeping the food unique and famous outside and inside its boundaries.
Other than in a few sweets, butter and cream are seldom used unless for grilling, baking, or gently cooking food in olive oil.
Raw, pickled, or cooked vegetables are common fare. For the most part, Lebanese food follows the seasons and what’s in season, as it does in other Mediterranean countries.
There are regional variations in Lebanese food as well. Among the best-known sweets in Lebanon are kibbe from south Lebanon, sfiha from the Beqaa Valley, and kibbe from north Lebanon and Saida (Sidon).
Food and drink go hand in hand almost exclusively in Lebanon. Mezze, like tapas in Spain, mezeluri in Romania, and aperitivo in Italy, consists of various tiny meals arranged in a colorful, flavorful, and aromatic display for the visitors. This presenting meal is less a feature of family life than entertaining and cafés.
Mezze may be as basic as raw or pickled vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj, and bread, or it may become a whole dinner consisting of grilled marinated fish, skewered meats, and a variety of cooked and raw salads and an arrangement of sweets.
The assortments of foods composing the mezze are often taken in tiny portions using a piece of flatbread.
A typical mezze consists of approximately 30 different hot and cold dishes, some of which may include:
- Healthy, hearty salads like tabbouleh and fattoush
- Moutabal and other Middle Eastern dips like baba ghanoush are most popular.
- Kebbeh, kafta, and falafel are all included (fried chickpea balls)
- The sambusac patties are an example of this.
- Grape leaves stuffed with pickles & mustard
- Spiced nuts, olives, and vegetables
- In addition to toum and taratour, which are excellent spreads on sfiha, there are a variety of other condiments.
When eating with a family, the mezze normally consists of three or four dishes, but when served in a restaurant, the mezze may vary from 20 to 60 dishes since the many combinations and foods included are numerous.
A variety of stews (yakhneh) are common in family cooking and may be prepared in various ways depending on the ingredients used. They are often eaten with meat and rice.
Baklava and coffee are common desserts in Lebanese food, but simple, fresh fruits are also served at the end of the meal.
Fruits, such as figs, oranges, and other citrus fruits, apples, grapes, cherries, and green plums, are often consumed as post-meal snacks when sweets aren’t readily accessible (janarek). Even though baklava is the most well-known Lebanese dessert, there are many more options.
17 Popular and Traditional Lebanese Dishes
Incorporating spiciness from the Middle East with the vibrant colors and textures of the Mediterranean, Lebanese food tantalizes the senses and leaves you wanting more.
Lebanese food is known for its abundance of fresh vegetables and exquisite meat, thanks to its climate, location, and neighboring influences.
Prepare to have your mouths dropped open as a local Lebanese writer reveals 17 must-try classic Lebanese dishes.
1 – Tabbouleh – Parsley Bulgur Salad
To make tabbouleh, you’ll need fresh parsley and mint, a handful of bulgur, a few diced tomatoes and onions, as well as some lemon juice and olive oil.
Lebanese food is often served as an appetizer as part of a mezze, although you may eat it at any time of day or night.
In the past, Lebanese have experimented with this meal by substituting bulgar with quinoa and tomatoes with pomegranate seeds.
Tabbouleh is a popular dish in many nations, thanks to its abundance of fresh, flavorful ingredients and international appeal.
2 – Fattoush – Pita Salad
There are several ways to serve Fattoush as part of the Lebanese mezze, but it’s one of the most popular salads (spread of appetizers).
Pita bread or chips, together with other fresh vegetables, are the main components of the traditional Middle Eastern fattoush salad.
Pomegranate molasses, sumac, and lemon juice are used to flavor this dish. This results in a salad full of flavor yet light on the stomach.
Lebanese people have added a wide variety of additional ingredients have been added to fattoush salad by Lebanese people throughout the years.
This salad may be delicious and uncomplicated for lunch or supper and is a popular Lebanese delicacy.
3 – Labneh – Creamy Yoghurt Spread
For breakfast in Lebanon, you can’t go wrong with Labneh, one of the most common options. The extra liquid from yogurt is strained until a hard, creamy white dip is left to make Labneh.
Its flavor is a subtle harmony of saltiness, tanginess, and sourness. Olive oil and fresh olives are the ideal accompaniments.
Labneh is a favorite dish in many Lebanese families. Spread it over pita bread, baguettes, or toast and top with fresh thyme and herbs.
Garlic paste and Labneh combine to form a rich and flavorful mezze spread popular in Lebanon. Goat’s milk Labneh is a popular alternative.
Finally, it is dried, made into balls, and preserved in olive oil containers for longer shelf life and flavor. My mouth is watering at the thought of it.
4 – Hummus – Chickpea Dip
As a traditional Levantine food, hummus has gained worldwide acclaim. It is customary to add garlic and lemon juice to the hummus traditionally prepared with chickpeas.
Delicious and versatile, it may be served with a wide variety of dishes. There are various ways to enjoy it, from dipping fresh or cooked veggies to spreading it over toast.
While the original hummus recipe is the most popular, Lebanon is home to many hummus flavors. Hummus with minced beef and onions is a popular variation, as is hummus cooked with basil or beets.
5 – Muhammara – Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Roasted red pepper dip is, known as “muhammara,” is a thick, rich, spicy, and flavorful spread. Muhammara is an Arabic term meaning “to become crimson,” which explains the dip’s flaming red hue.
Fresh red peppers are cooked and mashed into a paste with walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil before being served as a side dish with pasta or rice.
Other seasonings like cumin and lemon juice are occasionally used to enhance the taste of garlic and salt. The mezze dish muhammara is a frequent one. Like hummus, it’s eaten with a spoon as a dip.
Bread or toast smeared with it is a popular snack in Lebanon, and it is also used to top off dishes like kebabs, grilled pork, and grilled fish.
6 – Manakish or Man’ouche – Breakfast Dough Topped with Thyme, Cheese, or Ground meat
Manakish, also known as Man’ouche, is a popular Lebanese breakfast dish available in bakeries and restaurants.
A man’ouche is an Italian pizza-style dish.
Thyme and olive oil-infused dough is rolled and spread into an oval form before baking. Topping options are almost limitless after the dough foundation has been prepared.
In addition to fresh vegetables and cheeses, popular options include Labneh (dry yogurt) and kechek (dried yogurt).
Baked in a hot open oven, the dough is puffed up, and the toppings are browned before it is served.
It may be eaten for breakfast or lunch, depending on how it is presented.
It’s impossible to visit Lebanon and not have this savory appetizer, which is stuffed with thyme and cheese. For the commoner, it’s Lebanese food.
7 – Lahm Bi Ajin or Sfiha – Lebanese Meat Pizza
Lahm bi Ajin may take many different shapes depending on where you live in Lebanon. Unlike Man’ouche, Lahm Bi Ajin’s dough foundation is robust and crispy.
In contrast, the Lahm Bi Ajin is much more little and round. It’s topped with a combination of minced pork, onions, and parsley and then baked in an open oven until crispy.
Lahm Bi Ajin may be sliced into squares as well. – “Sfiha” is the name given to this particular theme interpretation.
Lahm Bi Ajin is best served with yogurt since it balances the taste and creates an amazing and delicious Lebanese meal.
8 – Kaak – Lebanese Purse Bread
Flatbread dough, often known as kaak or kaake, is popular street food in India. It’s formed into ovals and fried over an open flame until golden brown and crunchy exterior.
Sesame seeds are added after it has been cooked. This improves the flavor as well as the crispiness of the food.
Often shaped like a handbag because of the top hole for hanging while cooling, some people call Lebanese Purse Bread.
Street food vendors in Lebanon often sell it. Cheese and thyme are traditionally served as a garnish on top.
At any time of the day, it’s a favorite snack. Among Lebanese delicacies, this is one of the most well-known.
9 – Chanklich, Shanklish or Surke – Aged Cheese
Chanklich is a typical mezze dish in Lebanon. It is made mostly from cow’s or sheep’s milk. To make chaklich, the milk is dried and then rolled into little balls. The herbs, thyme, or chilli peppers used to coat these balls are optional.
While it’s aging, the meal is ready to be devoured!
In various Levantine nations, chanklich is served in a variety of ways.
chanklich is often accompanied by a salad of chopped onions and tomatoes and a heavy drizzle of olive oil in Lebanon.
Delicacy and a wonderful mezze meal for breakfast, lunch, or supper.
10 – Foul, Balila, Mssabaha – Beans & Chickpeas
This Lebanese delicacy is served in restaurants and during family gatherings and festivities. It consists of three main components. If you don’t have whole chickpeas, you may use foul as a substitute.
Vegetables including onions, radishes, mints, and olives are served with it. Warm pita bread is the perfect accompaniment.
Delicious mashed chickpean and butter/olive oil mixture is cooked with pine nuts/tahini paste/minced garlic in the meal known as “balila.”
Lastly, the word “swimming” in English refers to a meal of stewed chickpeas cooked in their water and fluids, known in Arabic as “mssabah.”
Pita bread with olive oil and lemon juice are traditional accompaniments. Combining these three dishes creates a genuine Lebanese breakfast that is sumptuous and satisfying.
In most Lebanese houses, food is served in distinctive brown bowls, so if you’re fortunate enough to experience some Lebanese home food, you’ll probably see these dishes served in them.
11 – Kebbe or Kibbeh – Spiced Meat Balls
In Lebanon, kibbeh is the national food. Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish with bulghur wheat and seasoned ground beef.
Different Lebanese families and areas all have their unique twist on this spicy food, with hundreds of variants.
Known as Kebbe Zghertawiye in North Lebanon, this dish involves meat, spices, and liquid fat wrapped into a huge ball and grilled at a high temperature.
Fried or baked, kebbe may also be formed into cone-like forms. This is the kind of Kebbe you’ll generally see served in a Lebanese mezze dish.
Kebbe is another popular dish that is served raw in Lebanon, and it is made by combining meat from the butcher with sliced white onions, fresh mint fronds, and ground garlic.
12 – Shawarma – Meat or Chicken Slices
Lebanese Shawarma is quite similar to Turkish Doner and Greek Gyros in flavor and texture. In Lebanon, it’s a popular street meal that can be found all across the nation.
To be clear, the term “shawarma” is used in this context only to describe the meat. Rotisserie roasted meats are layered in a cone form with thin slices of beef, poultry, lamb, and other types of meats.
To accompany the meat, it is served in pita bread sandwiches with fries and other side dishes like lettuce, onions, and dips such as hummus or tarator.
In Lebanon, shawarma sandwiches are a must-have. They’re great for a quick bite or a packed lunch on the go.
13 – Falafel – Deep-Fried Chickpeas or Fava Beans Balls & Patties
Falcone is one of Lebanon’s most popular street meals. It’s prepared with crushed chickpeas, fava beans, or both and is deep-fried to a golden brown.
Falafel is a popular dish served by street food sellers in Lebanon, notably in Beirut. Pita bread sandwiches with falafel, veggies, tarator, a tahini paste, and lemon juice mixture are ideal for enjoying falafel.
Many people consider it a vegan meal; therefore, it’s a perfect method for vegetarians and vegans to receive nutrients from red and white meats.
Falefel is a high-protein snack with a substantial nutritional profile. So, it’s widely consumed during Lent as a result of this.
14 – Knefe or Kanafeh – Sweet Cheese Semolina Pastry
Noodle-shaped pastry and semolina dough are combined to make Knefe, a sweet and nutty treat in flavor. Achta cream, a sweetened white cheese, is put on top.
Lebanese dessert shops make knefe on a huge circular platter. A Kaake, a flatbread dough coated with sugar syrup, is served as an appetizer.
When served hot, the sweetness of the bread and syrup meld well with the melting cheese. If you’re having guests around for a meal or a celebration, this sweet treat is a must-have.
15 – Halewit El Jeben – Sweet Cheese Rolls
One of the best dessert names ever: Halewit El Jeben, meaning “Sweetness of Cheese.” It’s a beloved Lebanese delicacy that’s popular all around the nation. Lebanese dessert establishments have it readily available.
Ashta cream is stuffed into the semolina and cheese dough. Rolled into little rolls or rope-like forms, coated with Ashta, it is served.
Before serving, crushed pistachios and rose petal jam are added to Halewit El Jebel. With sugar syrup and orange blossom or rose water, it’s a popular accompaniment to the dish. If you’re a fan of sweets that are both sweet and sour, this is the dish for you.
16 – Namoura or Basbousa – Semolina Cake
In various parts of the Levantine, Namoura is known as Basbousa (Lebanese dessert). Sugar, semolina, and butter make up the cake’s basis. A large circular baking dish is spread out and covered with almonds.
Aromatic sugar is sprinkled on top after baking. Finally, it is sliced into diamond-shaped pieces and served piece by piece with sugar syrup.
All year round, Namoura is available. During Ramadan, it’s a favorite of many religious celebrations. Crispy is preferred by some Lebanese, while fluffy and drenched in sugar syrup is preferred by others.
As a sweet treat, it is best enjoyed with a cup of hot Lebanese coffee.
17 – Maamoul – Sweet Stuffed Cookies
Semolina dough is packed with various ingredients (dates, almonds, pistachios, or walnuts) and cooked in the oven before serving.
Maamoul may be filled with anything from fig jam to Nutella in certain current recipes.
During religious festivals like Easter or Eid Al Fitr in Lebanon and large family gatherings, this dish is often prepared.
It may also be served as a dessert for celebratory meals and large family gatherings, allowing everyone to enjoy the dish simultaneously.
Summary of Lebanese Food
Lebanon has centuries of history, which makes it a proud and passionate country. It’s no wonder that the foodin this magnificent nation has been prepared with such skill and attention to detail.
In the Mediterranean Basin, the warm environment is great for producing ripe and delicious fruits and vegetables.
Olive oil, lemon, and seafood are just a few of the ingredients that make the Mediterranean diet so popular.
There is also the fact that Lebanon is located in the middle of some of the world’s most popular foods, all of which have impacted Lebanon’s food.
Various influences from North Africa, the Levant, the Middle East, and Asia have been included in Lebanese food.
As a result, you can expect a menu rich in herbs, spices, and liquids, all of which contribute to the dish’s wealth of heat, spice, zest, and warmth.
Food from Lebanon is a little-known treasure in the Mediterranean and Asian culinary worlds. There’s a lot to be excited about, from the brilliant colors to the strong tastes.
Finally, before we say goodbye to Lebanon, here is a list of everything we sampled throughout our stay there.
Ensure that you store this list of Lebanese meals in a secure location. It is possible to order one or more of these delectable delicacies when you visit.