21 Feb An Introduction To Lebanese Cuisine
Packed with fresh flavours and textures, Lebanese food is far more than simply tabbouleh and baklava. From hummus and fattoush to falafel and couscous with almonds, Lebanese food is a reflection of the varied history and culture of Lebanon.
It is always influenced by its neighbours, with a mix of the Mediterranean diet from the west and Persian and Middle Eastern flavours and dishes from the east. But what are the features of authentic Lebanese food, and what sets it apart from other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fares?
Lebanese food brings to mind a kaleidoscope of colours, aromas, and tastes: From the aromatic, sharp perfume of cinnamon, cumin, thyme, and roasting meat to the clear, refreshing notes of leafy green herbs, zesty lemon, and garlic.
With bright pops of citrusy sumac, earthy za’atar, and the floral sweetness of desserts laced with golden honey rounding out the flavourful cuisine.
The Lebanese diet is quintessentially a Mediterranean one, favouring vegetables, fruits, fresh fish and seafood, and a preference for poultry over red meat. However, lamb is a firm favourite for the region. Meats and vegetables are often grilled or sautéed, creating incredibly robust and earthy flavours
There are some staple ingredients that are used in almost every Lebanese dish: lemon, olive oil and garlic. Food is often sautéed in garlic, and olive oil is used to dress salads, where its delicate flavour really comes alive. Lemon is used extensively in authentic Lebanese food – especially salads.
The Lebanese often cook with a nut-based oil, such as peanut oil, for more flavour and better results, but due to allergies, some people prefer non-GMO vegetable oil.
Mezze: the tapas of Lebanon
If you have had Greek Mezze, then you’re already familiar with the concept of sharing a diverse collection of small dishes placed before guests, allowing them to pick and choose the food they want to eat.
Mezze is a way of life in Lebanon. Think raw salads, skewered meat, marinated seafood, pickled vegetables, hummus and pitta bread – everything you could possibly want! A typical mezze might consist of around thirty carefully selected dishes, both hot and cold.
If you’re looking to explore more Lebanese classic dishes, then you might want to start with tabbouleh, a delicious parsley salad mixed with cracked wheat, tomato, lemon juice and olive oil. Chicken or lamb shawarma are also real favourites, involving shredded meat, marinated in an amazing blend of herbs and spices before being served in a rolled pitta with dipping sauces.
Many people will associate baklava with Greek cuisine, but it is also a very popular dessert in Lebanon. While Greek baklava will contain walnuts and honey, Lebanese baklava is made with pistachio nuts.
Ma’amoul is also a famous Lebanese delicacy. It is a cake made from semolina, with cookies filled with various nuts and dates.
Are you tempted to explore all that Lebanese cuisine has to offer? If you’re looking for a Lebanese restaurant in London, book a table today!