24 May 4 Favourite Lebanese Dishes To Try
Lebanon is a country with a rich and unique food landscape. Over the centuries, the culinary traditions of the country have been influenced by incomers from both West and East, owing to its geographical location. From across the Mediterranean came the French, Greeks, and Italians, while the Turks and Armenians came from the north.
Of course, the country already had firmly established dishes of its own, and even the cuisines it has adopted over the centuries have become uniquely Lebanese. In the capital city Beirut, this melting pot of historical and cultural influences can be found in its street markets, shops, restaurants, and cafes.
One of the favourite staple foods is manakish. This is a flatbread topped with feta cheese or za’atar (a fragrant mix of herbs and toasted sesame seeds), which is traditionally eaten for breakfast in the city. It is not the same food as a pizza however! This affordable and filling food has been eaten for many centuries in Lebanon.
Manakish can also be toped with kishk, which is a mixture of dried yoghurt, bulgar wheat, mince, and chopped onions and tomatoes. Other variations include spinach, eggs, or qawarma, which is a mixture of seasoned beef or lamb and eggs.
Shish Barak is a dish that first originated in Central Asia, and consists of yogurt covered meat dumplings, which are often served with rice. It’s a staple food of the country, where the dumplings can be bought frozen, although many people prefer to make their own. They are made with ground beef or lamb, and seasoned with cinnamon, pepper, and onions.
This is a traditional dish which is eaten as both a staple, and is also a popular choice when dining out. The ingredients can vary, but in the main the dish consists of pita croutons, ground lamb or chicken, and a creamy yoghurt sauce. It is flavoured with a range of spices including cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon.
Some versions of the dish also add a tahini sauce, soaked pine nuts or chickpeas, spinach, avocado, and mashed garlic cloves. It was originally served on bread that was past its freshness, as a way to avoid waste. It is now often served on special occasions, such as Ramadan, or at family celebrations.
This is a spiced fish dish, which is unsurprising, given the country’s long stretch of Mediterranean coastline and skilled fishermen. Beirut has many fish markets, and fish restaurants which are over 100 years old. Samke harra is often served as a whole herring, accompanied by green peppers, chillies, onions, tomatoes, coriander, walnuts, and tahini.
It is thought to have first evolved in the northern port city of Tripoli, but soon became popular throughout the country, and indeed, around the world. It is considered a statement dish for special occasions. Although traditionally served as a whole white fish, nowadays it is usually deboned before serving to avoid the risk of choking on bones.
To sample similar dishes, why not call Libano restaurant in London!