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Famous Food in Lebanon

Updated: Feb 7


Lebanon is a Middle East country is known as the “Paris of the Middle East” because of its beauty, charm, and culture.
Lebanese kitchen is famous for its extremely flavorful dishes and for the variety of spices they use.
Here are some of the most delicious Lebanese foods you should try if you visit Lebanon.



Appetizer (Mezze) & Main Courses

Hummus (Chickpea Dip)

Hummus is one of the most popular and beloved dishes from the Levantine region in the world, it is an important dish of Lebanese mezze.

Hummus is a dip made of mashed Chickpeas, Tahini Paste, lemon juice, garlic, and Olive oil.

It’s a savory dish that can be eaten with so many kinds of foods. You can eat it as a side dish with grilled meat or chicken platters, dip raw or cooked vegetables in it, or spread it on many types of bread.



Fattoush

Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese salad.

It is made of lettuce, onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, mint, and fried pita bread or pita chips. Pita bread is cut into small pieces, then toasted, grilled, or fried, the vegetables are chopped and cut into small pieces and mixed with a generous amount of herbs, most commonly mint and parsley.

Then mix all the ingredients with is the dressing, that made of olive oil, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses. The main ingredient, after the crunchy pita bread, is sumac.

This salad is served at both lunch and dinner and is generally served as a side dish along with grilled meats.



Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is a salad dish usually served as an appetizer, it is sometimes accompanied by pita bread, baba ghanoush, or hummus.

It is made of fresh parsley, mint, bulgur, finely chopped tomatoes, and onions, that mix with a drizzle of lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. It is served with lettuce on the side.

For better taste, it is recommended to refrigerate tabbouleh for a few hours before serving.

The secret to the real Tabbouleh taste is not the bulgur. It’s the huge amount of finely chopped parsley combined with a little bit of bulgur. Parsley holds well against the lime juice in the dressing.

It is often served with chicken shawarma or shish taouk.

Over time, Lebanese have developed this traditional dish, experimenting with versions that replace bulgar with quinoa and tomatoes with pomegranate seeds.


Baba Ghanoush

Baba ghanoush is a dish consisting of roasted and puréed eggplants, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini, with special addition of mint, onions, and various spices.

Baba ghanoush is usually served as an appetizer or snack, you can also find it topped with pomegranate.

It can also be topped with parsley, tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers.

Its name comes from the Arabic phrase baba gannuj, where baba means father or daddy, and gannuj means pampered or spoiled. Another theory says that it alludes to a toothless father whose daughter had to mash his food so he could properly consume it.



Labneh

Labneh is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in Lebanon.

It is basically yogurt cheese, just like Greek yogurt, it is made by straining yogurt until it loses most of its liquid.

It can be eaten spread on pita bread, baguettes, or toast, finished with a sprinkle of herbs and thyme, sometimes it is mixed with garlic paste.

Its refreshing taste is between salty, and sour.

It is best served cold with olive oil and fresh olives.



Muhammara

Muhammara is made from fresh red peppers, which are first cooked and then ground into a paste with walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil, Garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and sometimes spices like cumin, are also added to add more flavor.

Muhammara is another common mezze dish. It’s eaten as a dip, like Hummus.

Lebanese also enjoy it spread on bread or toast, or as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats, and fish.

The word ‘muhammara’ is an Arabic expression, meaning to ‘turn red,’ hence the fiery red color of the dip.




Manakish

Manakish is one of the most popular Lebanese foods that locals eat regularly. Man’ouche is similar to an Italian pizza but with different toppings, this Lebanese pizza is usually eaten for breakfast or lunch also it can be enjoyed all day as a snack and appetizer.

It is made of dough mixed, rolled, and spread to a thin and oval shape, then is topped with olive oil and zaatar, sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac, then baked in the oven. Other toppings might include cheese, minced lamb, spinach, or fried eggplants.

Manakish became one of the most popular dishes due to its flavors, ease of preparation, and low price & cost. The name of the dish means decorated or stamped, referring to a technique where the dough is pressed using the tips of one's fingers, leaving a decorative pattern in the process.




Kaak

Kaak is one of the most popular types of flatbread dough, it known as Lebanese Purse Bread, it’s rolled into oval pieces, and baked, once cooked, it’s sprinkled with sesame seeds.

It is very common street food in Lebanon. Traditionally, it’s enjoyed topped with a generous helping of cheese and thyme.



Vine leaves (Warak Enab)

Vine leaves is a traditional Lebanese dish known as dolmas consisting of vine leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, spice cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, oil, and lamb chops or ribs for the broth. Once cooked, these stuffed rolls are usually garnished with a few lemon slices on top, olives and tomato slices that are simmered in a lemon-flavored broth.

You can also find this dish in Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Armenia, Greece, and Iran.



Makhlouta

Makhlouta is a vegetarian dish composed of a thick stew that is prepared with a variety of beans, wheat, and legumes such as kidney, white, and garbanzo beans, chickpeas, lentils, and bulgur, meat can sometimes be served together with the stew.

The beans and legumes should be soaked overnight before they are slowly stewed the following day, typically together with onions and spices, while some variations may also include pomegranate molasses or tomato paste. The name of the dish translates as mixed, which probably stems from the variety of grains and legumes that are combined in this hearty dish.


Kibbeh

Kibbeh is Lebanon’s National Dish, Kibbeh is spiced ground meat (mainly lamb meat) mixed with bulghur wheat and filled with sautéed pine nuts, onion, spices and in some versions pomegranate is added in the filling, then shaped into a small cone, then deep-fried until they get a delicious crispy exterior or baked.

It is served as a snack and better t be served hot, fresh with some sour cream or yogurt.

Kibbeh is served with hummus, pita bread, baba ganoush, and tabbouleh.

Hundreds of variations of Kibbeh exist, with different Lebanese families and regions all having their own take on this spicy dish. Kibbeh can be raw, baked, fried, stuffed, or prepared in a vegetarian version, stuffed with potatoes, pumpkins, and tomatoes.



Kibbeh Nayyeh

Kibbeh Nayyeh is often compared to steak tartare. This dish is traditionally prepared with fresh meat.

It is made of finely ground raw lamb or beef meat mixed with bulgur, finely chopped onions, and various spices such as cinnamon, mint, and spices then drizzled with olive oil.

It is mainly now served as a mezze dish and served with Pita bread.



Arayes (Lebanese Meat-Stuffed Pitas)

Arayes is grilled or barbecued pita bread stuffed with lamb beef, onions, tomatoes, and spices. To make the filling, mix the minced meat, onion, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, salt, and spices.




Mssabaha

Mssabaha, is a dish of cooked chickpeas, stewing in its own water, mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and pita bread.

It served as an appetizer or as a side dish.



Kofte

Kofta is minced meatballs mixed with onions, parsley, and spices, then grilled, fried, baked, or roasted.

It can be served on its own, or with potatoes and tomato sauce, also served with a yogurt dip.

There are numbers of varieties of kofta, or kofte, some of them made with red meat, and others with chicken or fish.

There is even some kofta mixed with rice, soaked bread, or bulgur before being formed into balls.




Shawarma

Lebanese Shawarma is very similar to the Turkish Doner and the Greek Gyros.

Shawarma is a traditional Lebanese food that is made with either lamb, turkey, chicken, beef, or a mix of different meats that are marinated in seasoning based on cardamom, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon.

Shawarma is usually served with fattoush or tabbouleh and garnishes with generous amounts of vegetables as pickled carrots, pickled cucumber, lettuce, purple cabbage, pickles, eggplant, raw onion, tahini, garlic sauce, fries, and hummus, all wrapped in pita bread.

Shawarma is perfect to eat as a snack or as a lunch to-go.



Fatteh

There are two main varieties of fatteh - Levantine and Egyptian.

The Levantine version is traditionally composed of pieces of fresh, toasted, or flatbread with numerous other ingredients topped with yogurt, chickpeas, or eggplant, olive oil, garlic, and cumin. After the main toppings, Levantine fatteh can additionally be topped with chicken, lamb, or pine nuts.

The name of the dish means to tear into small pieces, referring to the process of tearing the flatbread.

Fatteh is usually consumed for breakfast or in the evening as the main dish.

Shish Taouk

Shish taouk (or chicken kebab) is marinated overnight in lemon juice, garlic, paprika, yogurt, and a bit of tomato paste, so it’s incredibly tender and juicy.

Shish Taouk is usually served with plenty of pita bread on the side so you can make a sandwich, or wrapped in pita bread with garlic sauce on the side.

What makes it so delicious are the spices.

You can also find this dish in Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Israel, and Iraq.


The Daoud Bacha

Daoud Bacha is a ground meatball (lamb or beef) that is braised in tomato sauce.

The meatballs are combined with onions, parsley, cayenne pepper, salt, spice, and pine nuts. They are baked or pan-fried, then added to a sauce consisting of onions, beef stock, tomato paste, sometimes pomegranate molasses, and pan-fried pine nuts.

Daoud Bacha is served with white rice.




Laban immo (Yogurt with meat)

Laban immo is a traditional Lebanese dish that is made of yogurt and meat.

The used meat is the lamb neck which is prepared with onions, oil, yogurt, garlic, mint, butter, beaten eggs, salt, and spices.

The meat simmered until tender, then the yogurt mixed with eggs and the salt is added at the end of cooking.

The dish is served with rice on the side.

The name of the dish means "the milk of his mother".




Shish Barak (Meat Dumplings)

Shish Barak is middle eastern home-made meat-stuffed dumplings it looks like ravioli, but it differs in the filling it must be minced beef or chicken or lamb or even a mixture of them.

The dumplings are filled with seasoned meat seasoned onions, and pine nuts that are boiled, baked, or fried and served in a warm yogurt sauce with melted butter, mint, sumac, and more toasted pine nuts.

They are made in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine, and are very similar to manti, the lamb-filled dumplings eaten in Turkey.


Mujaddara

Mujaddara is a dish that combines lentils and rice.

The dish is cooked with rice and lentils mixed with onions sautéed in olive oil.

Then the dish is topped with fried onion and served with plain or garlic-flavored yogurt flatbread and salad.

Mujaddara can be served also as a puree instead of the traditional shape.

Some varieties may use bulgur instead of rice.




Sheikh el Mahshi

Sheikh el mahshi is one of the most popular recipes in Lebanon.

It's eggplant stuffed with ground beef and pine nuts and it is usually served with a side of traditional vermicelli rice.

The dish has another version that Zucchini is used instead of Eggplant, and in other options, fresh yogurt is used, the yogurt is mixed with a little garlic and mint.




Sfeeha

Sfeeha, or sfiha, are pastries made with ground lamb or beef, parsley, chopped onion, tomatoes, some chili pepper, and sometimes labneh, and pomegranate molasses.

The meat is not cooked previously but baked together with the dough.

It is best to be eaten warm, fresh out of the oven, served with tahini sauce or yogurt.

It served as a snack, as part of the Lebanese mezze, or as a main dish, or as a quick dinner with some yogurt.

Sfiha is also popular in Brazil and Argentina


Falafel

One of Lebanon’s most famous street foods.

Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both mixed with garlic, parsley, coriander, and cumin.

It’s served in a pita bread sandwich with vegetables and tahini sauce. It’s usually accompanied by hot sauce, French fries, tomatoes, pickles, or cucumbers.

You can find Falafel in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Israel.



Dessert

Kunafeh

It’s a pastry made with cheese and topped with pistachios and served with sugar syrup, It can be made in a million different ways.

It’s crunchy with a top and bottom crust, but there are varieties with only one layer of crust on top. In between the crusts, there’s a delicious layer of unsalted cheese.

Kunafeh is served as a breakfast* or a dessert.

It’s a traditional food in countries like Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, and Jordan.

*When it is placed on bread, it is eaten as a sandwich at breakfast time.


Ma'amoul

Maamoul is a traditional cookie made from semolina dough, stuffed with different fillings such as dates, nuts, pistachios, or walnuts, and then baked in the oven.

In some modern recipes, Maamoul is filled with fig jam or even Nutella.

Maamoul is served with coffee or tea during the day in many Middle Eastern households.

Maamoul is typically shaped into balls or domes. To differentiate the cookies, the walnut version is usually shaped into a dome with a round top, the date Maamoul is shaped into a dome with a flat top, while the pistachio Maamoul has an elongated, oval shape.



Baklava

Baklava is a pastry made from layers of filo dough, honey, and assorted nuts (cashews, almonds, pine nuts, walnut, and pistachios), baked then soaked in a syrup of rose water, orange blossom water, sugar, and water.

Baklava is cut into different shapes like square, diamond, rectangular and triangular.

Baklava is found in Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans.




Meghli

The traditional Lebanese rice pudding called meghli is a vegan, gluten, and dairy-free dish that is traditionally consumed to celebrate the birth of a baby.

Meghli is made with rice flour, caraway, water, sugar, spices, a variety of nuts and spices, and is then cooked over low heat until the mixture can hold itself when tilted.

It is also said that the brown color of the spiced pudding is symbolic of the richness of the soil, while the rough texture of the nuts on top represents growing seeds. In addition to those symbolic meanings, the caraway in the pudding is thought to assist new mothers with lactation and bloat reduction.



Halawit El Jeben – Sweet Cheese Rolls

The dish is made of semolina and cheese dough, filled with a cream called "eshta".

It is served rolled as small rolls or in small rope-like shapes, covered with eshta.

Before serving, Halewit El Jeben is decorated with crushed pistachios and a rose jam.

It’s commonly eaten with sugar syrup and orange blossom or rose water.



Basbousa (Namoura)

Basbousa is a Lebanese dessert, also known as Namoura.

It is a mixture of semolina, sugar, yogurt, and butter. Before baking, it’s spread in a big tray and topped with almonds.

Once baked, it’s topped with sugar syrup and then it’s cut out into diamond shape slices.

Basbousa is served in many religious festivities, especially during the month of Ramadan.

Some Lebanese like the texture to be crispy, while others prefer it fluffy and soaked in sugar syrup.

It is served with a hot cup of Lebanese coffee.




Drinks

Ayran

Ayran is a yogurt drink in Lebanon it is similar to Ayran in Turkey.

It is a sugar-free drink made by combining fresh curd with milk, finely chopped garlic, and salt.

This yogurt drink is really refreshing and soothing.

It’s served with eggs for breakfast, mixed with chopped cucumber for an appetizer, and added to different sauces and soups.



Jallab

Jallab is a drink made from dates, carob, rose water, and grape molasses along with water. Jallab is topped with nuts like pine nuts, golden raisins, and crushed ice.

Jallab is served cold and also served in Ramadan

You can find this drink in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.


Arak

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. Today, arak cocktails are made by mixing arak with ginger ale, orange juice, green tea, grapefruit juice, etc.

Arak is usually served as an aperitif together with some Lebanese mezze that includes cheese, meat, olives, and spices.



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