So, what do we eat in Lebanon?
When you think of Lebanese cuisine, the first dishes that probably come to mind are hummus, mezze (Lebanese version of Tapas) and fresh, homemade bread. Well, you are not far off from what is set on a traditional Lebanese meal!. But Lebanese cuisine is much more than hummus or mezze. There are some blends of spices and herbs that will make anyone’s taste buds fall in love with it! Now that we got you interested, we will talk about a few staples in the Lebanese cuisine.
A mankoushe is a traditional Lebanese flatbread that can be topped with different flavors. The mankoushe is commonly served either as a wrap or as an open face pizza. Over the years, the Mankoushe has been the “go-to” breakfast dish for many of the locals. This is demonstrated with a local bakery engrained in every neighborhood of the country baking manakeesh for everyone to enjoy!
The name Manakeesh refers to the ingredients which take on color and texture after baking; the word itself is related to the meaning of the words “decorated” or “carved out”. Since Manakeesh is a round, flat disk of bread, it’s commonly dubbed the Lebanese pizza.
There are many toppings that you can put on a mankoushe but the top 3 are :
1. Zaatar Mankoushe, which is a combination of wild thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and olive oil. (In Lebanon you can ask for “Extra” which adds cucumbers, tomatoes, Olives and Mint to the mix)
2. Cheese: In Lebanon we mainly use Akkawi, Halloum or kashkaval
The Unique Taste of Falafel
What was once categorized as a Mediterranean dish has now become a familiar food for all Falafel. For those of you that don’t know falafel is a mixture of chickpeas, fava beans and different spices. Over the years countries have been fighting over which one invented the original falafel. So everyone adds their own little twist claiming it is the “Best”
The beauty of the falafel is that not only does it taste good but its quite healthy. Nowadays people are even baking the falafel to get the healthier vibe. (Between you and me, fried falafel is way better!)
In Lebanon, the traditional falafel sandwich (Falafel Sahyoun is a great place to start!) is served in Lebanese pita with fresh radish, mint, pickled turnips, tomatoes, tahini and fresh “from the wok” falafel balls. It is truly delicious.
Speaking about balls, here’s another classic mezze shared in Lebanese cuisine : Kibbe
Kibbe can be made differently (Kibbe Sayniyye, Kibbe bi Laban) but the most common is its round shape. Made out of Burgul, ground beef, onions, and spices, .it is fried to reach its golden color!
A lot of places offer the kibbe with a side garnish of cucumber yogurt to dip int,. You can evern dip it in hummus for guaranteed deliciousness
The simplicity and healthiness of Lebanese cuisine is what is fantastic. It pleases all five senses and you don’t have to break the bank to experience it. There are many flavors that Lebanese cuisine will introduce you too, but they are worth it! If you are in DC and want to experience Lebanese cuisine, see you at Muncheez!