Cooks in Lebanon use their fresh purchases from the souk to prepare distinctive and delicious dishes. Even if you can't visit a lebanese souk yourself, you can use these easy lebanese recipes to get a taste of this unique cuisine.
As in most of the Middle East, breakfasts in Lebanon are quite light. A cup of strong coffee, a piece of pita bread, and some cheese and olives are usually enough to keep one satisfied until a midmorning snack or until lunch.
Lebanese lunches are also relatively light meals. They usually consist of soup and salad, perhaps a light main dish, and fresh fruit for dessert. Many lebanese also enjoy cups of strong, thick, black coffee flavored with cardamom seeds and often with sugar. A cup of this uniquely lebanese coffee and a sweet snack from a street vendor or a local cafe are a delicious way to help ease afternoon hunger pangs.
Mezze are a very important part of lebanese cuisine. Before dinner a large selection of appetizers in tiny dishes is set out for diners. Mezze may include vegetables, kibbeh balls, savory pastries, yogurt, cheese, and olives. Lebanese restaurants compete with each other on the number of mezze dishes they offer and may serve as many as seventy.
Other dishes, especially sweets, are enjoyed as midday snacks or on special occasions. Lebanese people do not eat a lot of desserts, but honeyed pastries and candies may be eaten during the day with cups of strong black coffee or mint tea. Generally, fresh fruit or perhaps a milk-based pudding is the only dessert served after a meal.
After the mezze, if anyone is still hungry, the main dinner items are served. Dinner in Lebanon usually consists of a poultry, fish, or lamb entree. However, a combination of several meatless dishes may be served instead. Lebanese cooking uses many grains and fresh vegetables, giving vegetarian diners a variety of delicious and authentic dishes from which to choose.
The main course is often accompanied by one or more side dishes prepared from Lebanon's staples, rice and bulgur. A large salad and a cooked vegetable dish may be included as well. After the meal, many diners enjoy coffee or tea.
A meal is an occasion every day in Lebanon, and holiday meals are even more special. The lebanese especially love to celebrate with sweets, and many favorite dishes are desserts. Cooks prepare all kinds of pastries and sugary delicacies, and holiday guests in lebanese homes can always look forward to a sweet treat and a cup of coffee.
Many special dishes are associated with certain religious celebrations, such as Ramadan, Christmas, and Easter. However, many lebanese enjoy these foods during the holiday seasons, regardless of their religion. Prepare the dishes in this section to get a taste of festive Lebanon.