There is an age-old tradition of warm hospitality that exists in Lebanese culture. Lebanese hosts will never believe you don't have just a bit more room for something utterly delicious that's been prepared with love. In a Lebanese household, food is life and sharing it is one of the great joys of being alive. Even for simple dinners at home, there are a variety of dishes on the table, the meal starting with small portions known as mezza, which centre around dips and salads. They may be as simple as simple as pickled or raw vegetables, hummus and bread or an entire meal consisting also of meat kebabs, grilled, marinated seafood, salads and desserts.
As well as having great variety, Lebanese food is one of the freshest and most delicious on the planet. Lamb is the meat of choice and appears in many dishes, including kafta, in which minced lamb is rolled into sausage shapes and cooked on the barbecue or in the oven. Poultry is more popular than red meat, but lamb and goat are popular. Generous amounts of olive oil, garlic, lemons are also essential flavours in the Lebanese diet.
Lebanese desserts are pure artwork, as a visit to one of the palaces of Lebanese sweets will attest – there are many variations of filo pastry, combined with nuts and syrup; there are creamy sweets filled with a clotted cream called ashta; plus melting shortbread sometimes filled with a date paste or nuts; and much more. Sweets are generally served separately to a meal with black coffee or tea.
View our Lebanese recipe collection here.
These Lebanese minced-meat skewers are like the ultimate handmade sausages and they’re incredibly simple. Make sure you buy the best-quality minced lamb and beef, or even better, mince the meat yourself. If you don’t have metal skewers you can simply shape the mixture into patties. Great on the barbie, great in a pan, great in the oven, these are just great!
It’s quite nerve-wracking to just pop a whole eggplant directly on a gas flame, but without the smoky flavour you get as the eggplant sizzles, you wouldn’t have a true baba ghanouj. This is a foolproof and creamy recipe for this beautiful dip.
This recipe for tabbouleh is a revelation – make it and see how crisp and lovely this salad should really be.
To adapt this kousa mahshi recipe for vegetarians, use chickpeas instead of minced beef.
A classic dip that is made almost every day in most Lebanese homes. The secret is to cook the chickpeas until they’re really soft. If you can, seek out the prized nine-millimetre chickpeas grown in the Ord River region of Western Australia – they’re fabulous.
This is one of the best dishes I’ve eaten in my life and is now our show-off dinner party and Christmas lunch dish. The combination of perfectly cooked salmon, a tahini and yoghurt dressing, freshly chopped herbs and walnuts, and a hint of chilli, is fresh and delicious. The dish is served at room temperature, so you can cook the salmon up to four hours in advance.