The culinary traditions in the land of the Cedars, Lebanon, are popular all over the world. The citizens of the nation fit right into the traditions of the Mediterranean and get the most possible satisfaction they can out of eating.
Long lunches and dinners are characteristic for it, where salads, appetizers, main courses and compulsory desserts follow one after the other. According to the Lebanese, one of the best things in life is the ability to enjoy satisfaction from your food.
In Lebanese culinary traditions there are 2 types of dishes. One is home cooked, everyday type of food, the other is holiday food. Its most famous representatives are the appetizers which locals call mezza.
Mezza are in fact the Lebanese food that has gained admirers worldwide. There are roughly over 50 different traditional mezza, cold and hot. They are a mandatory part of every lunch or dinner. Oftentimes, tourists mistake a mezze for the main course.
One of the key elements of Lebanese cuisine is unleavened bread. It essentially becomes the main utensil for trying all of the appetizing hors d'oeuvres on the table.
Salads are one of the main Lebanese mezza. Among them, fattoush and tabbouleh are the most popular. The essential ingredients in them vary - green peppers, arugula, parsley, finely chopped tomato, onions, cucumber, lettuce, seasoned with salt, olive oil, lemon and ginger.
The primary ingredient of tabbouleh is parsley. Besides the typical spices, the use of zaatar (fresh leaves of a plant similar to savory) is customary. It is mandatory to mix different tastes, such as those of a lemon and tomato, when preparing salads.
Another widely popular Lebanese appetizer is hummus. This is chickpeas that have been soaked overnight in water, next boiled and then blended to a fine mixture. It is seasoned with salt, lemon, sesame tahini and served with olive oil.
Eggplants are also quite popular in Lebanon. They are used to make mutabal - an appetizer not unlike a roasted eggplant and pepper dip. But mutabal uses only eggplant seasoned with lemon and sesame tahini. Another popular appetizer with this vegetable is baba ghanoush - a salad of eggplant, fresh tomatoes, peppers and a little garlic.
The greater majority of appetizers in Lebanese cuisine are prepared from vegetables. The heads of lettuce there are enormous, fragile and delicious. Only their cores are used, which are characterized by an amazing taste.
Other popular Lebanese mezza are pickled foods called makdous. They prepare them from mini eggplants, slightly opened and filled with a mixture of walnuts, ground red peppers and garlic. They are arranged in a jar and poured with pure olive oil, ready to eat after 1 month.
Ingredients: 1 cup bulgur, 3-4 tomatoes, 1-2 cucumbers, 3 bunches of green onions, 2 bunches parsley, 1 bunch mint, the juice of 1-2 lemons, 5-6 tbsp olive oil, salt, ground black pepper.
Preparation: Boil the bulgur according to the directions. Cool it and pour it into a large bowl. Clean the tomatoes of their seeds. Cut them into cubes along with the peeled cucumbers. Chop the parsley and mint finely.
Add the products to the bulgur. Season the salad with lemon juice, olive oil and stir. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and put in the fridge for 30 min., then serve.
Check out these other irresistible Lebanese recipes: baba ghanoush with Lebanese flatbread, Lebanese salad with mint, Lebanese vine wraps, Lebanese quiche.