I usually never make such bold claims, but I truly do believe that Lebanon has the best food in the world.
Objectively. I sometimes don’t even bother to argue with people who try to tell me differently. I can guarantee that you will not find food that is both healthy, while incredibly flavorful at the same time. With their crafty use of herbs and spices, Lebanese cuisine is a crucial part of its culture and has been met with critical acclaim around the world. There are simply too many amazing unique dishes you can choose from, but if you’re in Lebanon for a quick visit and want to know what you need to try, here are the five quintessential dishes you absolutely need to indulge in.
It would be disrespectful to refer to tabouleh merely as salad. Although it is made differently in various parts of the Middle East, it originated in Lebanon and consists of tomatoes, variations of mint, parsley, bulgur and onion, then seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil. It is commonly served as an appetizer before many meals. Tabouleh is a prime example of how Lebanese dishes perfect the combination of health and taste. It’s very possible you may have already had tabouleh in areas of Europe or the United States, it’s gained a tremendous amount of popularity over the years. If you’re in Lebanon, however, prepare to be astonished.
Often referred to as breakfast pizza in some areas of the west, man’oushesh is kind of like pizza, but not quite. It consists of dough, added with thyme, ground meat, cheese and other toppings; some may be quite creative with it. The most popular form of man’oushesh uses za’atar, which is an herb that consists of oregano, sesame seeds, salt and other unique spices. It’s a dish you’ll have a hard time saying no to, whether you’re starving or full.
Different versions of kibbeh exist in so many parts of the Middle East, from Egypt, Syria, to Palestine. Yet, in Lebanon, it is deemed as a national dish. It’s an irresistible mix of ground meat, continuing the classic Lebanese tradition of adding herbs and spices. Kibbeh can be served baked, raw, fried and even vegetarian with a slight recipe change. Like most Lebanese dishes, it is topped with olive oil to add the delicious finishing touch.
Unlike the rest of the dishes on this list, ma’amoul is actually a dessert. It’s difficult to describe ma’amoul while still doing it justice. It’s a semolina cookie filled with various nuts, such as: pistachios, walnuts and dates, topped with powdered sugar. They are usually served with tea and coffee throughout the day, and are also commonly served during many traditional celebrations, including: Easter.
Now, I can almost say with certainty that most of you have eaten hummus before, whether it was served as an appetizer at a restaurant, or even from the supermarket. In Lebanon, however, it’s almost like it’s a completely different dish. Hummus is a dip made of mashed chickpeas blended with lemon juice, tahini and garlic. Sounds simple enough, but the way it’s made everywhere else simply cannot compare to the hummus you’ll taste in Lebanon. It’s perfect to eat with a variety of meats and bread, and mouthwatering all on its own.