If Lebanese street food is a safe bet, both in the evening and in delivery in front of a good movie, the fact remains that from time to time, for occasions that are worth it, the desire to A traditional and ancestral dish is felt.
That's why I unearthed my top 20 authentic and typical traditional dishes of Levantine cuisine, as inspiration.
Exit the famous tabbouleh, hummus, eggplant caviar. Here, no falafels, shawarma or chick taouk. The idea is to do THE list of authentic and delicious traditional dishes, and yet unfairly misunderstood outside Lebanon and more generally the Middle East.
Dishes from village grandmothers, in short, which fed me during my childhood, and whose recipes you will find easily on the net!
Most of these dishes have many variations, and are obviously not exclusive to Lebanon, since most of the Levant countries share and appropriate them.
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20. Kebbe nayeh
A raw meat tartare, decorated with cracked wheat (bulgur), onions, mint and spices (pepper, cumin, cinnamon). The whole thing is usually pounded again and served with olive oil, fresh mint and white onions and eaten with pita bread.
Kebbeh nayeh isn't the only carnivore dish served raw. It is usually eaten with – among other things – raw lamb liver, served with pepper and salt.
These are dishes that are among the most delicious in Lebanon, but beware of hygienic conditions! Moreover, eating raw red meat is a pleasure that should be enjoyed in a relatively rare way.
A kind of oriental cheesecake, the Kneffeh is a dessert made with cheese, kadaif and syrup flavored with orange blossom or rose water. Consumed in the Middle East, this not so cute sin is an absolute killer… To be consumed in moderation, of course!
18. The Jelleb
Admittedly, the Jelleb is not a dish. But I had to share this ultra-refreshing drink with you. Mix grape molasses with water, ice cubes and a handful of pine nuts. So Lebanese…
17. La Fatteh
The Lebanese fateh is one of the components of the mezze. It is a yogurt-based sauce with tahina (sesame cream), garlic, and flavored with spices and dried mint, all served with cooked chickpeas.
This is a particularly nutritious dish, so slow down the quantities!
16. Le Loubieh
Flat beans in sauce that can be eaten cold or hot, with or without rice, according to your desires. Like many other Lebanese dishes, it is a vegetarian dish, and for once, it couldn't be more healthy!
15. The Kafta bil Sanieh
Literally, "Kafta in the dish", Kafta bil sanieh is a dish made from minced meat with herbs, served with potatoes, tomatoes, and incidentally vermicelli rice.
There, we enter the theme of the ultra-satisfying, rich and complete, it is the kind of dishes of a Lebanese mother, anxious not to let her children starve.
14. Samkeh Harra (spicy fish)
Samakeh harra is a typical dish from the Lebanese coast, made with fish (pollock or line-caught hake), cooked with onion fondue, tomatoes, sesame cream, spiced to your taste with a hint of harissa .
It is an ultra-healthy dish, typical of the Mediterranean diet.
13. Daoud Bacha
Minced meatballs (lamb or beef), pine nuts, vermicelli rice and tomato and onion based sauce. The dish must be successful, otherwise it may be a bit heavy.
12. The Laban Emmo
Laban Emmo, literally "mother's yoghurt", is a particularly tasty leg of lamb. It is a super rich dish, typical of Lebanese mothers.
11. Kebbeh bi Labban
Another ultra-nutritious, elaborate dish typical of the Lebanese countryside: yogurt kebbeh.
It's a variation of the previous dish, except that instead of meat, we choose kebbeh, these dumplings made from a mixture of bulgur and lamb or raw ground beef topped with cooked ground meat.
10. Le Rez 3a djej (Rice with Chicken)
A festive dish or a Sunday family meal, chicken rice is one of the traditional Lebanese dishes. It is distinguished by the pine nuts that often adorn it.
It is a particularly healthy dish, which allows you to fill up on protein and good carbohydrates, provided you opt for a good basmati rice.
9. The Mehshi Koussa
Koussa is a typically ancestral Lebanese dish, made with stuffed zucchini. A pure delight, resolutely healthy.
8. Lebanese vine leaves
Stuffed vine leaves are a typical and ancestral dish of the Lebanese diet.
Not only are grape leaves anti-inflammatory, but they are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, and folate, iron, manganese and magnesium. Healthy, and more healthy.
7. The Moghrabieh
El Moghrabieh, literally "The North African" in Arabic, is precisely a kind of Levantine couscous. Much heavier than the previous dishes, for once, but which has its followers.
6. Mjaddarah, Lebanese lentil rice
A vegetarian dish made with lentil rice (Mjaddara or Mujaddara) covered with caramelized onions which brings a succulent taste to this dish.
This peasant dish exists both in solid form and in puree. And contrary to its unsavory look, believe me, it's a pure delight.
5. Mloukhieh – Lebanese spinach
One of the musts of grandmother's cooking is Mloukieh, also known as “Lebanese spinach”.
It's actually vegetable koreta (and not spinach per se), which is cooked in such a way as to visually give a stew of greenish leaves, served with chicken and vermicelli rice.
4. The Fassolia
Another stew that no Lebanese could escape in their youth. I named, the Fassolia, made from white beans, and found in various forms from the Arab world to the Balkans.
We stay in the theme of ultra-rich and ultra-healthy at the same time, like many Lebanese dishes, and you have to know how to eat in moderation.
3. The Sheikh el Mehchi
Eggplant stuffed with minced meat cooked Lebanese style. It's a typical grandma's meal and, you can believe me, a marvel on the palate. One of my favorite dishes.
2. Lebanese moussaka
In the same genre as the previous dish, the Lebanese moussaka is a vegetarian dish with eggplant, tomato, and chickpeas.
As I don't really like the taste of eggplant at the base, the Lebanese moussaka and the sheikh el mehchi are two dishes so succulent that the eggplant is incredibly sublimated, to the point of transforming any aubergino-skeptic into true vegetarian.
This dish is eaten both hot and cold. But hey, "Moussaka" means "Cold" in Arabic, so...
1. The Cream of Kechek
And the big winner of my top 20 is, against all odds… the Kichk!
It is a soup prepared with boulghour (cracked wheat) and goat yoghurt (or cow yoghurt depending on the villages where it was made) that has been dehydrated and reduced to a very fine powder; as well as garlic sautéed in butter…
Kecheck tastes absolutely amazing, strange, almost disturbing and yet divine. This is not a neophyte's dish, its texture and taste are not accessible to unseasoned palates.
It is a real peasant soup, ultra rich, which provides a particular and immeasurably unique pleasure.
And you ? What are your favorite Lebanese grandmother dishes? Tell me everything in the comments!