Lebanese cuisine, prepared for family household main meals, will often include one or more of the many variations of a stew called a “Yakhni”. This yakhni can be prepared in multiple ways, and usually some rice vermicelli and a meat dish will accompany and complete the meal. Also served will be Lebanese flat bread, “Pita” – which is used instead of utensils. You break off pieces of Pita and use it to scoop up a mouthful of stew, rice, meat, etc. If the meal is of a festive nature, tradition calls for “Arak” to be served – an anise flavored liqueur, which is the national alcoholic drink in Lebanon. Lebanese wine is also very popular and will be often served as well.
The Arabic words “المطبخ اللبناني” are what the Lebanese refer to their food culture as, and it translates in English to “Lebanese Kitchen”.
Animal fats are not used very much for cooking, with locally produced, very good quality olive oil being the preferred over lard, butter, dairy creams, etc. Meats eaten are more often poultry than red meats. The red meats that are eaten are predominantly goat meat in the mountainous regions, and lamb meat in the coastal regions. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, starches, fresh fish and other seafoods are prevalent in Lebanese cuisine. Favored seasonings include lots of garlic, lemon juice, and a wide variety of herbs.
Lebanese people also love their sweets, and some of their pastries have become world-renowned. Such delightful desserts such as Maamoul, Stouf, and Baklava are beloved in cultures throughout the Americas and Europe. Another favorite dessert is “Amar el Din” which is an ice cream with oriental flavorings of fresh fruits, pistachios and dried apricot. On very special occasions, especially the arrival of a newborn to the family, a dessert called “Meghli” is prepared: a delectable rice pudding with coconut, pistachios, anise and cinnamon flavorings.
Cooking methods in Lebanese cuisine are predominantly baking, sautéing in olive oil, or grilling. Sauces will hardly ever include butter or cream, although a select few desserts may use them. Lebanese cooks want their ingredients to be very fresh, and vegetables are often just washed, chopped up, and served raw. Cooked and pickled vegetables are also served and enjoyed. As is the case with many cuisines in the Mediterranean region, the diet is seasonal when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Dishes are prepared with what is available when it is fresh harvested locally.
In Lebanese cuisine, when drinks are served, almost always they will be accompanied by an array of foods. Much like the Spanish “tapas” and the “apperitivo” in Italy, In Lebanon they have the “Mezze”.
The mezze is wide selection of small dishes. Each is put in front of all those eating, creating an array of textures, flavors, aromas and colors. Less a part of normal, daily family life than that of special entertaining occasions, and in cafes, the mezze can be as simple as pickled or raw vegetables, bread, baba ghanouj, and hummus. Or, it can be as complex and involved that it becomes an entire meal, with skewered meats (Kabobs), grilled and marinated seafoods, and a vast array of raw and/or cooked salads. And the larger, more involved mezze will also include a selection of desserts.
And now, let’s get right into the main reason you came to this page – the recipes.
For your convenience, the below list of dishes are each hyperlinked. Click on the recipe(s) of your choice, and you will be taken to a print-friendly page with the ingredients and directions for you to prepare it.
Enjoy your adventure into the rich, delicious, authentic and traditional world of …
Meghli (floured rice pudding dessert: spicy, sweet, and garnished with coconut and pistachios)
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