What to Eat in Lebanon

Lebanon offers both foodies and tourists the most exciting dining scenes in the Middle East. There are influences that stem from the Ottoman, Syrian, and French influences that have littered the country throughout history. Beirut is packed full of restaurants and cater to all types of budgets with plenty of options.

Knefeh

Although this is a traditional dessert during Ramadan, you also have a chance to eat this as breakfast year-round. This dish consists of semolina cake, stuffed with salty, melted cheese, and then covered in sugar syrup and a dusting of pistachios.

Falafel

The Middle East is crazy for falafel and there is plenty of if on offer in Lebanon. Traditional recipes use a mix of fava beans and chickpeas, with each shop and restaurant adding their own special mix of onions and spices, ensuring that you get a unique experience with such a ubiquitous dish. It’s usually served in a warm pitta with salad, fresh herbs and covered in tahini.

Shawarma

This is another classic Middle Eastern dish. Choose between lamb or chicken, then watch as it is carved into thin slices, straight off the spit roast. It’s then stuffed into a pitta and filled with onions, parsley and garlic.

Juices

It wouldn’t be a trip to Lebanon without trying a fresh fruit juice. As the majority of the country doesn’t drink alcohol, fruit juices have become something of an art form. A lot of the fruit is grown locally, ensuring that fresh taste lasts from farm to table. Now, sit back, relax and indulge in a mint lemonade.

Ice Cream

Arabic-style ice cream is made slightly differently to its European counterpart. Mastic is often added to the ice cream to ensure a taffy-like texture. The ice cream is often flavoured with rose or orange-blossom water to making it extra refreshing in the heat.

Kibbeh

Stuffed with sautéed pine nuts and spicy minced meat, Lebanon’s national dish is fried into a cruncy delight and paired with a salad for that extra crunch.

Hummus

Hummus is consumed with plenty of dishes throughout Lebanon and is combined with chickpeas, garlic, and tahini. Have this slathered over a falafel or as a dip for carrot sticks.

Fattoush

This is a delicious salad with a combination of crispy pitta chips, romaine lettuce, fresh vegetabes and is topped with a light, zingy lemony dressing.

Tabbouleh

This is the perfect dish to eat during those hot summer days in Beirut. It’s a combination of bulgur wheat, tomatoes, parsley and mint. It’s really filling and has that perfect summer salad feel to it. Have this served on the side of some Mezza with plenty of appetisers and hors-d’oeuvres.

Shish Tawooq

For something filling and light then why not try shish tawooq? This dish is chicken marinated in olive oil, lemon, parsley and sumac. Once marinated, it is assembled on skewers and grilled to perfection.

What to Eat in Egypt

When it comes to cuisine Egypt offers a varied and simple selection of dishes. It doesn’t rely on elaborate preparing and cooking, instead dishes are often light, simple and packed full of goodness. Many Egyptian dishes consist of mostly vegetable and legumes, which is a cheaper alternative to meat.

Depending on where you are in the country the dish might vary from region to region. The fundamentals of the dish remain the same, just adjusted with a unique local twist.

  1. Sayadeya

If you are visiting Alexandria, Port Said or Suez then expect to find this seafood dish on the menu. It is traditionally made from bass, bluefish and mullet and is cooked with rice, a tomato sauce, and baked in a tagine. This dish is perfect for seafood lovers.

  • Ful wa Ta’meya (fava beans and falafel)

For an Egyptian spin on fast food try ful mudammas and t’ameya, which is the original Egyptian fast food. Ta’meya is a falafel that is made slightly differently to the Lebanese way, with crushed fava beans instead of hummus. Ful is also made of fava beans and then simmered all night in a Qedra.

  • Aish Baladi

Made from emmer wheat and barley, aish baladi is fluffy pitta bread that is found all over the country. It is often freshly baked and can be used in place of cutlery, where you will find yourself mopping up every last morsel.

  • Koshary

This is often referred to as the national dish of Egypt. Traditionally considered street food, this dish is made of lentils, chickpeas, rice, macaroni, and tomato sauce. It really is a mixture of comfort foods that can be found eaten on the streets as well in the home. The most popular place to try the dish is at Koshary Abou Tarek in Cairo, where it only costs a few dollars. A really low-cost dish to get you going for the afternoon.

  • Fatteh

Fatteh is a common dish use in big celebrations around Egypt. You can find it eaten during Ramadan and also at weddings. It is made from a freshly toasted flatbread, cut into wedges and layered with meat and a whole host of sauces and vegetables. It’s a spicy, zesty dish and is often served on a platter for sharing.

  • Kebab wa Kofta

Kofta is a staple across Egypt and can be found on every menu, no matter where you are in the country. The long, chunky tubes of meat are made of ground down lamb or beff and mixed with spices and skewered to be cooked on the grill. Expect to eat this in a fresh pitta and a colourful salad.

  • Om Ali

For the dessert option you could try the traditional bread pudding. This recipe is said to date back to the 13th century and has a very interesting back story to its name.