Guide to global cuisines part 1 – Lebanese/ Arabic

I grew up in Lebanon eating wholesome traditional dishes made of natural local ingredients which definitely shaped by culinary preferences! There is a misconception about Arabic cuisine in general: it is not restricted to grills and offers a very broad range of flavorful nourishing meals which suit different tastes!

Overview: I would split Lebanese cuisine into 3 parts

1) Mezze: small dishes with a high number of vegetarian options that are served as entree (which are actually filling enough to be mains!)

2) Vegetable stews: Vegetables or beans served with meat and rice. The most common main dish in Lebanese homes.

3) Grills: traditionally served in Lebanese restaurant as main course; usually meat and chicken.

What to safely enjoy: If cooked traditionally, Lebanese cuisine offers a high number of gluten-free options especially mezze which generally comprise of certain beans or vegetables cooked with natural tomato sauce and sauteed garlic/ onions! You can also enjoy grills if you consume meat – you have to ask the restaurant to serve the grills in Lebanese bread though.

What to watch out for: Restaurants who cook in large volumes can add gluten-containing vegetable/ chicken stock to certain stews especially to flavor meat-containing dishes that are traditionally served with rice. You should always ask – it is preferable to avoid it. Unfortunately, if you have celiac, you cannot experience traditional Lebanese breakfasts which are usually either manakeesh (baked dough filled with Zaatar or cheese or mince meat) or kunafa. Only one restaurant in Lebanese serves gluten-free options of both. You would also need to watch out when ordering salads – Tabbouleh contains burghul (wheat) and Fattouch is normally served with toasted bread.

My favorite dishes: Vegetarian eggplant mousaka, vegetarian okra/ broad beans/ green beans, hummus and baba ghannouj/ moutabal, spicy potatoes, fish tajin which is fish baked in a rich citrusy tomato sauce.

My favorite restaurants: Kitchen Confidential which is 100% organic and offers healthy gluten-free/ sugar-free alternatives to all classics (manakeesh, pizza, pasta, burgers, pastries, cakes, sandwiches)

Vegetarian mousaka – eggplant, onion/ garlic, tomatoes, fresh tomato sauce and chickpeas
Spicy potatoes
Moujaddara – Made of lentils, rice, sauteed onions
Vegetarian vine leaves – filled with rice and minced parsley, tomatoes and onions with a citrusy dressing
Green beans mezze – served cold
Gluten-free manakeesh at Kitchen Confidential
Gluten-free kunafa at Kitchen Confidential

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: