A Guide to the Rich Tradition of Lebanese Spices and Herbs

A Guide to the Rich Tradition of Lebanese Spices and Herbs

Lebanese cuisine is renowned for its bold flavours and aromatic dishes, which are achieved through the skilful use of a wide variety of spices and herbs. In this guide, we'll take a closer look at the rich tradition of Lebanese spices and herbs, exploring their origins, unique flavours, and culinary uses.

  1. Za'atar: Za'atar is a quintessential spice blend in Lebanese cuisine, consisting of dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. It boasts a tangy, herbal flavour with hints of citrus from the sumac. Za'atar is often used to season meats, vegetables, and bread, and is also mixed with olive oil to create a versatile dipping sauce.

  2. Sumac: Sumac is a deep red spice derived from the dried berries of the sumac shrub. It has a tart, slightly tangy flavour that adds brightness to dishes. In Lebanese cuisine, sumac is used as a seasoning for salads, meats, and dips, lending a vibrant colour and citrusy taste.

  3. Baharat: Baharat is a fragrant spice blend that typically includes cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper. It adds warmth and depth to Lebanese dishes, particularly meat-based preparations like kebabs and stews. Baharat can also be used to season rice, vegetables, and lentil dishes.

  4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a versatile spice used in both sweet and savoury Lebanese dishes. Its warm, slightly sweet flavour complements a wide range of ingredients, from meats and poultry to desserts and beverages. In Lebanese cuisine, cinnamon is often paired with savoury ingredients like lamb or chicken to add depth of flavour.

  5. Mint: Fresh mint is a staple herb in Lebanese cooking, prized for its bright, refreshing flavour. It is commonly used to garnish salads, dips, and meat dishes, lending a burst of freshness to each bite. Mint is also brewed into tea, which is enjoyed as a refreshing beverage or served with meals as a palate cleanser.

Lebanese spices and herbs play a central role in the vibrant and flavourful cuisine of Lebanon. From the earthy warmth of baharat to the tangy brightness of sumac, each ingredient brings its own unique character to dishes, creating a culinary experience that is both aromatic and unforgettable. Whether you're cooking traditional Lebanese recipes or experimenting with new flavours, exploring the rich tradition of Lebanese spices and herbs is sure to elevate your cooking to new heights.