Levantine cuisine

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Ottoman Syria (in purple)

Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant, known in Arabic as the Bilad ash-Sham. This region shared many culinary traditions with Ottoman cuisine before and during the Turkish-Ottoman Empire, and it continues to carry an influentially mainstream character in a majority of the dishes today. It is found in the modern states of Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, and parts of southern Turkey near Adana, Gaziantep, and Antakya (the former Vilayet of Aleppo) and northern Iraq. In the broader family of Mediterranean cuisine, Cypriot cuisine also has strong Levantine influences.

Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of Levantine cuisine is meze including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush.

Levantine dishes[edit]

Fattoush is a Levantine pita bread salad that includes mixed greens and other vegetables.[1]
  • Arab salad
  • Arak (عرق): An clear, colourless alcoholic spirit distilled from anise seeds.
  • Baba ghanoush (بابا غنوج): A dip made from baked, mashed eggplant mixed with lemon, garlic, olive oil and various seasonings.
  • Baklava (البقلاوة): A dessert originating in the Ottoman Empire made of dense phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in syrup.
  • Bamia (بامية): A stew prepared with chunks of lamb meat with okra in a tomato-based sauce, served over rice.
  • Falafel (الفلافل): A dish of spiced mashed chickpeas formed into balls or fritters and deep-fried, usually eaten with or in pita bread and hummus.
  • Fasoulia (فاصوليا): A stew prepared with dry white beans and meat served over rice.
  • Fatteh (فتّة): A dish of chicken over rice, topped with yogurt and pita bread.
  • Fattoush (فتوش): A salad consisting of chopped cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes,and other vegetables together with fried or toasted pita bread.
  • Hummus (الحمص): A thick paste or spread made from ground chickpeas and olive oil, lemon, and garlic, also common in Egypt and Israel.
  • Kabsa (كبسة): A rice-based dish commonly eaten with meat, lamb or chicken, cooked in a variety of spices and topped with nuts over rice.
  • Kanafeh (كنافة): A Palestinian dessert made with shredded filo and melted cheese soaked in a sugary syrup.
  • Kebab (كباب): A very popular dish consisting of pieces of meat baked or grilled on a skewer.
  • Kibbeh (كبة): A dumpling-like dish of ground lamb with bulgur wheat and seasonings, eaten cooked or raw. The Iraqi variant of kubba uses a rice crust instead of bulgur.
  • Labneh (لبنة): Yogurt that has been strained to remove its whey. Most popular as a breakfast food.
  • Lentil soup
  • Manakish (مناقيش): A pizzalike flatbread garnished with minced meat, thyme and/or za'atar. Commonly eaten during breakfast and lunch.
  • Mansaf (المنسف): The national dish of Jordan, made of lamb or chicken cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served over rice.
  • Meorav Yerushalmi
  • Kousa Mahshi (كوسا محشي): Courgettes baked and stuffed with minced meat and rice in a tomato-based sauce.
  • Musakhan (مسخّن): A classic Palestinian dish, composed of a whole roasted chicken baked with onions, sumac, allspice, saffron, and fried pine nuts served over taboon bread.
  • Maqluba (مقلوبة): A rice-based casserole which includes meat, rice, and fried vegetables placed in a pot, which is then flipped upside down when served, hence the name maqluba, which translates literally as "upside-down".
  • Muhammara (محمرة): A hot pepper dip made from fresh or dried peppers, breadcrumbs, olive oil, spices and ground walnuts.
  • Mujaddara (مجدرة): Cooked lentils together with groats, generally rice, and garnished with sautéed onions.
  • Mulukhiyah (ملوخية): A type of stew cooked with okra leaves and eaten with chicken in a thick broth.
  • Olives
  • Pita
  • Qatayef
  • Quzi (قوزي): A hearty dish of roasted lamb with raisins, nuts and spices over rice or wrapped within taboon bread.
  • Sambusac (سمبوسك): A triangular savory pastry originating from the Indian subcontinent, which is fried in ghee or oil, containing spiced vegetables or meat.
  • Sfiha
  • Shanklish
  • Shashlik ():
  • Shawarma (الشاورما): Roasted meat, especially when cooked on a revolving spit and shaved for serving in sandwiches.
  • Tabbouleh (تبولة): A salad of bulgur mixed with finely chopped parsley, along with minced onions and tomatoes.
  • Tahini
  • Tepsi (التبسي): A casserole baked with minced meat, aubergine, potato and tomato slices. Served with pickles, rice and salad.
  • Toum
  • Za'atar

Levantine cuisine by country[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wright, 2003, p. 241


  • Wright, Clifford A. (2003). Little foods of the Mediterranean: 500 fabulous recipes for antipasti, tapas, hors d'oeuvre, meze, and more (Illustrated ed.). Harvard Common Press. ISBN 1-55832-227-2. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sami Zubaida, "National, Communal and Global Dimensions in Middle Eastern Food Cultures" in Sami Zubaida and Richard Tapper, A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East, London and New York, 1994 and 2000, ISBN 1-86064-603-4, p. 35.
  • Jean Bottéro, The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia, University of Chicago Press, 2004, ISBN 0226067343