Going out with friends is one of the most treasured joys in life – especially when it involves eating. At Zahli, we often host tables of friends who just want to get together over a few drinks and delicious food to catch up. Lebanese food is the best cuisine for this sort of meal as it is meant to be shared and enjoyed with good company. Though we have our main dishes, Lebanese mezza is one of the special and enjoyable elements about the way we dine, however, not every diner takes advantage of it.
Why does the Lebanese food experience at Zahli involve mezza?
The concept of a Lebanese mezza is foreign to some, causing a few of our diners to become confused when it’s time to order. If a diner is ever perplexed as to how to order mezza, our friendly servers are there to guide and offer recommendations. Some people, however, completely miss out on the beauty of mezza because of their lack of knowledge around this type of dining.
At Zahli, mezza is an integral part of our dining experience, because it’s an important part of our culture and the way we eat. It’s very common to see Lebanese people enjoying mezza at a cafe on the streets of Lebanon.
Mezza is very similar to tapas in Spain or mezeluri in Romania. Mezza is an array of small dishes placed before the guests that are generally consumed in small bites using a piece of Lebanese bread. The mezza selection may be as simple as pickled vegetables and a few dips (baba ghannouj, hommos and labneh) or be more elaborate with the addition of grilled meats and seafood. Mezza is also often enjoyed with arak, a translucent, unsweetened distilled spirit in the anise drink family.
At our restaurant, we offer a traditional mezza so that our diners can experience an authentic Lebanese meal. In this article, we’ll outline five of our favourite hot and cold mezza items that we think you should try when next you visit Zahli with friends.
5 Lebanese mezza items to order the next time you visit Zahli with family or friends
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most underrated mezza dishes, kibbeh nayyeh. Kibbeh nayyeh consists primarily of minced raw lamb. At Zahli, we mix finely minced lamb with crushed wheat, herbs and special seasonings (it’s a secret!). We serve it with traditional garnishes such as olive oil, fresh greens and raw onion.
Don’t let the rawness of the lamb scare you, it’s truly a unique and delicious dish.
When it comes to eggplant mezza, most people think of baba ghannouj immediately, however, that isn’t the only delicious mezza dish. Mutabal is smoked chargrilled fresh eggplant, mixed with tomato, spanish onion, capsicum, garlic, parsley and fresh lemon juice topped with fresh pomegranate seeds. It’s a complex dish that’s definitely worth the order and is perfect for any of your vegan/vegetarian friends.
Eggplant is featured in another one of our mezzas. Makdous is great for vegetarians or vegans who are in search of a meaty and hearty mezza. It is an oil-cured stuffed eggplant with walnuts, capsicum, garlic and fresh chilli in olive oil. We highly recommend that you eat it with Lebanese bread for a filling, but satisfying bite.
Labneh is quickly becoming popular and is a must-order in our minds. It is homemade strained yoghurt that is topped with a sprinkle of oregano and sesame seeds. This is often perfect for adding a creamy element to any part of your meal or for cooling down after you’ve consumed too much chilli! In our experience, labneh is usually a hit with everyone on the table, so it’s sure to be worth the order.
Sambousik cheese is a cheese pie that has a lot more flavour than you would expect. Our sambousik cheese is filled with feta cheese and parsley. If you and your table prefer meat, you can opt for the meat version.
Zahli is here for your celebrations and get-togethers throughout the year, as soon as we return!
If you are interested in trying any of the dishes mentioned in this article or any other authentic Lebanese food then Zahli, Modern Middle Eastern restaurant can gladly provide a memorable meal. At Zahli, we take the traditions of our people seriously and aim to do every dish justice. Our restaurant is here to provide you with a culinary experience like no other. Call us on (02) 9318 2228 to reserve a table or for pick-up orders.