Inside the spice cabinets of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sydney

Zahli Modern Middle Eastern Restaurant

Spice up your life with these Middle Eastern spices and herbs used in many key Lebanese dishes and best restaurants in Sydney. Ever wonder how Lebanese food takes your tastebuds on an adventure? The secret lies in the spices used! They are the foundation of traditional Lebanese dishes and provide each meal with a unique and flavoursome taste. Food plays a pivotal role in Lebanese culture, with age-old recipes passed on from generation to generation. The history of Lebanese cuisine and the flavours used comes primarily from the spices and marinades. These flavours and spices are now being used in some of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sydney

Here is a little insight into some of the main herbs and spices used in Lebanese cuisine/restaurants in Sydney:

– Cumin: This exotic spice is made from the dried seed of a plant known as Cuminium cyminium, a member of the parsley family. This ancient spice is used in many Middle Eastern and Lebanese dishes. What does this spice taste like? Cumin has a warm earthy flavour with elements of zest and a musky scent. This strong fragrant spice provides an unforgettable smell and classic flavour and even helps with digestion, helping the body relax. Lebanese dishes such as hommos and falafel incorporate the spice within their recipes providing a unique flavour.

– Cardamom: is used in both savoury and sweet dishes widely adopted by Middle Eastern cuisine. This distinctive spice is prepared from the seeds of plants, containing a spicy herbal taste. Cardamom is primarily used within Arabic/Turkish coffee, giving it a robust, earthy flavour. 

– Sumac: This popular spice is used in many marinades, dressings and even as a garnish in many dishes at some of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sydney. The sumac bush is native to the Middle East and produces deep red berries which are then dried and ground into a coarse powder. Ground sumac is an extremely versatile spice with a sour and tangy flavour. Sumac is one of the main ingredients in the za’atar spice blend and is also used as a topping on fattoush salad. This spice also pairs well as a marinade with vegetables, lamb, chicken and fish.

– Baharat: This term comes from the Arabic word, meaning spice. This spice is used as a versatile all-in-one seasoning. The blend of spices will vary depending on the region and household it is made. However, it typically contains black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cloves. This aromatic spice has a sweet and smoky flavour commonly used alongside meat, chicken, fish and rice. Many Lebanese dishes use baharat within their pilafs, lentils, sauces and marinades.

– Za’atar: A popular Middle Eastern blend of unique spices, working together correctly. This fragrant and tangy spice has a tangy, nutty and herbal flavour commonly used as a condiment or a rub on meat and fish. Za’atar is an extremely versatile spice and has become very popular on vegetables and even within salad dressings. This blend is fantastic when mixed with olive oil. A Lebanese speciality manoosh, incorporates za’atar, olive oil and fresh pita bread. This is usually baked fresh in a woodburning oven and is a popular breakfast choice in the Middle East.

– Anise: One of the most unique and exciting tasting spices. This spice has a sweet and bitter taste, used commonly in sauces, tea, soup and baked goods. The anise seed is one of the world’s oldest species and has a distinct liquorice flavour that is sweet, mildly spicy and very aromatic. This spice is used to brew liquorice flavoured tea and is also a primary ingredient in the national Lebanese drink – Arak. 

– Cinnamon: This spice is used both in sweet and savoury dishes and can be added whole or crushed in a powder form. It is used in the Middle Eastern spice blend baharat and is also commonly added to marinades within the Lebanese cuisine such as shawarma. Cinnamon is also used to brew a beautiful, uplifting tea to warm and soothe your spirit. This tea also has many health benefits such as bacterial resistance, prevention of colon disorders, and contains many antioxidant compounds. 

At Zahli, we love using spices to add zest and colour to our meals, paying tribute to our Lebanese traditions. Our carefully curated menu has many different traditional and modern Lebanese dishes you can choose from, giving you a taste of a variety of spices, in one sitting. 

Global winner of Best Lebanese cuisine at the World Restaurant Luxury Restaurant Awards, Zahli does not disappoint. Take a look at our menu and reserve your table today!

Alternatively, you can call us at 9318 2228.