Many people in Sydney believe that Lebanese restaurants all offer the same dishes – baba ghannouj, hummus, tabbouli and grilled meat. While these are certainly important dishes in our culture, some of the best Lebanese restaurant in Sydney like Zahli, also offer several other authentic dishes.
Lamb in Lebanon
An important component of some dishes in Lebanon is lamb. Lamb is one of the most consumed red meats in Lebanon and, as you will realise later in this article, is important for many authentic dishes.
The Awassi sheep is the most prevalent breed in Lebanon. It is reared for milk, meat and wool. In some cases, habra (raw lamb fillet) is needed for traditional dishes (particularly, kibbeh nayyeh). Dehen, which is rendered lamb tail fat, is often used to give dishes a light meaty flavour without the expense of bulk meat.
Lamb in Sydney
Many Lebanese restaurants offer lamb dishes in Sydney, however, they often do not provide much variety. Lamb dishes involve more than fried kibbeh (a shell of ground lamb meat and crushed wheat, filled with finely minced meat, onion, pine nuts & spices) and chargrilled lamb. Zahli along with other amazing Lebanese restaurants offer more diverse lamb dishes that accurately reflect what Lebanon’s lamb dishes are like.
At Zahli, we always encourage our customers to step out of their comfort zone and try some of our traditional lamb dishes. It does not just give you a better understanding of authentic Lebanese food, but it may just help you find a new favourite dish.
4 of our best lamb dishes at Zahli
There’s a reason why so many Lebanese restaurants offer chargrilled lamb–it’s undeniably delicious! Our lahem mishwee chargrills tender lamb that has been marinated in spices and serves it with chilli bread, mouhammara sauce, tomatoes and onions. The meat is succulent, unmistakably smoky, perfectly spiced and an absolute delight to eat.
In Lebanon, lahem mishwee is not often cooked at home, most Lebanese people buy lahem mishwee from a grill restaurant or street corner take-out shop.
Most people are aware of shawarma lamb – the juicy, slow-roasted, falling-apart lamb dish. At Zahli, we prepare ours with strips of lean lamb fillet marinated in tahini, onions, vinegar, lemon juice and special spices. It’s then served with grilled tomato and onion, tahini sauce and chilli bread. This dish is very different from lahem mishwee as it is arguably, more tender due to the method of preparation.
It’s likely that the ‘shawarma’ technique (roasting a vertical stack of meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks) originated from the Ottoman Empire in the 18th or 19th century. ‘Shawarma’ , which has several spelling variations, means turning, directly referring to the preparation of the meat where it turns as it cooks.
The method of shawarma has bled into several different societies and created a number of dishes including gyros in Greece, doner kebab in Turkey and even tacos al pastor in Mexico (brought by Lebanese immigrants).
Kibbeh nayyeh is a minced raw lamb dish that’s seasoned with our special spices, crushed wheat and herbs. Traditionally, it’s served with fresh greens, mint, olive oil and raw onion. When most people hear about this dish, their minds immediately go to fried kibbeh. Fried kibbeh is different in that it is fried (cooked) and contains more crushed wheat. However, any leftovers of kibbeh nayyeh can be used to make other kibbeh dishes like fried kibbeh.
Most Lebanese butchers recommend that the meat for kibbeh nayyeh be cut to order as the texture and quality of the meat is such an important component.
This dish is seasoned rice pilaf with minced meat that’s topped with slow-cooked lamb and roasted nuts and served with cucumber yoghurt. This dish is likely to have originated in Jordan, however, it’s popular across the Middle East.
In Lebanon, mansaf is a mandatory dish to celebrate happiness in almost every traditional Lebanese occasion, especially weddings. If you’re celebrating a joyous occasion with our team at Zahli, ensure that you order this dish to immerse yourself in our culture.
Reserve your table at Zahli to taste traditional lamb dishes!
If you are interested in trying any of the traditional lamb dishes mentioned in this article or any other authentic Lebanese food then Zahli, Modern Middle Eastern restaurant sydney> 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.