Flavours of Lebanon brought to Sydney: Key ingredients used in Lebanese restaurants

Lebanese Cuisine. History. Culture. Love. Stories. Passion.

The rich history and passion surrounding Lebanese cuisine is a testament to how little it has changed since ancient times. Revolving around a variety of core ingredients based on freshness, simplicity and taste.

When something is done right the first time there is no need for it to be changed! This rule has certainly applied to Lebanese cuisine. Epitomising authenticity and flavours which have been developed over many years.

From simple ingredients such as bread to fresh vegetables and fragrant spices, Lebanese cuisine covers it all.

Here are some core ingredients used in Lebanese restaurants


A legendary ingredient for the cuisine being central to two of Lebanon’s key dishes: falafel and hummus. None of these dishes would be possible without the wonderful chickpea. This ingredient has a wide range of health benefits including high levels of protein.

Chickpeas are a core element of the delicious, crunchy and unresisting Falafel. Made of ground chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and other spices which are then shaped into little balls or patties which are then fried. Enjoyed on its own, served with side sauces including Tahini as well as sandwiched in a fresh pita, Falafel accommodates to all.

Falafel is a great vegetarian and vegan option, containing no dairy, meat or animal products. Tahini, the side sauce usually served with falafel is also free from dairy even though it may look deceiving. Made up of pureed seeds, garlic, lemon juice and parsley, this dip is also vegan-friendly.

Falafels are a great lunch option, snack or even a side dish. If you are looking for a hearty lunch, a great way of eating it is in a pita wrap filled with a range of ingredients, keeping you satisfied for hours. Many Lebanese restaurants also serve falafel as a mezze option for dinner which can be snacked on as an appetiser.

Sesame seed: core to Lebanese food

Another key ingredient used in Lebanese cooking. Sesame seeds play an important role in some central dishes within the cuisine. Although it may not seem like it these little seeds are used in a number of ways.

Most prominently used to make tahini which can be described as a dip or paste which is made of lightly toasted ground seeds and oil. This paste is very popular in Lebanese cooking and is usually accompanied by Falafel or Shawarma. It is also one of the main ingredients in hummus and is sometimes added to baba ghanoush.

If you’re wondering what it tastes like, here’s our best shot of explaining it. Light, nutty, creamy and delicious. Not only is Tahini delicious, but it also has a range of health options, with its main ingredient being sesame seeds. High in protein, vitamins and minerals. Sesame seeds have immune boosting properties and can help with nutrient absorption and healthy skin.

Its simplicity is core to its value. Requiring as little as two ingredients including sesame seeds and olive oil this sauce is simple to make. All you need to do is grind together seeds and olive oil (can be done in a food processor) to master the skill of making Tahini.


If you have Lebanese friends or family, you will know that they pickle just about everything. From cucumbers to cauliflower and even beans! One of the most memorable and eye-catching has to be the neon pink pickled turnip. These are immersed in beetroot which gives them a beautiful bright pink colour.

Crunchy, vinegary and full of flavour these turnips are perfect to add on Mezza plates, chicken/lamb wraps and how could we forget … the perfect accompaniment for falafel.

Olive Oil

The essence of Lebanese cuisine and incorporated in almost every traditional dish, such as labneh, tabbouli, kafta, hummus and the list goes on.

When we think of Lebanese or Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil is something we immediately think of. This is not only because they use it in many dishes, but the olive tree is a symbol of Lebanon as the cedar. Picking olives and making olive oil is a tradition many Lebanese families enjoy and has remained core to the culture.

Olive oil can be used in many different ways including salad dressings within tabouli and fattoush as well as a part of mezze on top of labneh, hummus and baba ghanoush. Not only is olive oil a great accompaniment to many of these dishes, but it also has many health benefits. With high levels of healthy fats and antioxidants, it has proven to reduce the risk of blood pressure, heart disease and cholesterol. The famous olive oil also helps with anti-aging effects on the skin and can bring health and shine to the hair.

Meet the herb Lebanese restaurants in Sydney love: Za’tar

A combination of roasted sesame seeds, salt, sumac and thyme, Zaatar is full of zing. This spice has been around for thousands of years and can be used in a variety of ways. Using Zaatar in certain dishes can take it to the next level. Whether you want to add a drizzle of olive oil and zaatar on your pita bread or enjoy it as a host to any kind of meat.

Here are some ways you can enjoy Za’tar:

  • Zaatar & Meat: can be the perfect compliment to any meat used as seasoning or marinade. We recommend it with chicken, lamb beef or salmon!
  • Zaatar & Bread: ingredients of the famous manoosh. Adding this spice to flatbread with olive oil and baking it, creates a simple and tasty snack.
  • Zaatar & Dips: a pinch here and there can be used on top of yoghurt dips and many others, adding a touch of flavour
  • Zaatar & Salads: bringing life and flavour to a range of salads, sprinkle some on top or incorporate it within your dressing
  • Zaatar & Cheese: a match made in heaven. Enjoy it with grilled halloumi and olives and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

These are just a couple of ingredients Lebanese cuisine has to offer and places importance on, but it certainly doesn’t stop there.

To learn more and taste what Lebanese cuisine has to offer, we recommend you visit Sahra by The River.

One of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sydney, your palette will be buzzing with excitement.

We welcome you to enjoy a dining experience that you won’t forget.

Contact Us on 9635 6615 or Make a Booking now!