What Is A Mezze? Your Guide To This Lebanese Feast

Lebanese cuisine, celebrated for its vibrant flavours and wholesome ingredients, offers an array of delightful dishes. One of its most beloved traditions is the mezze, a collection of small, savoury dishes served as appetizers or a light meal. Mezze, often compared to Spanish tapas, is more than just food; it is an experience that embodies the essence of Lebanese culture – communal dining, sharing, and enjoying a variety of tastes and textures.

The Origin of Mezze

The word “mezze” comes from the Persian word “maza,” which means “taste” or “relish.” This tradition has ancient roots, tracing back to the Ottoman Empire, and has been embraced and adapted across the Middle East and the Mediterranean. In Lebanon, mezze is a staple, reflecting the country’s diverse culinary influences and its emphasis on hospitality. You can enjoy it at this restaurant Elephant & Castle, London. 

What Does a Typical Mezze Spread Include?

A mezze spread is a visual and gastronomic delight, featuring an assortment of dishes that cater to various tastes. Here are some common components you might find:

Cold Dishes

  1. Hummus – A creamy blend of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, hummus is a universal favourite.
  2. Baba Ghanoush – Similar to hummus but made with roasted aubergines, giving it a smoky flavour.
  3. Tabbouleh – A fresh salad made with parsley, mint, tomatoes, bulgur wheat, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.
  4. Labneh – A tangy, strained yoghurt cheese, often garnished with olive oil and za’atar.
  5. Moutabal – A smoky, spiced aubergine dip, similar to baba ghanoush but with added tahini and yoghurt.

Hot Dishes

  1. Falafel – Deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas and herbs, crispy on the outside and soft inside.
  2. Kibbeh – Minced meat (usually lamb or beef) mixed with bulgur and spices, often shaped into balls or patties.
  3. Sambousek – Small pastries filled with spiced meat, cheese, or spinach.
  4. Grilled Meat – Skewers of marinated chicken, lamb, or beef, often served with a side of garlic sauce.


  1. Pita Bread – Soft, warm flatbread perfect for scooping up dips and wraps.
  2. Pickles and Olives – A variety of tangy, salty pickled vegetables and olives.
  3. Fresh Vegetables – Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and lettuce to add crunch and freshness.

How to Enjoy Mezze

Mezze is traditionally enjoyed as a communal meal, where everyone at the table shares the dishes. This style of dining encourages conversation and a leisurely pace, allowing diners to savour each bite. Here are some tips to enhance your mezze experience:

  1. Start Light – Begin with the cold dishes and dips. Spread some hummus on pita bread or enjoy a spoonful of tabbouleh.
  2. Mix and Match – Don’t be afraid to combine different flavours. A piece of falafel dipped in baba ghanoush or a slice of kibbeh with a bit of labneh can create exciting new tastes.
  3. Take Your Time – Mezze is meant to be enjoyed slowly. Sip on some arak (a traditional Lebanese anise-flavoured spirit) or a glass of wine and savour the variety.
  4. Share and Socialise – Mezze is about sharing. Pass the plates around, try a bit of everything, and enjoy the company as much as the food.

Making Mezze at Home

Bringing the mezze experience to your home is easier than you might think. Here are some steps to create a simple mezze spread:


  • Chickpeas, aubergines, parsley, mint, tomatoes, bulgur wheat, yoghurt, garlic, lemon, tahini, olive oil, various spices, and pita bread.


  1. Prepare the Dips – Start by making hummus and baba ghanoush. Both require a food processor and simple ingredients like chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic for hummus, and roasted aubergines for baba ghanoush.
  2. Make Tabbouleh – Chop parsley, mint, and tomatoes finely. Mix with soaked bulgur wheat, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  3. Fry the Falafel – Blend chickpeas with herbs and spices, form into balls, and deep fry until golden brown.
  4. Cook the Kibbeh – Mix minced meat with bulgur and spices, shape into balls or patties, and either fry or bake.
  5. Prepare the Accompaniments – Warm the pita bread, slice the fresh vegetables, and arrange the pickles and olives.


Mezze is more than just a meal; it is a cultural tradition that celebrates flavour, variety, and communal dining. Whether you enjoy it in a restaurant or prepare it at home, mezze brings a piece of Lebanese hospitality to the table. So next time you’re looking for a unique dining experience, gather some friends, share a mezze spread, and enjoy the rich, diverse flavours of Lebanon.

By embracing mezze, you’re not just tasting food; you’re partaking in a tradition that has been savoured and shared for centuries. Happy feasting!

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