Differences & Similarities of Turkish & Lebanese Cuisine

I would argue that cuisine tends to challenge national boundaries. It’s about what has been growing in coherent climate regions over the last century. You’ll see more overlap than difference. And, since you’ll eat only a small subset of each kitchen, whether you’re on the floor or eating at a restaurant abroad, you could end up eating dishes that are common to all three kitchens. That said, that’s how I would divide things

Lebanese and Turkish food are very similar cuisines. The tastes of the Ottoman period and the food culture of these two geographies, which are close to different cultures, are also quite similar. Turkey and Lebanon have a common past. As the borders of the Ottoman Empire expanded, Turkish culture merged with the geographies of the Middle East. The 500 years of the same state domination have brought together and fused Turkish and Middle East cuisines.

Similarities with Middle Eastern Cuisine

From coffee to salad, almost all of the foods consumed all over the world today emerged from the influence of the Ottoman Turks in the food culture of Lebanon and the Middle East.

Extension of the Ottoman Turks

Between 1453 and 1650, which coincided with the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans not only controlled the Middle East, but also extended to Egypt, Eastern Europe and Inner Asia. From 1453 to 1909, the Ottoman Empire kept under close control the countries under its rule, such as Lebanon and Greece.

Although many of these countries wanted to focus on their own culture and history, in many regions, the Ottomans had a great influence on the food cultures of those places.

Similarities with Middle Eastern Cuisine

Their influence on the countries under the rule of the Ottomans explains the similarities seen in the cuisines of the Middle East today. Countries in different regions boast of their own recipes and cooking methods; similarities are seen in their cooking, spices and cooking techniques.

The area where these similarities are most evident is in the fact that similar dishes are written differently. Baklava, a dessert made from yufka, is written in this way in many cultures, while in Lebanese Arabic it is written as “baklawa”. Another area is the presence of common products such as rose water and vine leaves, which are not found in other cultures.

For example; maklûbe, which means “inverted” in Turkish; It is the traditional Arabic dish of Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and is much loved. But; Arabs do not serve this dish by putting salad and yogurt around it like we do. After turning the rice pilaf consisting of eggplant and meat into a tray, they decorate it with a little greenery to get a side dish.

The name of the dish, which is cooked with meat or minced meat on top of fried eggplant, is “moussaka” in Turkish cuisine. Arabs make the same dish and call it “moussaka.” There is a word called “musakki” in Arabic, which means “watered place”. Perhaps, eggplant got this name because it is watered with a meat mixture. Moussaka must be so loved that the Greeks also embrace it! 

The original of the turkish lahmacin is also Arab. When the Arabic words lahm (meat) and acîn ( dough) merged and entered the Turkish cuisine, Lahmacin was born!

The Arabs make a dish similar to the ravioli we have; They call it “chich borak” I don’t understand why they call this dish! Because; If you look at the food, there are no skewers around! 

Similarities with Lebanese Cuisine

The tastes coming out of Lebanese cuisine are especially similar to East-Southeast Anatolian cuisine. Both cuisines taste the same. However, tastes may vary according to the use of spices. Lebanese cuisine includes vegetable-based recipes, just like our Aegean and Mediterranean cuisine. In this way, it is also an ideal kitchen for vegetarians. It is like a different interpretation of Turkish cuisine with its tastes and desserts that are very similar to kebab varieties. Instead of red pepper flakes, which are used a lot in Turkish cuisine, it is possible to come across thyme, cinnamon and allspice in general in Lebanese cuisine. The differences in the use of tahini in hummus are also quite prominent in Al Hallab’s “Hommus Bil Lahme”. In addition, Al Hallab surprisingly used authentic pistachios to taste the kebabs of Lebanese cuisine.

Lebanese Food

Lebanese cuisine is a geography that affects many different food cultures. In particular, it is in a line where orientalism and modernism meet. The features of Lebanese food and cuisine are:

  • Lebanese cuisine especially brings appetizers to mind first. Lebanese appetizers have found their place in different countries.
  • One of the most important tastes spread from Lebanese cuisine to the world is chickpea flavors. Falafel, in particular, has spread from Lebanon to the whole world. It is often used with different sauces or in different recipes.
  • The soup called Kibbe Lebeniye, another flavor used in Turkish cuisine, is one of the most frequently consumed main dishes of Lebanese cuisine.
  • It is among the most popular delicacies of Lebanese cuisine for its dishes called Tabbule salad. It has a similarity with infertile.
  • In Lebanese cuisine, there is also a special bread recipe called Pita, which is presented with almost any dish.
  • Lebanese are one of the countries that attach the most importance to the use of olive oil. It is these recipes that also suit this country full of olive trees.
  • editerranean type nutrition is considered one of the healthiest forms of nutrition today. Food lovers often integrate olive oil, fish, lamb and yogurt into their normal meal patterns. Chefs who are experts in Middle Eastern food culture constantly boast that their food culture is healthy.

To wrap up 

As you approach Lebanon, you see many overlaps between Turkish cuisine and Lebanese cuisine. Kibbeh, tabouleh, etc. all have Turkish equivalents, as do salads, kebabs, and mezes (small plates with lids). What Turkey does not have is falafel. I’ve never seen him served on this side of the border. I’m sure there are other dishes that exist in one place, but not in the other. However, the overlap would be much more pronounced than the difference.

On the use of cardamom: It’s true that you won’t find cardamom in most Turkish dishes, but things change as you approach the border. In a place like Hatay, you’ll get it too.

The cuisine of central Turkey, as unsophisticated as it is, does not overlap with Lebanese cuisine. The same goes for Black Sea cuisine.

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