Joys of the Levant

by BTM

Sun, 07 January 2024

Lebanese cuisine

Lebanese cuisine is a harmonious blend of flavours, colours and textures that takes diners on a culinary journey like no other. Recently, Bahrain This Month had the pleasure of indulging in an exquisite Lebanese dining experience at the Rayes Restaurant located in Coral Bay, Manama, that left our taste buds tingling with delight. From a tantalising array of mixed Lebanese starters to the main course boasting a diverse selection, and concluding with a tempting variety of desserts, the buffet was an adventure nothing short of extraordinary.

The culinary odyssey began with a delightful assortment of mixed Lebanese starters that set the stage for an unforgettable meal. The buffet featured classics like hummus, baba ganoush and falafel, each showcasing the authentic flavours and textures that Lebanese cuisine is celebrated for. The freshness of the ingredients was evident, with the hummus boasting a velvety smooth consistency and the falafel achieving the perfect balance of crispy exterior and tender interior.

Adding an unexpected twist to the traditional Lebanese starters was a fusion with sushi, creating a unique and innovative combination that was both visually appealing and delicious. The sushi rolls were skilfully crafted, highlighting the artistry of Japanese cuisine.

No exploration of Lebanese cuisine is complete without savouring the freshness of vine leaves. The grape leaves, stuffed with a fragrant mixture of rice, herbs and spices, offered a burst of flavours with each bite. The dish was a perfect embodiment of the Mediterranean ethos, where simplicity meets sophistication. The balance of acidity from the grape leaves and the earthiness of the stuffing created a palate-pleasing harmony that lingered on the taste buds.

The main course unfolded as a grand feast, featuring a diverse selection of Lebanese culinary treasures. The roast beef with mashed potatoes was a carnivore’s delight, with the succulent beef complemented by the creamy goodness of perfectly mashed potatoes. The chicken cordon bleu, a classic French-inspired dish, was executed flawlessly, with the crispy exterior giving way to a flavourful combination of chicken, ham, and melted cheese. 

The mixed grill showcased the mastery of Lebanese grilling techniques, with a medley of meats offering a symphony of tastes and textures. Kibbeh bil laban, a dish featuring minced meat and cracked wheat in a yoghurt sauce, was a comforting revelation; a celebration of simplicity and sophistication on one plate. Bamia bil laham, a stew featuring tender okra and succulent lamb, transported diners to the heart of Lebanese home cooking. We ended the main course with the chicken maqlubeh, a layered dish of rice, vegetables and chicken, showcasing the intricate layering of flavours that is a hallmark of Lebanese culinary tradition.

As the grand feast reached its sweet conclusion, the dessert options were nothing short of a sugary symphony. The Basbusa, a semolina cake soaked in rosewater or orange blossom syrup, was a delightful treat for those with a sweet tooth. The baklawa, with its layers of phyllo dough, nuts and honey, was a testament to the artistry of Lebanese pastry-making. Kunafa, a pastry made with thin noodle-like pastry soaked in syrup, added another layer of sweetness and texture to the dessert selection. And last but not the least, Um Ali, a traditional Arabic bread pudding, provided a comforting and indulgent conclusion to the meal. 

Every aspect of the dining experience was a testament to the richness and diversity of Lebanese culinary heritage. This gastronomic journey was a reminder that Lebanese cuisine is not merely a meal; it is a celebration of flavours, traditions and the joy of shared moments around a table.