Forget the cliché chocolates and roses; this Valentine’s week, transport your taste buds and your loved one to the vibrant shores of Lebanon with a culinary adventure! From Kibbeh Nayyeh to Hummus, to Fatteh Makloubeh, to Baklava and much more, this list has it all. 

Lebanese cuisine, known for its fresh ingredients, bold flavours, and vibrant mezze platters, is the perfect way to ignite romance and indulge in a shared experience. Look up “best Lebanese food near me” to find the best place to enjoy this amazing and delectable cuisine. The best Lebanese restaurant in your area will surely have a Middle Eastern theme, a wide range of its cuisine and most importantly, made from real authentic ingredients. You can also go the traditional route of cooking for your loved one.

Whether you’re an expert cook or new to cooking, these dishes offer a range of difficulty levels, ensuring a delicious (and potentially aphrodisiac!) journey for two. So, dim the lights, put on some traditional Lebanese music, and let the love (and the flavours) flow!

1. Kibbeh Nayyeh

Begin your romantic escapade with Lebanon’s national dish, Kibbeh Nayyeh. This is a staple in any authentic Lebanese restaurant menu. Imagine this: melt-in-your-mouth, raw lamb seasoned with mint, bulgur wheat, and a symphony of spices like allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The contrasting textures – the smooth lamb against the crunchy bulgur – and the burst of fresh herbs awaken the senses and set the stage for a passionate culinary evening.

Tip: If raw meat isn’t your thing, opt for the cooked version, Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, baked with pine nuts and caramelised onions for a sweet and savoury treat.

2. Hummus with a Twist

Hummus, the creamy chickpea dip, is a staple in Lebanese cuisine, but elevate it for your special night. Add a dollop of harissa, a North African chilli paste, for a smoky kick or swirl in roasted beetroot puree for a vibrant pink hue. Serve with warm pita bread and an assortment of fresh vegetables like cucumber, radish, and cherry tomatoes for dipping bliss.

3. Fatteh Makloubeh

This visually delectable dish is sure to impress your date. Layers of fluffy rice, caramelised onions, tender lamb or chicken, toasted pine nuts, and crispy pita bread are assembled upside down and then dramatically inverted, revealing a rainbow of textures and flavours. Each bite is a delightful surprise, symbolic of the layers of love you share.

4. Moussaka Bel Bechamel

This vegetarian delight is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, even for meat lovers. Layers of silky eggplant slices, simmered in a fragrant tomato sauce, are nestled between creamy béchamel and baked to golden perfection. The contrasting textures and the richness of the béchamel create an indulgent experience, perfect for a cosy candlelit dinner.

5. Tabbouleh

Cleanse your palate between courses with the vibrant and aromatic Tabbouleh. This parsley salad, studded with bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes, mint, and scallions, is a burst of freshness and essential Lebanese fare. The zesty lemon dressing adds a bright note, keeping your taste buds engaged and ready for the next culinary adventure.

6. Grilled Halloumi with Pomegranate Molasses

Halloumi, a firm, brined cheese, takes centre stage in this dish. Grill it until smoky and slightly crisp, then drizzle with pomegranate molasses for a sweet and tangy glaze. The play of textures between the cheese and the sticky glaze, along with the vibrant red colour, adds a touch of fiery passion to your romantic evening.

7. Baklava

No Lebanese feast is complete without Baklava. This iconic dessert, with its layers of flaky filo pastry, chopped nuts, and sweet syrup, is a decadent way to conclude your love-filled culinary journey. Each bite is a symphony of textures – the crisp pastry yielding to the soft, nutty filling and the sticky sweetness of the syrup – leaving you with a lingering, blissful memory.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the Arak! This anise-flavoured spirit is a traditional Lebanese drink, perfect for sipping alongside your meal or enjoying neat after dessert. Just remember to indulge responsibly!

8. Okra with Rice:

To add depth of flavour, roast the okra beforehand for a slightly smoky taste. Elevate the rice by adding caramelised onions or chopped nuts for a richer texture. Infuse the rice with saffron or cardamom for a fragrant touch.

9. Pesto Lamb Fillets:

Use a homemade pesto with fresh herbs like mint or parsley for a more vibrant flavour. Consider substituting the potatoes with roasted root vegetables like sweet potato or parsnips for a more festive presentation. Drizzle the dish with pomegranate molasses for a sweet and tangy glaze.

10. Foul (Beans):

For a smoother texture, blend a portion of the fava beans to create a creamy dip. Add finely chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley for additional freshness. Use high-quality olive oil and serve with warm pita bread for dipping.

11. Fried Cauliflower:

Spice up the tahini sauce with a touch of harissa or Aleppo pepper for a bit of heat. Drizzle the cauliflower florets with lemon juice before frying for a brighter flavour. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or pomegranate seeds for added colour and texture.

12. Fried Eggplant:

Use a yoghurt sauce flavoured with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, for a unique twist. For a healthier option, consider air-frying the eggplant instead of deep-frying. Drizzle the yoghurt sauce with olive oil and garnish the eggplant with crushed red pepper flakes for an extra kick.

From the sensuality of Kibbeh Nayyeh to the indulgence of Baklava, these Lebanese dishes offer a delicious and romantic escape for your Valentine’s week. So, put on your dancing shoes, crank up the music, and find yourself on a culinary path that will tickle your senses the right way and deepen your connection with your loved one. After all, the way to the heart is often through the stomach, and Lebanese cuisine knows just the right blend of spices to add a touch of magic to your romantic celebration!