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Breakfast of Kings

The Lebanese Breakfast

Contributor: Nadiya Ibrahim
Zaatar man’ousheh ready to be baked!

Lebanese are renowned for their rich cuisine including their breakfast or “Terwika” in Arabic which is characterized by the variety of its dishes and the components that distinguish it from other cuisines in the Arab region and the world.  The term “Terwika”” comes from the word “Al-Rawak” which means “calmness”. That’s why Terwika occupies an important part of the daily life of Lebanese people for whom it is essential to have a clear mind and a day full of energy.  The Lebanese breakfast consists of a long list of varied and rich dishes, ranging from light to fatty prepared according to the availability of ingredients and preparation time.

Zaatar and cheese mana’esh in the oven
  1. Mana’esh (plural of Man’ousheh)

Mana’esh are Lebanese pizzas, much simpler than the Italian version as they usually have only one topping. The most common type of Mana’esh is the one topped with zaatar mix (thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, salt and olive oil). Mana’esh topped with white cheese such as akkawi, hallloumi or a mixture of both, are also common. Other toppings include: kishk (a Lebanese traditional product made from fermented bulgur and yogurt) with tomatoes and onion, labneh (a Lebanese dairy product) and even ground beef. Manaesh can also be baked on a special stove called “Saj” or even “tannour” which gives the dough a unique taste. Mana’esh topping changes across the Lebanese regions and can be very particular to some areas such as “arish” or “shanklishman’ousheh in Akkar, or tomato paste man’ousheh in the Chouf.  Mana’esh are usually served with hot black tea or fresh juices.

A man’ousheh topped with ground meat is called “lahm b ajeen”
  1. Lebanese Knefeh

Knefeh is a sweet Lebanese dish eaten for breakfast. Despite its sweetness, it is not a dessert but a meal all on its own. Knefeh is made up of two layers: De-salted akkawi cheese forming the bottom layer, and ground kataifi pastry with ghee forming the top layer. Knefeh is baked until the cheese goes super-stretchy and the pastry gets a deep, golden brown color. The huge tray on which the knefeh is baked is called a “sidr”. Knefeh is served in a special sesame seed bun called “kaakeh” and then doused with sugar syrup.  It is preferably to eat knefeh on the spot while hot and stretchy.

Knefeh (Source: Pinterest)
  1. Foul, Fatteh and Msabaha

This is a high protein kind of breakfast that can keep you full for the whole day. “Foul” consists of cooked fava beans seasoned with garlic, lemon, cumin and olive oil and served with vegetables such as radish, mint leaves, white onions or pickles.

Foul mdammas topped with chickpeas

Fatteh is usually prepared during the holy month of Ramadan as a main dish. On other occasions, it is more of a side dish. Fatteh is a mix of garlic-flavored yogurt, cooked chickpeas and crunches of baked or fried Lebanese bread.  A mix of fried nuts is served on the top. It is best served and enjoyed immediately, to avoid the bread from soaking in the yogurt. For a healthier option, you can grill or bake the bread instead of frying it.

Msabaha is a Middle Eastern chickpea platter that very close to “hummus”. The ingredients are the same for both dishes; however msabaha is served hot or warm.

  1. Kishk
Kishk soup or “kishkiyeh” (Source: youtube)

Kishk is one of the oldest known Lebanese dishes which consist of a soup prepared with dry mixture of goat or cow milk and bulgur cooked with garlic or with preserved meat and garlic together, and served hot.  This dish is mainly prepared during winter time to warm up.

Man’ousheh topped with kishk
  1. Raw meat

This is an extreme type of breakfast adored by many Lebanese. It is comprised of raw beef liver cut into cubes and served with onion and mint, raw ground meat mixed with kamouneh spices as well as raw kafta (ground meat mixed with parsley, salt and spices). Plenty of vegetables are served with these dishes. It is essential to make sure that the meat source is safe to be consumed raw.

Selection of raw meats served for breakfast

In addition to all the above-mentioned dishes, the Lebanese breakfast table usually includes a variety of cheeses and dairy products such as Labneh, Akkawi, Baladi, Bulgari, Double Cream and Kashkwan, as well as home-made jams. Fried eggs are also served sometimes with “Qawarma” (meat cooked with fat). Black and green pickled olives are always at the center of the table.

Scrambled eggs with “qawarma”

Starting your day “Lebanese style” is an embracing sensory experience that keeps you full until lunch time!

Cheese, labneh balls, olives and jam



Eggs with tomato – Bayd b banadoura

Serve “bayd b banadoura” for breakfast or as a hot appetizer ©Tori Avey

Bayd b banadoura” or eggs with tomato can be served either for breakfast or as a hot mezze (appetizer). It can be found on the menu of certain restaurants serving Lebanese food. According to preference, the eggs can be scrambled and mixed with the tomatoes or just dropped in.

Serving: 5

Caloric content: 115 calories/serving


2 onions, finely chopped

5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced

4 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preparation method:

  1. In a saucepan, fry the chopped onions with the olive oil, until golden
  2. Add the diced and peeled tomatoes and cook for 15 mns
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs with salt and pepper
  4. Add the beaten mixture to the saucepan
  5. Cover and cook on low fire until the eggs are set
  6. Decorate with parsley leaves and serve hot with Lebanese bread
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Foul, Hommous and Co.

Msabbaha and fatteh served with vegetables and pickles
Msabbaha and fatteh served with vegetables and pickles

[quote]What’s for breakfast today?[/quote]

A consistent breakfast to kick-off your day, as most nutritionists would say, should consist of a meal balanced with proteins, fat, starch and fiber. And that’s what is provided by a traditional Lebanese breakfast of foul mdammas, balila and fatteh!

Pulses, more specifically fava bean and chickpeas, are at the base of this old-styled breakfast consumed not only in Lebanon but in other neighboring countries like Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt etc.

Syrian fatteh served in a small Syrian restaurant in Qab Elias  - West Bekaa, Lebanon
Syrian fatteh served in a small Syrian restaurant in Qab Elias – West Bekaa, Lebanon

In Lebanon, this popular breakfast which has been served in specialized restaurants only, is gaining popularity and being listed on the menu of many Lebanese cuisine restaurants. Following the migration of Syrian refugees to the country, new restaurants have been established, serving Syrian versions of foul and hommous.

Besides being eaten for breakfast, these dishes are also served as hot mezze or side dishes for lunch.

"Foul" with cumin and lemon slices is a traditional healthy street food
“Foul” with cumin and lemon slices is a traditional healthy street food

Foul mdammas

Foul mdammas or mudammas (foul pronounced “fool”) is prepared with cooked fava beans (broad beans) seasoned with garlic, olive oil, cumin and lemon juice, and served with vegetables such as fresh mint leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley and green onions. Chili pepper is added according to preference, and tahini sauce is sometimes added. Foul mdammas is better enjoyed with pita bread.

Historical findings show evidence of the production and use of foul back to Ancient Egypt, and historians suggest that Egypt is more likely the place of origin of this dish.

Fatteh topped with laban (yogurt)


Balila or hot chickpea salad consists of boiled chickpeas combined with olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice and cumin. It is usually served hot with pita bread. Fresh parsley is sprinkled on top before serving.

Fattit hommous

Another vegetarian option for breakfast – or lunch – is Fattit hommous which combines cooked chickpeas, minced garlic, fresh laban or yogurt and baked pita bread. Fried pine nuts and cashew nuts can also be added. A different version would include Tahini sauce instead of yogurt.

Foul mdammas topped with chickpeas
Foul mdammas topped with chickpeas


Msabaha is another plate to be added to this series: it is similar to Hommous b tahini but while the chickpeas are grounded for the first, the pulses remain whole for the msabaha, giving this dish a crunchier texture.

Chickpeas are rich in iron, magnesium and vitamin B6
Chickpeas are rich in iron, magnesium and vitamin B6

Nutritious facts about chickpeas:

Chickpeas are popular little legumes that make a tasty and healthy treat! These peas have long been prized for their high protein and fiber content, as well as their exceptional levels of iron, magnesium and vitamin B6. Most of the fiber found in chickpeas is “insoluble” fiber which is excellent for blood sugar regulation, digestive health and hunger control. Indeed, given their nutritious composition, chickpeas can help you control your weight by making you feel full for a longer period of time.

(1 Tablespoon = 46 calories)

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Breakfast at May’s house in Mresti


Mresti, one of the highest villages in Shouf is known for its old Oak trees. On the food trail, you will also be in touch with its hospitable and friendly inhabitants,  Like May, the owner of a minimarket in the older part of the village. May is known for the bread she bakes and her whole wheat mana’ish.