Food & Drink

Life in Syria revolves around food.

A typical Syrian meal consists of a selection of mezzeh, (starters), baba ghanoug (eggplant salad), tabbouleh (a salad of wheat, parsley, lemon, oil tomatoes and dried mint), vine leaves, samboosik (pastries), labneh (thick yoghurt), kibbeh (croquettes of lamb) all accompanied by khoobz (flat Arabic bread).

This is followed by main meals to share – chicken and lamb kebabs and a variety of skewered meats. Staples also include falafels, hummous (chick pea dip) and rice. Syrian’s generally love their meat but there are many meat-free options available if you are vegetarian. In Damascus don’t miss maklooba (Damascus flavoured rice dish), and moolookhiye (a spinach like dish combining rice with either chicken or lamb).

Deserts usually consist of fresh fruit depending on the crop of the season. In Syria don’t miss trying out toot shami, (prickly pear). If you want to try a sweet desert try mahalabiye, which is a desert made from milk custard, almonds and orange blossom essence. You can also find stringy sweet cheese and the traditional baklava.

Islam forbids eating pork and drinking alcohol…however, the consumption of alcohol is not forbidden in Syria. Arak is always drunk with mezze. Wine is also drunk with meals…the main wines to order are Ksara and Kefraya both originating from neighbouring Lebanon.

The most popular after dinner drink in Syria is Arabic coffee, it is black and syrupy and served in small cups. Tea is also popular and is served very sweet and black. Zhurat (equivalent of camomile tea) is also served after dinner in Damascus and also white coffee (rose blossom water added to boiling water).