Libya seems to be a pretty vague country to many, but if it’s globally known for anything other than its psychotic former leader, it would definitely be their food!
Libya’s culture and cuisine can be explained as a mixture of Bedouin Tribal Oasis and Italian Middle Eastern. Mix both these completely opposite cultures together and you get the wonders of Libyan dishes!
Because of that mixture, Libyan dishes and food rituals are healthier than you can imagine. They pretty much practice everything health articles are telling you these days, only Libyans have been doing it for ages. From olive oil to barley, to wheat, and green tea, no wonder my grandmother made it to 96!
In this article I will introduce a few dishes and rituals Libyans do that embrace a healthier side and can absolutely change your regime and shed a few pounds!
We are always trying to find the healthiest way we can start our day. Well, here it is: It is called Sharmula, and no, it’s not the word you think it is! This Italian-inspired, tomato-based marinade has all the contents you need to have a healthy breakfast.
Sharmula is a tomato marinade mixed with coriander, garlic and olive oil.
This healthy dairy-less and carb-less dip is a great substitution to your grilled cheese or sandwich, especially since you can add items like boiled eggs, tuna, feta cheese, olives and hot pepper. Surprsingly, they all taste delicious together!
This little mixture is a great way to start your day: protein, vegetables and a little spice to boost your metabolism!
3 tomatoes, peeled and grated
1 small garlic clove, chopped
Boiled eggs, tuna, Feta cheese, green peppers (spicy), olives and parsley
Zumeeta is probably the healthiest thing derived from Bedouin tribes. The dish consists of dates and barley dough. By dipping the dates in the barley dough, you are practicing an original Bedouin desert ritual. So next time you reach for that chocolate bar, have a date with some barley – it’ll definitely do you better.
Barley (she3eer) mixed with 1 Tbs sugar, 1/4 cup water and few drops of olive oil
3. Makarouna Mbawkha and Couscous
A lot of Libyan dishes consist of carbs and tomatoes. That is what happens when you mix Italian, Middle Eastern and Bedouin cultures together. However, what is different in this case is that they steam the couscous or the angel hair pasta that are usually wheat- or barley-based. Both these dishes are topped of with tomato soup with chopped carrots, pumpkins, zucchini and hummus. So basically, you are eating steamed whole wheat carbs with lots of vegetables. Not too bad is it?
Dishisha is barley soup. Dishisha helps digestion, is quickly filling and has no fat. The tomato-based soup is filling on its own! No need for another course!
Dishsha is great for those who have abnormal digestion, and for those trying to cut carbs and loose weight.
5. Green Tea
Every day, every single day, Libyans drink green tea after lunch. It’s a ritual: The big tray is brought in the living room, the tea is flip-flopped between cups for mixture and then served in small glass cups from high afar to create the bubbles on top. With the antioxidants it contains and weight loss aids, green tea is the perfect drink following any meal.
If you like and tolerate spicy food then you have an advantage over mild eaters like myself. Harissa, the infamous hot red roasted chilli sauce, is used in Libya on everything! Mostly known to be added to tuna, harissa is a great way to boost your metabolism. Lots of families in Libya make their harissa at home by roasting the peppers, leaving them to dry, removing the seeds, then blending it with garlic, salt and olive oil.
By following recipes and meals eaten during times where food was eaten based on accessibility and agriculture, you know you are consuming healthier meals, avoiding artificial flavors and preservatives. It’s always best to go back to basics!
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