Zahid Khan Zahid Khan is a food author and has written extensively about East Asian dishes and their roots.

How Lebanese Food Took Over London

1 min read

London has always been an exciting place to experience food from around the world.

In the distance it takes you to walk from one bus stop to the next you can smell the riches of Asian spice fragrants, the tantalising taste of Turkish sheesh kebabs, the exotic Chinese dishes and their countless varieties to the traditional English dishes with their rustic and feel-good satiety.

There is one food that has stood out, however, and managed to outstrip current foods in it’s prevalance and popularity. That food is Lebanese.

Lebanese food was first introduced to the UK in the early 50s but never really took off as most of it was shared and experienced exclusively by the local Lebanese population.

It wasn’t until the early 70s when the British started to take advantage of their membership of the European Union that they ventured beyond their local restaurants and explored different foods.

British tourists coming back from destinations such as Spain and Portugal sampled the local food shops and would bring back Arabic and other exotic foods from countries close to the Turkish border.

It was assumed for a long time that falafel and Hummus were Spanish dishes!

With the advent of Internet access people were able to recreate recipes they had discovered abroad and in the process came to learn the full history of the foods they loved.

It is a rare occurence when the customers become more proficient in making a food than the originators. This is the case with Hummus. The best Hummus makers are non-Lebanese. But all this came as a backdrop to the opening of new Lebanese food joints that could produce falafel more efficiently and hummus wraps for workers on break.

Lebanese food was no longer an exotic food only enjoyed by travelers and foodies. For the first time Lebanese became a viable alternative to fish and chips for the worker looking for a quick bite.

It is this convenience that has given Lebanese food the edge over Turkish and Indian foods. While the average kebab or curry can take 10-15 minutes to prepare Hummus can be poured in the space of seconds and a falfel can always be made in advance without affecting quality.

Convenience coupled with inventive dishes, high standards of cooking and tasty meals is what has made Lebanese food the most popular food in London.

Zahid Khan
Zahid Khan Zahid Khan is a food author and has written extensively about East Asian dishes and their roots.

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