The Recipes And Foods Of Libya

Libya is Africa's fourth largest country (by land mass) though 90% of the country is desert. This is an ancient land, and the name 'Libya' is native Berber in origin and is known from Egyptian texts of over 4000 years ago.

Traditionally, the population of Libya have been nomadic herders and this is reflected in the country's cuisine. Indeed, though it borders the Mediterranean fish does not feature that highly in the Libyan diet and of the Mediterranean nations meat (especially lamb) features more in Libyan cookery than just about any other cuisine.

The Arabic influence is clear in the country's pastries, spice blends and salads which also share much in common with Libya's North African neighbours. There is a very vibrant cuisine which deserves to be much better known.

Here I present two classic Libyan dishes as exemplars of Libyan cookery.

Libyan Deep-fried Lamb

6 lamb leg steaks, halved
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 garlic clove, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
300g breadcrumbs
oil for deep frying

Combine the lemon juice, salt and spices in a bowl then add the lamb pieces and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes then remove the lamb before beating the egg in to the marinade. Return the lamb to the bowl then cover and refrigerate for 80 minutes.
When the lamb is has marinated long enough heat oil in your deep fryer or to a depth of 6cm in a wok or large pan. When the oil is hot remove the lamb from the marinade and roll in the breadcrumbs to coat evenly. Add to the hot oil and fry until browned and cooked through (about 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the steaks and how well done you want the meat).

Libyan Olive Salad

200g black olives
200g green olives
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix the oil with the cumin, chilli powder, paprika, garlic and lemon juice. Add the olives to the bowl and stir to ensure that they are evenly coated with the dressing.

Chill the salad in the fridge and serve. This can be used as either an accompaniment or as one dish in the traditional North African selection of starters or mezzes.

I hope these recipes have piqued your interest in Libyan cuisine and that you are now ready to learn more about Libyan cookery.

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About The Author, Gwydion
Dyfed Lloyd Evans runs the Celtnet Recipes free recipe website where you can find many more Libyan recipes as part of the site's North African recipes collection.