23 Traditional Libyan Food In Libya To Try

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Libya is a historic African country and a Maghreb (north African region) member. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, making it home to many breathtaking beaches, but beyond beaches, did you know there are some amazing foods in Libya waiting to be uncovered?

What’s Special About Libyan Food? 

Libyan foods are a unique blend of different cultural gastronomies. Because of its geographical location and history with ancient Greek, Romans, and Arabs, Libyan cuisine boasts a catalog many other countries can only wish for.

Although the country’s cuisine has seen influence from different cultures, it has found a way to blend these gastronomies and create a unique traditional food culture true to the country.

Libyans consume a lot of meat (mutton), bread, dates, and couscous are also staple foods in Libya. 

National Food Of Libya



Like with many Maghreb countries, couscous is the national dish of Libya. This food made from semolina is a delicacy to behold. 

While couscous is common in Northern Africa, Libya cuisine personalized it and created a version specific to the country.

There are two versions of this food in Libya. Couscous bil busla (couscous without vegetables) and couscous bel khodra (couscous with vegetables), both of which are worth trying. 

An interesting fact about Libya is that the world record for the largest couscous dish to date, is fromSabratah, a city in Libya; this dish weighed a whopping 2500kg, about 5,500 pounds. 

Famous Traditional Libyan Food

Asida (Porridge)


A staple food in Libya, Asida is popular in many Arab countries such as Sudan It looks like a serving of oatmeal which reflects the prominence of porridge and stews within Libyan cuisine. 

The exact origin of asida is unclear, but it originated from the Maghreb. This Libyan food is made from a wheat lump of dough mixed with boiling water. Some also add butter and honey to their asida. 

The flavor speaks for itself and pairs well with any Sudanese stew. This food is particularly common during special occasions like weddings and Ramadan, but you can enjoy this food anytime. 

Pilaf Or Pilau (Libyan Rice Pilaf)


Pilaf is a popular one-pot rice dish in Libya and is a typical lunch option in the country. The dish originated from the Middle East and is now a staple in Libyan cuisine. It has a similar appearance to jollof rice in West Africa. 

Pilaf is a flavorful dish prepared with broth or stock and garnished with vegetables and meat. The Libyan version of pilaf is unique, as raisins and almonds are added to enhance the taste and flavor. 

You can eat pilaf alone or accompany it with lamb stew. Due to the cultural diversity in Libya, there are different versions of pilaf, some without meat or vegetables, but all versions present a special dish you will enjoy.

Bazin (Libyan Unleavened Bread)

Bazin is a special unleavened bread made from barley, and it is one of the most popular foods in Libya. But bazin looks more like barley porridge than regular bread and is considered a dough food. This is one of many dishes that originated in Libya. 

Bazin is made from water and salt, barely mixed with boiling water, and stirred with Magraf (spatula-like stick used for beating batter). The food has a lovely texture and a fine flavor.

Libyans enjoy bazin with their hand, and you can try that too. Locals enjoy this food with tomato sauce, meat (sheep), and boiled eggs, while some pair it with meat and potato stew. 

Couscous Aslooz

This is one traditional Libyan food vegetarians will like. Couscous aslooz is considered a seasonal food as the aslooz leaves used for this food are seasonal. Aslooz is common during winter and can be found on mountains and roadsides across the country. 

This special plant has a distinct flavor that defines the food. The leaf is paired with couscous and carrot sauce to create this delicacy.

This dish has no meat, but it doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy this food if you are not vegan. You can always top it with meat for a more hearty meal. 

Meat-based Foods In Libya

Usban (Sausage Meal)


Usban is a traditional Libyan food popular in Tunisia and Algeria. This meat-based dish is made of lamb sausage stuffed with rice, herbs, minced meat (lamb), and vegetables.

Usban is usually accompanied by staples like couscous or rice. In Libya, this is a traditional “Eid Al Adha” meal common during the celebration.

This dish has beautiful aromas and flavors boosted by adding local spices like turmeric, cinnamon, salt, and hot pepper. Although Usban is most commonly consumed during the Eid Al Adha celebration, you can find it anytime around the country. 

Mbaten Or Mbattan (Fried Potato Wedges With Minced Meat)


This is a special Libyan food with different names depending on the region; in the west, it’s known as Mbaten, and in the east, it’s known as batat mbatna. This food is more of a starter than a main dish.

Mbaten perfectly combines potatoes, meat, parsley, and local Libyan spices to create a healthy, delicious, and beautiful appetizer. It is common to see this food at parties, weddings, and during festive seasons in the country. 

Locals enjoy this meal alone or with a bowl of fasolia (bean sauce). 

Imbakbaka (Libyan Chicken Pasta)


Imbakbaa is a traditional Libyan food enjoyed by young and old in the country. It is a one-pot pasta dish similar to pilaf. This dish will give you a new perspective on enjoying pasta. 

Between 1910 to 1947, the Romans ruled over Libya, and it was inevitable that the Italian culinary culture would rub off on Libyan cuisine. That influence is particularly evident in this dish.

Imbakbaka is a savory dish with amazing flavor and great taste due to the chicken used in the preparation. There is a version for vegetarians where veggies like chickpeas and carrots replace the meat. 

Kebab (Meat Dish)


Lamb is the most consumed meat in the country, and it is a staple ingredient in almost every Libyan dish. 

Kebab is a meat-based dish loved by locals and travelers. The meat is marinated and threaded on a skewer before being grilled over hot coals. Other types of meat can also be used for kebab. 

This dish has a unique taste and flavor as it blends the smoky taste and flavorful herbs to perfection. This food is often served with bread, rice, salad, or chips. 

This is a popular street food in Libya you can enjoy on your evening walk in the country. 

Kofta (Libyan Meatballs)


This is another meat-based dish popular in the Middle East and a staple in Libyan cuisine. This food is more popular in the capital city of Libya, Tripoli, than in any other city. There are suggestions that this dish originated in Tunisia.

As you’d expect, the main meat used to make this dish is mutton (lamb meat), although chicken is another alternative. The meat is mixed with local spices and shaped into balls before grilling. 

Kofta is usually served with pita bread, salad, sauces, and dips. However you decide to enjoy kofta, you are in for a treat.

Mafrum (Libyan Potato Sandwich)


Mafrum is a Jewish-inspired Libyan food that perfectly blends meat and vegetable in a way you cannot imagine. This dish features ground meat (Beef or lamb and sometimes both) stuffed in potato, creating a savory delicacy you cannot get enough of. 

You can find different variations of this Libyan cuisine throughout the country, with some substituting potatoes with cauliflower and eggplant.

The stuffed potato is cooked in tomato sauce and garnished with flavorful local spices to give it more aroma and taste. Locals often enjoy mafrum over the weekend as it takes time to prepare. However, you can always pop into any restaurant in the country to enjoy mafrum, whether on weekends or weekdays.

Soups And Stews In Libyan Food 

Lubia Bel-Saeilk (Borlotti Bean Stew)


Lubia Bel-Saeilkis one of many delicious stews in Libya, and this food is made of white kidney beans, lamb, and spinach. The result is a hearty dish with a wonderful aroma soothing to the palette. 

This is one of a few adopted Libyan foods from other cultures. The original version is fosalia which originated in Lebanese. The main difference between the two dishes is that fosalia has tomato sauce and may not necessarily have spinach. 

Both stews are available in Libya, and you can try both versions to enjoy the full African food experience. Lubia Bel-Saeilk goes well with bread and a bowl of rice, although you can also enjoy it as a standalone meal.

Haraimi (Libyan Spicy Fish Stew)


Haraimi is a traditional Libyan Jewish cuisine dating back to the Italian colonial era. This stew is made of fish and spicy tomato sauce garnished with special local spices. 

Even if you do not like the smell of fish, you can still enjoy this dish. The local spices have a way of overpowering the fish smell. You can enjoy haraimi with bread, couscous, and rice. 

This dish is better enjoyed hot and is common during winter when the place is freezing. But you can try this food anytime when you travel to the country.

Shorba Or Sharba (Libyan Lamb And Tomato Soup)


Shorba is also known as Chorba and is a common name for soups across Middle East countries. This Libyan food is popular in the country and has become one of the most cherished dishes. It is only edged out a little by couscous as the national dish of Libya.

This food is of Persian descent and originated in Iran but is now a staple in Libyan cuisine. Shorba has a nice taste and unrivaled aroma from a combination of local spices and other additives like turmeric, cayenne pepper, and ginger.

Mutton is used to bolster this soup’s savory and rich flavor. You can enjoy this food with rice, couscous, and bread. 

Snacks And Street Food In Libya 

Ka’ak (Bread Rings)


Ka’ak is a typical Libyan snack enjoyed throughout the country. The name in Arab means biscuit and is a general term for baked foods. Ka’ak originated from Syria and has become an indispensable part of Libyan cuisine. 

This pastry has a crispy exterior and soft interior. This is one Libyan food you must try on your travels. This snack has a ring-like shape similar to doughnuts. It is sold on the streets, and it’s a common breakfast snack used to accompany other major dishes.

Shakshuka (Libyan Poached Eggs)


Shakshuka is a special breakfast food in Libya, with a bit of history attached to it. Many claim it originated in Tunisia, while some believe it originated in Libya. But it is widely believed that shakshuka came from the ottoman empire in the mid-16th century. 

Today, this dish is a staple in Libyan cuisine and n other North African countries. Shakshuka is a creamy egg dish made tangy with tomato sauce. This meal is healthy, tasty, and beautiful; it has all you can wish for in any food.

Stop by any restaurant to grab a bite of shakshuka on your trip to Libya. This dish is popular worldwide, and you can find different versions, including meat and cheese.

Sharmoula (Libyan Salad)


Sharmoula is a tasteful and healthy Libyan food inspired by the Italians (their then-colonials). This dish looks like salsa with vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and jalapeno diced and layered with olive oil to make it slightly different from the regular salad.

It is very similar to the Italian food bruschetta, as locals enjoy sharmoula with pita bread (flat round bread). If you are looking for a light Libyan dish, sharmoula can be a go-to option.

Sweets And Desserts In Libyan Food

Ghoriba (Shortbread Cookies)


Ghoriba are traditional Libyan biscuits like shortbread, combining sweetness and crunchiness to perfection. This Libyan food is more popular in the Gharyan province of the country.

Usually, ghoriba are homemade biscuits in Libya, but you can also find them in malls and stores nationwide. They are also popular in other northern African countries and go well with Libyan tea. 

Across the middle east, you will find variations of Ghoriba, but the original remains the Libyan version made of flour, sugar, butter, and almonds. 

Basbousa (Semolina Cake)


Basbousa is a popular dessert in Libya and in the Arab world. If you have a sweet tooth, this semolina-based cake is one Libyan food you must try. 

Typically, basbousa is soaked in syrup and studded with nuts like almonds. Libyan cuisine, however, has different ideas. Beyond almonds which give this food a nutty flavor, they also add coconut to the mix along with date paste.

This cake is fluffy and easy to chew. It has a distinct fragrance due to the syrup used and is one dessert loved all over the country. On your trip to Libya, you can try basbousa cake with cardamom coffee, Libyan tea, and qashta cream (Arab-style whipped cream).

Kunafa Or Knafeh (Layered Pastry With Cheese)


Knafeh is a sweet and cheesy Libyan food of Nablus origin. It is one of many sweet foods in Libya, made with spun pastry soaked in sugar-based syrup. This sumptuous treat has a moist texture and melts effortlessly in the mouth. 

Knafeh is common in Libya during the holy month of Ramadan, and it helps supply locals with the sugar they need during the fasting period. 

It is a popular pastry in the Middle East, and as such, there are some obvious differences in shape, size, and flavor depending on the country.

Enjoy this food in Libya with a glass of Arabic coffee or Libyan tea. And you can never go wrong with a touch of Qahta cream. 

Iconic Drinks In Libyan Cuisine

Libyan Tea


Tea is an integral part of Libyan cuisine. It is more special when you realize that tea is not a major export product in the country.

Libyan tea is more than a beverage; it’s a strong part of the Libyan food culture. 

The tea in Libya is as thick as syrup. They use special stainless utensils to make tea and serve it in tiny glass cups. 

Tea is an ever-present food during family gatherings in Libya. Libyan tea allows you to immerse yourself in the country’s culture. When you visit, the locals will welcome you with tea. 

Mahalabia (Milk Pudding)


Mahalabia is a special dessert in Libya that is also popular in other Middle East countries. This milk pudding is made with semolina or starch, milk, and rice as basic ingredients. 

This Libyan food is believed to have originated in Iran from Arab cuisine. It holds a significant meaning to the Libyan people as it is synonymous with the holy month of Ramadan. The flavor of this food can vary but typically, locals use cardamom, rose water, orange water, and cinnamon to garnish this food. You can often choose from a selection of flavors when n you order this food in restaurants in Libya. 

Sahlab (Libyan Pudding Drink)


Sahlab is a popular food drink in Libya and the Middle East as it originated in the Ottoman Empire. This is a healthy drink to kickstart your day in Libya. 

Sahlab is best enjoyed warm or hot as it is good for cold and snowy days. This milky drink is a true work of art as it perfectly combines vanilla flavor with a mild buttery taste from coconut. It is often accompanied by walnuts, pistachios, and raisins for added flavor. 


Discovering Traditional Foods In Libya

Libyan foods are known for their special multicultural blend ranging from Italian to Arab, amongst other culinary cultures. There are dishes suitable for meat lovers and vegans. Libyan cuisine offers a rewarding experience for every food lover so be prepared for a culinary adventure when you visit the country. 



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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