Refueling at the Liban Deli in Jönköping

One of my fondest memories of my trip to Sweden and Denmark this past autumn was spending an afternoon with my best friend (and soon to be bridesmaid), exploring Jönköping, her new home of late. Situated in the province of Småland, on the southern shore of the great Lake Vättern, this small Swedish city is known for being the place where the safety match was invented. Since the arrival of Jönköping University, it has become somewhat of a university town. We spent the day walking the lake-side promenade, shopping for adorable Swedish antiques at the picturesque Stallqvarn, and marvelling at the super-impressive and ultra-modern facilities that come free for students in Sweden (as opposed to a quarter of a million dollars in the US…) After working up an appetite, we ended up at what seemed like everyone’s favorite Lebanese resto in town, Liban Deli. The place itself is very simple, but has quite a large capacity to accommodate throngs of hungry students for lunch or dinner. For around 10 euros you get a menu with either bulgur or french fries, some Lebanese pita bread and a choice of mezze. Everything is already prepared and kept warm, so service is quite fast.

My friend, who’s vegan and had a very wide variety of vegan mezze to choose from, ordered some vibrant green tabbouleh, a roasted red pepper dip (mhammara), an olive salad and warak inab (the Lebanese version of dolmades). A colorful platter full of different flavors and textures, but still very light and quite healthy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her eat so much and so enthusiastically.

I chose the bulgur, which came fluffy, light and comforting, with a small pool of gravy ladled on, adding a touch of moisture to the already perfectly supple grains. With this came a skewer each of surprisingly tender and juicy chicken and pork tenderloin, brushed with a kind of nutty, creamy sauce. As my mezze I chose a crunchy, crumbly and mildly flavored falafel, the same plump stuffed grape leaves, and baba ganoush (which I just cannot ever not take, when given the option). I also asked for some “batinjen msakaa” a kind of chilled salad of soft eggplant slices, onions and garlic in a piquant tomato sauce. So much variety at such an approachable price makes this restaurant a good old standby, even better as takeaway, since leftovers are inevitable.

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