The best of the Middle East: Great foods you’ll love
If you’re heading to the Middle East, you’re in for a treat. There’s so much delicious food on offer in the region. Whilst some of the dishes have become popular elsewhere, many are still largely undiscovered. Either way, the tastiest versions are still found in the Middle East. In other words, they’re worth travelling for. We’ve gathered our favorites all together in one place, and it’s making us feel a bit hungry. For some taste inspiration, take a look.
In Europe, tabbouleh is more of a bulgur wheat salad, sprinkled with herbs, but that’s not how it originally was. Traditional tabbouleh served in the Middle East comes with a lot more parsley and other herbs. Even those who love meat with every meal will enjoy this delightful vegetarian dish. Try it and enjoy the many health benefits of tabbouleh, as mindbodygreen suggest.
Most of the Middle East argues over who invented falafel – from Palestine to Lebanon to Israel – as Secret Traveller points out. But does it matter? Not really. The main thing to remember is these “freaken” amazing fried balls of minced chick peas. If you’re interesting in who makes the best though, the first London falafel festival was held in 2016 and there was a healthy amount of competition – so keep an eye out for the next one to try as much falafel as you can.
This jewelled rice dish is a mainstay at most Iranian weddings and events. Generous amounts of fruit and nuts are layered on or mixed with steaming saffron rice. Orange peel, cranberries, raisins, pistachios and almonds are all key components. The result is a flavour sensation.
We often talk about tagines as an item on a menu – but the name actually refers more to what the dish is cooked in. A tagine is a two-piece set of cookware, known for its cone-shaped top. They’re mainly made out of clay because, as Paula Wolfart, author of The Food of Morocco says, clay pots deliver “bright, natural flavours and an unctuous tenderness.” Indeed, the tagine does much of the work for any chef and dishes can be cooked up with all meats – from lamb to camel.
Manakeesh should be known as the pizza of the Arabic world. It’s a round dough, typically topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. But different places get more experimental with toppings – try out varieties from restaurants or street vendors. Don’t worry if it looks a bit rustic. Manakeesh is traditionally made by flattening pieces of dough with the fingertips – meaning you can literally see the work that’s gone into your meal. The indentations help hold all those delicious toppings too.
Otherwise known as Egyptian bread pudding, umm ali is a simple – but mouthwatering – combination of pistachios, pine nuts, almonds, bread, sweet milk and cinnamon. You can also get versions made with croissant pieces, instead of bread. It can be a slightly heavier dessert, so make sure you save room for it. Your taste buds will thank you.
We couldn’t forget the most famous Middle Eastern spread – hummus. The base ingredients of hummus are chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon juice and garlic. But an abundance of variations exist, all of which are delicious. But should you have it hot or cold? Is it just for dipping? What’s the etiquette on sharing hummus? Well, find out how to eat it here. Have you travelled to any countries in the Middle East? Share your food journey with us.
This hummus plate was made by me!