Middle Eastern Food 101

Middle Eastern cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition that reflects the many cultures and influences that have shaped the region. With a long history of trade and cultural exchange, the Middle East is home to a wide variety of dishes, flavors, and ingredients that have become iconic to the region.

One of the most popular and iconic dishes of the Middle East is falafel, a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans. Often served in a pita bread with vegetables and sauces, falafel is a popular street food throughout the region. Another popular dish is hummus, a creamy dip made from mashed chickpeas, tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds), lemon juice, and garlic. Hummus is often served with pita bread or vegetables as an appetizer or snack.

Lamb is a common ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes, and is often grilled or roasted and served with a variety of side dishes. Kebabs, skewers of grilled meat, are also a popular option, and can be found at many street food stalls and restaurants throughout the region. Rice is also a staple in many Middle Eastern dishes, and is often served with a variety of vegetables and meats.

One of the most iconic desserts of the Middle East is baklava, a sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and filled with nuts and sweet syrup or honey. Other popular sweets include halva, a dense and sweet confection made from ground sesame seeds, and Turkish delight, a soft, gel-like candy made from sugar, cornstarch, and flavored with rosewater or lemon.

Middle Eastern cuisine is also known for its abundance of flavorful spices and herbs. Cumin, coriander, and turmeric are common ingredients in many dishes, and are often used to add depth and flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. Mint, parsley, and basil are also frequently used in Middle Eastern cooking, and add a fresh and aromatic touch to many dishes.

In addition to traditional Middle Eastern dishes, the region is also home to a variety of international cuisines, as it has been a crossroads of trade and cultural exchange for centuries. Many Middle Eastern countries have a strong street food culture, with vendors selling a variety of local and international dishes, from falafel and shawarma to pizza and burgers.

Overall, Middle Eastern cuisine is a reflection of the region’s rich history and cultural diversity, with a wide variety of dishes and flavors that have become iconic to the region. From the spicy and savory flavors of lamb and kebabs, to the sweet and aromatic flavors of baklava and Turkish delight, the food of the Middle East is a testament to the region’s culinary traditions.