Traditional Middle East Recipes to Fall in Love With (Part 1)

Middle East or Western Asia is a combination of about 17 countries that includes Bahrain, Egypt, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Palestine, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. 

These countries have various cuisines that include dishes from Arab, Turkish, Armenian, Cypriot, Georgian, Iranian, Israeli, etc. Their ingredients are mostly wheat, rye, barley, lentils, beans, pistachios, dates, pomegranates, figs. Goats, sheep, chicken, fish are their favoured meats. Turkish coffee is another popular beverage internationally. 

As Mark Twain pointed out, “Part of the secret of success is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside”.

We also know that the Middle East is favourite for their foods worldwide and some of them definitely know when the belly rules the mind.

Some of the famous dishes in the Middle East are:

Hummus:

Hummus is a delicious spread or dip made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and spices.

Ingredients:

Chickpeas – 1 ½ cup cooked

Baking Soda- ½ teaspoon

Lemon juice – ¼ cup

Garlic – medium to large 1

Sea salt – ½ teaspoon 

Tahini – ½ cup

Ice water – 2 to 4 tablespoons

Ground Cumin – ½ teaspoon

Extra virgin Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

For garnishing – zhoug sauce, sprinkle of ground sumac or paprika, chopped fresh parsley.

Method:

  1. Boil the chickpeas and add baking soda with it.
  2. In a food processor grind lemon juice, salt, garlic
  3. Add Tahini to it and blend till it becomes creamy and thick
  4. Add ice water and blend till it is ultra-smooth, pale and creamy.
  5. Add cumin, drained chickpea, olive oil, and blend to a smooth consistency
  6. Scrape the hummus into a serving bowl or platter, and use a spoon to create nice swooshes on top. Garnish it with fresh coriander leaves. Extra hummus can be kept in the refrigerator for 1 week. 

Falafel:

Falafel is made with chickpeas, fresh herbs, and the right spices.

Ingredients:

2 cups (400g) dried chickpeas

1 small Onion, 

3-5 garlic cloves

1/3 bunch Parsley 

1/2 bunch Cilantro

4 tablespoons  Flour/breadcrumbs

1¼ teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Pepper

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 teaspoon Paprika

2 teaspoons baking soda

Method:

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in a big bowl.

2. After draining, put the  chickpeas in a food processor and add garlic cloves, onion, parsley, cilantro, baking soda and spices. Make a smooth crumbly paste.

 3. Transfer it to a large bowl, add breadcrumbs and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

 4. Heat oil to 360˚F (180˚C). 

5. Remove falafel mixture from the fridge and shape into 1-inch balls. 6. Fry the falafels in batches, until golden brown and crispy, Transfer to a paper towel.

 7. Serve as it is or in a pita bread with salad and tahini sauce.

Tabbouleh:

Tabbouleh is a traditional Arabic nutritious salad.

Ingredients:

57g Bulgur

 2 Tomatoes 

2 Fresh Limes 

100g Green Onions 

198g Fresh Parsley

14g) Fresh Mint (Leaves) 

1/4 Cup Olive Oil Salt, 

Black Pepper Powder

Method:

  1. Soak Bulgur in Boiling water for 30 Minutes. Then dry and transfer it into a bowl.
  2. Dice the tomatoes and add to the bowl
  3. Dice the green onions and add to the bowl
  4. Mince the fresh mint leaves and add to the bowl 
  5. Mince the parsley and add to the bowl.

Tahini

Ingredients:

150 gr (1 cup) raw sesame seeds 

3 tablespoons hazelnut oil

Method:

• Warm 150 gm raw sesame seeds in a large steel pan. Roast them till all of it turns to brown. A steel pan with no coating is used so as not to  release harmful gases at high temperatures. 

 • Add the sesame seeds in the food processor while they are still hot.

 • Pulse for about a minute and add 3 tablespoons of hazelnut oil/grape seed oil/ sunflower oil but prefer a seed oil than olive oil for this recipe.

 • After working the food processor for another 3 minutes your tahini will be ready. First the texture is going to be sand-like. Don’t give up on that stage and continue. Your recipe is ready.

Keep watching the space for more such mouth-watering recipes from the Middle East in part 2.

Priya
I, Priya Nagarajan, is a past Assistant Professor, mentor, tutor, counselor. Writing has always been a passion of mine and so changed my path to my passion. I believe language is the best way to convey your thoughts and dreams to get the results. I believe it takes a personal approach to reach individual success. I write with a flair for creativity and a keen eye for the professional.

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