Summary: Food is one way to get to know another culture and the history of a country intimately. There are many ethnic cuisines to choose from – each of them unique, with a multitude of stories and flavors underpinning each of them. Many people enjoy discovering new flavors by cooking as well.
Middle Eastern Cuisine conjures up exotic images of markets and unusual ingredients as well – sumac, ground lamb, grape leaves, pomegranate molasses – the list goes on. When one thinks of Middle Eastern food, it is usually Lebanese food which has become very popular around the world. Most of the dishes from this part of the world vary slightly from each other – the basic ingredients remain the same. Some of the dishes that people enjoy most are the grilled meats, pita bread, rice dishes and even the sweets.
· Hummus: This is a wonderful appetizer and very easy to make at home. Mostly eaten with toasted pita bread, it is a filling and tasty snack at any time.
· Falafel: It is one of the most easily recognized goods – made from garbanzo beans, just like hummus. It is spiced up with onions and a few other spices and usually served up as a sandwich, with pita bread and a whole lot of veggies.
· Tahini: Made from sesame seeds, this paste forms the basis of many, many recipes. It can be used as a spread as well.
· Tabbouli: This is a very refreshing salad which is made with raisins, vegetables and parsley. This is a great alternative to a regular salad – the base for the salad is bulgur wheat.
· Pita Bread: This forms the backbone of every meal – it is an individual’s choice of whether they want to eat it as is, toasted or even stuffed. There are so many different varieties to choose from as well, at grocery stores.
· Shawarma: Available in a variety of meats and are very flavorful. Mostly lean meats, shawarma can be eaten with rice or pita bread and a side salad.
· Baba Ganoush: Made from grilled eggplant, this is an eternal favorite with many people. Each country may have a slightly different version due to the spices – a favorite dish with many vegetarians.
· Baklava: As far as desserts are concerned, this one offers up great taste and lightness. Honey is used in the Greek version, but don’t be too surprised if it is made with rose water or orange blossom essence as well – hard to make but easy to eat with enjoyment.
There are many other wonderful dishes as well – for vegetarians as well as meat eaters. Fava beans, spinach, grape leaves, kidney beans, lamb, chicken and a number of other easy to find ingredients come together to tantalize the palate.