You’ve likely heard about Middle Eastern dishes before somewhere, but have you tried them? If not, are you ready to indulge in some of the best meals you’ll ever taste? We’re not talking about falafel-only sandwiches here, but something more profound in taste.
The dishes in Middle Eastern cuisine are distinguished by the use of solely fresh ingredients and naturally grown fruits and vegetables. The high-quality and less-processed materials used in the production of meals make Middle Eastern food famous, resulting in a meal that is healthy, nutritious, and uniquely delicious. The unique use of spices that the Middle East uses makes their dishes extra yummy and incomparable. The Indians may have a variety of spices too, but the ones used in Middle Eastern dishes are something else.
From salads to appetizers and main dishes to desserts, the variety of Middle Eastern food is mind-blowing. Without further ado, we’ll introduce you to some of the most deliciously unique Middle Eastern recipes that you can prepare on your own whenever you’re craving something different and unique.
Whether you want something different for breakfast or looking for a nutritious dish for lunch, Shakshuka won’t disappoint you. It originated in North Africa, and many Middle Eastern countries love making it in different ways, but the base is the same.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. sliced large onion
- 2 sliced red bell peppers
- 3 minced cloves garlic
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. harissa (if you like it spicy)
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. Cumin
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- Salt and pepper
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
- Sliced bread for serving
- Preheat oven to 190°. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they’re caramelised for 20 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook until they’re soft for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant for 1 minute. Add in the tomatoes, harissa, and spices and season with salt and pepper. Let everything simmer to thicken slightly for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the sauce to a baking pan. Make 8 holes in the sauce, then crack an egg into each hole. Season the eggs with your desired amount of salt and pepper, cover with aluminium foil, and bake until the egg whites are just done for about 15 minutes.
- Add the feta on top and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve warm with bread.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine
The word “Tagine” refers to the pot or dish where this yummy food is made. Ideally, Moroccan food is prepared in a “Tagine;” however, if you don’t own one, you can still make this amazing dish using a wide pot.
- 2 kilos boneless lamb roast, cut into 2.5 cm pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 chopped medium onion
- 4 sliced cloves garlic
- 2 tsp. freshly minced ginger
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Small pinch of saffron
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus some extra for garnish
- 1/2 cup toasted almond slices
- Mint leaves for serving
- Cooked couscous for serving
- Toss the lamb and season with two teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Let it marinade at room temperature for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Over medium-high heat in a small saucepan, boil the chicken broth. Remove from heat and add the dried apricots. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Heat some oil in a Dutch oven or a casserole dish (or Tagine if you own one) over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook until golden for about 4 minutes per side. Remove your lamb from the pot and place it on a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and throw the chopped onions into the pot. Cook until it becomes soft for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger to the pot and cook them until fragrant for 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and stir until everything is coated. Add the saffron, cinnamon stick, and spices and cook everything until toasted for another minute.
- Add the lamb, apricots, and broth to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer, covered until the lamb is tender and the liquid is reduced for about 1½ hours.
- Remove the pot from heat and stir in the cilantro. Garnish with mint, toasted almonds, and more cilantro. Serve over warm couscous.
Wanna learn how to chop onions like a pro for this dish? Check out our tutorial!
Creamy Garlic Hummus
Hummus is a chickpea and tahini-based Middle Eastern spread. Common seasonings include garlic, roasted red peppers, and other spices. It’s delicious as a vegetable dip or with bread.
Ingredients for the Hummus
- 1 cup dry chickpeas (or 2 cans chickpeas)
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil, plus some more for topping
- Paprika for garnish
- Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
Ingredients for the Garlic
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Place the chickpeas and one tsp baking soda in a large bowl and cover it with water by at least two cm. Let it soak overnight.
- Preheat oven to 205°. Strain the chickpeas and place them in a large pot. Add the remaining amount of baking soda and cover with water by at least 2 cm again. Bring everything to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce heat. Let it simmer until tender and falling apart for 1 hour. Remember to skim the foam off the top.
- For the roasted garlic, cut the top off of the head of garlic, drizzle some olive oil, and season it with your preferred amount of salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in foil and place it in a flat dish. Roast until golden and soft for about 40 minutes. Let it cool, then remove the garlic cloves.
- Drain the chickpeas and place them in the food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Blend until everything is smooth.
- Stream in the oil slowly while the food processor is running until the hummus is at the desired consistency. Put the hummus in a bowl and top it with more oil, paprika, and parsley.
Forget any grilled chicken you’ve had before. Shish Tawook is originally from Lebanon but is often eaten and served in Turkey. It’s super yummy and different from any grilled chicken dish you’ve tasted. The yoghurt, garlic, and lemon marinade makes this dish extra special and unique, and it’s amazingly easy to make!
- ¾ cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 900 gm chicken breasts (or thighs if you like it juicer) boneless and skinless, cut into 2.5-cm pieces
- Combine the yoghurt with tomato paste, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper in a big mixing bowl. Mix everything well.
- Place the chicken pieces in the marinade and mix them well until fully covered. Cover the chicken mix with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or overnight so it gets well soaked in the marinade.
- If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes. Insert the chicken into the skewers (4-5 pieces per skewer).
- Grill the chicken on a grill pan for about 4-6 minutes per side.
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Stuffed Grape Leaves (also called mahshi or dolma in some regions) make an excellent appetiser or side dish in the Middle East. The grape leaves are stuffed with a delicious combination of rice and meat, as well as a variety of spices and herbs. Simply follow this recipe to create delicious rolls every time.
- 2 450-gm jar grape leaves in brine
- 3 cups short grain rice, soaked and drained
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large, finely chopped yellow onion
- 680 gm lean ground beef
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 cup of each chopped parsley, dill, and mint
- 2 to 4 tomatoes sliced into rounds
- 8 cups or more of low-sodium chicken broth or water
- Juice of 4 lemons
- If using jarred grape leaves, remove them from the jar and dispose of the brine. Rinse the leaves and drain them well.
- Soak the rice in plenty of water for about 15 to 20 minutes, then drain well.
- Cook the ground meat while the rice is soaking. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and cook briefly for about 2 minutes. Add the meat and cook till golden brown. Drain any excess fat and season the meat with salt, pepper, and spices. Remove the cooked meat from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the meat, rice, and fresh herbs. Season with salt lightly. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and mix until everything is well combined.
Stuffing Grape Leaves, Assembling, and Cooking
- Prepare a cooking pot and brush the bottom with olive oil. Arrange a few grape leaves at the bottom and top with sliced tomatoes.
- For stuffing the leaves, you’ll work one leaf at a time. Place a single grape leaf on a cutting board with the textured side facing you. Take one teaspoon of the filling and place it in the centre of the leaf, then fold the sides over the filling and roll. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
- Arrange the grape leaves neatly in a row, seam side down, in your pot. Place a small plate inverted on top of the leaves. Boil the broth and pour over the grape leaves, covering the top layer slightly (about 4 cups liquid or more.)
- Cover the pot with the lid and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes until the liquid gets absorbed. Remove the lid and plate, then pour the juice of 2 lemons. Put the lid again without adding the plate and cook on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes or until the leaves are fully cooked.
We promise you amazing taste and a unique experience that you won’t have with any other cuisine. Middle Eastern or Arab food has always been deemed one of the best and most versatile cuisines in the world, and the reason behind that is the fabulous taste and amazing spices that cannot be found elsewhere. Enjoy these recipes and get creative while making them!