I love to travel and, to me, the best part of traveling is all the different foods to try. The Arab world does not disappoint when it comes to edible delights, and although home cooked meals are always the best way to go, sometimes the hunger hits you before you have a chance to get home. So what do you do? You grab something on the go!
So, before those hunger pangs start to hit, here is a list of Arab street food and snacks that you can pop into just about any nearby vendor or stand to satiate your appetite for some of the best food the Arab culture has to offer:
We can’t talk about food on the go without talking about Arabic bread. Made in brick ovens and served at nearly every meal, Arabs use it for dipping, making delicious sandwiches, and even as the base for some meals such as msakhan.
Oh hummus, that creamy, garlicky, lemony, deliciously protein-packed dip! Eaten with fresh pita bread still warm from the oven, this delightful dish made of mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice is the staple dip of most Arabic speaking countries.
Baba ghanooj / Mutabal
The second most popular dip to be found in the Arab world has to be baba ghanooj (sometimes called mutabal), and it’s no wonder. Made with eggplants and tahini, it’s smooth, creamy texture and slightly smoked taste served with fresh or toasted pita bread, baba ghanooj is truly a delectable delight.
Crunchy outside, soft inside, falaafil el is the definitive Middle Eastern street food. It’s made from ground chickpeas, minced parsley, onions and spices, and eaten by hand or in a sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, and hummus. Vegetarians will love it!
No one will think you’re a “foul” for eating this flavor-packed Egyptian dish. (See what I did there?) It’s made of fava beans (No liver or Chianti, though. Sorry Hannibal Lecter fans) and various Arab spices. Served warm and topped with minced chili peppers, dices tomatoes, parsley and lots of olive oil, it’s often served for breakfast with warm Arabian bread.
Found in just about every Arab bakery, manakeesh is a round bread sprinkled with cheese, ground meat or za’tar – a savory spice made of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, salt, and olive oil. It’s absolutely perfect for an on the go breakfast or lunch.
“There’s a shawirmaa joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is but I wanna try it.” After saving the world from alien invaders, even Iron Man/Tony Stark couldn’t wait to try shawerma. And who could blame him? That big skewered pile of lamb, beef, or chicken (sometimes all three) placed on a spit and covered with special spices before it’s slowly roasted over an open flame, then ever so delicately sliced into tender shavings and wrapped into a sandwich along with tahini, hummus and pickled vegetables is an on the go meal fit for any superhero or citizen.
Sheesh kabaab (Lamb or Beef)
We’ve all heard of Sheesh kabaab before we came to the Middle East, but I guarantee you’ve never had shish kabob like those made in Arabic speaking countries. Also known as lahm mashawi, shish kabobs are marinated cubed lamb or beef and vegetables (onions, tomatoes, green peppers) placed on long skewers and grilled over an open flame. As with most foods, it is usually served with Arabic bread.
Kufta kabaab (Ground Lamb / Beef)
Kind of like a hamburger (or lamb burger) on a stick, Kufta kabaab is basically a shish kabob that has been ground up and mixed with onions, parsley and spices such as all spice, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. It is then wrapped around a skewer and grilled or broiled, and of course served with Arabic bread and hummus.
Okay, so all of this street food has you hungry by now, so we’ll close the article for now so you can get out there and try some of this delicious Arab cuisine. Until next time, sahtayn!
Oh, and if you’re hungry to learn more about Arabic culture or the Arabic language, visit us at kaleela.com for more great articles on both. Also, stand by for our kaleela Arabic language learning app, the premier way to learn Arabic at home or on the go!