Arab Street Food (Part 1)

Gary Greer 11/13/2019
Arab Culture

I love to travel and, to me, the best part of traveling is all the different street food to try. The Arab world does not disappoint when it comes to savory dishes. Although home-cooked meals are always the best way to go, sometimes the hunger hits you. So what do you do? You grab something on the go!

So, before hunger start to hit, here is a list of Arab street food and snacks. 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.

Arabian Bread 

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! We’re sure you know the ingredients for this deliciousness. Mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice make hummus a staple dip of most Arabic-speaking countries. Most importantly, don’t forget to eat it with fresh, warm from the oven pita bread.

Baba ghanooj / Mutabal

The second most popular dip in the Arab world has to be baba ghanooj (or mutabal). Baba ghanooj is truly a delectable delight. Combine eggplants and tahini, this smooth, creamy texture and slightly smoked taste will make you want more.


Crunchy outside, soft inside, falafel is the definitive Middle Eastern street food. Ground chickpeas, minced parsley, onions and spices make this delicious ball of fried dough. You eat it by hand or in a sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, and hummus. Vegetarians will love it!

Foul Mudammas

No one will think you’re a “foul” for eating this flavor-packed Egyptian dish (See what I did there?). It’s basically fava beans with various Arab spices. Served warm and topped with minced chili peppers, diced tomatoes, parsley and lots of olive oil. You often see it during 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. Za’atar is a savory spice made of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, salt, and olive oil. Certainly, it’s absolutely perfect for an on the go breakfast or lunch.


“There’s a shawarma 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 shawarma. 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 / 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. Likewise, as with most Arabic 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 for more great articles on both. Also, you can download Kaleela Arabic learning app, the premier way to learn Arabic at home or on the go!