If you’re hungry and you know it, then you’ve found the right article! There is a reason why Middle Eastern food has been gaining popularity in recent years. Combining so many spices and flavors in a perfectly balanced dish is an art in itself. You will find that many dishes have the same name across these Middle Eastern countries, yet they might taste entirely different based on the region. These differences are driven by the availability of native ingredients, what was traded in the region and what was offered at the marketplace in the past. In essence, Middle Eastern food today is a culinary collage defined by its past. Of course, each country will have its own national dish, so let’s take a look at what these consist of.
Mansaf – منسف
This Jordanian dish consists of a leg of lamb or large pieces of mutton placed on top of markook bread (khobez markook) that has been topped with yellow rice (ruz asfar). A type of thick dried yogurt (leban) made from goat’s milk, called jameed, is poured on top of the lamb and rice to give it its distinct flavor and taste. The dish is garnished with cooked pine nuts and almonds.
Kabsah – كبسة
This is the traditional meal and national dish of the KSA. Is it usually made with rice (usually long-grain, and almost always basmati), meat, vegetables, and a mixture of Arabic spices. The spices used in kabsah are largely responsible for its taste; these are generally black pepper (filfil aswad), cloves, cardamom (hal), saffron (sa’fran), cinnamon (qirfa), black, dried lime, bay leaves and nutmeg. The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat or seafood – usually chicken, goat, lamb, camel, beef, fish or shrimp.
Kibbeh – كبة
This Syrian dish is made of bulgur, minced onions (basal), and finely ground lean beef, lamb, goat, or camel meat with Middle Eastern spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice (bahar). Other types of kibbeh may be shaped into balls or patties and baked, cooked in broth, or served raw. What Is The Best Middle Eastern Food?
Musakhan – مسخن
This is the national dish of Palestine and the main component is taboon bread (khobez taboon), which is topped with pieces of cooked sweet onions, sumac (summaq), saffron, and allspice. For large dinners, it can be topped by one or two roasted chickens on a single large loaf of taboon bread.
Koshary – كُشري
Egypt has a very rich cuisine with many unique customs. These customs also vary within Egypt itself; for example, in coastal areas such as the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal, the diet relies heavily on fish. Interestingly though, Egyptian cuisine is rich in vegetarian dishes. Koshary is the perfect example of this and is also the national dish. It’s made of rice, macaroni, and lentils (a’adas) mixed together; topped with a spiced tomato (bandora) sauce and garlic vinegar; and garnished with chickpeas (hummus) and crispy fried onions. Sprinklings of garlic juice, garlic vinegar, and hot sauce are optional.
Masgouf – مسقوف
This is a Mesopotamian dish consisting of seasoned and grilled carp, and it is often considered the national dish of Iraq. The fish is cut in two identical halves from the back while leaving the belly intact, opening the fish in the shape of a large, symmetrical circle. From there, the cook bastes the inside of the fish with a marinade of olive oil, rock salt, tamarind, and ground turmeric (kurkum).
Mandi – مندي
Mandi is the perfect example of an Arabic food that has perfectly combined spices in order to create an explosion of flavors. It consists mainly of meat and rice with a special blend of spices (baharat): cinnamon, cloves, anise (yansoon), cumin seeds (kammun), coriander seeds (bothor al kuzbara) and many others depending on the household.
Is your mouth watering yet? Ours sure is! Food culture is quintessential in the Middle East, as it gathers family and friends. Let us know which ones of these Arabic dishes sparked your appetite more.