I have sampled foods from all over the world, I have enveloped myself into cultures through their street food and traditional offerings and I have eaten at some of the world’s finest restaurants. Throughout my travels, I have constantly changed my ‘top 3’ food destinations and regions and the one which has always featured, and the one that I now consider to be my favorite, is the Middle East. I know that this is a very wide region and that within that, there is a plethora of foods, styles and ingredients. With that being said however, there are also many constants throughout this area of the world in terms of cooking styles and delicious dishes and here are the foods which made me fall head over heels in love with this region of the world.
One thing that I love most about the Lenbanese/Middle Eastern foods is the simplicity with which they present and chief among my favorite, and most simple dishes is hummus. Made using blended chick peas and tahini and the mixed with a wide variety of additional flavors, this dip is absolutely to-die-for and a plate of this served up with some warm flatbread is all I need to be happy.
Again relying on chick peas, falafel is blended peas mixed with flour, a little cumin and saffron and then deep fried in balls or small patties. Falafel will be served either in pittas or flatbread, alongside a healthy serving of fresh yoghurt and some salad. This is also the perfect replacement for hamburgers for anyone who does not eat meat, fresh, flavorsome and very filling.
I am a huge cheese fan and for me, Halloumi is right up there with my favorites. If you taste this cheese on its own, cold, then you will probably not think much of it, heat it up over a grill however and this cheese completely transforms into a gooey and delicious addition to any meal.
Tabouleh is the perfect accompaniment to any dish and it has a taste that instantly takes me back to Morocco. Made using chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, garlic, lemon juice and bulgar wheat, this side dish is aromatic and super refreshing.
The Middle East is a perfect place for vegetarians and vegans such is the locals non-reliance on meat, with that being said, when they do cook meat, it is succulent, moist and tasty. The best example would be the meat skewers which you can get on the streets, seasoned meat wrapped around metal skewers and then blazed over an open fire. The finished product is a crispy exterior and perfectly cooked center, you can get these all over the Middle East and lash it in your favorite type of sauce, quick, tasty and readily available.
I love the way they treat vegetables in the Middle East, they take out the boredom attached with many veggies and they love a wide variety of cooking methods when it comes to the veg. Steaming, frying, roasting, grilling and stuffing of veg is all common practice here and they are some of my favorite ways to cook vegetables.