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How to Read a Middle Eastern Menu Arab Food List
Middle Eastern Food
The Middle East historically relied on chicken and lamb as sources of protein with some lesser use of beef and even camel.
A special occasion for Bedouins might mean serving an entire roast camel. The next time you are expecting a hundred Bedouins for dinner stuff and roast a whole camel. A camel would be stuffed with 4 lambs and 20 chickens much like some people here serve Turducken! Cook slowly over an open fire for about a day and a half. Unfortunately camel is supposed to be very tough and stringy so maybe this is what you serve to people you don’t want to impress. One source says roast camel tastes like beef but finishes like horse. Larousse Gastronomique has recipes for camel so, next time you see it in your market go wild!
Pork is completely taboo for observant Muslims and Jews as it is forbidden in both the Koran and the Torah.
Rice, wheat and barley are the principal grains and yogurt, various cheeses, milk and butter are all used heavily. Spices are used less than in India and vary according to the region. For an introduction to seasonings in this cuisine you might try Zattar, it is used frequently as a table spice the way we use pepper and tastes heavily of Sumac.
The area sits astride the Silk Road and has been influenced through the years by travelers from India and Asia to Europe and the Balkans.
The list below is rather long but is fully searchable for use on the go from a smart phone
Foods of the Middle East
MA'EZ ZAHR Orange Blossom Essence
Cumin Kufta Recipe
Arab Glossary A thru L
Ackawi is a soft white brined cheese, with a smooth texture and a mild salty taste, usually made from cow's milk, originating in Palestine. Served as a table cheese
Strong clear liquor from raisins
(gatayef, kataif) Small pancakes stuffed with nuts or cheese and doused with syrup
Deep-fried lamb sandwich
Eggplant puree with sesame
Arab mixed spices
BAKLAWA (BAQLAWA) (BAKLAVA)
Dessert of layered pastry filled with nuts and soaked with honey flavored with lemon.
Sweet cake made of Semolina soaked in syrup
Peas stewed with chicken
Lamb and rice cooked with onion, lemon, carrot and tomato
BURGHUL, BULGUR OR BULGHUR
Cracked wheat usually Durum wheat, that has been par-boiled which sets it apart from cracked wheat
Spice used widely in the middle east and Asia, part of the ginger family also in Nordic countries for baking. A little goes a long way and buy cardamom in the pods so it lasts. Unique flavor, very aromatic there are black, green, white, red and brown varieties in different parts of the world.
Deep-fried patties made of spiced ground chick-peas
Pastry filled with spinach, meat or cheese
Salad of toasted croutons, cucumbers, tomatoes and mint
Mashed brown beans and red lentils, dressed with lemon, olive oil and cumin
Stuffed sheep's stomach
GYRO MEAT (this is Greek)
Cheese is a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and is similar to mozzarella cheese.
Sesame paste sweet, usually made in a slab and sometimes studded with fruit and nuts
Red Sea fish, a type of Grouper.
Purée of chickpeas, tahini lemon and garlic - served as a dip with pita
Crushed wheat and yoghurt casserole
Classic Arabian dish of meat mixed with rice seasoned with Kabsa spice which is is a blend of black pepper, turmeric, coriander, fennel and allspice
A pastry that looks like shredded wheat, made of sheets of Filo stuffed with pistachios and sweetened with honey
Ground meat patties, balls, loaves etc
sweet stuffed pancakes
Skewered pieces of meat or fish cooked over charcoal
Paper thin, discs of Arabic bread, what we know as PITA is a poor form of Khubz. The true product is light and airy and the layers are very thin. Cooked on a convex metal disc called a markouk
A drink served in Ramadan of raisins with water and sugar
A paste made of ground lamb mixed with burghul and onions, eaten raw.
Raw kibbeh eaten like steak tartar
Laban ferrnented with burghul
A spicy, Turkish version of tabouleh flavored with red pepper paste base
Cooked dish of pasta, rice and lentils to which, onions, chillis and tomato paste are added
Lamb baked over rice so that rice absorbs the juice of the meat, also
SAUDI CHICKEN KOUZI
A Saudi dish of chicken in yogurt sauce over potatoes and pasta
KROUSH MAHSHIEI I
Fingers, balls or a flat cakes of minced meat and spices that can be baked or charcoal-grilled May be packed on skewers
pastry dessert stuffed with sweet white cheese, nuts and syrup
Cultured milk; yoghurt
Cream cheese made from laban (yogurt)
LAHM B AQAR
LAHMA BI AJEEN
Arab Glossary M thru Z
anything which is stuffed
Little shortbread cakes made with semolina and dates especially served on religious holidays
Orange blossom essence
Literally upside down, Meat or fish with rice, and vegetables flipped over on the serving plate
Lentil Soup with Beans and Rice
Lamb on rice with yogurt sauce
Dumplings stuffed with minced lamb
Lamb and pumpkin stew
orange blossom essence
Greens (like spinach)
(mezza, meze, meza, mezzah) The Arabic word for appetiser,
A rice pudding with ginger,Caraway and Anise
Mixture of ground nuts, olive oil, cumin and chillis, eaten with Arabic bread
Eggplant dip made with Tahini olive oil and lemon juice
semolina pudding served cold
MURABBA QISHR EL ABOU SFAYR
Candied peel of bitter orange
Chicken casserole with sumac
Sweet or savory pastry turnovers usually stuffed with cheese, banana or meat
Several semi-hard brined cheeses made from sheep's or goat's milk. Named for Nablus the town of origin in Palestine. May be fried in oil or served as a table cheese and is the main ingredient in katayef pastry.
Turkish bean salad. It is often served as part of the mezzeh, or as a main course.
stuffed baby lamb
RIZ BI HALEEB
Salad green with a peppery mustard flavour, used in salads or mixed with hot yoghurt
SAMBOUSIK / SAMBOSA
Fried pastry filled with meat, nuts or cheese
Fried fish served on rice cooked in fish broth
Lamb and rice dish where the rice is cooked in milk
Cheese from Syria and Lebanon made from sheep's or cow's milk seasoned with thyme. Usually formed into balls, dried and aged but may be eaten fresh
A Red Sea fish
A cone of pressed meat cooked on a spit and shaved for sandwiches, this is the fast food of the Middle East. The sandwich here is usually called a Gyro, but this is Greek
Skewered chicken cooked over charcoal
Fillet of lamb
Ground leaves a seasoning from the cashew family
salad of chopped mint, parsley and burghul
Meaning bottom of the pot from Iran Tahdig is the layer of crispy rice taken from the bottom of the pot in which the rice is cooked
Sesame seed paste used in Humus, Baba Ganooj, Halva and other dishes
Cheese shaped like an orange, Testouri originated in Egypt and is eaten lightly salted as a table cheese. It is made from goat's or sheep's milk.
(Ali's mother) pudding with raisins and coconut in milk
WARAK ENAB (WARAK DAWALI)
Stuffed grape leaves
YAKHNIT EL SAMAK
Hot spiced tea
Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world this is the dried stigmas of a Crocus blossom, has a unique flavor and is intensely colored so it is used both for flavor and color. Annatto is sometimes used as a cheaper substitute.
A blend of thyme, marjoram, sumac and salt