Middle-eastern cuisine is exceptionally underrated. Taking inspiration from North African, Arabic, and many other types of cooking, you get a wonderful blend of dishes that are perfectly spiced and packed full of amazing flavors.
If you’re traveling through the Middle East or spending time in some countries within this region, there are certain foods that you must try! We’ve picked out four of the best, so start hunting for them when you arrive.
It can sometimes be called something else in certain countries, but falafel is a Middle Eastern treat for vegetarians and vegans. Composed of chickpeas or fava beans blended with loads of spices, these small treats are fried or baked to get a crispy outside. They’re particularly popular in Egypt, Lebanon, and other nearby countries in this region. You can enjoy them alone with a nice dip or get them wrapped in a pitta with some salad and extra toppings.
The Levant region of the Middle East is composed of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. It’s known for many things, but Levantine cuisine is perhaps the best. This is a type of Middle Eastern cuisine with more Arabic influences, and manakeesh is easily the most popular thing to try from it. You can discover this in other countries not mentioned in this region, though they offer the best versions! In simple terms, this is like a pizza, only different. It has lots of spiced meat added to it along with cheese – but not a lot of tomato sauce topping. This food is sold everywhere – from street vendors to restaurants – and is popular for breakfast or lunch.
You cannot travel around the Middle East without trying shawarma. This is a wrap filled with salad, different roasted meats, fries, and sauces. It’s held together in a beautiful flatbread to create a taste sensation in your mouth. Again, you can find this in so many countries, though it’s one of the most popular foods in Saudi Arabia. It is found in a lot of big tourist sites, so if you’re in the country looking at hotel booking in Madina or Riyadh, be sure to check the local street food vendors for the best shawarma you’ll ever try in your life.
Most countries in the Middle East will have a great range of desserts and sweet treats to try. If you can only pick one, then it has to be ma’amoul. This is basically a cookie stuffed with dried fruit and other tasty fillings. The cookie batter is made with semolina, so it has a unique taste. It’s almost like a blend of mince pies and really soft cookies. Writing that sentence was enough to get my mouth watering and now I’m dying to try them!
There are so many amazing food options throughout the Middle East, so feel free to give them all a go. One of the joys of traveling is opening your eyes to different cultures and trying new cuisines. Then, you can bring back loads of recipe ideas to make at home in your kitchen!