Arabic Food 101

Arabic Food 101

Arabic food, also known as Middle Eastern cuisine is a delicious, simple, and relatively easy style of cooking. With an emphasis on fresh, healthy foods made from scratch with exotic flavors. The cuisine is not only about the food itself, but also the hospitality that comes with it. Making your guests feel comfortable and going above and beyond their culinary expectations are a must in Middle Eastern culture.

Arabic foods such as hummus and falafel have found their way into mainstream America due to their exotic and delicious flavors. “Our foods have never been more popular,” said Sam Hashem, president of Hummus is an appetizer made from ground chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. Falafel is a crispy vegetarian patty made from ground chickpeas and fava beans, mixed with falafel spices and parsley that is then fried and put on fresh pita bread. Pickled turnips, pickles, fresh tomatoes, and a tahini sauce are added to round out the flavors.

An Important Note on Authenticity 

It is important to use fresh quality ingredients that are authentic in style and taste. Spices, for instance, are often purchased by stores from large companies that know almost nothing about the way a spice mixture should taste in the first place. Not only that but ingredients like salt are added to weigh the product down and cover flavors. They also include fillers, preservatives, and other additives to retain color and manipulate the spices. Be sure to find an authentic grocer in your area or online that mixes their line using spices and nothing else.

Seasons and their Flavors 

Just as in other cuisines, some Middle Eastern foods are enjoyed more at different times of the year. Cold cucumber and yogurt soup, for example, is traditionally eaten in the summer months. While Mougrabia, a cous cous-like dish mixed with chunks of meat, chickpeas, mougrabia spice and onions is typically served in the winter months. Favorites like hummus and fattoush salads are enjoyed all year round.

Shish kabob, also known as “Lahem Mishwee”, is one of the most popular of all Arabic foods. Ground meat with parsley and spices, Shish Kafta, is also a very popular dish. Shish Tawook is a grilled chicken breast marinated in oil and spices. Grilling is a big part of Middle Eastern culture, that’s why it’s not uncommon to see people grilling in their chimneys in the cold winter months when grilling outdoors, is not an option.

Whatever fun and exciting Middle Eastern dish you decide to cook be sure to use fresh and authentic ingredients. Remember to put plenty of food on the table and make your guests feel at home. Good Luck! 

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