Have you ever tried Middle Eastern food before?
Maybe you've had some lamb kebabs or some turmeric yellow rice pilaf. Maybe you've tried dips like hummus or baba ganoush or tasty pita sandwiches like falafel and koufta.
If you have, you probably noticed how flavorful and healthy Middle Eastern food is. Implementing fresh staple ingredients like mint, lemon, olive, and parsley, it's a cuisine that truly makes the most of the food available in the region.
If you haven't, don't worry. I've decided to throw together a list of my five favorite dishes - with links to my Palestinian grandmother's REAL recipes if you want to try making them yourself!
Sumac-seasoned chicken roasted over a bed of caramelized onion and pita bread
My favorite part of this dish is the fact the bread and onion is thrown into the oven WITH the chicken, which results in an incredibly flavorful combination with a texture that's truly unique to the dish.
Rolled grapeleaves filled with ground meat, rice, and seasonings and steamed in a tomato broth
Okay, if you've never had a Greek dolma or Vietnamese bò lá lốt before, the idea of eating a leaf might be a little weird to you, but grapeleaves are so delectably tender, they make the perfect wrap for this savory dish. Eat it with some plain yogurt for a little extra 'yum'!
Lentil-based rice pilaf topped with caramelized onions
While usually paired with grilled meat and vegetables of some sort, this rice is so hearty that it could easy be made an entree of its own. The best part about mujaddara is that all of its ingredients are pretty easy to find without having to locate a local ethnic market.
Grilled lamb or beef, ground and mixed with parsley, onion, and mint and served in a sandwich with assorted vegetables and tahini dressing
As it's probably the closest Middle Eastern cuisine gets to hamburgers, you can commonly see these being served up with fries at your local halal shop. However, I personally like pairing it with a freshly prepared fattoush or tabouli salad.
Acini-de-pepe pasta prepared in a spiced chicken broth and served with chickpeas
Yes, chickpeas can be used for a whole lot more than your usual bowl of hummus. Plus the beans provide a punch of fiber and protein to the dish, making it far more balanced than your usual pasta bowl.
So what's your favorite kind of Mediterranean food? Do you live next to any good Middle Eastern restaurants?
Let me know what you love about Arabic food in the comments below, and for more tasty recipes from the region, follow my Traditional Middle Eastern Recipes collection.