Middle Eastern Cuisine

As you hopefully I know I recently returned from an amazing trip to Dubai. The city itself was great, very modern and a cool place to visit but the one of the main parts of what made my trip so spectacular was the food. I want to share with you some of the wonderful things I ate while there but I don’t want this to just be a brag-post. Rather I hope this will be an inspirational post on food that you too can enjoy. Middle-Eastern food in general is something I love and it’s a great way to mix up your cooking routine at home. I know everyone loves pasta, but not seven nights a week. I hope that reading about food from another country will not only make you want to try it out yourself but even explore foods from other countries as well.

 

Now you have to keep in mind that I am a vegetarian, and so is my best friend whom I traveled with. When her family found out they would be hosting two vegetarians they went into panic mode. I think her cousin was actually convinced that we would starve to death and tried to compensate the lack of meat by severely over feeding us. One of the things that she always had on hand, that we basically ate every single day for breakfast was Labneh and Za’atar. We ate them very simply, spread over a flat pita – and they were absolutely delicious. Labneh is a very thick yogurt spread, almost like Greek yogurt but a little less yogurt tasting, if that makes sense, a little creamier too I would say but still tart. Labneh can be served with most middle-eastern dishes, as its flavor lends nicely to a variety of foods. Like I said though, our favorite way to eat it was with Za’atar, which is a spice blend that is used on essentially everything in the Middle East to just add a punch of flavor.

Za'atar

 

We didn’t eat a lot of big entrée type meals, we mostly had little bits and pieces, which is definitely how I prefer to eat – that way you get a little taste of everything. Some of my favorite small bites I will detail below

 

Stuffed Grape leaves are little bite sized appetizers that are quite delicious. They can be stuffed with a variety of things, from meats to vegetables, but we mostly had them stuffed with rice, olive oil and lemon juice to play off the bitterness of the leaves themselves and give a full flavor to the rice.

 

Babaganoush is almost as common as hummus in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is an eggplant spread that is often plated with pomegranate seeds. It is served along side hummus, pita and olives as an appetizer type dish.

Babaganoush

 

Fattoush was the salad we had with most meals and by far one of my favorite dishes that we ate. It is essentially a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers etc. in it but they are cut up into larger chunks. What makes this salad so good though is the “croutons” they use, which are little flat squares of fried pita bread, the perfect crunch to the salad. They also traditionally use sumac in the dressing to give the salad a sour tinge that makes it unforgettable.

 

And of course, no dining experience would be complete without dessert. Although at heart I am a chocolate girl I did enjoy a lot of the pastries that they served (mostly because they had cheese in them, another love affair of mine). My favorite one that we had is called Kenfe, which is a circular bread hollowed out and filled with sweet cheese and topped with sesame seeds and is absolutely delicious.

Knefe

 

These are just some of the highlights of my food adventure in Dubai and I hope that this will inspire you to have a food adventure of your own. You don’t need to travel somewhere far to try new things, all you need is a kitchen!

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