If Lady Gaga says she’s obsessed with a certain food, we have to take her word for it. The singer has revealed that she loves the creamy chickpea paste and eats it almost every day when she’s on tour. This was enough for us to get in the kitchen, experiment with different hummus recipes, and start exploring all things connected to it, from hummus wipes to hummus wraps! Final verdict: the pop star is right, hummus is an obsession-worthy ingredient.
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What is Hummus?
This Levantine spread/dip is made primarily of cooked and mashed chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, combined with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The word ‘hummus’ is an Arabic means “chickpea” (the complete name in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna which means “chickpeas with tahini”).
Traditionally, hummus is beige in color and usually served on a large plate, often drizzled with some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs, then stuffed in a fresh pita and complemented with cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. Some recipes also call for falafel in the serving combination. Optionally, this tasty paste can be served as an appetizer in a mezze-style or as a dip for vegetables on parties.
In Israel, however, hummus has been promoted to a main dish. The expression ‘hummus wipe’ also comes from this country. The Israeli always start the ritual of eating hummus with the phrase “Let’s go wipe some hummus.” Hummus wipe may also refer to the way in which hummus is eaten (yes, there is a right and a wrong way of consuming this creamy delight). This means that you must never ever use a knife and fork but wipe the hummus off the plate with pieces of pita (shaped like canoes).
Hummus is gradually becoming one of the Middle-Eats most successfully exported cultural-products, mostly as a result of tourists who tasted it while in the region and spread the word.
In fact, if two decades ago people in the US were unable to pronounce the word ‘hummus’, today it is found on the shelves of almost every supermarket and grocery store.
Numbers say that the sales of hummus have quadrupled over the past ten years, threatening to end the domination of guacamole and salsa as America’s two favorite dips!
This rise was accompanied by an increased production of chickpeas in the States – from 25 million pounds in 2009, it has reached 100 million pounds during the recent years.
To support this claim with even more numbers, compared to twenty years ago when annual hummus sales in the States were $5 million, today they are estimated at a whopping $725 million! In other words, while in 2006 only 12% of the US households stocked up on the chickpea spread, today this number is doubled to 25%!
The History of Hummus
The earliest recorded hummus recipes originate from cookbooks written in Cairo, Egypt in the 13th century. The invention of this creamy spread is often attributed to Sultan Saladin, who was the first to combine all the basic hummus ingredients.
However, given the fact that the two main ingredients, chickpeas, and tahini, have been used in the Middle East and Easter Mediterranean for thousands of years, experts believe that hummus’ origins go way back.
Today, many regions and countries around the world claim to be the place of origin of hummus, including Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. The last two countries on the list are especially persistent in their efforts to prove historic ownership of this creamy delight, engaging in a competition of preparing the largest batch of hummus. Currently, Lebanon has the largest serving of hummus. It was made by 300 student chefs and served in 2010 in Beirut. The serving weighed 23,042 lbs. 12 oz. and was served on the new largest ceramic plate, which over 7m in diameter.
As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter who invented it, the very fact that there are so many national and regional hummus varieties makes us jump with joy! The major difference between these different hummus recipes is in the amounts of tahini used. Some varieties include cumin, hot peppers, and/or Greek yogurt; others, like the Turkish recipe, use butter instead of olive oil. But if you keep reading, you will find out that hummus is a versatile spread offers endless flavoring possibilities!
Health Benefits of Hummus
This beige-colored emulsion was further popularized by celebrity health promoters like Dr. Oz and the rising interest in the Mediterranean diet.
People are becoming more and more aware of how important food is to the overall well-being and they turn to healthier options. Nowadays, many modern Americans will choose a tasty and healthy spread like hummus over ranch dip, queso fresco, or mayonnaise.
Hummus is one of those rare foods that offer great taste backed up with amazing nutritive value. Here are the main health benefits of hummus:
- Chickpeas are very high in protein and dietary fiber which make you feel full. This means that, in the long term, hummus will help you eat less and stay slim. Furthermore, these nutty legumes regulate digestion and protect the heart. They are also packed with vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium, three elements credited for relieving PMS symptoms. Garbanzo beans are rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, minerals known to boost energy and aid sexual functions, making hummus an aphrodisiac. No wonder they’ve been consumed for more than seven millenniums!
- Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. These seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- The most important nutrients found in olive oil are the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are especially good for the cardiovascular system. To take the most advantage of its health properties, make sure you use extra virgin olive oil.
- Lemon juice is packed with vitamin C which strengthens the immunity, aids digestion, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it acts as a powerful alkalizer and regulates the level of acidity in the body. (Skip the bottled, store-bought versions and use freshly squeezed lemon juice)
- Garlic is rich in flavonoids, sulfur, selenium and many other nutrients that give this vegetable its antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.
- Salt. To keep your hummus recipe healthy, opt for healthier salt options like Himalayan, Celtic, or sea salt. Unlike the highly-processed, iodized table salt, these salts contain a large number of trace minerals which balance the fluids in the organism and facilitate nutrient absorption.
How to Make Traditional Hummus
Homemade hummus is much healthier and richer in taste than the store-bought varieties. You’re just a few steps away from the most delicious summer meal!
2 cups chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Step by step preparation:
Step 1: You can use either raw or canned chickpeas for your homemade hummus recipe.
Raw chickpeas: Raw, dried chickpeas need to be soaked overnight to soften. At this point, adding a teaspoon of baking soda will contribute to an extra velvety final product.
After the legumes have soaked overnight, rinse them and place in a pot filled with water. Cook at a low temperature until they’re soft (for about 1-2 hours; they’re done when they start crumbling under your fingers). Skinless garbanzo beans will produce the silkiest paste but peeling them one by one is a laborious task. The addition of baking soda once again in this phase will help separate the skins easily.
Note: Save the water in which the chickpeas were soaked. This liquid is called ‘aquafaba’ and can be added to the food processor together with all the other ingredients to contribute perfect density and some more flavor!
Canned chickpeas: If you don’t have the time or patience to soak and cook your chickpeas, opt for the canned version. Drain the canned chickpeas into a strainer, then rinse under running water.
Step 2: Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor (including some aquafaba).
Note: Some recipes skip the olive oil altogether since tahini is fatty and flavorful enough. This, however, is a matter of personal preference.
Note 2: Having a great processing tool is crucial for obtaining a perfectly smooth and creamy emulsion. Food processors are a better option since they have bigger blades than blenders.
Step 3: Process the ingredients for about two minutes, until you obtain a smooth and uniform paste. Stop to scrape the sides of the food processor’s bowl from time to time.
Step 4: Adjust the taste and texture. Taste to see if you need to add more seasonings or, if the hummus is dry, olive oil, aquafaba and/or lemon juice.
Amazing Hummus Recipes
Just when you thought hummus can’t get any better, you realize that there are countless hummus varieties! This creamy dip gives you an opportunity to get creative and make it different every time. You can add practically everything you have in the fridge: spices, herbs, tired veggies to make it even healthier and more flavorful. Here are just a few suggestions to tickle your imagination:
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Spicy Chipotle-Lime Hummus
Cucumber Hummus with Dill
Smokey Sweet Potato Hummus
Bell Pepper and Mint Lentil Hummus
How to Consume Hummus
Hummus will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge. Note: the smear tends to thicken when stored, so you might need to add some more aquafaba or olive oil before each consumption.
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Transfer your hummus mixture into a bowl and serve it as a dip, along with raw vegetables or, make the best combination ever – hummus and chips. When we say hummus and chips, we refer to pita chips. And since this is one of our favorite game night and movie night snacks, here is how to make it:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with some olive oil.
Step 2: Take one pita bread with pockets or two without pockets. If your pitas have pockets, split them in half using a knife. If the pitas are without pockets, cut them into 8 wedges (like a pizza).
Step 3: Brush the wedges with oil on both sides, then season with at least salt (other spices and herbs are optional, feel free to use your imagination).
Step 4: Arrange the pita wedges on the baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pita chips over, then return and bake until crispy and golden-brown, for another 5 minutes (thinner pitas need lower temperatures and, hence, a bit longer baking time, about 7-8 minutes).
Step 5: Make sure you let the pita chips cool completely before serving. Need recipes?
Hummus and Herbed Baked Pita Chips
Homemade Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips
Smear it onto your sandwich or on a pita and make a hummus wrap, combining it with various vegetables, meats, or even seafood.
Quinoa Hummus Wrap
Greek Grilled Chicken and Hummus Wrap
Egg and Veggie Hummus Wrap
You can also add hummus on top of meats and fish before roasting to add extra flavor.
Baked Hummus Crusted Chicken
Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Yogurt Hummus Sauce
Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Pizza
Parsley Scallion Hummus Pasta
Step up your vegetarian recipe game with these flavorful meatless dishes that will win over your tastebuds this new year.
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Serve these pancakes for breakfast or with a scoop of yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack. This recipe comes from 8fit, be sure to check out their site for more recipes, and to read more about the health benefits of these pancakes.See the recipe.
Homemade Roasted Garlic Hummus
Once your garlic is roasted, you are well on your way to having an easy snack on hand and dipping into this delicious homemade roasted garlic hummus. See the recipe.
White Bean Risotto With Chard
This creamy bean dish actually has no risotto in it. However, you cook the beans in broth with lots of stirring, just like risotto, but this time, it’s loaded with protein. This recipe comes from 8fit, be sure to check out their site for more healthy eating tips, recipes, and to read more about this risotto’s health benefits. See the recipe.
Thai Curry Squash Fritters
With bold Thai curry, these yellow squash fritters are perfectly crispy and are ready to mingle at your next party or be served alongside a fresh salad. See the recipe.
Kale Pesto Pizza
This easy pizza will load you up on tons of nutrients, thanks to kale and plenty of delicious cheese. Click here and scroll down for the recipe. This recipe comes from our friends at8fit.Check out their site for more easy and delicious recipes and more.
Creamy Mushroom and Fennel Polenta
As a main dish or stellar side, this creamy mushroom and fennel polenta is a cozy dish we will be enjoying all winter long and pairing with a refreshing glass of Chardonnay. See the recipe.
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Vegetarian Tikka Masala
This easy vegetarian tikka masala is packed with veggies and coated in a tangy, luscious spiced sauce. Eat up! See the recipe.
Ready to explore some new flavors? Today, we’re revealing the best Lebanese foods.
Lebanese food is bursting with fresh ingredients, delicious mezze appetizers, rich tastes, vivid colors, and spices. But the best feature of this Middle Eastern cuisine is its hospitality. Lebanese foods are meant to be shared with friends, family, and even strangers.
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Lamb is the most commonly used meat variety and it appears in many dishes like kafta, but chicken and beef are also found in many recipes. Additions like lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil are a must if you want to recreate the flavors that make Lebanese food so unique and special. Fresh vegetables also find their way into dishes like tabbouleh and fattoush, making Lebanese food one of the healthiest on the planet.
Sfeeha – Lebanese Meat Pies
Sfeeha or Sfiha is pie-like Lebanese food (a similar dish is Turkish pide). The traditional version was made with ground mutton, whereas modern versions usually call for beef or lamb. Other toppings include cheese, vegetables, and curd. Also, sfeehas used to be wrapped pies, whereas today they are round, open-face pies or folded into triangles.
Laban – Lebanese Yogurt Sauce
Laban is a cool and creamy yogurt sauce consisting of yogurt, mint, garlic, and lemon juice. It is a perfect addition to grilled meat dishes, fish like salmon, dolma, sfeeha pies, or tabbouleh. Absolutely refreshing!
Kafta is a meatloaf or meatball dish found in Middle Eastern, South Asian, Central Asian, and Balkan countries. The simplest form of kafta is made with ground or minced meat (chicken, beef, lamb, or pork) plus onions and spices. In Lebanon, it is usually made with ground beef onion, allspice, black pepper, parsley, and salt.
Kusa – Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini
Kusa are zucchini stuffed with a mixture of meat and rice, commonly seasoned with garlic and dried mint. Tip: The best zucchini type for this Lebanese food is the Lebanese zucchini which is smaller and light-green in color. The recipe is easy to be turned vegetarian by simply replacing the commonly used beef with chickpeas.
Lebanon and Israel are having a long-term quarrel about who invented this popular food. Currently, Lebanon holds the Guinness Record for the largest dish of hummus in the world. The dish was prepared by 300 cooks and weighed over 10,000 kg. It was made using the usual ingredients – boiled chickpeas, tahini butter, olive oil, and lemon juice.
Lebanese Potato Salad
Ordinary potato salad gets an exotic twist with the addition of tangy lemon vinaigrette and fresh mint. It is quick, easy, vegan, dairy-free, and perfect for hot summer nights. (The name ‘Leposa’ in this recipe is coined using the first two letters of each word in ‘Lebanese Potato Salad’!)
Hushwee is a staple Lebanese food, simple yet full of flavors. It is composed of ground meat cooked in ghee, complemented with toasted pine nuts and cinnamon. This mixture can be used for sfeeha pies, eggplant mousakas, or for stuffing veggies (dolma). It can be also combined with baked or mashed potatoes or pita bread. Bonus for all those following special diets – this Lebanese food is paleo and gluten-free!
Fattoush is a salad composed of pieces of toasted or fried flatbread and vegetables (mostly greens, tomatoes, and radishes), plus herbs to taste. One of the special features of this Lebanese food is that the veggies are cut in quite large pieces. However, the two ingredients that give fattoush its special, sour flavor are staghorn sumac and purslane. The former is red berries, usually sold ground, whereas the latter is a green with a tangy, lemony flavor.
Tabbouleh is a salad/dish consisting of bulgur and finely chopped veggies, most commonly tomatoes and onion, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, and salt. In Lebanon, it is made with more parsley, sometimes replacing bulgur with quinoa, and served as mezze.
Mujaddara is a dish made with cooked brown lentils and rice, and garnished with caramelized onions. In Lebanon, there are two versions of this dish – mujaddara, which is a puréed version with a consistency similar to rice pudding, and mudardara, made with whole lentils and rice. Both versions are often served with Laban.
Also called ‘Shish taouk’, this Lebanese food is traditionally made with marinated chicken. It can be served in two different ways, depending on the country and region – on a platter, along with veggies, French fries, and/or rice, or as a sandwich in many Levantine countries. The former version in Lebanon is commonly accompanied by a garlic paste sauce called toum, tabbouleh, and/or hummus. The latter version comes in a flatbread and is combined with tomatoes, lettuce, and pickled turnips.
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Hummus is not the only amazing dip/spread coming from the Levantine countries. Toum (which translates as “garlic”) is a sauce composed of garlic, olive oil or vegetable oil, lemon juice, and salt, all traditionally crushed together in a wooden mortar with a pestle (one of the Lebanese versions also calls for mint). Toum is usually used as a dip, especially with chicken dishes and sandwiches.
If millennials like it, it is sure to become a huge trend!
By definition, Millennials are the people born in the period between the 1980s and 2000s. “Although their characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions, the generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.”
The preferences and of this large category of young people are often an indicator that, in time, even non-Millennial consumers will adopt them.
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What does this mean in terms of food? For starters, here is one important thing to be noted about Millennials: they aren’t particularly interested in spending money. Another important trait is their deep desire to make the world a better place, which also reflects in their attitude towards food.
Millennials and Food – In-depth Analysis
The big question is: Do Millennials prefer to cook or eat out? The former seems to be their choice, at least at first glance, for mostly practical reasons. Namely, Millennials love great food but don’t have time to cook. That is why eating out is one of their favorite ways to part from their dollars, followed by spending on electronic gadgets and clothes. The research showed that Millennials eat out 3.4 times a week on average, and spend more on food than other age categories.
The Three Types of Millennial Foodies
Millennials are not a homogenous group. In fact, they can be divided into three broad categories according to their eating needs and preferences:
– Tech gurus are not much into cooking and prefer takeout. When they decide where to eat, they’re guided by good taste, convenience, and speed, but also want to get good value for their money.
– Environment-friendly millennials are concerned about the well-being of the world as a whole. They’re into healthy and organic food choices, unusual & exotic dishes, as well as quick and easy meals. Like the tech gurus, this group prefers takeout to cooking.
– Hip-ennials are most likely to cook because they enjoy experimenting with food & trying new dishes. When they eat out, they want their order to be always right but they also pay attention whether the staff is friendly and attentive.
Food type preferences
When it comes to the food type, here is what Millennials love:
– fast food
– organic food
Besides the aboveme-ntioned categories, Millennials are also into fermented foods & everything that has kale in it. They also no stranger to meat dishes. They like having the option to order a customizable dish. And, of course, Millennials often take selfies and appreciate food that will look great on social media.
Social media food trends
Speaking of social media, certain foods tend to flood certain channels, only to disappear just as fast as they’d appear. Most of these foods are unusual, appealing to the eye, and colorful. Taste, in this case, is of no importance but if the food tastes as good as it looks, that is certainly a bonus. At the moment, the following foods are hot on Instagram:
- Acai Bowls
- Elevated Toasts
- Sushi Burrito
- Starbucks’ colorful new drinks
- Rolled Ice Cream
- Cloud eggs
But food is not the only thing Millennials are looking for
Great food is not enough to convince a Millennial to visit a certain restaurant. When Millennials decide where to eat, they consider the following factors as well:
– emotional needs – Millennials want to feel like they’re discovering something new but also to leave the stress behind and relax. They love to share their food and that’s why 65% of them eat with friends or colleagues, as a part of their emotional need to “catch up” while dining out. This is especially prominent in Millennial men, while millennial women want to know that they are getting good value for their money,
– convenience & speed,
– late-night dining,
– relaxed atmosphere,
– menu variety including unusual & exotic foods,
– availability online,
Bottom line is Millennials want each experience to be high-quality. If there is no great option, they’ll choose to stay home and cook. Talking about tough customers!
Millennial Cooking Habits
Despite the fact that these young foodies are awfully busy and have a great number of options for eating out, they actually love cooking. Restaurant data shows that Millennials’ frequency of dining out has decreased.
Moreover, they consider themselves to be experts in the kitchen – 65% Millennials believes so, with Millennial men being more confident in their skills than women.
When it comes to cooking, these are the top three factors that drive Millennials to get into the kitchen:
– social aspects of cooking and sharing
– exotic and diverse foods
– creative menus
Relying on the smartphones
When venturing to the kitchen, Millennials are bringing their mobile devices along. They’re relying on them at every phase of the cooking journey—deciding what to cook, learning how to cook it, and even while cooking.
Here is what Millennials search for online:
In stage 1, Deciding what to cook (which they say is the least fun part of the whole cooking process), the most frequent searches are quite broad:
– dinner ideas
– slow-cooker recipes
– healthy recipes
Millennials also often type “best recipe for…”. Here are the most searched types of food in this category:
– chocolate chip cookie
– banana bread
YouTube is the favorite cooking channel
YouTube is the channel where Millennials go for cooking inspiration and guidance. Food-related searches on YouTube have increased by 75% in only one year! And believe it or not, the most engaged food-viewers are Millennial dads!
Stage 2 is the preparations stage, when Millennials search for “How to cook that” (one of the most popular searches on YouTube, with over 400 million views). Here are the top 5 searches:
– baked potatoes
– poached eggs
– buttercream icing
– burger patties
Besides these basic searches, Millennials search for unusual and exotic ingredients to add to their dishes and that is how they discover new brands.
The phones remain active even during cooking (voice search is indispensable for Millennials). Judging by the most popular searches, they love cooking chicken and often inquire about its baking temperature.
As part of their emotional need for sharing, Millennials dislike cooking alone and often have company in the kitchen, whether friends, spouses, or kids, all with the purpose to make the process less of an obligation and more fun.
Giving food a personal touch
Young foodies also like giving the food they cook a personal touch, simplifying the cooking process, or making traditional recipes with a twist. For that reason, kitchen tricks and hacks are also high on their list of favorite food-related searches.
This tendency is best seen in comfort foods. While nostalgic dishes are making a huge comeback, most Millennials don’t know or have no time to make them. That is why they either choose to consume such foods in restaurants or look for ways to simplify their preparation.
Millennials are interested in a different type of comfort food, i.e. feel-good foods that are healthier and easy to make. This is reflected in their desire to buy healthier ingredients such as fruits and veggies, as well as meats raised without hormones and antibiotics.
They also search for healthier recipes with chicken dominating as the main ingredient at the expense of red meat. Chicken is more popular among Millennials than eggs, peanut butter, and beef combined, followed immediately by veggies when it comes to comfort food.
Traditional comfort foods show a decline in popularity, for instance lasagna has decreased by 69% and macaroni by 55% in popularity in a course of a year.
In other words, Millennials not only want to enjoy the taste of a certain food, but they also want to feel good about the ingredients they’re using.
Shopping for food
When Millennials shop for cooking ingredients, they opt for organic and farm-to-table options, even if it means paying more. They turn more towards club, specialty, and convenience grocery stores at the expense of traditional ones.
Superfoods & healthy food obsession
US Millennials are obsessed with ‘superfoods’. To clarify things: “There really is no such thing as a superfood,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, “All foods, other than sugars and alcohol, have nutrients, but the basis of healthful eating is to eat a wide variety of relatively unprocessed foods.” However, the term seems to appeal to Millennials and food brands use it to market their products to these young foodies.
More than 60% Millennials said it’s very important to consume healthy foods. But they are also changing the meaning of “healthy eating” and “dieting”. For them counting calories is not a priority; they rather opt for natural, unprocessed foods and balanced diets.
The most popular superfood in the US is kale, used by 38% Millennials regularly to make kale smoothies or kale hummus. Brands have followed their cue and launched all sorts of kale products like kale ice cream, kale beer, kale chips, and kale chocolate.
Besides kale, Millennials also like the following superfoods:
In general, Millennials still prefer branded foods, but cannot always afford them due to economic reasons. These are the top 15 food brands among Millennials:
- Frito Lay
- Taco Bell
- Whole Foods
- Pizza Hut
- Trader Joe’s
- Trader Mills
What else do they buy more often than others?
Gas station food. Because they’re always on the run, about 30% Millennials tend to buy food from gas stations and eat it on the go.
Sriracha is the new hot trend among young foodies. It is literally everywhere around you, on pizzas, burgers, even in beer!
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Same-day delivery. As a result of the daily usage of gadgets, Millennials are not very patient. They are prepared to pay more money for same-day delivery of online purchases.
Energy drinks are favored by young, under-slept American parents.
Organic food, as mentioned before, 53% Millennials believe organic food is important.
Craft alcoholic beverages as opposed to mass-market options. 43% Millennials say craft booze tastes better and are likely to pay more for such pleasure.
The future of food is largely dependent on Millennials’ preferences and desires. Is it safe to say it is looking bright?
In the past decade, Middle Eastern foods have left the boundaries of ethnic communities and entered our homes, supermarkets, and restaurants. Hummus led the way and soon other delicious foods followed – falafel, pita, kebab, tabbouleh, baklava…
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Do you have a favorite Middle Eastern food? Below we offer 12 of our favorite fresh, healthy, simple, rich, and aromatic Mideast dishes that will make your mouth water!
Vegan and Vegetarian Middle Eastern Foods
Hummus is a creamy spread/dip made of mashed chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Besides these basic ingredients, you can add whatever your heart desires – avocados, sweet potatoes, beets, spinach, zucchini, peppers, and more! Then, you can add hummus to a plethora of dishes like sandwiches, burgers, pizza, pasta, baked potatoes, or simply smear it on a traditional hot pita bread!
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Falafel is probably the second most popular Middle Eastern food after hummus. Chickpeas are the main ingredient here as well, forming the base for the fried balls, together with onions and spices. The best version of falafel is the sandwich with pita bread and salad, but the chickpea balls can be also served as an appetizer on a mezze platter. It is also worth mentioning that falafel is a great vegan substitute for meat!
Spicy Falafel and Roasted Veggie Naan-wich
Tabbouleh is a magical salad that combines cracked wheat (bulgur), onion, tomatoes, parsley, and mint. Other vegetables can be optionally added. Serve tabbouleh as a light lunch, side dish, or appetizer.
Fresh Herb Tabbouleh
Halloumi is un-ripened, semi-hard, brined cheese made from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Unlike other cheese types, no bacteria or acid is used in the making of halloumi. Thanks to its high melting point, these salty cheese slabs are perfect for frying and grilling. Put halloumi on the menu for your next summer barbecue.
Grilled Halloumi with Blueberries and Herbs
#5 Baba Ganoush
Baba Ganoush is another popular Middle Eastern dip. It is made of eggplant and tahini and, similar to hummus, it is great for dipping veggies or pita bread. You can spice it up with roasted garlic or chili for an extra kick.
Roasted Garlic Baba Ganoush
This Middle Eastern food is a proof of how a simple addition of an exotic ingredient can make a dish stand out. Fattoush is a bread salad made from fried or toasted pieces of pita bread combined with vegetables like lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and seasoned with olive oil and mint. So refreshing!
Roasted Cauliflower Fattoush
Meat-Based Middle Eastern Foods
Kofta is a broad term which encompasses meatball or meatloaf dishes found in Middle Eastern, South Asian, Central Asian, and Balkan cuisines. In the Middle East, kofta balls/patties are most common in Pakistan and Iran. They’re made of minced beef or lamb, onions, and spices. Then, they’re grilled, fried, or baked and served along with a spicy sauce. In the Arabic countries, kofta is often shaped as small cylinders and cooked on a stick.
The term kebab refers to various cooked (usually grilled) meat dishes originating in Middle Eastern cuisine. Although people in the Western countries often associate the word ‘kebab’ with skewered meat, not all kebab varieties are prepared that way.
Kebab dishes are based on ground or chopped meat. Lamb and mutton are the two most commonly used variants. Less frequently, beef, chicken, goat, fish, and seafood are used. Authentic kebab recipes rarely call for pork due to religious prohibitions.
For us, the two most popular kebab varieties are probably shish kebab (a grilled skewer with meat and vegetables) and döner kebab (Turkish kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie).
Surf and Turf Kebabs
Shawarma is what gyros are to Greeks and döner kebab to the Turkish. The meat (lamb, beef, turkey, beef, chicken, veal, or mixed meats) is grilled in a block on a vertical rotisserie. Then, a big knife is used to cut shavings of the meat which can be served together with a garlic puree as a sandwich wrap or on a plate.
Shawarma is usually combined with salads like tabbouleh or fattoush, veggies like tomato and cucumber, as well as toppings like hummus and tahini. Those who have tried this Middle Eastern food swear it is the best drunk food when combined with ayran (a cold yogurt beverage mixed with salt) and the best cure for a hangover!
Beef Shawarma with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
Our Favorite Sweet Middle Eastern Foods
In the Middle East, baklava recipes can vary depending on the region but the basic recipe is similar – it is prepared from filo dough sheets and covered in syrup.
In the Middle East, rose or orange water is often added to flavor the syrup. As for the fillings, they range from chopped almonds and pistachios spiced with cardamom to walnuts & ghee, or even more modern chocolate versions. Baklava can appear in the shape of small rolls or, more commonly, cut into lozenge pieces.
The term ‘halva’ covers any sweet & dense confections in the Middle East but generally refers to two broader dessert categories: Nut and butter halva, which usually contains tahini or another nut butter combined with sugar and is somewhat dry and crumbly. Flour-based halva, made with semolina or another type of grain flour, ghee, and sugar and more gelatinous in texture. Other ingredients can also be added to halva recipes, such as pumpkin, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, squash, lentils, and beans.
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Coconut Halva Balls
#12 Rice Pudding
In the Middle East, rice pudding can appear in many different flavors depending on the country and region. Some recipes call for rose or orange blossom water, while others favor spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, or cardamom. Garnishes vary as well. However, the base of all recipes remains the same: rice, milk, and sugar.
Creamy Rice Pudding
Tip: Combine your sweet Middle Eastern foods with a cup of warm Turkish coffee. Enjoy!