5 Authentic Dishes to Sample When Travelling in the Middle East

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Most real estate agents opt for holidays in the Middle East due to its warm climate, winding rivers and sandy deserts. However, the Arab world is equally popular for its exquisite cuisines.

In this article, we introduce you to the 5 most authentic dishes that you must try during a business trip or holiday in Egypt or any other country the middle east has to offer.

 1. Shawarma

If you’re a meat lover, then this completely meat-based dish is a perfect starter for you. Found on the streets of Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries you’re bound to stumble on this scrumptious delicacy on any of your Middle East Tours. Shawarma is served in a kebab like format, and is made with many different types of meats.

It originated in the Ottoman Empire, in 19th century Turkey, but it has made its way throughout many different Middle Eastern countries, to now become a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine.

It is prepared by cutting different meats into very thin slices, after marinating them for some time. The meats used are usually chicken, lamb, pork, mutton, veal or turkey, all seasoned to perfection. Once these slices are stacked onto a skewer about 20 inches high, they are then roasted on a motorized stick for hours, until cooked thoroughly.

During the cooking process, vendors and chefs may add lamb fat for extra juiciness, along with different spices and seasonings. Spices and seasonings usually used include cumin, turmeric, paprika, cardamom and cinnamon. It is normally served by itself, garnished with fresh, diced vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers, or in the form of a sandwich or wrap.

The wrap is normally made with flatbread, pita bread or laffa.

If you decide to try this Middle Eastern delicacy in a restaurant, then you may also be offered sauces such as mango or tahini sauce. In our opinion, sampling Shawarma is the perfect way to wind up most if not all Egypt Travel Packages or a Nile Cruises out there.

 2. Manakeesh/ Manakish/ Manaqish

It looks like pizza, but we promise it’s much more than that! This pizza look alike is actually a Lebanese dish that’s one of the best kept secrets of the Middle East.

It is made of a specific type of dough, topped with thyme, meat or cheese, and is usually eaten as lunch or dinner by Middle Eastern natives. Much like pizza, it can also be sliced, or folded, and is usually prepared communally by women to provide their family with their daily bread. The toppings sound relatively simple, but they are anything but.

The thyme used is normally accompanied by a combination of other spices such as oregano, salt, marjoram along with other spices. This combination is referred to as Za’atar in Arabic, and is usually brushed over the dough along with olive oil before baking.

When it comes to cheese, there are three main Hebrew types that are used: Akkāwī from city of Acre, KashKaval used in many Middle East countries and Sfatit, from Israel. If you’re ever in the Lebanon region, it’s the one of our best recommended countries to try authentic, traditional Manakeesh.

 3. Tabouleh

Native to the Middle Eastern nations of Lebanon and Syria, Tabouleh is a wheat and herb Levantine salad that is a favourite of most travellers to the Middle East.

Historically, Middle Eastern natives added edible herbs (known as qadb) to this diet for a more balanced meal.

That addition has been transformed into what they now call Tabouleh, and it is best served cold, and is generally a mix of a variety of vegetables. These veggies are mint, onion and parsley (chopped of course,) seasoned with salt, Pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.

Depending on the Middle Eastern country that you visit, some chefs will add garlic or lettuce.

It is perfect for began and vegetarian explorers, though it only accounts for a part of the meal. We recommend countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan for the most authentic and flavorful Tabouleh. These countries are known for their delicious and traditionally made Tabouleh, so we know you won’t be disappointed.

 4. Baba Ghanoush / Moutabal

This Levantine appetizer is another Middle Eastern dish that you definitely need to try. It is traditionally made from mashed cooked eggplant, mixed with the sweet spice of tahini, and then combined with lemon juice, olive oil and many other seasonings. There are many different variations of Baba Ghanoush, depending on where you travel in the Middle East, but it is normally served with pita bread.

We also notice that the name of this exotic dish may differ in spelling or have different variations, such as being referred to as Salat Hatzilim in Israel, and spelled as Muttabbal in other Middle Eastern countries.

 5. Mansaf

Lastly on our list is this intimidating, but very popular dish for tourists and Middle Eastern natives alike. It has even been named the national dish of Jordan. Made with tantalizing and soft lamb at the base, this dish combines different flavours to create a show stopping meal. Cooked in a delicious sauce made with fermented yoghurt, this dish is normally served with a side of bulgur or rice.

We recommend Mansaf for those who like a food challenge, or those who want to truly indulge in culinary delight on their trip.

Which Middle Eastern country has the best food?

As interest in Middle Eastern dishes continues to soar, many travellers want to know our recommendation for the Middle Eastern country that has the best food. While it’s easy to state an opinion, or give you a response based on rankings, we really recommend you try them for yourself. This is because taste is subjective! The best Middle Eastern food will be completely dependent on your taste, whether spicy, vegan/vegetarian or tangy preferences. One thing we can guarantee is its going to be a fun and sense pleasing experience.

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