middle eastern cuisine

from my mommy’s kitchen to yours! You have to try these dishes!

February 15, 2010 About me, Diet, Health, Other 1 Comment

Food is one of the most amazing wonders of this world! I love it all! Every culture somehow perfected their own style of cooking, flavors, herbs and spice blends.

I try to surround myself with worldly people to get the most variety in my dishes.

My Japanese friends make the best Sushi Boat filled with various lean raw and cooked seafood rolled or topped on sticky rice. My Ethiopian friends introduced me to the Injera crepe-like bread that provides fiber and nutrients with a hint of sour dough taste. My spicy latina girls hooked me up with the tastiest rice and beans and fried plantains. Oooo, let’s not forget about my Italianos and Jersey Shore crew! Mmmm.. the taste of homemade pasta and meatballs! My Indian friends throw in extra curry and spices into my vegetable stew and freshly serve me that delicious garlic N’aan. My Americans! I love you! On cheat days, I love nothing more than a Philly chicken cheese steak with fried mushrooms and onions! Mmmm… I can go on forever if you let me, but I’ll spare you :)

One of my favorite cooks in the world after Chef Ramsey, is my Mommy! Every bite into her food sparks “I love you” and memories of growing up in the Middle East. The Arabs definitely deserve props for their culinary skills. The food concoctions are not only infused with unique flavors and delicious taste, but also with immune boosting herbs and spices.

Most people might think that my Middle Eastern diet consists of Hummus, Falafel and Tabouleh. Yes, I have these dishes from time to time, but  they’re not on top of my list when it comes to Middle Eastern Cuisine. Depending on the region, food preparation can be quite different.

Since my mommy is Palestinian, her touch in cooking tastes different from Lebanese, Egyptian or even Moroccan Cuisine. She uses different spice blends like nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin and fenugreek. Her favorite herbs are dill, cilantro, parsley and mint.

It would be a shame to keep my Mommy’s dishes a secret, so below I have listed a few of my favorites!

KOOSA!

Koosa in arabic translates to Zucchini. Koosa is also the name of this dish. My mommy stuffs small to medium zucchini with rice, lamb and spices, then lays them in a deep pot to simmer and stew with lamb and tomato paste. If you like grape leaves, you’ll fall in love with Koosa bites!

Click on the image for a similar recipe.

MA’ALOUBEH! In arabic, this translates to “turn over or upside down”. This delicious rice, chicken and vegetable concoction is popular during family gatherings.  In a large pot, vegetables like eggplants, cauliflower and green peppers are laid on layered on the bottom, followed by chicken and rice. The meal is then cooked on low heat until complete. When it’s time to eat, the pot is “turned over” and served “upside down”. Toasted pine nuts and almonds are usually sprinkled on top and garnished with parsley. Ma’aloubeh can be eaten plain or with a side of Laban (greek yogurt) and salad.

MLOUKHIEH!

Seriously, I can eat this dish everyday if I could! Mloukhieh, or Jews Mallow is a spinach like plant that is popular in the middle east. It is usually simmered in onions, garlic and chicken. When the soup is complete, it’s usually topped on basmatic rice. At our house, my mommy would sprinkle toasted or fried pita bits then finish the dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This dish is perfectly well-balanced

M’SAKHAN! If you’re looking for a delicious cheat meal, this one should be on top of your list!

This dish consists of oven baked bread topped with olive oil, sauteed onions in spices like nutmeg, sumac and cinnamon, then finished with spiced chicken and toasted nuts. This dish is also served with a side of fresh Laban (greek yogurt) to compliment the flavors.

FATAYER! This pastry is usually served as an appetizer along with the main course. This doughy triangle is usually filled with nutmeg spiced spinach and onions, different cheeses or even pomegranate infused ground meat.  Fatayer are usually served fresh out of the oven and into your mouth…

Mmmmm… they’re delicious!!! My favorite ones are the spinach :)

There are endless recipes that I know you’ll love, but unfortunately I can’t fit them all on this page. My suggestion is to make friends with an Arabic family and crash one of their gatherings! Arabs are very hospitable and will be more than happy to have you as their guest. Be prepared to pack on a few pounds if you become a regular lol…

Here are a few more of my favorite dishes that you can Google :)

  • MAFTOOL (Couscous, chickpeas & Chicken in tomato and onions)
  • KOFTA (ground meat in tomato or tahini sauce)
  • BAMIEH (stewed okra and lamb on basmati rice)
  • M’JADARA (Rice & lentils, topped with sweet onions and served with Laban)

If you’ve experienced these dishes already, I would love to hear your thoughts!!!



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