MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE
The Middle East is a treasure trove of historical sites and has some of the most majestic architectural structures. People from all around the world visit the countries in the middle east to capture their extravagance in cameras or carry them as souvenirs bargained for at their grand souks. Famous amongst many things is its Fresh Wholesome Healthy Rich and Aromatic Cuisine. Its no wonder that Middle Eastern cuisine’s global profile has been skyrocketing for the past many years. Everyone has their favourite dish on the Middle East’s glorious and decorated menu list.
Middle Eastern cuisine is the cuisine of the various countries and peoples of the Middle East. The cuisine of the region is diverse while having a substantial degree of similarity. It includes Arab, Iranian/Persian, Israeli/Jewish, Assyrian, Kurdish, Cypriot, and Turkish cuisines. The Middle East is located at the crossroads between North Africa, Asia and Europe and its cuisine carries a mark of foreign invasions, trade exchanges and all the travel that has happened between this place.
SPECIAL FEATURE OF THE MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE
The Culinary legacy of Middle Eastern Cuisine is remarkably resplendent. Greatly influenced by the Mediterranean climate, the Ancient Religions and Europe, Africa and Asia through the trade routes that have been used for centuries. They have all had an impact on the Culinary Traditions of the Middle East.
The main ingredients of the Cuisine include Olives, Chickpeas, Honey, Sesame Seeds, Mint and Parsley which is used in abundance. Most of the dishes are Vegetarian, made with Olive Oil, Chickpea, Beans, Lentils and Vegetables. Vegetables have a prominent place in the diet. They are boiled, grilled, stewed or stuffed or even cooked with Rice. The common leafy vegetables are Cabbage, Chard and Spinach. Onion, Garlic, Beets, Carrots and Turnips have found their place in the Middle Eastern Delicacy. Squash and Okra have also been majorly used. The most favoured vegetable of the Middle Eastern Cuisine is the Eggplant. Eggplant is prepared in different ways – fried, roasted and dressed with dips. Tomatoes are heavily used in broths, stews and kebabs.
Due to religious restrictions, meat is sometimes excluded from the meals. Beans and Pulses thus form a huge part of the diet. The meat dishes if used are generally made of Lamb, Chicken and Beef by the method of Skewering and Grilling. Pork and Alcohol are not common here due to religious beliefs. Only a few Vineyards are found in Lebanon.
Since Ancient times, Grains form the staple food of Middle Eastern People and still holds a prominent position in their diet. Wheat and Rice are the most common grain along with Barley. Wheat has two variations here – Bulgar and Couscous. Wheat is also consumed in the form of flatbread or Pita. Strong Turkish coffee is the main beverage in the area and Tea has been a part of the local culture for ages. The people get their Protein requirement from Cheeses, Legumes and Yogurt.
Herbs and Spices have a special feature in Middle Eastern Cuisine. The luring flavours of the Indian Spices were irresistible for the Arabs not only as a commodity for International trade but also as an exotic ingredient for their Cuisines. Nutmeg, Caraway, Cumin, Turmeric, Parsley and Mint add flavours to the dishes. Saffron, one of the most expensive spices has found an eminent place in the pantries to add colour and spike up the flavour of the dishes.
Figs, Nuts and Dates are a major component of the Middle Eastern Cuisine both in savoury and dessert dishes.
MOST POPULAR DISHES OF THE MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE
Middle Eastern Cuisine is the most popular ethnic cuisine that has won hearts of foodies from around the world. Talk about Hummus, Falafel, Tahini and you would find people craving for more. The most common dishes that have found a place on the Global Platter also include Kebabs, Dolma, Baklava, Shawarma, Fattoush, Baba Ganoush, Tabouleh, Ful Mudammas, Manakeesh. The versatile Hummus, a Levantine spread made from cooked, mashed Chickpea and blended with Tahini, Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt and Garlic can be slathered on anything from Burger to Baked Potatoes or the traditional Pita Bread. Bite into the frequently appearing Fattoush Salad, a tangy mix of crispy Lettuce, crunchy squares of Pita, diced Tomatoes, Cucumber, Onion, Garlic, Lemon, Olive Oil and Mint for that refreshing addiction. Tahini a sesame paste spread plays multiple roles in the cuisine and is used in both savoury and sweet dishes. The use of fresh staple produce, legumes, herbs and spices are prominent in all their culinary preparation.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE
Middle Eastern diet emphasizes the use of olive oil, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes as primary foods. The biggest benefit to the Middle Eastern diet is its effects on the heart. Following a Middle Eastern diet can also benefit the health of the brain, cognition and overall mortality. Culturally rich Middle Eastern Cuisine has food items which are not only rich in taste, flavour and aroma, but is full of health benefits. One of their main ingredients, Chickpeas, is an excellent source of healthy nutrients such as Folate, Tryptophan, Manganese, Phosphorus and Calcium. It is also rich in fibre and helps to lower Cholesterol and fight Cardiovascular Diseases. Egg Plant, another commonly used vegetable is rich in antioxidants. Liberal use of Herbs and Spices in their cuisine makes the dishes nutritional powerhouse and helps indigestion. Middle Eastern Cuisine is very good for Heart and Circulating System. Desserts are prepared using lots of Nuts, Dry Fruits and Jaggery, making them rich in fibre and Micro Nutrients and a healthy way to satiate the sweet cravings.
The burst of flavours of the Middle Eastern Cuisine would excite your taste buds and leave behind a lingering feeling. The coming together of local ingredients, herbs and spices that go through simple processes to satiate hunger healthily. The presentation and hospitality make the eating experience wholesome and pleasant. Expand your food platter and try Middle Eastern Cuisine. You are sure to yearn for more.
Calorie Smart serves a variety of dishes from the Middle Eastern Platter. Shawarma Rolls, Mezze Platter (hummus, baba ghanoush, moutabal, Tzaski, lebneh, tabbouleh, falafel, pita bread ) Veg.Kibbeh, Greek Salad, Fattoush, Cucumber Dill Yogurt, Lentil Shorba to name a few. Visit our website www.caloriesmart.in to order your favourite middle eastern dish on our menu options.
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