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Apr 04

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The 8 Healthy Middle Eastern Foods You Must Try

Middle Eastern foods have long been overlooked, under the shadow of the western cuisine. But over the last decade, this cuisine has seen its popularity skyrocket to earn a global profile in the top echelon of best cuisines.  For this reason, many people are now enjoying these nutrient-rich meals. But wait – before you head to your nearby Middle Eastern restaurant, are sure of all the meals you should try?

Collage of 4 healthy middle eastern foods

Here is a list of some of the best Middle Eastern foods you must try.

Shawarma

This is one of the most popular options for most Middle Eastern cuisine lovers. Whether you are planning to enjoy this in your favorite restaurant or looking to make it yourself, the meal will give you a special treat.

Initially, it was thought that this food was invented to cure hunger, but it has more to offer. The meal is delicious and highly nutritious, once you have the first bite, you won’t match enough force to resist eating more and more.

Though shawarma is sometimes made from mutton or beef, chicken shawarma is made of tender chicken bits and spiced to make a ridiculously tasty meal. The meal is conspicuously identifiable thanks to its special way of preparation that involves marinating the poultry meat with a special spice mix. Shawarma is mostly enjoyed in Middle Eastern restaurants because the industrial spit roasters used to cook them are very expensive. Usually, the attendants will use a best butcher’s knife to slice a piece then serve it on a huge plate.

Shawarma is one of the middle eastern foods that you eat as a wrap, with tzatziki sauce on the side

Hummus

This is the most prevalent food in the Middle Eastern region and is well known for its deliciousness.  This dip is basically made of olive oil, chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and tahini (a sesame seed paste). These ingredients are blended together in food processor until creamy and smooth.

Hummus is the best way to enjoy Middle Eastern foods and one you must try. This is because besides being delicious the meal is rich in essential nutrients. Hummus provides vitamins, minerals, and proteins, although it contains fats they are mostly unsaturated heart-healthy fats.

This dip is very versatile and whether you like it with vegetables, pita bread, or sandwiches you will still find great pleasure enjoying this food. Hummus also comes in different versions and you can enjoy variations like garlic or red pepper. Make sure you consume this food in moderation to avoid taking in too many calories.

Hummus is chickpea-garlic-lemon dip eaten with bread

Falafel

Falafel is one of the most delicious Middle Eastern foods on offer. This is a crucial pillar of the Middle Eastern cuisine, and this is the reason you will find it in almost every Middle Eastern restaurant. At first, it might appeal to you as just a tasty pita filler or fried chickpeas spiced with plenty of herbs, but falafel is more than that.

Falafel is a delicious pita wrap that is spiced and stuffed with chickpeas and vegetables.  The food also offers great convenience, especially when it’s made using lamb or meat.

You must try this food because it finds a good balance between deliciousness and nutritional benefits. It’s a low in calorie, high in fiber, sugar-free, loaded with proteins and provides plenty of healthy fats.

Falafel is another of the middle eastern foods served with tzatziki sauce

Tabouleh

Tabouleh is one of the best Middle Eastern side dishes. It offers a full range of bold flavors and if you are looking for low-fat vegetarian food then this is the best.  The food is made by combining tomato, bulgur, springs onion, parsley, and mint. This food is then seasoned using lemon juice and olive oil to gain its typical deliciousness.

If you want to have a satisfying feel of the Middle Eastern cuisine then give tabouleh a try. The food offers plenty of vitamins, minerals, it’s high in dietary fiber, and low in saturated fats. This helps in keeping your immune system strong and also helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Tabouleh, or tabouli, is a wheat-and-parsley pilaf. Celiacs beware!

Labneh

This is a mezze staple made with a cow milk base. It’s usually creamy and thicker than most yogurts. Actually, labneh is a type of cheese made like the thicker-than-the-thickest Greek yogurt and yet it’s not sour in taste.

If you are looking for a refreshing, light, delicious and versatile Middle Eastern food then you will most likely fall in love with this soft cheese. The food traces its origin in Lebanon but its popularity and dominance have spread all over the world. Pair this food with olive oil and fresh pita and you will have yourself a nutritious breakfast, or you can slather it on a pita to make a tasty lunch.  

Labneh is considered one of the best probiotic foods and offers a number of healthy bacteria to boost your immune system. It’s a rich source of protein, low in calories, and is remarkably good for your health.

Labneh is for dairy lovers.

Sabich

Sabich is the best alternative to pita stuffed concoction. This is the first dish you should give a try to a have a taste of the Middle Eastern cuisine can offer.

This food is made by first frying eggplant and then combining it with vegetables or hard boiled eggs. It’s then doused with tahini and stuffed into pita to make a great meal. If you want to get a better and tasty sabich, try a fusion of smooth eggs, fresh veggies, nutty tahini sauce and fried eggplants.

Shakshouka

This is one of the best one-pot skillet dishes made with plenty of tomatoes. Shakshouka is made by slowly simmering tomatoes, spices, and herbs, then adding beaten eggs to cook with the heat. The result is a comfort meal, stuffed with cooked eggs and finished with a spicy tomato sauce.

This food is enjoyed as a dinner, lunch or breakfast.

Mejadra

Mejadra is a pilaf and ranks amongst the best comfort foods. The food is made by cooking lentils and rice together, then combining them with a number of spices, including plenty of cumin. This produces a fragrant mixture which is then topped with fried onions to give the lentil and rice blend a crunchy contrast.

This is the best meal to try during the cold winter season.
Bowl of Mejadra pilaf topped with fried onions

About the author

Portrait of Kanisha Haney, Middle Eastern Foods guest authorKanisha Haney is a self-taught chef, writer, and founder of FortunateKitchen blog. Her blog was launched with a goal to educate readers on recipe and kitchen techniques by providing tips on food-related basics.

Her mission is growing to fruition because of continued devotion in blogging about food preparation and ways of making exquisite dishes

It’s never easy, considering she has to balance her duties as a blogger and the hectic life of being a mom. But because of her passion and curiosity for food blogging, she has managed to stay buoyant in the upper echelon of food bloggers.

Inspired?

Read more about Middle Eastern foods on Amazon:

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2 comments

  1. Renuka Walter

    I had some of these on my Jordan trip. I love Hummus. In fact, I survived on Hummus and Pita bread. And, olive oil!

    1. Linda

      We love hummus, too, Renuka, especially the lemony ones. Have you ever tried to make it? It’s quite easy, and it’s a lot of fun to think of ways to jazz it up. Our favorite tweaks are with roasted red pepper or roasted garlic.

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