Opinion
Volume 2 Issue 3 - 2015
Middle Eastern Ethnic Cuisine
Sara Diana Garduño-Diaz*
Your Choice Nutrition Consultancy, Shaab Al Bahry, Kuwait
*Corresponding Author: Sara D Garduno-Diaz, Senior Nutrition Consultant, Your Choice Nutrition, Shaab Al Bahry, Block 8, Street 80, Building 5, Floor 1, Kuwait.
Received: September 10, 2015; Published: September 24, 2015
Citation: Sara D Garduno-Diaz. “ Middle Eastern Ethnic Cuisine”. EC Nutrition 2.3 (2015): 369-371.
Originally, the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula relied heavily on a diet of dates, wheat, barley, rice and meat; with a heavy emphasis on yoghurt products, such as leben (yogurt without butterfat). Ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine today is the result of a combination of richly diverse cuisines, spanning the Middle Eastern region from Iraq to Morocco and incorporating Lebanese, Egyptian, and others. It has also been influenced to a degree by the cuisines of India, Turkey, Berber, and others. Middle Eastern countries, as classified by the United Nations include: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
The Middle East was where wheat was first cultivated, followed by barley, pistachios, figs, pomegranates, dates and other regional staples. Fermentation was also discovered in the region to leaven bread. As a crossroadsbetween Europe, Asia and Africa, this area has long been a hub of food and recipe exchange. During the Persian Empire the foundation was laid for Middle Eastern cuisine when rice, poultry and fruits were incorporated into the diets. Figs, dates and nuts were brought by Arab warriors to conquered lands. During Turkey’s Ottoman Empire the sweet pastries of paper thin phyllo dough and the dense, sweet coffee was brought to the region. The area was also influenced by yogurt from Russia; dumplings from Mongol invaders; turmeric, cumin, garlic and other spices from India; cloves, peppercorns and allspice from the Spice Islands; okra from Africa; and tomatoes from the New World via Spain. Religion has also influenced the ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine as neither Jews nor Muslims eat pork, making lamb the primary meat. In addition, the Qur’an forbids alcohol; consequently the region is not generally noted for its wines or other alcoholic drinks. In the case of the Middle East, a strong influential factor on food selection and preparation is religion. Certain dietary restrictions set by religion shape the main dietary patterns found in the Middle East.
Ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine is based on foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish, lean meat, beans and nuts. It is also known for its aromatic spices and subtle flavors. However, food consumption patterns and dietary habits in the Middle Eastern countries have changed markedly during the past decades; this is particularly true in some Gulf countries where there has been a great shift from traditional foods to more westernized diets. These changes include frequent snacking, replacement of traditional ethnic foods with energy-dense fats foods, the replacement of water with soft drink consumption, and lower fruit and vegetable consumption. A Middle Eastern dietary pattern as such is yet to be established as typical food selection and consumption practices present great variation from country to country.
Ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine tends to include traditional foods characterized by the inclusion of both whole and refined grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, eggs, red and processed meat, composite meat and vegetable dishes (casseroles), full-fat dairy products, olives, Middle Eastern pastry snacks and tea. Due to its central location, the dietary patterns of the Middle Eastern region have adopted culinary practices and food selection from Europe, Asia and the rest of the African continent. This influence can be observed strongest in the use of spices and staple foods and in the predominant cooking techniques including skewer cooking over charcoal or long, slow simmering in unglazed covered pots, characteristic of the entire Middle Eastern region. Middle Eastern flavors and spices may be identified as lime, ginger, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika and zaatar (dried thyme and oreganomixed with sesame seeds, and salt). Many Middle Eastern dishes are made with a paste called tahini, a sesame paste made with hulled seeds. It is used to make such popular meze, or appetizers, as baba ghanoush (an Arab dish of eggplant mashed and mixed with various seasonings)and hummus (fooddipor spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas> blended with tahini,olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic) along with pungent dipping sauces served with falafel (deep fried patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both), kofta (patties of minced or ground meat-usually beef or lamb-mixed with spices and/or onions)or vegetables.
Food products in Middle Eastern ethnic cuisine are becoming increasingly processed with grains tending to lose their fiber content due to a refinement process. Sorghum and millet, previously predominant in the diets of poor Middle Eastern countries, are becoming less important and replaced by refined wheat flour. Flat bread, couscous (traditional Berber dish made from steamed semolina) and rice are staples in Middle Easternethnic cuisine along with their variations such asmanakeesh (round bread sprinkled with either cheese, ground meat or herbs served for breakfast or lunch).Olives, as well as dates, figs, and pomegranates are also widely used. Dates are a particularly important staple, often eaten with coffee and to break fasting periods such as during the holy month of Ramadan. Although fruits and vegetables tend to be present regularly in ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine, data from the World Health Organization survey of Middle Eastern countries found that these foods tend to be consumed in insufficient amounts at below 5 servings per day. Fruits tend to be consumed in their juice presentation contributing to a high sugar intake and a further reduction of dietary fiber sources. Vegetables tend to be present in the diets of most Middle Eastern countries as part of traditional dishes including tabouleh (Arab salad traditionally made of bulgur or cuscus, tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion and garlic, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt), fattoush (salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onion, garlic, lemon, olive oil and mint), baba ghanoush and mahashi (stuffed vegetables, usually bell peppers, eggplant or zucchini filled with meat, pine nuts or rice). People in the Middle East are frequent consumers of dairy products, the most popular presentations includingleben, halloumi (goat and sheep cheese made without acid or bacteria) and yogurt. Hummus, falafel and foul (fava beans cooked with chickpeas, olive oil, parsley, onion, garlic and lemon) are popular legume-based dishes while many traditional Middle Easternethnic dishes are meat-based including kofta, shawarma (tender bits of skewered chicken, garlic puree and salad wrapped in pita bread), shish tawook (skewered chicken dish served with pure garlic paste), meat tagine(boiled vegetables with meat cooked in a traditional clay pot), machboos (cooked mutton, chicken, or fish served over fragrant rice that has been cooked in chicken/mutton spiced broth), mansaf (tender mutton, covered in yogurt sauce and sprinkled with almond and pine nuts) and warak dawali (stuffed grape leaves with a filling generally consisting of rice, minced meat or grain, onion, parsley, herbs and spices. Meatless fillings are cooked with olive oil and include raisins, nuts or pulses). However, meat consumption is declining partially due to financial hardship and increased food (meat) prices in some Middle Eastern countries. To close a meal, ethnic Middle Eastern cuisine requires sweets and tea or coffee. Traditional sweets may include umm ali (Egyptian bread pudding prepared from a pastry which may include raisins, pistachios, vanilla and condensed milk), baklava (buttery filo pastry, chopped nuts, sweet syrup and honey dressing) and kanafeh (cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup and a few drops of rose water or orange blossom water and sprinkled with crushed pistachios). Middle Eastern tea is usually black, served strong with sugar and mint (chai nanna); while coffee may be either of the strong, concentrated, black variety or the Arab-styled aromatic type spiced with cardamom and rose water.
One of the difficulties in comparing ethnic cuisine across such a diverse region as is the Middle East is the presence of shaping factors for the development of unique dietary patterns among populations that would otherwise are likely to have remained much more similar. Food in the Middle East is different in every country; nevertheless there are several general characteristics which all these foods, and all the countries, share. All Middle Eastern countries have rice and wheat dishes, stuffed vegetables, meatballs, vegetables cooked in oil, scented rice puddings, nut-filled paper-thin pastries, fritters soaked in syrup and many other common elements including the frequent use of raisins with pine nuts and garnishes of chopped pistachios and almonds. Great value is attached to cooking in the Middle East. In a region of strong family ties, large clans and women at home, hospitality is deeply rooted and offering food is the central act in the highly developed art of pleasing.
Copyright: © 2015 Garduno-Diaz. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

PubMed Indexed Article


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
LC-UV-MS and MS/MS Characterize Glutathione Reactivity with Different Isomers (2,2' and 2,4' vs. 4,4') of Methylene Diphenyl-Diisocyanate.

PMID: 31143884 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6536005


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
Alzheimer's Pathogenesis, Metal-Mediated Redox Stress, and Potential Nanotheranostics.

PMID: 31565701 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6764777


EC Neurology
Differences in Rate of Cognitive Decline and Caregiver Burden between Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia: a Retrospective Study.

PMID: 27747317 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5065347


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
Will Blockchain Technology Transform Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences?

PMID: 31460519 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6711478


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
Is it a Prime Time for AI-powered Virtual Drug Screening?

PMID: 30215059 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6133253


EC Psychology and Psychiatry
Analysis of Evidence for the Combination of Pro-dopamine Regulator (KB220PAM) and Naltrexone to Prevent Opioid Use Disorder Relapse.

PMID: 30417173 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6226033


EC Anaesthesia
Arrest Under Anesthesia - What was the Culprit? A Case Report.

PMID: 30264037 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6155992


EC Orthopaedics
Distraction Implantation. A New Technique in Total Joint Arthroplasty and Direct Skeletal Attachment.

PMID: 30198026 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6124505


EC Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine
Prevalence and factors associated with self-reported chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among adults aged 40-79: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2012.

PMID: 30294723 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6169793


EC Dental Science
Important Dental Fiber-Reinforced Composite Molding Compound Breakthroughs

PMID: 29285526 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5743211


EC Microbiology
Prevalence of Intestinal Parasites Among HIV Infected and HIV Uninfected Patients Treated at the 1o De Maio Health Centre in Maputo, Mozambique

PMID: 29911204 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5999047


EC Microbiology
Macrophages and the Viral Dissemination Super Highway

PMID: 26949751 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC4774560


EC Microbiology
The Microbiome, Antibiotics, and Health of the Pediatric Population.

PMID: 27390782 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC4933318


EC Microbiology
Reactive Oxygen Species in HIV Infection

PMID: 28580453 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5450819


EC Microbiology
A Review of the CD4 T Cell Contribution to Lung Infection, Inflammation and Repair with a Focus on Wheeze and Asthma in the Pediatric Population

PMID: 26280024 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC4533840


EC Neurology
Identifying Key Symptoms Differentiating Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from Multiple Sclerosis

PMID: 28066845 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5214344


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
Paradigm Shift is the Normal State of Pharmacology

PMID: 28936490 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5604476


EC Neurology
Examining those Meeting IOM Criteria Versus IOM Plus Fibromyalgia

PMID: 28713879 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5510658


EC Neurology
Unilateral Frontosphenoid Craniosynostosis: Case Report and a Review of the Literature

PMID: 28133641 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5267489


EC Ophthalmology
OCT-Angiography for Non-Invasive Monitoring of Neuronal and Vascular Structure in Mouse Retina: Implication for Characterization of Retinal Neurovascular Coupling

PMID: 29333536 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5766278


EC Neurology
Longer Duration of Downslope Treadmill Walking Induces Depression of H-Reflexes Measured during Standing and Walking.

PMID: 31032493 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6483108


EC Microbiology
Onchocerciasis in Mozambique: An Unknown Condition for Health Professionals.

PMID: 30957099 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6448571


EC Nutrition
Food Insecurity among Households with and without Podoconiosis in East and West Gojjam, Ethiopia.

PMID: 30101228 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6086333


EC Ophthalmology
REVIEW. +2 to +3 D. Reading Glasses to Prevent Myopia.

PMID: 31080964 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6508883


EC Gynaecology
Biomechanical Mapping of the Female Pelvic Floor: Uterine Prolapse Versus Normal Conditions.

PMID: 31093608 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6513001


EC Dental Science
Fiber-Reinforced Composites: A Breakthrough in Practical Clinical Applications with Advanced Wear Resistance for Dental Materials.

PMID: 31552397 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6758937


EC Microbiology
Neurocysticercosis in Child Bearing Women: An Overlooked Condition in Mozambique and a Potentially Missed Diagnosis in Women Presenting with Eclampsia.

PMID: 31681909 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6824723


EC Microbiology
Molecular Detection of Leptospira spp. in Rodents Trapped in the Mozambique Island City, Nampula Province, Mozambique.

PMID: 31681910 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6824726


EC Neurology
Endoplasmic Reticulum-Mitochondrial Cross-Talk in Neurodegenerative and Eye Diseases.

PMID: 31528859 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6746603


EC Psychology and Psychiatry
Can Chronic Consumption of Caffeine by Increasing D2/D3 Receptors Offer Benefit to Carriers of the DRD2 A1 Allele in Cocaine Abuse?

PMID: 31276119 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6604646


EC Anaesthesia
Real Time Locating Systems and sustainability of Perioperative Efficiency of Anesthesiologists.

PMID: 31406965 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6690616


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
A Pilot STEM Curriculum Designed to Teach High School Students Concepts in Biochemical Engineering and Pharmacology.

PMID: 31517314 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6741290


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
Toxic Mechanisms Underlying Motor Activity Changes Induced by a Mixture of Lead, Arsenic and Manganese.

PMID: 31633124 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6800226


EC Neurology
Research Volunteers' Attitudes Toward Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

PMID: 29662969 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC5898812


EC Pharmacology and Toxicology
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease.

PMID: 30215058 [PubMed]

PMCID: PMC6133268


News and Events


February Issue Release

We always feel pleasure to share our updates with you all. Here, notifying you that we have successfully released the February issue of respective journals and the latest articles can be viewed on the current issue pages.

Submission Deadline for Upcoming Issue

ECronicon delightfully welcomes all the authors around the globe for effective collaboration with an article submission for the upcoming issue of respective journals. Submissions are accepted on/before February 21, 2023.

Certificate of Publication

ECronicon honors with a "Publication Certificate" to the corresponding author by including the names of co-authors as a token of appreciation for publishing the work with our respective journals.

Best Article of the Issue

Editors of respective journals will always be very much interested in electing one Best Article after each issue release. The authors of the selected article will be honored with a "Best Article of the Issue" certificate.

Certifying for Review

ECronicon certifies the Editors for their first review done towards the assigned article of the respective journals.

Latest Articles

The latest articles will be updated immediately on the articles in press page of the respective journals.