9 Middle Eastern Inspired Dishes You Can Try At Home

Middle Eastern cuisine may seem intimidating to try on your own in the kitchen, but with these 9 recipes you'll be an expert in no time.

  1. 1

    Spiced Lamb In Toasted Pita With Tomato & Red Onion Salad Recipe

    IngredientsBaharat Spice8 cardamom seeds1 teaspoon coriander seeds1 teaspoon cumin seeds2 cloves1 teaspoon ground allspice1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonpinch of freshly grated nutmeg1/2 teaspoon chile powderSpiced Lamb1 pound ground lamb1 onion, very finely chopped2 cloves garlic, finely chopped1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and ground4 pita breads1 tablespoon olive oilTo Serve tomato wedges red onion slices flat-leaf parsley, chopped olive oil lemon juiceDirections1. To make the baharat spice, grind the cardamom, coriander and cumin seeds, and the cloves to a powder in a mortar and pestle.2. Tip into a bowl and add the remaining spices.3. Mix everything up, transfer to a jar and store until needed.4. Put the ground lamb into a bowl and add the onion, garlic, salt, 2 teaspoons of the baharat spice, the parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice.5. Mix well and use your hands to squelch and squeeze everything together.6. Slice the pita breads open and put a decent dollop of the lamb mixture inside each one, flattening the mixture to a thickness of less than an inch.7. Close the pitas and push down so that the meat is fully covered by the bread.8. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and add the oil.9. Gently cook the pita sandwiches on both sides until the pita is nicely toasted and the meat inside is cooked through.10. Serve with a simple salad of tomato wedges, red onion and flat-leaf parsley dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

  2. 2

    Arabic Fattoush Salad

    Ingredients1 tablespoon vegetable oil for frying2 small (4 inch) pita breads, torn into pieces1 large English cucumber, finely diced3 cups halved grape tomatoes1/2 red onion, finely diced3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley3/4 cup chopped fresh mint2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste1 clove garlic, crushed (or more to taste)kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteground sumaccrumbled sheep-milk feta cheese, or to tasteDirections1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place pita pieces into the skillet without crowding. Fry in batches until golden brown and blot dry with paper towels.2. Combine cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, parsley, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and sumac in a bowl. Gently toss salad with fried pita pieces. Adjust seasonings to taste.

  3. 3

    Fried Eggplant with Tahini and Pomegranate Seeds

    Ingredients2 large eggplants (2 1⁄2 lbs.)3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. tahini1⁄8 tsp. ground cuminVegetable oil, for frying 3 tbsp. carob molasses1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds 1⁄4 cup halved pistachiosInstructions1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 4 evenly spaced, 1-inch wide lengthwise strips of skin from the eggplants. Cut the eggplants crosswise into 3⁄4-inch-thick slices and then arrange on 2 racks, each set over a rimmed baking sheet. Season the eggplant slices generously on both sides with salt and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.2. Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce: In a blender, combine the lemon juice, 3⁄4 teaspoons salt, and the garlic, and purée until smooth. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the garlic to mellow. Pour the garlic and lemon juice through a fine sieve into a medium bowl, discarding the solids, and then whisk in the tahini and cumin. While whisking, slowly pour in 6 tablespoons ice-cold water, and continue whisking until the tahini sauce is smooth. Set aside 1⁄3 cup of the tahini sauce for the eggplant and reserve the remaining for another use.3. Pour enough oil to come 1⁄2 inch up the side of a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high. Using paper towels, wipe away the excess moisture and salt from the eggplant slices. When the oil is shimmering, add enough eggplant to fit in a single layer and fry, turning once, until very dark on the outside, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the eggplant to paper towels to drain briefly, and then fry the remaining eggplant slices.4. Arrange the eggplant slices on a large serving platter and drizzle with the reserved tahini sauce and carob molasses. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and then the pistachios and serve while hot.

  4. 4

    Middle Eastern Pizza

    IngredientsFor the Sauce:2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 yellow onion, chopped1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/4 tablespoon sumac (available at Middle Eastern and gourmet stores)1 35 -ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, dicedKosher salt and freshly ground pepperFor the Pizza:5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing1 pound prepared pizza dough, at room temperature1 medium eggplant, cubed1 teaspoon ground cuminKosher salt and freshly ground pepper4 cloves garlic, minced1 large red onion, thinly sliced8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, diced1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbledTorn fresh mint, for toppingDirections1. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic powder, sumac and tomatoes and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.2. Make the pizza: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil and stretch the pizza dough to fill the pan (it doesn't have to be perfect since this is a rustic pizza). Brush the dough with olive oil and bake until just golden, 10 to 15 minutes.3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cumin, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the eggplant is tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 5 more minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 15 minutes.4. Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Top the crust with 1 cup sauce, the mozzarella, eggplant mixture, caramelized onion, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and feta. Return to the oven and cook until the cheese melts and the crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 more minutes, brushing the crust with olive oil halfway through.5. Remove the pizza from the oven and brush the crust with olive oil again. Top the pizza with the mint.

  5. 5

    Challah Bread

    INGREDIENTS3 tbsp active dry yeast3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp sugar10 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting3/4 cup vegetable oil1 tbsp salt2 eggs (1 whole, 1 separated)nonstick cooking sprayPREPARATION1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 1/2 tbsp sugar in 2 cups warm water (110°). Cover and set aside for 10 minutes or until bubbles form. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, combine flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, oil, salt, 1 whole egg, and 1 egg white. Mix on very low speed.2. With mixer running, slowly add 1/2 cup warm water and continue to knead for 5 minutes.3. The dough should feel soft and not too sticky. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough, cover it, and let it rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.4. Coat two 8" cast-iron skillets with nonstick cooking spray.5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal balls. Roll each ball into a strand about 12" long. Weave 2 horizontal and 2 vertical strands to form a hashtag. Braid strands, moving right to left, always taking the strand underneath and crossing it over the next strand until a circle has formed. Repeat to form second challah.6. Tuck remaining ends under, and place each challah in one of the prepared cast-iron pans.7. In a small bowl, beat together remaining egg yolk and 1 tsp water; brush top of each challah with egg wash.8. Set pans in a warm place; allow dough to rise, uncovered, for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350°.9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool before serving.

  6. 6

    Middle Eastern-Spiced Cauliflower Soup

    Ingredients750 g (1 small) cauliflower, cut into small florets2 tsp ground cumin2 tsp hot paprika1 tsp ground coriander½ tsp ground cinnamon2 tbsp olive oilsalt and pepper1 small onion, chopped2 cloves garlic, chopped625 ml (2½ cups) good-quality vegetable stock2 tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra to serve80 ml (⅓ cup) natural yoghurt Instructions1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Place half the cauliflower florets in a bowl. Combine the cumin, paprika, coriander and cinnamon. Add 2 teaspoons of the spice mix to the cauliflower, along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season well and toss until evenly coated. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast for 20 minutes until golden. Turn the oven off but leave the cauliflower inside until you’re ready to serve.2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining cauliflower, onion, garlic and pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7–8 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add the remaining spice mix and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 16–18 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the heat. 3. Using a hand held blender puree the soup with the parsley until smooth. Stir through half yoghurt and adjust the seasoning to taste 4. Ladle soup into bowls and top with roasted cauliflower. Drizzle with the remaining yoghurt and scatter over the extra parsley.

  7. 7

    Baba Ghanoush with Sea Salt

    Ingredients1 large eggplant (about 1 lb)2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)2 lemons, juiced½ tsp paprika1 tsp garlicsea saltDirections1. Slice the eggplant into 1” cubes. Lay eggplant on a paper towel-lined tray and generously sprinkle with salt. Place more paper towels on top and let sit for 1 hour.2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.3. Squeeze out any extra liquid from eggplant with paper towels, then scatter eggplant cubes onto a greased cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little more salt (really!), and roast for 25 minutes.4. Remove roasted eggplant from the oven and transfer to a food processor or high-speed blender. Add tahini, lemon juice, paprika and garlic. Process until smooth but still slightly chunky. Add additional salt to taste.5. Serve babaganoush with pita bread, crackers or as a sandwich spread. Babaganoush will keep in the fridge for up to six days.

  8. 8

    Chickpea Burgers

    INGREDIENTS2 tablespoons sesame seeds1 tablespoon ground coriander1 tablespoon ground cumin2 teaspoons canola oil4 scallions, chopped3 cloves garlic, minced1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed1 cup cooked brown rice2/3 cup wheat germ, divided3 tablespoons lemon juice1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper4 6-inch whole-wheat pita breads, warmed8 slices tomato1 cup baby spinach4 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurtPREPARATION1. Heat a small skillet over low heat. Add sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add coriander and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 10 to 20 seconds more. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Grind with a mortar and pestle or in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder; set aside.2. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic; cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Set aside.3. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. (Alternatively, preheat a grill to medium-high.)4. Coarsely mash chickpeas in a medium bowl with a potato masher. Stir in rice, 1/3 cup wheat germ, lemon juice, salt, pepper, the reserved spice mixture and the scallion mixture; mix well. Shape the mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Place the remaining 1/3 cup wheat germ in a shallow dish and dredge the patties, pressing the wheat germ onto them firmly. If broiling, place the patties on a lightly oiled rack set on a baking sheet. (If grilling, oil the grill rack; see Tip.)5. Broil (or grill) the patties until browned and heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Tuck the burgers into pitas with tomato slices, spinach and yogurt.

  9. 9

    Turkish Coffee

    Ingredients 1 cup water1 tablespoon of extra finely ground coffee (powder consistency)1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1 cardamom podsugar (optional)PREPARATION1. Bring water and sugar to a boil in ibrik. If you do not have an ibrik, a small saucepan will work.2. Remove from heat and add coffee and cardamom.3. Return saucepan to heat and allow to come to a boil. Remove from heat when coffee foams.4. Again, return to heat, allowing to foam and remove from heat.5. Pour into cup, and allow to sit for a few minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cup. Cardamom pod may be served in cup for added flavor.

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