Top 5 Middle Eastern recipes

The Middle East: home of pyramids, deserts, camels, myths, legends, great hospitality and of course, fantastic food. Fresh herbs, subtle spices (though some are, admittedly, more subtle than others), soul-warming breads, cool salads and deliciously seasoned meats – The Middle East is the place to visit for all of these. From Egypt to Turkey and Greece to Morocco, each country has its own culinary staples. Here are five of our favourites along with quick-fire recipes so you can whip up some Middle Eastern magic at home.


Hummus

Ingredients:
400g canned, rinsed chickpeas
¼ tbsp salt
2 gloves garlic
4 tbsp tahini paste
4 tbsp lemon juice
Olive oil, sesame seeds, cumin/paprika for serving

 A favourite to lather on warmed flatbreads or to use as a dip for carrots and other fresh, sliced-up vegetables; hummus is as delicious as it is nutritious. Served as a staple across the Middle East, this one’s as simple as grinding the ingredients up into a smooth paste. First, place the chickpeas in a pan and simmer for around 15 minutes, removing any skins that float to the surface. Then, use a pestle and mortar combine all ingredients for an authentic, rustic texture, or use a food processor for a speedy modern alternative. Add the water from the canned chickpeas slowly and as necessary whilst blending until you achieve a smooth texture.

Lamb köfte

Ingredients:
500g lamb mince
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 big garlic gloves, crushed
1 tbsp chopped mint
 
With just five ingredients, lamb köfte are yet another simple and fast Middle Eastern delicacy. Much like hummus, all it takes to make these delicious meaty morsels is to mix all the ingredients in a bowl, divide into evenly-sized balls (you should be able to get eight with this recipe), slide onto a skewer and cook until browned over a medium heat. A pan or gas BBQ works well for these, but a real, charcoal BBQ will give you that unbeatable, authentic flavour. Serve with hummus and you’ll be rolling around in Middle Eastern ecstasy.

Falafel

Ingredients:
450g of canned chickpeas
1 large chopped onion
2 cloves of chopped garlic
3 tbsp of chopped, fresh parsley
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste

An alternative to the above lamb köfte, or any other meat dish for that matter, falafel are fantastic thrown in a salad, in a fresh pita bread, or simply dipped in one of the Middle East’s delicious condiments (we’re talking hummus and tzatziki, not ketchup and mayo). Drain the chickpeas and bring to the boil for five minutes, then simmering for around an hour. Drain again, and allow the chickpeas to cool for 15 minutes. Throw everything in a bowl, and combine until you achieve a delicious-smelling, thick paste - use your hands/kitchen utensils for an authentic result, or a food processer for a quicker fix. Divide the mix into small, slightly flat balls and fry in a pan, with olive oil, until golden brown.

Tabbouleh

Ingredients:
40g bulghur wheat
3 medium tomatoes
3 cups coarsely chopped parsley
3 finely chopped green onions
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 clove garlic, crushed
60ml lemon juice
60ml olive oil

An iconic Middle Eastern salad, Tabbouleh makes the perfect accompaniment to almost any of the region’s dishes. Pair it with lamb köfte and hummus, why don’t you, for a semi-complete meal? Another deliciously simple recipe, all you’ve got to do for this one is half the tomatoes, scoop the fresh, dripping flesh over the bulghur wheat and refrigerate for an hour. Once that’s done, combine the rest of the ingredients and prepare your taste buds for an exotic taste sensation.

Turkish bread

Ingredients:
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
250g lukewarm water
450g bread flour
1 tsp salt
40g plain yoghurt
40g olive oil
1 lightly beaten egg
Fennel flower

 The Middle East’s assortment of delectable dips, sauces and salads make bread a must-have accompaniment for almost every meal. Smothering hummus or tzatziki across a warm tear of fresh, doughy softness is one of the greatest experiences you can have in your life. That may be something of an overstatement, but you get the idea. For this one, combine the yeast, sugar and water in a mixing bowl until the yeast dissolves. Then add the flour, oil, salt and yoghurt and mix well, before kneading for two minutes and leaving the dough to rise in a warm place for around half an hour. Once raised, divide the bread into two and stretch into rectangles, roughly the same size. Place on a well-greased baking tray; indent the surface with finger tips, brush with the egg, and sprinkle with fennel flower. Throw these delicious stretches of dough in an oven on 230*C for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve alongside the above four recipes for a tasty lunch or dinner.

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