Common Middle Eastern Foods: 8 of Our Most Favorites!

common middle eastern foods in a flatlay shot

If you’ve eaten shawarma, then congratulations, you have just experienced one of the many common Middle Eastern foods! However, Middle Eastern food is more than just shawarma. Read on for a list of these Middle Eastern dishes you should definitely try!

What is considered Middle Eastern food?

map of the middle east the bailiwick academy

So how can you say food is Middle Eastern? Well, it’s Middle Eastern cuisine if it came from the cultures around the Mediterranean, Red, Arabian, and Caspian Seas. 

So it can be Arab cuisine, Iranian cuisine, Lebanese cuisine, Turkish cuisine… any of these fall under Middle Eastern food. Believe us, it’s a very long list of countries and cultures!

Why is Middle Eastern food so good?

Generally, Middle East cuisine is known for the use of various spices that are both flavorful and very aromatic. One such example of this is turmeric. And you know you won’t miss it with its rich taste and strong yellow color.

In other words, this cuisine is great for people who really like to TASTE their food and experience variety.

Sounds a lot like a lot of us, wouldn’t you agree?

Oh, and this Quora user summarizes everything up nicely:

common middle eastern foods the bailiwick academy

What are these common Middle Eastern foods that are your favorite?

Well, we’re glad you asked! Without further ado, here are the examples of Middle Eastern food you should definitely try!

1. Hummus

hummus the bailiwick academy

This appetizer is a food you need to try! It’s a mashed chickpea dip consisting of tahini, olive oil, garlic, and in some cases, lemon juice. You blend all these together until you have a smooth and creamy sauce.

The great thing about this appetizer is that you can spread it on ANYTHING. It’s super flexible.

Yup, we mean anything. Have a burger or any kind of sandwich? Slather it there!

One bite and you’ll be glad you followed our instructions. 

And it’s also great to eat by itself. It is pretty easy to make this dish too!

2. Falafel

falafel balls the bailiwick academy

Falafel is a street food that many people enjoy. It’s a fried ball composed of chickpeas and various spices. 

It’s best eaten fresh and out of the fryer. You have to experience the delicious contrast of the crunchy texture and the light, fluffy inside. 

It usually serves as the protein for those who are doing vegetarian or vegan diets. You can eat in the form of a falafel sandwich or by itself, served with traditional Middle Eastern side dishes.

3. Shawarma

shawarma the bailiwick academy

It’s a delicious wrap consisting of meat, garlic or tahini sauce, and different vegetables. Everything is contained in a piece of pita bread (which we will get to later). 

What makes it super delicious is because of you slow-roasting the meat on a spit. That makes the juiciness and tenderness of the meat pop out. 

Traditionally, the meat used is lamb, but the more common shawarma (especially here in the Philippines) is either beef or chicken shawarma.

Trivia: Did you know some people claim shawarma to be a hangover cure? Well, it seems like a good excuse to eat one. And hey, if it works, it works!

4. Baklava

baklava the bailiwick academy common middle eastern foods

If you thought that Middle Eastern cuisine doesn’t have any desserts to its name, you thought wrong! Baklava is a sweet pastry that is made during special and social occasions in Turkish culture. (Like celebrating your wins, for example.)

To make baklava, you need thin phyllo dough sheets. Between these sheets, you layer a filling that’s usually made from chopped nuts, mixed with sweet syrup and honey dressing. Pistachio and walnuts are the usual nuts, but you can always change it up. 

The usual appearance of baklava is square blocks. However, there’s nothing stopping you from presenting it as cylinders or other shapes. 

If you want to make it even more delicious, you can add orange blossom or rose water to the sweet syrup. That helps make this treat even more authentically Middle Eastern!

5. Baba Ghannouj

Baba Ghannouj in a bowl on a blue cloth the bailiwick academy

If you love hummus, you’re definitely going to love baba ghannouj. It’s a dip just like hummus, but made of roasted eggplants. You’d definitely eat it the same way as hummus.

If you want a little kick, add some chili to this eggplant dip. It makes one heck of a difference!

Note: You can also spell this as “baba ghanoush”. Just so you know if you see this kind of spelling. It’s the same thing.

6. Lentil Soup

lentil soup the bailiwick academy

Since it’s the rainy season as we write this, you might be looking for something warm and comforting. If the usual chicken soup doesn’t do it for you, why not try lentil soup?

It’s a warm and hearty soup and is one of the basic appetizers of any Middle East cuisine. You can make it purely vegetarian or include meats. Any lentil may be used in the creation of this soup, whether brown, red, green, or black. 

Plus, lentils have amazing health benefits, like lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar. Health AND comforting – something worth trying, eh?

7. Pita Bread

pita bread common middle eastern foods the bailiwick academy

If we have Asian breads and commercial breads, then why not Middle Eastern bread? 

Pita bread is a flatbread that is soft and kind of chewy. It’s very versatile since you can eat it by itself (and dip it into hummus or baba ghannouj), and you can also serve it as an appetizer. All common Middle Eastern foods, whether Middle Eastern chicken or otherwise, are usually served with pita bread.

And of course, it’s the bread that holds together treats like shawarma and falafel sandwiches. 

Different countries have different cooking and shaping techniques, but all kinds of pita bread are delicious! 

8. Kebabs

kebabs the bailiwick academy

Heard of the saying “I’m gonna turn you into shish kebab?”

Well, despite the gory meaning, kebab is actually really delicious. Kebabs are minced or ground meat placed on skewers that are grilled over an open fire. You can add herbs and spices for additional juiciness and flavor. 

Traditional meats are mutton or lamb, but can also be goat, beef, chicken, fish, and even sometimes, pork. You can eat kebabs with rice or pita bread.

(Random thought: Father’s Day is coming soon. We bet dads everywhere would enjoy these meats!)

Where can I buy Middle Eastern foods?

The most common Middle Eastern foods you can buy here in the Philippines are pita bread, falafel, hummus, and kebab. And who can forget shawarma? Not us, since we experienced the proliferation of shawarma stalls back in the 90s.

We’re not complaining, though, especially since shawarma (and other Middle Eastern food) taste so good! Good thing there are plenty of Middle Eastern restos in the country.

Oh, and if you’re craving in particular for pita bread and kebab, you should meet our newest instructor:

That’s right! Rodney Martinez is going to be showing you how to make JUICY and TASTY kebabs! 

Did the preview tickle your taste buds? Well, you’re going to want to watch this video of his class: Easy Persian Style Kebabs

Ever tried to make kebabs at home? Did you have a hard time?

Well, with Rodney’s class, you’re going to be adapting his approach: simple, unpretentious, but BIG ON FLAVOR!

And we guarantee you’re going to get rave reviews! (As well as leave people asking for more.)

Enroll in his class, and Rodney will teach you his Middle Eastern recipes for chicken and beef kebabs. You’ll also make pita bread from scratch, as well as a delicious garlic sauce! We’re salivating now just thinking of eating all these together!

And because Rodney is very generous, you’ll also get bonus recipes for a hot chili sauce and chunky hummus!

What more can you ask for?

Enroll in The Bailiwick Academy today and add a Middle Eastern option to your food business!

P.S. If you’re reading this today, May 23, 2022, Philippine Standard Time, this class is discounted! 

common middle eastern foods the bailiwick academy

That’s right! Get it for only Php1999.20 – IF you get it before 8 PM today! 

Enroll in The Bailiwick Academy now!

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