Middle East is
considered environmentally harsh, with over 90 percent dessert, and the other
10 percent dry with little rain. However, despite this condition, Middle East
has become one of the major food importing region in the 20th century (Zubaida
19). Their land is abundant with oil, fruits, spices, and vegetables. Their
cuisine is a melting pot of diverse regions such as Arab, Iran, Greek, and
etc…, making their dish unique and strong.
In this dry
climate, they have created a system called “Qanat”, a water-lifting systems
which allows access to groundwater. This system has allowed their people to
grow diverse crops and foods. Many of their staple foods including barley and
wheat are capable of growing in dry and high temperature climate. These crops
can be grown in drier soils and stored for a long time (Heine 2). Our recipe,
Bulgar pilaf utilizes bulgar as one of the staple crops which is parboiled,
dried and cracked (Zubaida 95).
harvesting of food and crops are very seasonal. In this case, most grains are
raised during winter, and fruit and vegetables during summer. Vine is
considered a seasonal crop and has a high demand in regions such as Damascus.
It’s ability to grow in poor soils and low water makes it a perfect seasonal
treat throughout Middle East. Grapes are harvested in late summer, and due to
their high sugar content, they are preserved and enjoyed throughout the year.
(Zubaida 19-24) Although wine is forbidden in Muslim because it is considered
“sinful” in their religion, grapes are still largely produced (Zubaida 220).
Touching upon this topic, one of our recipe, Hoshaf’s main ingredient is
One of our
recipe, ‘Kilic Sis Grilled Marinated Swordfish’ has swordfish as a main
ingredient. In Middle East, fish was traditionally preserved in salt, where
small fish such as anchovies were simply sun dried. An interesting fact is that
the flesh of the fish were considered clean, whereas those without scales, for
example, shark and sturgeon were considered unclean and prohibited to consume.
Our recipe calls to grill the fish, which is the most popular way of cooking
fish in Middle East (Heine 39).
bread is a popular dish eaten in Middle East. Author Jalal Qarooni
notes,’Flatbreads are probably the oldest, most diverse, and most popular
products in the world’. Most people in the world love flatbread and consume
various types from Central America, Africa, India, and especially the Middle
East (Qarooni Preface). Out of all, pita bread is the most popular. Pita is
derived from Israel and Greek cuisine, and is a soft, slightly leavened
flatbread baked from wheat flour (Quail 121).
Pita bread is
served at just about every meal in the Middle East. It can be used for dipping
or to make sandwiches. In traditional production of pita bread, doughs are
mixed, allowed floor time, divided and rounded by hand, and rested. Each piece
was then either rolled flat using a rolling pin or shaped using the hands and
fingers (Quail 47). Pita Bread has approximately 15% of energy, iron and thiamin,
25% of protein, and niacin. Pita is considered to provide high nutritional
value in many Middle East countries (Qarooni 160).
various types of ingredients and food, it is no doubt that Middle East has one
of the most unique and delicious dishes. Although the environment is harsh and
difficult to grow foods in, the people strived to use their resources to the
fullest. As a result, their foods are not only flavorful with indigenous
ingredients and rich spices, but also extremely nutritional.