What Is The Staple Food of Middle Eastern Cuisine?
Middle Eastern cultures have existed for almost thousands of years. Everything from their habits, dance forms and preferred choice of food speaks volumes about their rich cultural heritage. Their staple food is known to be one of the most nutritional diets to follow. This is because, unlike many other civilizations, Middle Eastern cuisine has not just preferred only one kind of grain. They also include plenty of food grains and protein-rich pulses.
Middle Eastern people have their sweet tooth satisfied by consuming lots of sweet, dry fruits. Many locals often reminisce about their childhood memories and how their elders and grandparents would hand them dry fruits akin to candies or chocolates.
There are many fascinating aspects of the staple food of Middle Eastern cuisine. They are listed as follows.
Types of Grains
The Middle Eastern region has two main staples when it comes to grains. They consume their wheat in different ways as well as cook rice to pair it well with meat. They also have many dishes which use barley or maize as the main ingredient.
There is a unique way of consuming wheat that is popular in this region. First, wheat is cooked partially in the water, just like rice. Then it is heated in the oven. This is called Burghul. There are a plethora of different recipes where burghul is used. It is flavoured just using indigenous spices.
Another grain, known as freekeh, is highly nutritious. It is said to be healthier than the world-famous quinoa.
Every dish derives its taste from its flavour. And each region has its own way of adding flavour and spice to its delicacies. With regards to the Middle Eastern region, these spices are magnificent. They add a unique aroma to the dishes that are hard to replicate.
These spices include cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves, coriander, chilly peppers, mint, parsley, etc. They also use clarified butter which adds flavour to their food in a subtle yet rich way. They also use garlic to flavour the different kinds of meat.
Religions and Their Impacts on the Staple Diet
The Middle Eastern region is home to three of the most impactful religions in the world. These religions have deeply impacted food habits and the preparation of each meal.
According to the Jewish as well as Islamic diets, pork is prohibited. Therefore, most people usually have lamb, chicken or mutton as their meat. Also, the emphasis on a kosher diet is strictly adopted by the Jewish population.
Some dishes that are a staple part of the Middle Eastern diet are shish kebab, kibbeh, etc.
Contrary to popular belief, Middle Eastern culture has a special place for vegetables. As they can grow a variety of greens, root vegetables and other variants, they prefer to include them in almost every meal of their diet.
Some of their favourite vegetables are eggplants, okra, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. They also like greens such as spinach, cabbage and chard. When it comes to roots, they consume garlic, beets, onions, turnips, etc.
Usually, they stir fry or grill their vegetables. That is why Middle Eastern food is very good for health because the goodness of those vegetables stays intact.
There are so many salad recipes that use plenty of boiled or stir-fried vegetables. Another common ingredient is chickpea which is used to make the world-famous hummus. They use pulses in their diet very generously.
Every culture has its unique concoctions of drinks for different occasions. One of the most famous of them is Turkish coffee. This coffee is strong and thicker in consistency.
During Ramadan, Muslim people have a drink made with an apricot. It is called Qamar-al-din. It is made by boiling apricots in water and sugar. After this is sundried to make into a powder consistency, this is consumed with sugary water and tastes delicious.
There are many Christians in the region who prepare their own wine and brew their own beer. These would be Armenians, Maronites, Assyrians, as well as Cypriots.
Speaking of alcoholic beverages, a drink named Arak is served with anise-spiced alcohol and served on social occasions.
In general, Middle Eastern people consume both coffee and tea. Some other flavours they consume are rose water, saffron, etc., in their beverages.
Commonly Consumed Dishes
One of the most popular ways of preparing their rice with meat is cooking meat in flavourful marinate and then cooked together in layers of rice and meat.
Another staple dish is the very popular Meze. This is an assorted mix of snacks such as hummus, mutabal, tabbouleh, etc. They include a lot of dry fruits in their diet. Other popular Middle Eastern dishes include many different types of milk, yoghurt and salads that have a yoghurt dressing with rich flavours from parsley and mint.
The Middle Eastern diet is very wholesome. It consists of meat, different kinds of grains, vegetables, salads and beverages flavoured with so many different spices. If you are finding a place to relish these Middle Eastern staples prepared in the most authentic way, look no further. Our chefs at Arabella serve the best meals of any Middle Eastern restaurant in Sydney.