For vegetarians looking to add some different food in to their lifestyle, looking to Arabic cuisine is a great idea. Not only does this food taste absolutely delicious, it generally has a less heavy dependency on meat like in many other countries. Arabic food is really widely varied and instead of the focus on meat, it places far more attention on vegetables and most importantly, the flavoring of the food using spices, herbs and cooking methods which pack each dish with punchy flavors.
Having spent a lot of time traveling, and eating my way through the Middle East, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite vegetarian dishes.
Koshary is a dish which originated in, and is now the national dish of, Egypt and it has spread through the neighboring countries. The dish is made using lentils, rice, macaroni noodles and a rich and spicy sauce on top. Not only does this dish make for a fantastic vegetarian option but if you are a budget traveler then you can find this dish throughout Egypt for a very low price.
Falafel has been rolled out across the world now but I challenge you to find falafel that tastes anywhere near as good as it does in the Middle East. If you haven’t heard of this dish, it is made using chick peas which have been blended with a range of spices such as saffron and paprika. The paste which is created by crushing the chick peas is then deep fried and served on a warm pitta bread with yoghurt. This is a delicious and wholesome dish which vegetarians will love.
When you are out and about in the morning throughout the Levant region, you will see Manakeesh just about everywhere and it has become a staple of the diet here. Manakeesh is a bread which is usually topped with cheese, thyme or even ground meat. This dish is a sort of breakfast pizza which is cooked in clay ovens. The bread, or dough, is made fresh on the morning and formed into flatbreads, before being fired on the oven and then topped.
This dish apparently came from Syria but it van now be found throughout the Middle East. The dish is a spicy meal which is made using walnuts, peppers, olive oil and breadcrumbs. Very much a snack, you will be served this spicy blend with some warm Arabic bread, and usually a glass of water! I you order this dish, make sure that you have a small taste before diving in, to avoid burning your mouth.
I’ll finish on the most well known of Arabic foods, it seems somewhat simple to put it in this list but how can one make a list without including this phenomenal dish. I love the flexibility of hummus and the amount of flavors which you can find it in, and I also love how many snacks it works with. You can have hummus served with bread, raw vegetables, or even use it to top rice or lentils.
And there you have it, a quick guide to eating Arabic as a vegetarian, if you haven’t began your Arabic adventure yet, now is the time.