Union for the Mediterranean: Bon appétit!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Editorial, European Union, Bon appétit, Union for the Mediterranean
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Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

Union for the Mediterranean © AndrewRT/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organization of 43 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean Basin: the 28 member states of the European Union and 15 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, the Middle East (the western and middle part of the Middle East & North Africa region (MENA)) and Southeast Europe. It was created in July 2008 at the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean, with a view to reinforcing the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) that was set up in 1995 and known as the Barcelona Process. The Union has the aim of promoting stability and prosperity throughout the Mediterranean region. It is a forum for discussing regional strategic issues, based on the principles of shared ownership, shared decision-making and shared responsibility between the two shores of the Mediterranean. Its main goal is to increase both North-South and South-South integration in the Mediterranean region, in order to support the countries’ socioeconomic development and ensure stability in the region. The actions of the organization fall under three, interrelated priorities—regional human development, regional integration and regional stability. To this end, it identifies and supports regional projects and initiatives of different sizes, to which it gives its label, following a consensual decision among the forty-three countries. The region has 756 million inhabitants and is culinary very diverse (European cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, Maghreb cuisine, Levantine cuisine, Middle-Eastern cuisine and Arab cuisine, traveller365.com: 22 Maps That Shows You The Most Delicious Dishes Around The World).


Pilaf © Mizu Basyo/cc-by-sa-3.0

Pilaf is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth. In some cases, the rice may attain its brown or golden color by first being sauteed lightly in oil before the addition of broth. Cooked onion, other vegetables, as well as a mix of spices, may be added. Depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain meat, fish, vegetables, pasta, and dried fruit
© Mizu Basyo/cc-by-sa-3.0

Albanian cooking traditions are diverse because of geographical factors such as climatic conditions suitable for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit. It is Mediterranean, influenced by many including Italian, Greek and Turkish cooking. It is characterized by the use of Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, mint, basil, rosemary and more in cooking meat and fish, but also chilli pepper and garlic. Vegetables are used in almost every dish. The main meal of the Albanians is lunch, which usually consists of gjellë (stew), the main dish of slowly cooked meat with various vegetables, and a salad of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives. The salad is dressed with salt, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice. In high elevation localities, smoked meat and pickled preserves are common. Animal organs are also used in dishes such as intestines and the head among other parts, which are considered a delicacy. Dairy products are integral part of the cuisine usually accompanied with ever-present bread and alcoholic beverages such as Raki. Seafood specialties are also common in the coastal cities such as Durrës, Vlorë, Shkodër and Sarandë.


  • Wheat Bread or corn bread are ever-present on the Albanian table. Hence the expression for “going to eat a meal” can be literally translated as “going to eat bread.” ‘Bread’ is also used in the authentic Albanian hospitality saying of “bread, salt, and heart”
  • Chicken livers
  • Eggplant appetizers
  • Dollma
  • Panaret – famous among Arbëreshë
  • Stuffed peppers – green peppers stuffed with rice, meat, other vegetables and herbs
  • Pickled cabbage
  • Fried sardines with lemon
  • Albanian-style meze – platters that include prosciutto ham, salami and feta cheese, accompanied with roasted bell peppers (capsicum) or green olives marinated in olive oil with garlic or onions
  • Papare – bread leftovers cooked with water, egg, butter, and Gjize (salted curd cheese)
  • Bread and cheese – referred as Buk me djath


  • Tavë kosi – baked lamb and yogurt dish
  • Veal or chicken with walnuts
  • Fërgesë of Tirana with veal (also see sataraš)
  • Qebapa – small grilled meat skinless sausages made of lamb and beef mix; served with onions, sour cream, ajvar and pita bread (pitalka)
  • Fried meatballs or Qofte të fërguara
  • Proshute a dry-cured ham
  • gjiri gic a roasted pig
  • Kolloface Korçe
  • Veal with very large lima beans
  • Harapash, polenta with the intestines of lamb, butter, cheese and corn flour
  • Paçe – common throughout the country and it is traditionally popular in Albania. Paçe is made with a sheep’s, pig’s or any cattle’s head, boiled until meat comes off easily. It is then stewed with garlic, onion, black pepper, and vinegar. Sometimes a little flour is added to thicken the stew. It makes a hot and hearty winter stew.

Salads: Albanian potato salad, Albanian tossed salad, Bean salad, Cabbage salad and Tomato and pepper salad.

Soups: Bean Jahni soup, Potato and cabbage soup, Soup with lemon, Groshët (famous among Arbereshe), Tarator, Trahana and
Shqeto, a soup from Lunxheri region of Gjirokaster.

Fish: Oven-baked trout (or Ohrid trout) with onions and tomatoes and baked whiting, carp, mullet or eel with olive oil and garlic


  • Byrek – Albanian vegetable pie; it can also have feta cheese, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, or meat; it’s a layered pie made with filo pastry. Another version of the fillings is served as a filling for “pite” or “pita”
  • Kungullur — Pastry layers filled with mashed pumpkin, butter, salt or sugar
  • Bakllasarëm — A traditional food prepared in Kosovo and Albania: it’s layered pie also known as “pite” or “pita” (Byrek) without anything inside, which is covered with yogurt and garlic, and then heated again. It is eaten for lunch
  • Flia – A traditional food prepared in Kosovo and Albania
  • Qumeshtore
  • Pepeq
  • Shaprak
  • Qollopita
  • Lakruar is similar to burek however, it has layers of filo dough with onion, olive oil, eggs. It is a specialty of the South regions of Lunxhëria

Desserts: Pâtisseries are present in every Albanian city. The most common desserts in Albania are made throughout the Balkans: Hallvë, Hashure, Kadaif, Samsa, Sheqerpare, Revani me sherbet, Hasude, Tambëloriz, Shëndetlie me mjaltë, Kabuni, Kanojët (also known as Cannoli), Qumështor, Krem Karamel, Tollumba (fried dough pieces in syrup), Gliko and fruit jams, Pandispan, Të plotit, Dhiple, Ballokume, Bakllava, Sunxhuk Mjalte me ara, Karkanaqe (Biskota te Shkrifeta) and Llokume. Read more on Wikipedia Albanian cuisine.

Shakshouka © flickr.com - jenly/cc-by-sa-2.0

Shakshouka is a typical North African food made with eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin © flickr.com – jenly/cc-by-sa-2.0

The cuisine of Algeria is a distinct fusion of Andalusian, Berber, Mediterranean, French, Ottoman, Arab and Maghreb cuisine. Every region has its own cuisine, including Kabylie, Algiers and Constantine. It is a very rich cuisine but it still is not known around the world. Most of the Algerian dishes are centered around bread,lamb , beef or poultry, olive oil, fresh vegetables and fresh herbs. Traditionally, no Algerian meal is complete without bread, traditional bread is almost always made with semolina, french bread is also widespread. Pork consumption is forbidden to devout Muslim inhabitants of Algeria in accordance with Sharia, religious laws of Islam.

Algeria, like other Maghreb countries, produces a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables and even some tropical ones. Lamb is commonly consumed. Mediterranean seafood and fish are also eaten and produced by the little inshore fishing. Algerians consume a high amount of meat, as it is found in almost every dish. Mutton is the most eaten meat in the country, Poultry and beef are also used, other uncommon types of meat such as game, birds and venison and they are considered a delicacy, wild boar is also hunted and eaten, but pork will not be available on stores, it can only be bought from hunters directly. In the south, dromedary meat is also eaten. Vegetables that are commonly used include potatoes, carrots, turnip, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, cabbages, eggplant, Olives, pennyroyal, cardoon, broad bean, chickpea and of course chili pepper. Vegetables are often used in stews and soups or simply fried or boiled. The Kesra, traditional Algerian flatbread, is the base of Algerian cuisine and eaten at many meals. A popular Algerian meal is merguez, an originally Berber sausage. A common and one of the most favorite dishes of Algerian cuisine is couscous (DW, 17 December 2020: Couscous joins UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list), with other favorites such as shakshouka, Karantita, marqa bel a’assel, a speciality from Tlemcen, and chakhchoukha which is very popular. Spices used in Algerian cuisine are dried red chillies of different kinds, caraway, Arabian ras el hanout, black pepper and cumin, among others. Algerians also use tagines, handmade in Algeria. Frequently Algerian food is cooked in clay vessels, much like Maghrib cuisine. Algerian cuisine represents the region north of the Sahara desert and west of the Nile. Algerian chefs take a lot of pride in cooking skills and methods and their many secrets lie in the variety of ways they mix special spices. There are many different types of Algerian salads, influenced by the French and Turkish, which may include beetroot or anchovies. There are also dishes of Spanish origin in Algeria, like the Gaspacho Oranais, an Algerian version of a Manchego dish.

Sweets like seasonal fruits are typically served at the end of meals. Common pastries include makroudh, Kalb Elouz and Zlabiya. eaten during the month of Ramadan and some pastries are prepared for special occasions like for Eid-al-fitr and weddings. Tea is generally drunk in the afternoon and for ceremonies with pastries. Algerians are heavy coffee consumers and thick espresso black coffee is very popular. Fruit juice and soft drinks are very common and are often drunk daily. Algeria previously produced a large quantity of wine during the French colonization but production has decreased since its independence,but there are some secular activist that want to produce wine again. Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Algeria.

Bosnian meat platter © BiHVolim/cc-by-sa-4.0

Bosnian meat platter © BiHVolim/cc-by-sa-4.0

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnian cuisine is balanced between Western and Eastern influences. The food is closely related to former Yugoslav, Middle Eastern, and other Balkan cuisines. Bosnian cuisine uses many spices, but usually in moderate quantities. Most dishes are light, as they are cooked in lots of water; the sauces are fully natural, consisting of little more than the natural juices of the vegetables in the dish. Typical ingredients include tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, courgette, dried and fresh beans, plums, milk, paprika and cream called pavlaka and kajmak. Typical meat dishes include primarily beef and lamb. Some local specialties are ćevapi, burek, dolma, sarma, pilav (pilaf), gulaš (goulash), ajvar and a whole range of Eastern sweets. The best local wines come from Herzegovina where the climate is suitable for growing grapes. Plum or apple rakija, is produced in Bosnia.

Meat dishes

  • Ćevapi – Bosnian kebabs: small grilled meat sausages made of lamb and beef mix; served with onions, kajmak, ajvar and Bosnian pita bread (somun),
  • Pljeskavica – a patty dish,
  • Begova Čorba (Bey’s Stew) – a popular Bosnian soup (chorba) made of meat and vegetables,
  • Filovane paprike and punjena paprika – fried bell peppers stuffed with minced meat,
  • Sogan-dolma – onions stuffed with minced meat,
  • Popara – bread soaked in boiling milk or water and spread with kajmak,
  • Ćufte – meatballs,
  • Meat under sač (meso ispod sača) – a traditional way of cooking lamb, veal, or goat under a metal, ceramic, or earthenware lid on which hot coals and ashes are heaped,
  • Pilav (pilaf) – grain, such as rice or cracked wheat, browned in oil, and then cooked in a seasoned broth,
  • Burek – a meat-filled flaky pastry, traditionally rolled in a spiral and cut into sections for serving. The same dish filled with cottage cheese is called sirnica, one with spinach and cheese zeljanica, and one with potatoes krompiruša. All these varieties are generically referred to as pita (Bosnian for “pie”),
  • Sarma – meat and rice rolled in pickled cabbage leaves,
  • Raštika – meat and rice rolled in kale leaves,
  • Grah – a traditional bean stew with meat,
  • Japrak – grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice,
  • Musaka – a baked dish made of layers of potatoes (or cabbage or egg plant) and minced beef,
  • Bosanski Lonac – Bosnian meat stew cooked over an open fire,
  • Tarhana – typical Bosnian soup with homemade pasta,
  • Sudžuk – spicy beef sausage,
  • Suho meso – air-dried meat similar to Italian bresaola and
  • Dolma – stuffed grape leaves with rice.

Vegetable dishes

  • Đuveč – vegetable stew, similar to the Romanian ghiveci and Bulgarian gjuvec,
  • Grašak – pea stew,
  • Kačamak – a traditional Bosnian dish made of cornmeal and potatoes,
  • Kljukuša – grated potatoes mixed with flour and water and baked in an oven; a traditional dish in the region of Bosanska Krajina,
  • Sataraš – a dish made with bell peppers, eggplants, onions and tomatoes,
  • Turšija – pickled vegetables,
  • Buranija – green bean stew and
  • Bamija.

Cheeses: Livno cheese, Suhi Sir, Kajmak and Pavlaka.

Desserts: Baklava, Gurabija, Halva, Kadaif, Kompot, Krofna, Krempita, Crêpe, Pekmez, Turkish delight, Ruske kape, Šampita, Rice pudding, Tufahija and Tulumba.

Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Egyptian kofta © Roland Unger/cc-by-sa-3.0

Egyptian kofta, prepared as “fingers” in the typical Arab world style, is served in a pita with French fries and salad
© Roland Unger/cc-by-sa-3.0

Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes, vegetables and fruits since Egypt‘s rich Nile valley and delta produce large quantities of these crops in high quality. Though food in Alexandria and the coast of Egypt tends to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, for the most part Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, so a great number of vegetarian dishes have been developed. Egypt’s Red Sea ports were the main points of entry for spices to Europe. Easy access to various spices has, throughout the years, left its mark on Egyptian cuisine. Cumin is the most commonly used spice. Other common spices include coriander, cardamom, chili, aniseed, bay leaves, dill, parsley, ginger, cinnamon, mint and cloves. The most common meats featured in Egyptian cuisine are rabbit, pigeon, chicken and duck. These are often boiled to make the broth for various stews and soups. Lamb and beef are the most common meats used for grilling. Grilled meats such as kofta, kabab and grilled cutlets are categorically referred to as mashwiyat. Offal is very popular in Egypt. Liver sandwiches, a specialty of Alexandria, are a popular fast-food in cities. Chopped-up pieces of liver fried with bell peppers, chili, garlic, cumin and other spices are served in a baguette-like bread called eish fino.

Cheeses: Cheese is thought to have originated in the Middle East. The manufacture of cheese is depicted in murals in Egyptian tombs from 2,000 BC (Egyptian cheese). Two alabaster jars found at Saqqara, dating from the First Dynasty of Egypt, contained cheese. These were placed in the tomb about 3,000 BC. They were likely fresh cheeses coagulated with acid or a combination of acid and heat. An earlier tomb, that of King Hor-Aha may also have contained cheese which, based on the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the two jars, appear to be from Upper and Lower Egypt. The pots are similar to those used today when preparing mish. Although many rural people still make their own cheese, notably the fermented mish, mass-produced cheeses are becoming more common. Cheese is often served with breakfast, it is included in several traditional dishes, and even in some desserts.

  • Areesh – A type of white, soft, lactic cheese made from laban rayeb,
  • Baramily – A type of white cheese aged in barrels, the name translates to barrel cheese in English,
  • Domiati – A soft white cheese usually made from cow or buffalo milk. It accounts for about three quarters of the cheese made and consumed in Egypt. The cheese takes it name from the city of Damietta and is thought to originate in Egypt, being first made some time after 332 BC,
  • Halumi – Similar to Cypriot halloumi, yet a different cheese. It may be eaten fresh or brined and spiced. The name comes from the Coptic word for cheese, “halum”,
  • Istanboly – A type of white cheese made from cow or buffalo milk, similar to feta cheese,
  • Mish – A sharp and salty product made by fermenting cheese for several months in salted whey. It is an important part of the diet of farmers. Mish is often made at home from areesh cheese. Products similar to mish are made commercially from different types of Egyptian cheese such as domiati or rumi, with different ages and
  • Rumi – A hard, bacterially ripened variety of cheese. It belongs to the same family as Pecorino Romano and Manchego. It is salty, with a crumbly texture, and is sold at different stages of aging.

Starters and salads: In Egypt meze, salads and cheeses are traditionally served at the start of a multi-course meal along with bread, before the main courses.

  • Baba ghannoug – A dip made with eggplants, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, cumin and oil,
  • Duqqa – A dry mixture of chopped nuts, seeds and spices,
  • Gollash – A phyllo dough pastry stuffed with minced meat or cheese,
  • Ruqaq – A phyllo dough pastry similar to gollash but with a thicker dough,
  • Salata baladi – A salad made with tomatoes, cucumber, onion and chili topped with parsley, cumin, coriander, vinegar and oil,
  • Tehina – Sesame paste dip or spread made of sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic,
  • Torshi – An assortment of pickled vegetables and
  • Hummus – A dip made from mashed chickpeas, it is often made with cumin in Egypt.

Main courses: Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as ful medames, mashed fava beans; kushari, a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, and other ingredients; molokhiya, chopped and cooked bush okra with garlic and coriander sauce; and feteer meshaltet. Egyptian cuisine shares similarities with food of the Eastern Mediterranean region, such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, shawerma, kebab and kofta, with some variation and differences in preparation. Some consider kushari, a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni, to be the national dish. Ful medames is also one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel (most commonly referred to as ta‘miya in Egypt), which originated in Egypt and spread around to other parts of the Middle East. Ancient Egyptians are known to have used a lot of garlic and onions in their everyday dishes. Fresh garlic mashed with other herbs is used in spicy tomato salad and also stuffed in boiled or baked eggplant. Garlic fried with coriander is added to molokhiya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can be also added to kushari.

  • Bamia – A stew prepared using lamb, okra and tomatoes as primary ingredients,
  • Bisara – A paste made from peeled fava beans. It is served cold and is normally topped with fried onion,
  • ‘Eggah – A type of omelette made with parsley and flour, similar to a frittata. It is baked in the oven in a deep skillet,
  • Fattah – A traditional dish eaten on festive occasions, particularly Eid al-Adha. A mixture of rice, chunks of lamb meat, eish baladi cut up into pieces and prebaked in the oven, all covered in a tomato and/or vinegar-based sauce,
  • Feseekh – Salted or fermented mullet, generally eaten on the spring festival of Sham El Nessim, which falls on Eastern Easter Monday,
  • Feteer – Pies made of thin dough with liberal quantities of samnah. The fillings may be either savory or sweet,
  • Ful medames – A staple in Egypt. Cooked fava beans served with olive oil and topped with cumin. It is always eaten with bread, in a sandwich or the bread is used as a utensil, to scoop up the beans,
  • Hamam mahshi – Pigeon stuffed with rice or green wheat and herbs. First it is boiled until cooked, then roasted or grilled,
  • Hawawshi – A turnover pastry filled with minced meat marinated in onions, pepper, parsley and sometimes hot peppers or chilies,
  • Kabab – Usually chopped and minced lamb meat on skewers grilled over charcoal,
  • Kamounia – A beef and cumin stew. It is sometimes made with offal, like bull genitals,
  • Kaware‘ – Cow’s trotters, it is often eaten with fattah. It is also common to boil the trotters into a broth, the tendons from the trotters and the resulting broth are enjoyed as a soup. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac in Egypt,
  • Kersha – Tripe cooked into a stew,
  • Keshk – A milk or yogurt savory pudding, made with flour, sometimes seasoned with fried onions, chicken broth or boiled chicken,
  • Kofta – Minced meat prepared with spices and parsley, rolled into a finger-shape and grilled over charcoal,
  • Kushari – An Egyptian dish originally made in the 19th century, made of rice, macaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a spiced tomato sauce, and garlic vinegar; garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. A sprinkling of garlic juice, or garlic vinegar, and hot sauce are optional,
  • Macaroni béchamel – An Egyptian variant of the Italian lasagna, without the cheese. Typically consists of penne slathered in bechamel sauce with a layer of slowly fried ground beef, onions and tomato paste, topped with some more penne in bechamel sauce, topped again with a thin layer of bechamel sauce and brushed with an egg wash, then baked to perfection. Some prepare it as a variant of the Greek pastitsio, incorporating gebna rūmī, an Egyptian cheese similar to Sardo or Pecorino cheese, along with a mixture of penne macaroni and béchamel sauce, and usually two layers of cooked spiced meat with onions,
  • Mahshi – A stuffing of rice, seasoned with crushed red tomatoes, onion, parsley, dill, salt, pepper and spices, put into vegetables like green peppers, eggplants, courgettes, tomatoes, grape or cabbage leaves. They’re then placed in a pot and topped with chicken broth or beef broth,
  • Mesa’a‘ah – Sliced eggplants that are lightly grilled and placed in a flat pan with sliced onions, green peppers, and chili peppers. The dish is then covered with a red sauce made of tomato paste and spices and then baked in the oven,
  • Molokhiya – Green soup prepared in various styles, wherein the mallow leaves are very finely chopped, with ingredients such as garlic and coriander added for a characteristic aromatic taste, then cooked with chicken broth. Other kinds of broths can be used such as rabbit, shrimp, which is popular in Alexandria, and fish in Port Said. It is often considered the country’s national dish,
  • Mombar – Sheep intestines stuffed with a rice mixture and deep fried in oil,
  • Rozz me‘ammar – A rice dish made by adding milk (and frequently butter or cream) and chicken stock or broth to cooked rice and subsequently baking it in an oven. It is frequently substituted for plain white rice at festive occasions and large family meals. It is normally served in a special casserole made out of clay called bram,
  • Sayadiya – A coastal dish. Rice with onion cooked in tomato paste, usually served with fried fish,
  • Shakshouka – Eggs with tomato sauce and vegetables,
  • Shawerma – A popular sandwich of shredded beef, lamb or chicken meat, usually rolled in pita bread with tehina sauce. This is a relatively recent import from Levantine cuisine, possibly brought by Lebanese or Palestinian immigrants, it has since become a firm part of the Egyptian culinary landscape,
  • Torly – A tray of baked squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomato sauce and
  • Qolqas – Taro root, generally peeled and prepared either with chard or tomato. Unpeeled qolqas and eggplant make the ṭabkha sawda, or “black dish,” served to and despised by conscripts in the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Desserts: Egyptian desserts resemble other Eastern Mediterranean desserts. Basbousa is a dessert made from semolina and soaked in syrup. It is usually topped with almonds and traditionally cut vertically into pieces so that each piece has a diamond shape. Baqlawa is a sweet dish made from many layers of phyllo pastry, an assortment of nuts, and soaked in a sweet syrup. Ghuriyiba is a sweet biscuit made with sugar, flour and liberal quantities of butter, similar to shortbread. It can be topped with roasted almonds or black cardamom pods. Kahk is a sweet biscuit served most commonly during Eid al-Fitr in Egypt. It is covered with icing sugar, and can also be stuffed with dates, walnuts, or ‘agameya which is similar in texture to Turkish delight, or just served plain. Kunafa is a dish of batter “fingers” fried on a hot grill and stuffed with nuts (usually pistachios), eshta or other sweet fillings. As of late bakeries have begun making various concoctions based on the kunafa, like kunafa with dates, mango and even red velvet cake. Luqmet el qadi are small, round donuts that are crunchy on the outside and soft and syrupy on the inside. They are often served with dusted cinnamon and powdered sugar. The name literally translates to “The Judge’s Bite”. Atayef is a dessert served exclusively during the month of Ramadan, a sort of sweet crêpe filled with cream or nuts and raisins. Rozz be laban is made with short grain white rice, full-cream milk, sugar, and vanilla. It can be served dusted with cinnamon, nuts and ice cream. Umm Ali, is a type of bread pudding served hot made with flaky pastry, nuts and raisins. Other desserts include: Feteer meshaltet, Couscous (Egyptian style, with butter or eshta as well as sugar, nuts and dried fruit), Halawa, Ladida, Malban, Mehalabeya, Melabbes and Mifattah (a thick paste of sesame and molasses).

Cuisine and religious practice: Although Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually a time when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food variety and richness, since breaking the fast is a family affair, often with entire extended families meeting at the table just after sunset. There are several special desserts served almost exclusive during Ramadan, such as kunafa and atayef. In this month, many Egyptians prepare a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma’edet Rahman, which literally translates to “Table of the Merciful”, referring to one of the 99 names of God in Islam. These may be fairly simple or quite lavish, depending on the wealth and ostentation of the provider. Observant Christians in Egypt adhere to fasting periods according to the Coptic calendar; these may practically extend to more than two-thirds of the year for the most extreme and observant. The more secular Coptic population mainly fasts only for Easter and Christmas. The Coptic diet for fasting is essentially vegan. During this fasting, Copts usually eat vegetables and legumes fried in oil and avoid meat, chicken, and dairy products, including butter and cream. Read more on Wikipedia Egyptian cuisine.

Israeli breakfast © flickr.com - Or Hiltch/cc-by-2.0

Israeli breakfast © flickr.com – Or Hiltch/cc-by-2.0

The Israeli cuisine comprises local dishes by people native to Israel (Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinian Arabs) and dishes brought to Israel by Jews from the Diaspora. Since before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and particularly since the late 1970s, an Israeli Jewish fusion cuisine has developed, which is called Israeli cuisine in Israel. Israeli cuisine has adopted, and continues to adapt, elements of various styles of Jewish cuisine, particularly the Mizrahi, Sephardic and Ashkenazi styles of cooking. It incorporates many foods traditionally eaten in Levantine, Middle Eastern, Arab, Persian, Maghreb, Eastern European and Mediterranean cuisines, and foods such as falafel, hummus, msabbha, shakshouka, couscous, and za’atar are now widely popular in Israel. Other influences on the cuisine are the availability of foods common to the Mediterranean region, especially certain kinds of fruits and vegetables, dairy products and fish; the distinctive traditional dishes prepared at holiday times; the tradition of keeping kosher; and food customs specific to Shabbat and different Jewish holidays, such as challah, jachnun, malawach, gefilte fish, hamin, me’orav yerushalmi and sufganiyot. New dishes based on agricultural products such as oranges, avocados, dairy products and fish, and others based on world trends have been introduced over the years, and chefs trained abroad have brought in elements of other international cuisines. Geography has a large influence on Israel cuisine, and foods common in the Mediterranean region, such as olives, wheat, chickpeas, dairy products, fish, and vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchini are prominent in Israeli cuisine. Fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful in Israel and are cooked and served in many ways. There are various climatic areas in Israel and areas it has settled that allow a variety of products to be grown. Citrus trees such as orange, lemon and grapefruit thrive on the coastal plain. Figs, pomegranates and olives also grow in the cooler hill areas. The subtropical climate near the Sea of Galilee and in the Jordan River Valley is suitable for mangoes, kiwis and bananas, while the temperate climate of the mountains of the Galilee and the Syrian Golan is suitable for grapes, apples and cherries. Israeli eating customs also conform to the wider Mediterranean region, with lunch, rather than dinner, being the focal meal of a regular workday. “Kibbutz foods” have been adopted by many Israelis for their light evening meals as well as breakfasts, and may consist of various types of cheeses, both soft and hard, yogurt, labne and sour cream, vegetables and salads, olives, hard-boiled eggs or omelets, pickled and smoked herring, a variety of breads, and fresh orange juice and coffee. Israel does not have a universally recognized national dish; however, many consider it to be falafel, deep fried balls of seasoned, ground chickpeas. Street vendors throughout Israel sell falafel and it is a favorite “street food”. One book called the Israeli breakfast “the Jewish state’s contribution to world cuisine”. Foods variously prohibited in Jewish dietary laws (Kashrut) and in Muslim dietary laws (Halal) may also be included in pluralistic Israel’s diverse cuisine. Although partly legally restricted, pork and shell-fish are available at many non-kosher restaurants (only around a third of Israeli restaurants have a kosher license) and some stores all over the country which are widely spread, including by the Maadaney Mizra, Tiv Ta’am and Maadanei Mania supermarket chains. A modern Hebrew euphemism for pork is “white meat”. Despite Jewish and Muslim religious restrictions on the consumption of pork, pigmeat consumption per capita was 2.7 kg in 2009. A 2008 survey reported that about half of Israeli Jews do not always observe kashrut. Israel’s anomalous equanimity toward its religious dietary restrictions may be reflected by the fact that some of the Hebrew cookbooks of Yisrael Aharoni are published in two versions: kosher and non-kosher editions. Israel is a wine producing country. Popular among young Israelis is the Arabic anise drink Arak.

Salads and appetizers: Vegetable salads are eaten with most meals, including the traditional Israeli breakfast, which will usually include eggs, bread, and dairy products such as yogurt or cottage cheese. For lunch and dinner, salad may be served a side dish. A light meal of salad (“Salat”), hummus and French fries (“Chips”) served in a pita is referred to as hummuschipsalat.

  • Israeli salad is typically made with finely chopped tomatoes and cucumbers dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Variations include the addition of diced red or green bell peppers, grated carrot, finely shredded cabbage or lettuce, sliced radish, fennel, spring onions and chives, chopped parsley, or other herbs and spices such as mint, za’atar and sumac. Although popularized by the kibbutzim, versions of this mixed salad were brought to Israel from various places. For example, Jews from India prepare it with finely chopped ginger and green chili peppers, North African Jews may add preserved lemon peel and cayenne pepper, and Bukharan Jews chop the vegetables extremely finely and use vinegar, without oil, in the dressing.
  • Tabbouleh is a Levantine vegan dish (sometimes considered a salad) traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Some Israeli variations of the salad use pomegranate seeds instead of tomatoes.
  • Sabich salad is a variation of the well known Israeli dish Sabich, the ingredients of the salad are eggplant, boiled eggs/hard boiled eggs, tahini, Israeli salad, potato, parsley and amba.
  • Kubba is a dish made of rice/semolina/burghul (cracked wheat), minced onions and finely ground lean beef, lamb or chicken. The best-known variety is a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef, chicken or lamb. It was brought to Israel by Jews of Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian origin.
  • Sambusak is a semi-circular pocket of dough filled with mashed chickpeas, fried onions and spices. There is another variety filled with meat, fried onions, parsley, spices and pine nuts, which is sometimes mixed with mashed chickpeas and breakfast version with feta or tzfat cheese and za’atar. It can be fried and cooked.
  • Sigarim are soft minced meat with onions and spices or mashed patato filling wrapped in phyllo-dough, and deep fried in oil or oven baked. They are commonly served at weddings and other celebrations.
  • Roasted vegetables includes bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, eggplants and also sometimes potatoes and zucchini. Usually served with grilled meat
  • Hamusim are pickled vegetables made by soaking in water and salt (and sometimes olive oil) in a pot and withdrawing them from air. Ingredients can include: cucumber, cabbage, eggplant, carrot, turnip, radish, onion, caper, lemon, olives, cauliflower, tomatoes, chili pepper, bell pepper, garlic and beans.
  • A large variety of eggplant salads and dips are made with roasted eggplants. Baba ghanoush, called salat ḥatzilim in Israel, is made with tahina and other seasonings such as garlic, lemon juice, onions, herbs and spices. The eggplant is sometimes grilled over an open flame so that the pulp has a smoky taste. A particularly Israeli variation of the salad is made with mayonnaise called salat ḥatzilim b’mayonnaise. Eggplant salads are also made with yogurt, or with feta cheese, chopped onion and tomato, or in the style of Romanian Jews, with roasted red pepper.
  • Tahina is often used as a dressing for falafel, serves as a cooking sauce for meat and fish, and forms the basis of sweets such as halva.
  • Hummus is a cornerstone of Israeli cuisine, and consumption in Israel has been compared by food critic Elena Ferretti to “peanut butter in America, Nutella in Europe or Vegemite in Australia”. Hummus in pita is a common lunch for schoolchildren, and is a popular addition to many meals. Supermarkets offer a variety of commercially prepared hummus, and some Israelis will go out of their way for fresh hummus prepared at a hummusia, an establishment devoted exclusively to selling hummus.
  • Salat avocado is an Israeli-style avocado salad, with lemon juice and chopped scallions (spring onions), was introduced by farmers who planted avocado trees on the coastal plain in the 1920s. Avocados have since become a winter delicacy and are cut into salads as well as being spread on bread.
  • A meze of fresh and cooked vegetable salads, pickled cucumbers and other vegetables, hummus, ful, tahini and amba dips, labneh cheese with olive oil, and ikra is served at festive meals and in restaurants. Salads include Turkish salad (a piquant salad of finely chopped onions, tomatoes, herbs and spices), tabbouleh, carrot salad, marinated roasted red and green peppers, deep fried cauliflower florets, matbucha, torshi (pickled vegetables) and various eggplant salads.
  • Modern Israeli interpretations of the meze blend traditional and modern, pairing ordinary appetizers with unique combinations such as fennel and pistachio salad, beetroot and pomegranate salad, and celery and kashkaval cheese salad.
  • Stuffed vegetables, called memula’im, were originally designed to extend cheap ingredients into a meal. They are prepared by cooks in Israel from all ethnic backgrounds and are made with many varying flavors, such as spicy or sweet-and-sour, with ingredients such as bell peppers, chili peppers, figs, onion, artichoke bottoms, Swiss chard, beet, dried fruits, tomato, vine leaves, potatoes, mallow, eggplants and zucchini squash, and stuffing such as meat and rice in Balkan style, bulgur in Middle Eastern fashion, or with ptitim, a type of Israeli pasta. The Ottoman Turks introduced stuffed vine leaves in the 16th century and vine leaves are commonly stuffed with a combination of meat and rice, although other fillings, such as lentils, have evolved among the various communities. Artichoke bottoms stuffed with meat are famous as one the grand dishes of the Sephardi Jerusalem cuisine of the Old Yishuv. Stuffed dates and dried fruits served with rice and burgul dishes. Stuffed half zucchini is called by its Ladino name, Medias; it was brought from Spain by Sephardic Jews in 1492.

Soups and dumplings

  • A variety of soups are enjoyed, particularly in the winter. Chicken soup has been a mainstay of Jewish cuisine since medieval times and is popular in Israel. Classic chicken soup is prepared as a simple broth with a few vegetables, such as onion, carrot and celery, and herbs such as dill and parsley. More elaborate versions are prepared by Sephardim with orzo or rice, or the addition of lemon juice or herbs such as mint or coriander, while Ashkenazim may add noodles. An Israeli adaption of the traditional Ashkenazi soup pasta known as mandlen, called “shkedei marak” (“soup almonds”) in Israel, are commonly served with chicken soup.
  • Particularly on holidays, dumplings are served with the soup, such as the kneidlach (matzah balls) of the Ashkenazim or the gondi (chickpea dumplings) of Iranian Jews, or kubba, a family of dumplings brought to Israel by Middle Eastern Jews. Especially popular are kubba prepared from bulgur and stuffed with ground lamb and pine nuts, and the soft semolina or rice kubba cooked in soup, which Jews of Kurdish or Iraqi heritage habitually enjoy as a Friday lunchtime meal.
  • Lentil soup is prepared in many ways, with additions such as cilantro or meat. Other soups include the harira of the Moroccan Jews, which is a spicy soup of lamb (or chicken), chickpeas, lentils and rice, and Yemenite bone marrow soup known as ftut, which is served on special occasions such as weddings, and is seasoned with the traditional hawaij spice mix.
  • White Bean soup in tomato sauce is common in Jerusalem because Sephardic Jews settled in the city after being expelled from Andalusia.

Grains and pasta

  • Rice is prepared in numerous ways in Israel, from simple steamed white rice to festive casseroles. It is also cooked with spices and served with almonds and pine nuts. “Green” rice, prepared with a variety of fresh chopped herbs, is a favored by Persian Jews. Another rice dish is prepared with thin noodles that are first fried and then boiled with the rice. Mujadara is a popular rice and lentil dish, adopted from Arab cuisine. Orez Shu’it is a dish invented in Jerusalem by Sephardic Jews, it is made of white beans cooked in a tomato stew and served on white rice it is eaten widely in Jerusalem region.
  • Couscous was brought to Israel by Jews from North Africa. It is still prepared in some restaurants or by traditional cooks by passing semolina through a sieve several times and then cooking it over an aromatic broth in a special steamer pot called a couscoussière. Generally, “instant” couscous is widely used for home cooking. Couscous is used in salads, main courses and even some desserts. As a main course, chicken or lamb, or the vegetables cooked in a soup flavored with saffron or turmeric are served on the steamed couscous.
  • Ptitim is an Israeli pasta which now comes in many shapes, including pearls, loops, stars and hearts, but was originally shaped like grains of rice. It originated in the early days of the State of Israel as a wheat-based substitute for rice, when rice, a staple of the Mizrahi Jews, was scarce. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is reputed to have asked the Osem company to devise this substitute, and it was thus nicknamed “Ben-Gurion rice”. Ptitim can be boiled like pasta, prepared pilaf-style by sautéing and then boiling in water or stock, or baked in a casserole. Like other pasta, it can be flavored in many ways with spices, herbs and sauces. Once considered primarily a food for children, ptitim is now prepared in restaurants both in Israel and internationally.
  • Burgul is a kind of dried cracked wheat, served sometimes instead of rice.

Fish: Fresh fish is readily available, caught off Israel’s coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, or in the Sea of Galilee, or raised in ponds in the wake of advances in fish farming in Israel. Fresh fish is served whole, in the Mediterranean style, grilled, or fried, dressed only with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Trout (called forel), gilthead seabream (called denisse), St. Peter’s fish (known as ‘musht’) and other fresh fish are prepared this way. Fish are also eaten baked, with or without vegetables, or fried whole or in slices, or grilled over coals, and served with different sauces. Fish are also braised, as in a dish called hraime, in which fish such as grouper (better known in Israel by its Arabic name lokus) or halibut is prepared in a sauce with hot pepper and other spices for Rosh Hashanah, Passover and the Sabbath by North African Jews. Everyday versions are prepared with cheaper kinds of fish and are served in market eateries, public kitchens and at home for weekday meals.

  • Fish, traditionally carp, but now other firm white fish too, are minced and shaped into loaves or balls and cooked in fish broth, such as the gefilte fish of the Ashkenazi Jews, who also brought pickled herring from Eastern Europe. Herring is often served at the kiddush that follows synagogue services on Shabbat, especially in Ashkenazi communities. In the Russian immigrant community it may be served as a light meal with boiled potatoes, sour cream, dark breads and schnapps or vodka.
  • Fish Kufta is usually fried with spices, herbs and onions (sometimes also pine nuts) and served with tahini or yogurt sauce. Boiled Fish Kufta is cooked in a tomato, tahini or yogurt sauce.
  • Tilapia baked with tahini sauce and topped with olive oil, coriander, mint, basil and pine nuts (and sometimes also with fried onions) is a specialty of Tiberias.

Poultry and meat: Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Israel, followed by turkey. Chicken is prepared in a multitude of ways, from simple oven-roasted chicken to elaborate casseroles with rich sauces such as date syrup, tomato sauce, etc. Examples include chicken casserole with couscous, inspired by Moroccan Jewish cooking, chicken with olives, a Mediterranean classic, and chicken albondigas (meat balls) in tomato sauce, from Jerusalem Sephardi cuisine. Albondigas are also prepared from ground meat, similar to albogindas is the more popular Kufta which is made of minced meat, herbs and spices and cooked with tomato sauce, date syrup, pomegranate syrup or tamarind syrup with vegetables or beans. Grilled and barbecued meat are common in Israeli cuisine. The country has many small eateries specializing in beef and lamb kebab, shish taouk, merguez and shashlik. Outdoor barbecuing, known as mangal or al ha-esh (on the fire) is a beloved Israeli pastime. In modern times, Israel Independence Day is frequently celebrated with a picnic or barbecue in parks and forests around the country. Skewered Goose Liver is a dish from southern Tel Aviv. It is grilled with salt and black pepper and sometimes with spices like cumin or baharat spice mix.

  • Chicken or lamb baked in the oven is very common with potatoes, and sometimes fried onions as well.
  • Turkey schnitzel is an Israeli adaptation of veal schnitzel, and is an example of the transformations common in Israeli cooking. The schnitzel was brought to Israel by Jews from Central Europe, but before and during the early years of the State of Israel veal was unobtainable and chicken or turkey was an inexpensive and tasty substitute. Furthermore, a Wiener schnitzel is cooked in both butter and oil, but in Israel only oil is used, because of kashrut. Today, most cooks buy schnitzel already breaded and serve it with hummus, tahina, and other salads for a quick main meal. Other immigrant groups have added variations from their own backgrounds; Yemenite Jews, for example, flavor it with hawaij. In addition, vegetarian versions have become popular and the Israeli food company, Tiv′ol, was the first to produce a vegetarian schnitzel from a soya meat-substitute.
  • Various types of sausage are part of Sephardi and Mizrahi cuisine in Israel. Jews from Tunisia make a sausage, called osban, with a filling of ground meat or liver, rice, chopped spinach, and a blend of herbs and spices. Jews from Syria make smaller sausages, called gheh, with a different spice blend while Jews from Iraq make the sausages, called mumbar, with chopped meat and liver, rice, and their traditional mix of spices.
  • Moussaka is an oven-baked layer dish ground meat and eggplant casserole that, unlike its Levantine rivals, is served hot.
  • Meat stews (chicken, lamb and beef) are cooked with spices, pine nuts herbs like parsley, mint and oregano, onion, tomato sauce or tahini or juices such as pomegranate molasses, pomegranate juice, pomegranate wine, grape wine, arak, date molasses and tamarind. Peas, chickpeas, white beans, cowpeas or green beans are sometimes also added.
  • Stuffed chicken in Israel is usually stuffed with rice, meat (lamb or beef), parsley, dried fruits like dates, apricots or raisins, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice; sometimes herbs like thyme and oregano (not the dried ones) are added on the top of the chicken to give it a flavor and than it is baked in the oven.

Dairy products: Many fresh, high quality dairy products are available, such as cottage cheese, white cheeses, yogurts including leben and eshel, yellow cheeses, and salt-brined cheeses typical of the Mediterranean region. Dairy farming has been a major sector of Israeli agriculture since the founding of the state, and the yield of local milk cows is amongst the highest in the world. Initially, the moshavim (farming cooperatives) and kibbutzim produced mainly soft white cheese as it was inexpensive and nutritious. It became an important staple in the years of austerity and gained a popularity that it enjoys until today. Soft white cheese, gvina levana, is often referred to by its fat content, such as 5% or 9%. It is eaten plain, or mixed with fruit or vegetables, spread on bread or crackers and used in a variety of pies and pastries.

  • Labneh is a yogurt-based white cheese common throughout the Balkans and the Middle East. It is sold plain, with za’atar, or in olive oil. It is often eaten for breakfast with other cheeses and bread. In the north of the country, Labneh balls preserved in olive oil are more common than in the central and the southern parts. Adding spices like za’atar, dried oregano or sumac and herbs like thyme, mint or scallions is common when preserving the Labneh balls. It is especially common to eat them during breakfast because meat is usually not eaten in the morning.
  • Tzfat cheese, a white cheese in brine, similar to feta, was first produced by the Meiri dairy in Safed in 1837 and is still produced there by descendants of the original cheese makers. The Meiri dairy also became famous for its production of the Balkan-style brinza cheese, which became known as Bulgarian cheese due to its popularity in the early 1950s among Jewish immigrants from Bulgaria. Other dairies now also produce many varieties of these cheeses. Bulgarian yogurt, introduced to Israel by Bulgarian Jews, is used to make a traditional yogurt and cucumber soup.
  • In the early 1980s, small privately owned dairies began to produce handmade cheeses from goat and sheep’s milk as well as cow’s milk, resembling traditional cheeses like those made in rural France, Spain and Italy. Many are made with organic milk. These are now also produced by kibbutzim and the national Tnuva dairy.

Egg dishes

  • Shakshuka, a North-African (Tunisian) dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, is a national favorite, especially in the winter. It is traditionally served up in a cast iron pan with bread to mop up the sauce. Some variations of the dish are cooked with liberal use of ingredients such as eggplant, chili peppers, hot paprika, spinach, feta cheese or safed cheese.
  • Omelette is seasoned with onions, herbs such as dill seeds (Shamir), spinach, parsley, mint, coriander and mallow with spices such as turmeric, cumin, sumac, cinnamon and cloves and with cheese such as Safed cheese and Feta cheese
  • Haminados is an egg that is baked after being boiled it is baked alongside stew or meals, when it is in hamin when it is mainly taken outside the stew at morning for breakfast, it is also sometimes replaces normal egg at sabich. It is also eaten as a breakfast alongside jachnun, grated tomatoes and skhug.

Fruit: More than forty types of fruit are grown in Israel, including citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and the pomelit, a hybrid of a grapefruit and a pomelo. Fruits grown in Israel and the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank include avocados, bananas, apples, cherries, plums, lychees, nectarines, grapes, dates, strawberries, prickly pear (tzabbar), persimmon, loquat (shesek) and pomegranates, and are eaten on a regular basis. Many unique varieties of mango are native to the country, most having been developed during the second half of the 20th century. New and improved mango varieties are still introduced to markets every few years. Arguably the most popular variety is the Maya type, which is small to medium in size, fragrant, colourful (featuring 3-4 colours) and usually fiberless. The Israeli mango season begins in May, and the last of the fruit ripen as October draws near. Different varieties are present on markets at different months, with the Maya type seen between July and September. Mangos are frequently used in fusion dishes and for making Sorbet. A lot of Israelis keep fruit trees in their yards, citrus (especially orange and lemon) being the most common. Mangos are also now popular as household trees. Mulberry trees are frequently seen in public gardens, and their fruit is popularly served alongside various desserts and as a juice. Fruit is served as a snack or dessert alongside other items or by themselves. Fresh-squeezed fruit juices are prepared at street kiosks, and sold bottled in supermarkets. Various fruits are added to chicken or meat dishes and fresh fruit salad and compote are often served at the end of the meal.

Baked dishes, cookies, pastries, Rugelach: There is a strong tradition of home baking in Israel arising from the years when there were very few bakeries to meet demand. Many professional bakers came to Israel from Central Europe and founded local pastry shops and bakeries, often called konditoria, thus shaping local tastes and preferences. There is now a local style with a wide selection of cakes and pastries that includes influences from other cuisines and combines traditional European ingredients with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients, such as halva, phyllo dough, dates, and rose water. Examples include citrus-flavored semolina cakes, moistened with syrup and called basbousa, tishpishti or revani in Sephardic bakeries. The Ashkenazi babka has been adapted to include halva or chocolate spread, in addition to the old-fashioned cinnamon. There are also many varieties of apple cake. Cookies made with crushed dates (ma’amoul) are served with coffee or tea, as throughout the Middle East.

  • Jerusalem kugel (kugel yerushalmi) is an Israeli version of the traditional noodle pudding, kugel, made with caramelized sugar and spiced with black pepper. It was originally a specialty of the Ashkenazi Jews of the Old Yishuv. It is typically baked in a very low oven overnight and eaten after synagogue services on Sabbath morning.
  • Bourekas are savory pastries brought to Israel by Jews from Turkey, the Balkans and Salonika. They are made of a flaky dough in a variety of shapes, frequently topped with sesame seeds, and are filled with meat, chickpeas, cheese, spinach, potatoes or mushrooms. Bourekas are sold at kiosks, supermarkets and cafes, and are served at functions and celebrations, as well as being prepared by home cooks. They are often served as a light meal with hardboiled eggs and chopped vegetable salad.
  • Ashkenazi Jews from Vienna and Budapest brought sophisticated pastry making traditions to Israel. Sacher torte and Linzer torte are sold at professional bakeries, but cheesecake and strudel are also baked at home.
  • Jelly donuts (sufganiyot), traditionally filled with red jelly (jam), but also custard or dulce de leche, are eaten as Hanukkah treats.
  • Tahini cookies are an Israeli origin cookies made of tahini, flour, butter and sugar and usually topped with pine nuts.
  • Rugelach is very popular in Israel, commonly found in most cafes and bakeries. It is also a popular treat among American Jews.

Breads and sandwiches: In the Jewish communities of the Old Yishuv, bread was baked at home. Small commercial bakeries were set up in the mid-19th century. One of the earliest, Berman’s Bakery, was established in 1875, and evolved from a cottage industry making home-baked bread and cakes for Christian pilgrims. Expert bakers who arrived among the immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe in the 1920s and 30s introduced handmade sourdough breads. From the 1950s, mass-produced bread replaced these loaves and standard, government subsidized loaves known as leḥem aḥid became mostly available until the 1980s, when specialized bakeries again began producing rich sourdough breads in the European tradition, and breads in a Mediterranean style with accents such as olives, cheese, herbs or sun-dried tomatoes. A large variety of breads is now available from bakeries and cafes. Challah bread is widely purchased or prepared for the Shabbat. Challah is typically an egg-enriched bread, often braided in the Ashkenazi tradition, or round for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The Shabbat and festival breads of the Yemenite Jews have become popular in Israel and can be bought frozen in supermarkets. Jachnun is very thinly rolled dough, brushed with oil or fat and baked overnight at a very low heat. It is traditionally served with a crushed or grated tomato dip, hard boiled eggs and skhug. Malawach is a thin circle of dough toasted in a frying pan. Kubaneh is a yeast dough baked overnight and traditionally served on Shabbat morning. Lahoh is a spongy, pancake-like bread made of fermented flour and water, and fried in a pan. Jews from Ethiopia make a similar bread called injera from millet flour. Pita bread is a double-layered flat or pocket bread traditional in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It is baked plain, or with a topping of sesame or nigella seeds or za’atar. Pita is used in multiple ways, such as stuffed with falafel, salads or various meats as a snack or fast food meal; packed with schnitzel, salad and French fries for lunch; filled with chocolate spread as a snack for schoolchildren; or broken into pieces for scooping up hummus, eggplant and other dips. A lafa is larger, soft flatbread that is rolled up with a falafel or shawarma filling. Various ethnic groups continue to bake traditional flat breads. Jews from the former Soviet republic of Georgia make the flatbread, lavash.

Confections, sweets and snack foods

  • Baklava is a nut-filled phyllo pastry sweetened with syrup served at celebrations in Jewish communities who originated in the Middle East. It is also often served in restaurants as dessert, along with small cups of Turkish coffee.
  • Kadaif is a pastry made from long thin noodle threads filled with walnuts or pistachios and sweetened with syrup; it is served alongside baklava.
  • Halva is a sweet, made from tehina and sugar, and is popular in Israel. It is used to make original desserts like halva parfait.
  • Ma’amoul are small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts (or occasionally almonds, figs, or other fillings).
  • Ozne Haman is a sweet yeast dough filled with crushed nuts, raisins, dried apricots, dates, halva or strawberry jam then oven baked. It is a specialty of Purim. The triangular shape may have been influenced by old illustrations of Haman, in which he wore a three-cornered hat.
  • Sunflower seeds, called garinim (literally, seeds), are eaten everywhere, on outings, at stadiums and at home. They are usually purchased unshelled and are cracked open with the teeth. They can be bought freshly roasted from shops and market stalls that specialize in nuts and seeds as well as packaged in supermarkets, along with the also well-liked pumpkin and watermelon seeds, pistachios, and sugar-coated peanuts.
  • Bamba is a soft, peanut-flavored snack food that is a favorite of children, and Bissli is a crunchy snack made of deep-fried dry pasta, sold in various flavors, including BBQ, pizza, falafel and onion.
  • Malabi is a creamy pudding originating from Turkey prepared with milk or almond milk (for a kosher version) and cornstarch. It is sold as a street food from carts or stalls, in disposable cups with thick sweet syrup and various crunchy toppings such as chopped pistachios or coconut. Its popularity has resulted in supermarkets selling it in plastic packages and restaurants serving richer and more sophisticated versions using various toppings and garnishes such as berries and fruit. Sahlab is a similar dessert made from the powdered tubers of orchids and milk.
  • Watermelon with Feta cheese salad is a popular dessert, sometimes mint is added to the salad.
  • Krembo is a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat sold only in the winter, and is a very popular alternative to ice cream. It comes wrapped in colorful aluminum foil, and consists of a round biscuit base covered with a dollop of marshmallow cream coated in chocolate.
  • Milky is a popular dairy pudding that comes in chocolate, vanilla and mocha flavors with a layer of whipped cream on top.

Street foods: In Israel, as in many other Middle Eastern countries, “street food” is a kind of fast food that is sometimes literally eaten while standing in the street, while in some cases there are places to sit down. The following are some foods that are usually eaten in this way:

  • Falafel are fried balls or patties of spiced, mashed chickpeas or fava beans and are a common Middle Eastern street food that have become identified with Israeli cuisine. Falafel is most often served in a pita, with pickles, tahina, hummus, cut vegetable salad and often, harif, a hot sauce, the type used depending on the origin of the falafel maker. Variations include green falafel, which include parsley and coriander, red falafel made with filfel chuma, yellow falafel made with turmeric, and falafel coated with sesame seeds.
  • Shawarma (from çevirme, meaning “rotating” in Turkish) is usually made in Israel with turkey, with lamb fat added. The shawarma meat is sliced and marinated and then roasted on a huge rotating skewer. The cooked meat is shaved off and stuffed into a pita, plainly with hummus and tahina, or with additional trimmings such as fresh or fried onion rings, French fries, salads and pickles. More upscale restaurant versions are served on an open flat bread, a lafa, with steak strips, flame roasted eggplant and salads.
  • Shakshouka, originally a workman’s breakfast popularized by North African Jews in Israel, is made simply of fried eggs in spicy tomato sauce, with other vegetable ingredients or sausage optional. Shakshouka is typically served in the same frying pan in which it is cooked, with thick slices of white bread to mop up the sauce, and a side of salad. Modern variations include a milder version made with spinach and feta without tomato sauce, and hot chili shakshouka, a version that includes both sweet and hot peppers and coriander.
  • Jerusalem mixed grill consists of mixed grill of chicken giblets and lamb with onion, garlic and spices. It is one of Jerusalem’s most popular and profitable street foods. Although the origin of the dish is in Jerusalem, it is today common in all of the cities and towns in Israel
  • Jerusalem bagels, unlike the round, boiled and baked bagels popularized by Ashkenazi Jews, are long and oblong-shaped, made from bread dough, covered in za’atar or sesame seeds, and are soft, chewy and sweet. They have become a favorite snack for football match crowds, and are also served in hotels as well as at home.
  • Malabi is a creamy pudding originating from Turkey prepared with milk or cream and cornstarch. It is sold as a street food from carts or stalls, in disposable cups with thick sweet syrup and various crunchy toppings such as chopped pistachios or coconut. Its popularity has resulted in supermarkets selling it in plastic packages and restaurants serving richer and more sophisticated versions using various toppings and garnishes such as berries and fruit. Sahlab is a similar dessert made from the powdered tubers of orchids and milk.
  • Sabikh is a traditional sandwich that Mizrahi Jews introduced to Israel and is sold at kiosks throughout the country, but especially in Ramat-Gan, where it was first introduced. Sabiḥ is a pita filled with fried eggplant, hardboiled egg, salad, tehina and pickles.
  • Tunisian sandwich is usually made from a baguette with various fillings that may include tuna, egg, pickled lemon, salad, and fried hot green pepper.

Holiday cuisine

  • Friday night (eve of Sabbath) dinners are usually family and socially oriented meals. Along with family favorites, and varying to some extent according to ethnic background, traditional dishes are served, such as challah bread, chicken soup, salads, chicken or meat dishes, and cakes or fruits for dessert. Shabbat lunch is also an important social meal. Since antiquity, Jewish communities all over the world devised meat casseroles that begin cooking before the lighting of candles that marks the commencement of the Sabbath on Friday night, so as to comply with the religious regulations for observing the Sabbath. In modern Israel, this filling dish, in many variations, is still eaten on the Sabbath day, not only in religiously observant households, and is also served in some restaurants during the week. The basic ingredients are meat and beans or rice simmered overnight on a hotplate or blech, or placed in a slow oven. Ashkenazi cholent usually contains meat, potatoes, barley and beans, and sometimes kishke, and seasonings such as pepper and paprika. Sephardi hamin contains chicken or meat, rice, beans, garlic, sweet or regular potatoes, seasonings such as turmeric and cinnamon, and whole eggs in the shell known as haminados. Moroccan Jews prepare variations known as dafina or skhina (or s′hina) with meat, onion, marrow bones, potatoes, chickpeas, wheat berries, eggs and spices such as turmeric, cumin, paprika and pepper. Iraqi Jews prepare tebit, using chicken and rice. For desserts or informal gatherings on Shabbat, home bakers still bake a wide variety of cakes on Fridays to be enjoyed on the Sabbath, or purchased from bakeries or stores, cakes such as sponge cake, citrus semolina cake, cinnamon or chocolate babkas, and fruit and nut cakes.
  • Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is widely celebrated with festive family meals and symbolic foods. Sweetness is the main theme and the Rosh Hashana dinners typically begin with apples dipped in honey, and end with honey cake. The challah is usually round, often studded with raisins and drizzled with honey, and other symbolic fruits and vegetables are eaten as an entree, such as pomegranates, carrots, leeks and beets. Fish dishes, symbolizing abundance, are served; for example, gefilte fish is traditional for Ashkenazim, while Moroccan Jews prepare the spicy fish dish, chraime. Honey cake (lekach) is often served as dessert, accompanied by tea or coffee. Dishes cooked with pomegranate juice are common during this period.
  • The holiday of Hanukkah is marked by the consumption of traditional Hanukkah foods fried in oil in commemoration of the miracle in which a small quantity of oil sufficient for one day lasted eight days. The two most popular Hannukah foods are potato pancakes, levivot, also known by the Yiddish latkes; and jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot in Hebrew, pontshkes (in Yiddish) or bimuelos (in Latino), as these are deep-fried in oil. Hannukah pancakes are made from a variety of ingredients, from the traditional potato or cheese, to more modern innovations, among them corn, spinach, zucchini and sweet potato. Bakeries in Israel have popularized many new types of fillings for sufganiyot besides the standard strawberry jelly filling, and these include chocolate, vanilla or cappuccino cream, and others. In recent years downsized, “mini” sufganiyot have also appeared due to concerns about calories.
  • Tu BiShvat is a minor Jewish holiday, usually sometime in late January or early February, that marks the “New Year of the Trees”. Customs include planting trees and eating dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, carob, and almonds. Many Israelis, both religious and secular, celebrate with a kabbalistic-inspired Tu Bishvat seder that includes a feast of fruits and four cups of wine according to the ceremony presented in special haggadot modeled on the Haggadah of Passover for this purpose.
  • The festival of Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the plot of Haman to annihilate them in the ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire, as described in the Book of Esther. It is a day of rejoicing and merriment, on which children, and many adults, wear costumes. It is customary to eat a festive meal, seudat Purim, in the late afternoon, often with wine as the prominent beverage, in keeping with the atmosphere of merry-making. Many people prepare packages of food that they give to neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues on Purim. These are called mishloach manot (“sending of portions”), and often include wine and baked goods, fruit and nuts, and sweets. The food most associated with Purim is called ozne haman (“Haman’s ears”). These are three-cornered pastries filled most often with poppy seed, but also other fruit fillings. The triangular shape may have been influenced by old illustrations of Haman, in which he wore a three-cornered hat.
  • The week-long holiday of Passover in the spring commemorates the Exodus from Egypt, and in Israel is usually a time for visiting friends and relatives, travelling, and on the first night of Passover, the traditional ritual dinner, known as the Seder. Foods containing ḥametz – leaven or yeast – may not be eaten during Passover. This means bread, pastries and certain fermented beverages, such as beer (e.g., beer from Taybeh in Palestine), cannot be consumed. Ashkenazim also do not eat legumes, known as kitniyot. Over the centuries, Jewish cooks have developed dishes using alternative ingredients and this characterizes Passover food in Israel today. Chicken soup with matza dumplings (kneidlach) is often a starter for the Seder meal among Israelis of all the ethnic backgrounds. Spring vegetables, such as asparagus and artichokes often accompany the meal. Restaurants in Israel have come up with creative alternatives to ḥametz ingredients to create pasta, hamburger buns, pizza, and other fast foods in kosher-for-Passover versions by using potato starch and other non-standard ingredients. After Passover, the celebration of Mimouna takes place, a tradition brought to Israel by the Jewish communities of North Africa. In the evening, a feast of fruit, confectionery and pastries is set out for neighbors and visitors to enjoy. Most notably, the first leaven after Passover, a thin crepe called a mofletta, eaten with honey, syrup or jam, is served. The occasion is celebrated the following day by outdoor picnics at which salads and barbecued meat feature prominently.
  • In the early summer, the Jewish harvest festival of Shavuot is celebrated. Shavuot marks the peak of the new grain harvest and the ripening of the first fruits, and is a time when milk was historically most abundant. To celebrate this holiday, many types of dairy foods are eaten. These include cheeses and yogurts, cheese-based pies and quiches called pashtidot, cheese blintzes, and cheesecake prepared with soft white cheese (gvina levana) or cream cheese.

Read more on Haaretz, 21 November 2019: How Shakshuka and Other Middle Eastern Dishes Turned Into Iconic ‘Jewish Food’ and Wikipedia Israeli cuisine.

Petra mezze © flickr.com - Unai Guerra/cc-by-sa-2.0

A large plate of Jordanian mezze (appetizers and small dishes) in Petra © flickr.com – Unai Guerra/cc-by-sa-2.0

There is wide variety of techniques used in Jordanian cuisine ranging from baking, sautéeing and grilling to stuffing of vegetables (carrots, leaves, eggplants, etc.), meat, and poultry. Also common in Jordanian cuisine is roasting or preparing foods with special sauces. As one of the largest producers of olives in the world, olive oil is the main cooking oil in Jordan. Herbs, garlic, onion, tomato sauce and lemon are typical flavours found in Jordan. The blend of spices called za’atar contains a common local herb called Sumac that grows wild in Jordan and ia closely identified with Jordanian and other Mideastern cuisines. Yogurt is commonly served alongside food and is a common ingredient itself, in particular, jameed, a form of dried yogurt is unique to Jordanian cuisine and a main ingredient in Mansaf the national dish of Jordan, and a symbol in Jordanian culture for generosity. Another famous meat dish in Southern Jordan especially in the Bedouin Desert area of Petra and Wadi Rum is the Zarb which is prepared in a submerged oven also called a taboon. It is considered a delicacy of that area. Internationally known foods which are common and popular everyday snacks in Jordan include hummus, which is a puree of chick peas blended with tahini, lemon, and garlic and falafel, a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas. A typical mezze includes foods such as kibbeh, labaneh, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, olives and pickles. Bread, rice, freekeh and bulgur all have a role in Jordanian cuisine. Jordanian cuisine is part of Levantine cuisine and shares many traits and similarities with the cuisine of Lebanon, Palestine and Syrian, often with some local variations. More generally Jordanian cuisine is influenced by historical connections to the cuisine of Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire. Jordanian cuisine is also influenced by the cuisines of groups who have made a home for themselves in modern Jordan including, Armenians, Circassians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians. Food is a very important aspect of Jordanian culture. In villages, meals are a community event with immediate and extended family present. In addition, food is commonly used by Jordanians to express their hospitality and generosity. Jordanians serve family, friends, and guests with great pride in their homes; no matter how modest their means. A ‘Jordanian invitation’ means that you are expected to bring nothing and eat everything. Most of the celebrations in Jordan are exceptionally diverse in nature and quite festive at the same time. Each celebration is marked with dishes from Jordanian cuisine spread out and served to the guests. There are many traditional small gatherings in Jordan too; even in those gatherings a lot of meals are served. Customs such as weddings, birth of a child, funerals, birthdays and specific religious and national ceremonies such as Ramadan and Jordan’s independence day all call for splendid food to be served to guests. To celebrate the birth of a child, Karawiya, a caraway flavoured pudding is commonly served to guests.

Main dishes

  • Athan Al-Shayeb: Meaning ‘the ears of the old gray-haired man’. Is a pasta or jiaozi dish that has been described as a kind of local variation on ravioli. After being stuffed with ground beef and spices, thin wheat dough parcels are cooked in Jameed and served hot in this sauce. Another name for this dish is Shishbarak.
  • Bamya: Okra cooked with tomato sauce and onions, served with rice and lamb.
  • Burghul Ahmar: Bulgur cooked in tomato sauce and served with poultry.
  • Burghul Bzeit: Bulgur cooked in olive oil and served with poultry.
  • Fasoulya Beyda: White beans cooked in tomato sauce and served with rice.
  • Fasoulya Khadra: Green beans cooked in tomato sauce and served with rice.
  • Fatteh: Stack of khubz bread, topped by strained yogurt, steamed chickpeas and olive oil that are crushed and mixed together.
  • Freekeh: Served with poultry or meat. Meat is fried in oil and braised with water, salt, and cinnamon bark. Then dried coriander is stirred in with freekeh and is cooked.
  • Galayet Bandora: Tomatoes sauteed and stewed with garlic, olive oil, salt, and topped with pine nuts, it can be served with rice but is more commonly eaten with bread in Jordan.
  • Kabsa: Made from a mixture of spices, rice (usually long-grain, mostly basmati), meat and vegetables.
  • Kebab: Roasted or grilled: Also known as Mashawi. A mixed grill of barbecued meats such as Kebab and Shish taouk.
  • Kofta b’bandoora: Spiced, ground meat baked in tomato sauce and served with rice.
  • Kofta b’tahini: Spiced, ground meat baked in a sea of tahini, topped with thinly sliced potatoes and pine nuts and served with rice.
  • Kousa Mahshi: Rice and minced meat stuffed in zucchinis. Usually served with chicken and Wara’ Aynab (also called Dawali).
  • Maftul: Large couscous like balls, garbanzo beans and chicken pieces cooked in chicken broth.
  • Malfuf: Rice and minced meat rolled in cabbage leaves.
  • Mansaf: The national dish of Jordan and the most distinctive Jordanian dish. Mansaf is a traditional dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt called Jameed and served with rice or bulgur.
  • Maqluba: A casserole made of layers of rice, vegetables and meat. After cooking, the pot is flipped upside-down onto the plate when served, hence the name maqluba which translates literally as “upside-down”.
  • Mujaddara: Lentil and rice casserole, garnished with roasted onions.
  • Musaqa’h: Various Levantine variations of the Mediterranean dish are cooked in Jordan.
  • Mulukhiyah: The leaves of Corchorus species used as a vegetable.
  • Musakhan: Dish composed of roasted chicken baked with onions, sumac, allspice, saffron, and fried pine nuts served over taboon bread. It is also known as Muhammar.
  • Al-rashoof: A winter meal consisting of coarse wheat flour, lentils and yogurt, popular in northern Jordan.
  • Stuffed Baby Lamb: A popular dish in Jordan, which people enjoy as a big and heavy meal. It consists of roasted lamb, stuffed with rice, chopped onions, nuts and raisins.
  • Wara’ Aynab/Dawali (Dolma): Grape leaves filled with herbed, minced vegetables, meat and rice, cooked with olive oil. Sometimes called Dawali.
  • Zarb: Bedouin barbecue. Meat and vegetables cooked in a large underground pit.

Mezze: By far the most dominant style of eating in Jordan, mezze is the small plate, salad, appetizer, community style eating, aided by dipping, dunking and otherwise scooping with bread. Mezze plates are typically rolled out before larger main dishes.

  • Arab salad: Combines many different vegetables and spices.
  • Bagdonsyyeh: Parsley blended with tahini and lemon juice, usually served with sea food.
  • Falafel: Balls of fried chickpea flour and Middle Eastern spice. Dipped in every mezze specially the hummus. The Jordanian falafel balls tend to come in smaller sizes.
  • Ful medames: Crushed fava beans served with a variety of toppings such as olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, chili pepper, sumac and more.
  • Fattoush: A salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens and other vegetables, such as lettuce, radish and tomato.
  • Hummus: Chick peas boiled and blended to perfect smoothness with tahini paste, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and perhaps topped with a little parsley.
  • Halloumi: Semi-soft white cheese. Not quite as salty, crumbly and dry as feta cheese, but similar.
  • Khobbeizeh: Little mallow cooked with olive oil.
  • Kibbeh blabaniyyeh: A minced meat and bulgur mixture similar to ordinary kubbeh, but boiled in Jordanian Jameed.
  • Kibbeh Nayyeh: A minced meat and bulgur mixture similar to ordinary kubbeh, but the meat is served raw.
  • Kibbeh: Herbed, minced meat covered in a crust of bulgur (crushed wheat), then fried. Shaped like an American football.
  • Labaneh Jarashyyeh: Literally ‘labaneh from Jerash. Creamy yogurt, so thick it can be spread on flat bread to make a sandwich.
  • Makdous: Stuffed pickled eggplant, said to increase appetite.
  • Manakish: Flatbread dough usually topped with olive oil and za’atar blend. Other varieties may include cheese or ground meat and in this case it’s called sfiha.
  • Moutabal: Roasted, pureed potato or eggplant with garlic.
  • Olive oil: One of the cornerstones of Jordanian food. For breakfast, Jordanians dip flatbread into the olive oil, then into the za’atar.
  • Pickled vegetables: Jordanians enjoy pickled anything – carrots, radishes, cucumbers, cauliflower, and whatever other pickle-worthy vegetables might be around. Just about every mezze features a plate of these to add some tang and tart to the meal.
  • Samosa: Fried dough balls stuffed with meat, pine nuts and onions.
  • Wara’ Aynab: Vine leaves filled with herbed, minced vegetables, meat and rice.
  • Tabbouleh: Vegetarian dish traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Some variations add garlic or lettuce, or use couscous instead of bulgur.
  • Za’atar: A mixture of thyme and sesame seeds. Oregano, sage, or sumac can also be mixed in.
  • Zaitun: Literally olive.
  • Baba ghanoush: Eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings.
  • Yalanji: Plate composed of vine leaves stuffed with rice, principally.
  • Tursu or Mokhala: A certain group of alkhdharat soak in water and salt in a pot and drawn from the air for the week such as: cucumber and cabbage, eggplant flower, carrot, radish, onion, lemon, olives, chili and beans.


  • Arabic salad: Salad made of tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, olive oils and lemon juices.
  • Babba ghanoush: Roasted eggplant, cut into pieces and tossed with tomatoes and onions.
  • Fattoush: Chopped vegetable salad (e.g., tomatoes, cucumbers, radish, etc.) tossed with pieces of dry or fried flatbread and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and sumac.
  • Olive salad: Cut with carrots, green pepper, chili, and olive oil.
  • Rocket salad: Rucola (arugula, rocket) leaves in Jordan are pretty large, tossed with olive oil and lemon.
  • Tabbouleh: A salad of finely chopped parsley and mint turned with bulgur, tomatoes, onion and seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice.

Soups: In Jordan, meals are usually started with soups. Jordanian soups are usually named after their main ingredient.


  • Ara’yes: A word literally meaning bride, ara’yes are spice mincemeat-filled oven-baked flatbread sandwiches.
  • Falafel: Fresh bread filled or wrapped with falafel, hummus, tomato and pickles.
  • Managish: Taboon bread topped with za’atar and olive oil.
  • Mo’ajanat: Pies filled with cheese, spinach, za’atar or beef.
  • Sambusak: Fried dough balls stuffed with cheese or meat with pine nuts and onions.
  • Sfiha: Flat bread topped with ground beef and red peppers.
  • Shawarma: Herbed and spiced chicken or meat on a spindle chopped into small pieces and wrapped in flat bread and served with vegetables, tahini and hot sauce.


  • Abud: A dense, unleavened traditional Jordanian Bedouin bread baked directly in a wood fire by burying in ash and covering with hot embers.
  • Ka’ak: Is a traditional Jordanian bread made mostly in a large leaf or ring-shape and is covered with sesame seeds.
  • Karadeesh: Is a traditional Jordanian bread made from corn.
  • Khubz (Pita): Literally, “generic” bread. Bread with pockets.
  • Taboon: a flatbread wrap used in many cuisines. It is traditionally baked in a Tabun oven and eaten with different fillings. Taboon bread, also known as laffa bread, is sold as street food, stuffed with hummus, falafel or shaved meat.
  • Shrak: Is a traditional Bedouin bread that is popular in Jordan and the region as a whole. The bread is thrown to great thinness before being tossed onto a hot iron griddle called Saj that’s shaped like an inverted wok. Also known as markook.


  • Baklava: A dessert made with thin layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey or syrup.
  • Halva: A Middle Eastern confection made from sesame flour and milk mixed with other ingredients, typically made with pistachio.
  • Knafeh: A cheese pastry of shredded phyllo soaked in sugar-based syrup.
  • Qatayef: A sweet dumpling stuffed with cream and pistachios. Consumed during the month of Ramadan.

Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Jordan.

Mixed Plate © flickr.com - Charles Haynes/cc-by-sa-2.0

Hummus, Falafil, Dahina, Baba Ghanoush, Tabbouleh, Chicken, Lamm Kebab, Kofta and Kibbeh
© flickr.com – Charles Haynes/cc-by-sa-2.0

Lebanese cuisine is a Middle Eastern cuisine. It includes an abundance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starches, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat. When red meat is eaten it is usually lamb on the coast, and goat meat in the mountain regions. It also includes copious amounts of garlic and olive oil, often seasoned by lemon juice. Also, there is a large amount of chickpeas in their diet. Olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon are typical flavors found in the Lebanese diet. Arak, an anise-flavored liqueur, is the Lebanese national drink and usually served with a traditional convivial Lebanese meal. Another historic and traditional drink in Lebanon is wine. In Lebanon some desserts are specifically prepared on special occasions: the meghli, for instance, is served to celebrate a newborn baby in the family. Most often foods are grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil; butter or cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. Herbs and spices are used frequently and in large quantities. Like most Mediterranean countries, much of what the Lebanese eat is dictated by the seasons and what is available. Lebanese cuisine also varies by region. In Lebanon, very rarely are drinks served without being accompanied by food. Similar to the tapas of Spain, mezeluri of Romania and aperitivo of Italy, mezze is an array of small dishes placed before the guests creating an array of colors, flavors, textures and aromas. This style of serving food is less a part of family life than it is of entertaining and cafés. Mezze may be as simple as raw or pickled vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj and bread, or it may become an entire meal consisting of grilled marinated seafood, skewered meats, a variety of cooked and raw salads and an arrangement of desserts. Although simple fresh fruits are often served towards the end of a Lebanese meal, there is also dessert, such as baklava and coffee. Although baklava is the most internationally known dessert, there is a great variety of Lebanese desserts. A typical mezze will consist of an elaborate variety of thirty hot and cold dishes and may include:

Family cuisine offers also a range of dishes, such as stews (or yakhneh), which can be cooked in many forms depending on the ingredients used and are usually served with meat and rice vermicelli. Lebanese flat bread, called pita, is a staple to every Lebanese meal and can be used in place of a fork.

Dishes and Ingredients

  • Ackawi: white cheese salty or not depending on choice. Usually used in Manaeesh (Lebanese-style pies)
  • Adas Bil Hamod: Soup made out of lentils and lemon juice.
  • Baba ghanouj: a dip made of char-grilled aubergine (eggplant), tahina, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic puree.
  • Baklava: a dessert of layered filo pastry filled with nuts and steeped in attar syrup (orange or rose water and sugar) or honey, usually cut in a triangular or diamond shape.
  • Balila: a mix of more than 20 types, mostly dry roasted.
  • Barout del batata: spicy lamb served with potatoes
  • Batata harra: literally “spicy potatoes”.
  • Burghul Banadoura: bulgur and tomato
  • Daoud Bacha: meatballs with tomato sauce
  • Djaj Mechwi: grilled chicken with peas
  • Fattoush: ‘peasant’ salad of tossed greens with pita bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickweed, and mint.
  • Falafel: small deep-fried patties made of highly spiced ground chickpeas.
  • Fried cauliflower
  • Fried eggplant
  • Fatayer: a turnover pastry, often made with sbanegh (spinach).
  • Fuul (vicia faba): slow cooked mash of brown beans and red lentils dressed with lemon, olive oil and cumin.
  • Halva: a sweet sesame paste, usually formed into a slab and studded with fruit and nuts. Slices of the slab are served.
  • Hummus: dip or spread made of blended chickpeas, sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, and typically eaten with pita bread.
  • Kunafi: either shoelace pastry dessert stuffed with sweet white cheese, nuts and syrup, or more commonly the version with semolina pastry served on a sesame seed bun with sweet sugar syrup (very popular for breakfast) made with rice vermicelli, butter, and pistachios or other nuts. Often found in sweet shops and bakeries.
  • Kibbeh: Finely minced meat mixed with bulgur (cracked wheat) that can be made in different forms including stuffed with ground meat/onions: layered, pan baked, fried balls/patties, and/or cooked in yogurt, or eaten raw.
  • Kibbeh nayyeh: raw kibbeh: finely minced meat mixed with bulgur (cracked wheat) and eaten like steak tartare.
  • Kafta: Paties, fingers, stars or a flat cake of minced meat, onions, parsly, and spices that can be baked or charcoal-grilled on skewers.
  • Kousa Mahshi: zucchini (many varieties are used) stuffed with meat and rice.
  • Kubideh: ground lamb or chicken threaded on a stick and grilled, served with pivaz (a mix of minced parsley, onions, ground cumin and sumac).
  • Labneh: strained yogurt cheese, spreadable and garnished with good olive oil and sea salt.
  • Lahm bil ajĩn: a pastry covered with minced meat, onions, and nuts.
  • Ma’amoul: stuffed cookies made from semolina with ground date, pistachio or walnut filling. Shaped in a wooden mould called a tabi, and made specially for Christian and Muslim holidays (such as Easter or Ramadan).
  • Mfaraket Koussa: spicy zucchini.
  • Makdous: stuffed pickled eggplant (usually with nuts) preserved in olive oil.
  • Manaeesh: Mini pizzas (usually folded) that are made in bakeries, traditionally garnished with cheese, Za’atar, spicy diced tomatoes, Lebanese kashk, or minced meat and onions. Some bakeries allow you to bring your own toppings and build your own or buy the ones they sell there. Served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Mujaddara: (imjaddarra) – cooked lentils combined with wheat or rice, garnished with onions that have been sautéed in vegetable oil.
  • Mulukhiyah: A stew with made with leaves of the Nalta/Tossa Jute plant, chicken, beef, and garnished with raw chopped onions soaked in vinegar, served over rice. Sometimes, toasted pita chips are placed under the rice.
  • Mutabbel: a mix of slow cooked eggplant and tahini.
  • Pastirma: Tender cooked meat, usually served with vegetables.
  • Qatayef: a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts.
  • Qawarma: chopped lamb, salted and kept in the grease of the animal
  • Samkeh Harra: grilled fish that has been marinated with chili, citrus, and cilantro
  • Shanklish: aged cheese balls
  • Shawarma: a sandwich with marinated meat (either lamb or chicken) that is skewered on big rods and cooked slowly, then shaved and placed in a 10-inch pita with pickles, tomatoes, and other tangy condiments.
  • Shish taouk: grilled chicken skewers that utilize only white meat, marinated in olive oil, lemon, parsley, and sumac.
  • Siyyadiyeh: Fish cooked in saffron and served on rice with onions, sumac, and a tahini sauce (the most important part of the dish) and served on rice, which originated in the southern areas of Lebanon.
  • Tabbouleh: minced/chopped parsley salad with burghul (cracked wheat), tomatoes, onions, and mint.
  • Tahini: sesame paste
  • Toum: garlic sauce
  • Wara’ Enab: grape leaves stuffed normally with meat and rice or made lenten style with just rice with lemon sauce.
  • Za’atar: dried ground thyme, sesame seeds and sumac that can differ from region to region and from family to family. Most are made in house, but can be bought at Lebanese larders.
  • Znood Es-sett: filo pastry cigars with various fillings.
  • Lebanese “Seven Spice” Blend: a mixture of equal parts of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, nutmeg and ginger. It is commonly used to flavor many Lebanese dishes.


  • Pastries such as Baklava, Ka’ak, Sfouf and Maamoul.
  • Lebanese ice cream with its oriental flavors (Amar el Din made from dried apricots; fresh fruits; pistachios).
  • Lebanese roasted nuts with variety and mixes.

Read more on Wikipedia Lebanese cuisine.

Bazin © Libiya11/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bazin (served with a stew and whole hard-boiled eggs) is an unleavened bread in the cuisine of Libya prepared with barley, water and salt. When consumed, bazin may be “crumpled and eaten with the fingers.” It is typically eaten using the right hand, and may be consumed communally. Bazin has been described as a traditional dish and as a national dish of Libya
© Libiya11/cc-by-sa-3.0

Libyan cuisine derives much from the traditions of Mediterranean, North African, and Berber cuisines. One of the most popular Libyan dishes is Bazin, an unleavened bread prepared with barley, water and salt. Bazin is prepared by boiling barley flour in water and then beating it to create a dough using a magraf, which is a unique stick designed for this purpose. Pork consumption is forbidden, in accordance with Sharia, the religious laws of Islam. Tripoli is Libya’s capital, and the cuisine is particularly influenced by Italian cuisine. Pasta is common, and many seafood dishes are available. Southern Libyan cuisine is more traditionally Arab and Berber. Common fruits and vegetables include figs, dates, oranges, apricots and olives.

Common foods and dishes

  • Asida is a dish made up of a cooked wheat flour lump of dough, sometimes with added butter, honey or rub
  • Bazin
  • Breads, including flatbreads
  • Bureek, turnovers
  • Couscous (DW, 17 December 2020: Couscous joins UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list), a North African dish of semolina
  • Filfel chuma or maseer, hot sauce made from powdered sweet and hot peppers and crushed garlic
  • Ghreyba, butter cookies
  • Harissa is hot chili sauce commonly eaten in North Africa. Main ingredients include chili peppers, such as bird’s eye chili and serrano peppers, and spices such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, caraway and olive oil.
  • Hassaa, type of gravy
  • Magrood, date-filled cookies
  • Mhalbiya, type of rice pudding
  • Mutton, meat of an adult sheep
  • Rub is a thick dark brown, very sweet syrup extracted from dates or carob that is widely used in Libya, usually with Asida
  • Shakshouka is prepared using aged mutton or lamb jerky as the meat base of the meal, and is considered a traditional breakfast dish
  • Shorba, lamb and vegetable soup with mint and tomato paste
  • Tajine, spiced lamb with a tomato and paprika sauce
  • Usban, a traditional Libyan sausage

Desserts and beverages

  • Makroudh
  • Ghoriba
  • Maakroun
  • Mafruka
  • Mhalbiya
  • Libyan tea, the Libyan tea is a thick beverage served in a small glass, often accompanied by peanuts. Regular American/British coffee is available in Libya, and is known as “Nescafé” (a misnomer). Soft drinks and bottled water are also consumed. The Maghrebi mint tea is also a popular drink.
  • All alcoholic drinks have been banned in Libya since 1969, in accordance with Sharia, the religious laws of Islam.

Read more on Wikipedia Cuisine of Libya.

Couscous © Beata Gorecka/cc-by-sa-3.0

Couscous is a Maghrebi dish of small (about 3mm diameter) steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina
© Beata Gorecka/cc-by-sa-3.0

The cuisine of Mauritania includes the culinary practices of Mauritania. Historically, what is now Mauritania, has been influenced by Arab and African peoples who have lived in and traversed the “stark” landscape marked with Sahara desert dunes in caravans. There is an overlap with Moroccan cuisine in the north and Senegalese cuisine in the south. French colonial influence (Mauritania was a colony until 1960) has also played a role in influencing the cuisine of the relatively isolated land. Alcohol is prohibited in the Muslim faith and its sale is largely limited to hotels. Mint tea is widely consumed and poured from height to create foam. Traditionally, meals are eaten communally.

Traditional dishes

  • Dates
  • Thieboudienne (Cheb-u-jin), a coastal dish of fish and rice, which is considered the national dish of Mauritania. It is served in a white and red sauce, usually made from tomatoes.
  • Méchoui, whole roasted lamb
  • Spiced fish
  • Rice with vegetables
  • Fish balls
  • Dried fish
  • Dried meat
  • Couscous (DW, 17 December 2020: Couscous joins UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list)
  • Goat stuffed with rice
  • Caravane cheese
  • Yassa poulet, chicken rotisserie with vegetables served over french fries or rice. It is originally a Senegalese dish from the Wolof and Fula tribes
  • Mahfe, goat or camel meat in a peanut, okra and tomato sauce. It is served over rice and can also be made without meat (for vegetarians)
  • Yassa fish
  • Hakko, a sauce made from leafy vegetables served with beans over couscous
  • Lakh, cheese curds or yoghurt with grated coconut served over sweet millet porridge
  • Marolaym
  • Bulgur wheat with dried fruit
  • Maru we-llham, meat with rice and vegetables
  • Mauritanian terrine
  • Camel Chubbagin
  • Cherchem, Mauritanian lamb couscous
  • Chubbagin Lélé et Raabie
  • Fish pastry
  • Mauritanian vermicelli
  • Harira, Mauritanian soup dish
  • Mauritanian pepper steak with coconut
  • Banaf
  • Leksour, Mauritanian pancakes with meat and vegetable sauce
  • Avocado pudding – ,
  • Bonava, a lamb stew
  • Maffé, meat and vegetables in a peanut-based sauce
  • Roselle syrup (Sirop de Bissap)
  • Al-Aïch, chicken, beans and couscous


Read more on Wikipedia Mauritanian cuisine.

Foods from Montenegro © Milan B./cc-by-sa-3.0

Foods from Montenegro © Milan B./cc-by-sa-3.0

Montenegrin cuisine is a result of Montenegro‘s geographic position and its long history. The first large influence came from the Levant and Turkey, largely via Serbia: sarma, musaka, pilav, pita, gibanica, burek, ćevapi, kebab, đuveč, and Turkish sweets like baklava and tulumba, etc. Hungarian cuisine influences stews and sataraš. Central European cuisine is evident in the prevalence of crêpes, doughnuts, jams, myriad types of biscuits and cakes, and various kinds of breads. Montenegrin cuisine also varies geographically; the cuisine in the coastal area differs from the one in the northern highland region. The coastal area is traditionally a representative of Mediterranean cuisine, with seafood being a common dish. The traditional dishes of Montenegro’s Adriatic coast, unlike its heartland, have a distinctively Italian influence as well.


Main course

  • Punjene paprike – stuffed peppers (with various filling)
  • Ćufte – meatballs
  • Đuveč (cooked vegetables, similar to ratatouille)
  • Musaka od Krtola (potato moussaka with minced meat)
  • Sarma – sauerkraut rolls filled with minced pork and rice, served with mashed potato.
  • Pilav
  • Gulaš (stew), served with mashed potato.
  • Sataraš – minced and roasted vegetables
  • Risotto
  • Roasted meat – most commonly pork or lamb.

Dessert: A piece of seasonal fruit is the most common way to end the meal. The proper sweets are usually served on their own, around tea-time or at any time coffee is served.

  • Priganice (fritters or flat doughnuts) served with honey, cheese, or jam.
  • Sundried figs with walnuts and honey.
  • Oris na vareniku (rice pudding)
  • Slatko od Dunja (quince relish)
  • Džem od Šljiva (plum jam)
  • Sok od Šipka (pomegranate syrup): homemade syrup made from wild pomegranates, that grow just about everywhere in the southern half of Montenegro, can be found in almost every home.
  • Padobranci
  • Baklava – Montenegrin version often has raisins and finely chopped walnuts.
  • Tulumba, same as churro in shape, soaked in sweet syrup like baklava.
  • Krempita, similar to vanilla slice
  • Šampita
  • Domaca Torta – homemade torte
  • Španski Vjetar
  • Čupava Kata
  • Lenja Pita
  • Keks Torta (Biscuit torte)
  • Štrudla – Apple strudel
  • Palačinke – Crêpe
  • Krofne (Doughnuts) served with jam in the middle.

Bread: Homemade-style bread prepared in Montenegro is closest to what is known in Italy as Pane casareccio. It is served with every meal.


  • Sukača (gužvara) – a pastry or pie made through the process of “crowding”.
  • Koturača (wheel-like) (exclusively made from domestic wheat)
  • Pita izljevuša (Brkanica) – a pastry made by the process of “casting”
  • Zeljanica (a pastry made with green herbs)
  • Heljdija

Soups: Montenegrin language distinguishes between a clear soup (supa), a thick soup or stew (čorba), and a porridge-style dish (kaša. Soups are usually served as the first course of lunch.

  • Kokošija supa (chicken broth)
  • Goveđa/Juneća/Teleća supa (beef/calf broth)
  • Jagnjeća supa (lamb broth)

Traditionally, after the broth is made, a handful of rice is added to the pot to make the soup more substantial. Nowadays, pasta took over as the preferred addition.

  • Čorba od koprive (nettle chowder)
  • Čorba od koprive sa sirom (nettle chowder with cheese)
  • Čobanska krem supa od vrganja (shepherd cream soup with mushrooms (boletus))
  • Otkos čorba (cut hay chowder)
  • Čorba od crnjaka (black onion chowder)
  • Ječmena kaša sa pečurkama (barley porridge with mushrooms)
  • Kaša sa pečurkama (mushroom porridge)
  • Kaša od rezanaca (noodle porridge)

Salads: The most common salads served in Montenegrin homes:

  • Pamidora Salata (Tomato salad) – similar to Bruschetta topping: tomato, onion, olive oil, and rock sea salt
  • Zelena Salata (Green salad) – spring lettuce and spring onion combination, with olive oil, salt, and vinegar dressing
  • Ajvar – Fried or roasted capsicum relish
  • Kisjelo Zelje – sauerkraut
  • Barske masline – “Bar’s” homemade olives

Seafood dishes

Dairy products


  • Njeguški sir – special cheese, kept in oil
  • Pljevaljski sir – salted old cheese of cow’s milk
  • Skorup – salted cottage cream
    • Durmitorski Skorup – a type of salted old cottage cream from the Durmitor mountain
    • Pivski Skorup – a type of salted cottage cream from the Piva region
  • Cijeli Sir- whole cheese, made from un-boiled milk
  • Prljo – cheese made from skimmed milk
  • Žetica – cheese made from un-boiled milk
  • Buča – a kind of cheese made from un-boiled milk

Main course

  • Kuvani Brav – boiled lamb
  • Brav u Mlijeku – lamb cooked in milk, a national dish of Albanians from Montenegro
  • Kačamakpolenta with buttered potato and kaymak, served with cold milk, buttermilk or yoghurt
  • Kuvana Krtola (boiled potato halves, served with cold yoghurt, cheese or fresh cream
  • Ukljeva – smoked and dried bleak
  • Krap – smoked and fresh carp, from Lake Skadar
  • Pastrva – fresh water trout
  • Raštan – a slightly bitter, sturdy dark-green vegetable from the cabbage family, similar to Italian cavolo nero. It is deliciously cooked into a stew with smoked pork ribs or ham hocks
  • Zelje u kokote na kastradinu – cooked headed cabbage with smoked and dried mutton
  • Japraci – dolma made with raštan leaves, served with mashed potato
  • Čorbast Pasulj – bean stew with smoked ribs and various types of salami and sausages. The style is quite similar to French cassoulet, fabada, and feijoada
  • Maune – green bean stew
  • Grašak – peas and beef stew
  • Balšića tava – fried veal with an assortment of vegetables and dairy products
  • Paštrovski makaruli – a type of homemade macaroni with olive oil and cheese from brine

Read more on Wikipedia Montenegrin cuisine.

Spices at the central market in Agadir © Bertrand Devouard/cc-by-sa-3.0

Spices at the central market in Agadir © Bertrand Devouard/cc-by-sa-3.0

Moroccan cuisine is influenced by Morocco‘s interactions and exchanges with other cultures and nations over the centuries. Moroccan cuisine is typically a mix of Arabic, Andalusian, Berber and Mediterranean cuisines with a slight European and Subsaharan influence. Morocco produces a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables and even some tropical ones. Common meats include beef, goat, mutton and lamb, chicken and seafood, which serve as a base for the cuisine. Characteristic flavorings include lemon pickle, argan oil, cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil and dried fruits. As in Mediterranean cuisine in general, the staple ingredients include wheat, used for bread and couscous (DW, 17 December 2020: Couscous joins UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list), and olive oil; the third Mediterranean staple, the grape, is eaten as a dessert, though a certain amount of wine is made in the country. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. Although some spices have been imported to Morocco through the Arabs for thousands of years, many ingredients — like saffron from Talaouine, mint and olives from Meknes, and oranges and lemons from Fes — are home-grown, and are being exported internationally. A typical lunch meal begins with a series of hot and cold salads, followed by a tagine or Dwaz. Often, for a formal meal, a lamb or chicken dish is next, or couscous topped with meat and vegetables. Moroccans either eat with fork, knife and spoon or with their hands using bread as a utensil depending on the dish served. The consumption of pork and alcohol is not common due to religious restrictions.

Salads include both raw and cooked vegetables, served either hot or cold. Cold salads include zaalouk, an aubergine and tomato mixture, and taktouka (a mixture of tomatoes, smoked green peppers, garlic and spices) characteristic of the cities of Taza and Fes, in the Atlas.

Main dishes
The main Moroccan dish most people are familiar with is couscous, the old national delicacy. Beef is the most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco, usually eaten in a tagine with a wide selection of vegetables. Chicken is also very commonly used in tagines, or roasted. Lamb is also heavily consumed, and since Moroccan sheep breeds store most of their fat in their tails, Moroccan lamb does not have the pungent flavour that Western lamb and mutton have. Since Morocco lies on two coasts, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Moroccan cuisine has ample seafood dishes. European pilchard is caught in large but declining quantities. Other fish species include mackerel, anchovy, sardinella, and horse mackerel. Other famous Moroccan dishes are Pastilla (also spelled Basteeya or Bestilla), Tanjia and Harira, a typical heavy soup, eaten during winter to warm up and is usually served for dinner, it is typical eaten with plain bread or with dates during the month of Ramadan. Bissara is a broad bean-based soup that is also consumed during the colder months of the year. A big part of the daily meal is bread. Bread in Morocco is principally made from durum wheat semolina known as khobz. Bakeries are very common throughout Morocco and fresh bread is a staple in every city, town and village. The most common is whole grain coarse ground or white flour bread or baguettes. There are also a number of flat breads and pulled unleavened pan-fried breads. In addition, there are dried salted meats and salted preserved meats such as kliia/khlia and g’did, which are used to flavor tagines or used in “el ghraif”, a folded savory Moroccan pancake.

Morocco is fortunate to have over 3000 km of coast line. There is an abundance of fish in these coastal waters with the sardine being commercially significant as Morocco is the world’s largest exporter. At Moroccan fish markets one can find, sole, swordfish, tuna, tarbot, mackerel, shrimp, congre eel, skate, red snapper, spider crab, lobster and a variety of mollusks.

Snacks and fast food
Selling fast food in the street has long been a tradition, and the best example is Djemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech. Starting in the 1980s, new snack restaurants started serving “Bocadillo” (a Spanish word for a sandwich). Though the composition of a bocadillo varies by region, it is usually a baguette filled with salad and a choice of meats, Mozarella, fish (usually tuna), or omelette. Dairy product shops locally called Mhlaba, are very prevalent all around the country. Those dairy stores generally offer all types of dairy products, juices, and local delicacies such as (Bocadillos, Msemen and Harcha). In the late 1990s, several multinational fast-food franchises opened restaurants in major cities.

Usually, seasonal fruits rather than cooked desserts are served at the close of a meal. A common dessert is kaab el ghzal (“gazelle’s horns”), a pastry stuffed with almond paste and topped with sugar. Another is “Halwa chebakia“, pretzel-shaped dough deep-fried, soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds; it is eaten during the month of Ramadan. Coconut fudge cakes, ‘Zucre Coco’, are popular also.

The most popular drink is green tea with mint. Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco is considered an art form and the drinking of it with friends and family is often a daily tradition. The pouring technique is as crucial as the quality of the tea itself. Moroccan tea pots have long, curved pouring spouts and this allows the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height. For the best taste, glasses are filled in two stages. The Moroccans traditionally like tea with bubbles, so while pouring they hold the teapot high above the glasses. Finally, the tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps. Morocco has an abundance of oranges and tangerines, so fresh orange juice is easily found freshly squeezed and is cheap.

Moroccan food abroad
Couscous is one of the most popular North African dishes globally. Markets, stores and restaurants in Europe, especially in France and lately the United Kingdom, feature lamb tajine, bastilla, and couscous. Paula Wolfert, prolific American author of nine cookbooks (two on Moroccan cuisine), helped enable Moroccan-Americans to enjoy their native cuisine with ease. Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco was published in 1973 and is still in print; it was added to the James Beard Hall of Fame in 2008. Her Food of Morocco came out in 2011 and won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook. Wolfert appeared on the Martha Stewart Show to demonstrate cooking in clay. Raised between Fez and San Sebastian, chef Najat Kaanache has served as an unofficial culinary ambassador of Morocco, sharing Moroccan flavors and cooking techniques with many of the world’s top chefs during her pilgrimage through the best restaurant kitchens of Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and the US. Read more on Wikipedia Moroccan cuisine.

Mansaf © Ji-Elle/cc-by-sa-4.0

Mansaf is a traditional Arabic dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice or bulgur
© Ji-Elle/cc-by-sa-4.0

Palestinian cuisine consists of foods from or commonly eaten by Palestinians—which includes those living in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, refugee camps in nearby countries as well as by the Palestinian diaspora. The cuisine is a diffusion of the cultures of civilizations that settled in the region of Palestine, particularly during and after the Islamic era beginning with the Arab Ummayad conquest, then the eventual Persian-influenced Abbasids and ending with the strong influences of Turkish cuisine, resulting from the coming of the Ottoman Turks. It is similar to other Levantine cuisines, including Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian. Cooking styles vary by region and each type of cooking style and the ingredients used are generally based on the climate and location of the particular region and on traditions. Rice and variations of kibbee are common in the Galilee. The West Bank engages primarily in heavier meals involving the use of taboon bread, rice and meat and coastal plain inhabitants frequent fish, other seafood, and lentils. The Gaza cuisine is a variation of the Levant cuisine, but is more diverse in seafood and spices. Gaza’s inhabitants heavily consume chili peppers too. Meals are usually eaten in the household but dining out has become prominent particularly during parties where light meals like salads, bread dips and skewered meats are served. The area is also home to many desserts, ranging from those made regularly and those that are commonly reserved for the holidays. Most Palestinian sweets are pastries filled with either sweetened cheeses, dates or various nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios. Beverages could also depend on holidays such as during Ramadan, where carob, tamarind and apricot juices are consumed at sunset. Coffee is consumed throughout the day and liquor is not very prevalent among the population, however, some alcoholic beverages such as arak or beer are consumed by Christians and less conservative Muslims. Palestinian culture and life revolves around food in every aspect, whether it is an ordinary day or a special occasion such as a wedding or holiday. Meals are structured in a cyclical order by Palestinians and span into two main courses and several intermediate ones like coffee, fruits and sweets as well as dinner. Like in most Arab cultures, meals are a time to spend with family and could last 1–2 hours depending on the specific time of the day. Unlike other cultures, lunch is the primary course and breakfast and dinner are lighter in contents.

  • Fatur/Iftur is a term for breakfast, usually consists of fried eggs, olives, labaneh, olive oil, za’atar, or jams. Hummus bi tahini is also eaten primarily during this time the day
  • Ghada is a term for lunch, usually late in the afternoon. Lunch is the heaviest meal of the day and main ingredients could include rice, lamb, chicken, cooked vegetables and forms of mahashi
  • Asrooneh: Derives from the word ‘Aasr (lit. ‘afternoon’) is a term for the consumption of a variety of fruits and legumes after gheda
  • ‘Asha is a term for supper, usually eaten anytime from 8-10 pm. ‘Asha is simpler than gheda and some foods consumed include fatayer, hummus bi tahini, a variety of salads and a Levantine-style omelette called ijee
  • ‘Hilew: Sometimes after or just before ‘asha as well as when hosting guests come various sweets. Baklawa is common and is usually purchased from pastry shops instead of made at home like muhallabiyeh
  • Shay wa Kahwah: Tea and coffee are served in throughout the day in before, after and between fatur, ghada and ‘asha

There are three regions of Palestinian food: The Galilee, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the Galilee, bulgur and meat (beef or lamb) are primary ingredients that are often combined to form several variations of dishes ranging from a family-sized meal to a side dish. However, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the populations have a cooking style of their own. In the West Bank, meals are particularly heavy and contrast from the foods of the northern Levant. Main dishes involve rice, flatbreads and roasted meats. The staple food of the inhabitants in the Gaza Strip is fish due to its location on the Mediterranean seacoast. Their cuisine is similar to that of the Levant’s; however, other spices are used more frequently. These generally include chili peppers, dill seed, garlic, and chard to flavor many of Gaza’s meals. Although the cuisine is diverse, generally Palestinians are not restricted to the foods of their specific region and there is constant culinary diffusion amongst them.

The cuisine of the Galilee is very similar to Lebanese cuisine, due to the extensive communication between the two regions before the establishment of Israel. The Galilee specializes in a number of meals based on the combination of bulgur, spices and meat, known as kubbi by Arabs. Kubbi bi-siniyee is a combination of minced lamb or beef mixed with pepper, allspice and other spices wrapped in a bulgur crust, then baked. Kubbi bi-siniyee could serve as the main dish during a Palestinian lunch. Kubbi neyee is a variation of kubbi, that is served as raw meat mixed with bulgur and a variety of spices. It is mostly eaten as a side dish and pita or markook bread is used for scooping the meat. Since the dish is raw, whatever is not eaten is cooked the next day in either the baked version or as fried kibbee balls. A special occasion meal in the Galilee consists of Roasted Lamb or any other type of meat complemented by a mixture of rice with chopped lamb and flavored with an assortment of spices, usually garnished with chopped parsley and toasted nuts. shish kebab or lahme mashwi and shish taouk are grilled meats on skewers and are commonly eaten after an array of appetizers known as the maza. The mezzeh consists of a wide variety of appetizers, usually including hummus (sometimes topped with meat), baba ghannouj, labaneh, tabbouleh, olives and pickled vegetables. Akkawi cheese, a semi-hard cheese common throughout the Middle East and among the Arab diaspora, originated in the city of Akka, from which the cheese receives its name.

West Bank
Musakhan is a common main dish that originated in the Jenin and Tulkarm area in the northern West Bank. It consists of a roasted chicken over a taboon bread that has been topped with pieces of fried sweet onions, sumac, allspice and pine nuts. Maqluba is an upside-down rice and baked eggplant casserole mixed with cooked cauliflowers, carrots and chicken or lamb. The meal is known throughout the Levant but among Palestinians especially. It dates back to the 13th century. Mansaf is a traditional meal in the central West Bank and Naqab region in the southern West Bank, having its roots from the Bedouin population of ancient Arabia. It is mostly cooked on occasions such as, during holidays, weddings or a large gathering. Mansaf is cooked as a lamb leg or large pieces of lamb on top of a taboon bread that has usually been smothered with yellow rice. A type of thick and dried cheesecloth yogurt from goat’s milk, called jameed, is poured on top of the lamb and rice to give it its distinct flavor and taste. The dish is also garnished with cooked pine nuts and almonds. The classic form of eating mansaf is using the right hand as a utensil. For politeness, participants in the feast tear pieces of meat to hand to the person next to them. In addition to meals, the West Bank’s many subregions have their own fruit-based jams. In the Hebron area, the primary crops are grapes. Families living in the area harvest the grapes in the spring and summer to produce a variety of products ranging from raisins, jams and a molasses known as dibs. The Bethlehem area, Beit Jala in particular, and the village of Jifna are known regionally for their apricots and apricot jam as is the Tulkarm area for its olives and olive oil.

The Gaza Strip‘s cooking style is similar to culinary styles adopted by the rest of the Levant countries, and is also influenced by the Mediterranean coast. The staple food for the majority of the inhabitants in the area is fish. Gaza has a major fishing industry and fish is often served either grilled or fried after being stuffed with cilantro, garlic, red peppers and cumin and marinated in a mix of coriander, red peppers, cumin, and chopped lemons. Besides fish, as well as other types of seafood, Zibdieh, is a clay pot dish that consists of shrimp baked in a stew of olive oil, garlic, hot peppers, and peeled tomatoes. Crabs are cooked and then stuffed with a red hot pepper paste called shatta. A dish native to the Gaza area is Sumaghiyyeh, consisting of water-soaked ground sumac mixed with tahina. The mixture is added to sliced chard and pieces of stewed beef and garbanzo beans and additionally flavored with dill seeds, garlic and hot peppers. It is often eaten cool with khubz. Rummaniyya is prepared differently depending on the time of the year and is made up of unripened pomegranate seeds, eggplant, tahina, garlic, hot peppers and lentils. Fukharit adas is a slow-cooked lentil stew flavored with red pepper flakes, crushed dill seeds, garlic, and cumin; it is traditionally made during winter and early spring. Qidra is a rice dish named after the clay vessel and oven it is baked in. Rice is cooked with pieces of meat inside of the vessel, often using lamb, whole garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, cardamom pods, and various other spices such as, turmeric, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cumin. Plain rice cooked in meat or chicken broth and flavored with mild spices including cinnamon is known as fatteh ghazzawiyyeh. The rice is layered over a thin markook bread known as farasheeh, smothered in ghee and topped with stuffed chicken or lamb. The meal is eaten with green peppers and lemon sauce.

The most served Palestinian salad is a simple type known as salatat bandura (tomato salad), similar to Arab salad. It is composed of diced tomatoes and cucumbers combined with olive oil, parsley, lemon juice and salt. Depending on the area of Palestine, the recipe may include scallions and garlic as well. Tabbouleh is a Mediterranean-style table salad originating in the Levant. The salad is made from parsley pieces, bulgur, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and is sautéed with lemon juice and vinegar. In 2006, the largest bowl of tabbouleh in the world was prepared by Palestinian cooks in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Fattoush is a combination of toasted bread pieces and parsley with chopped cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes and scallions and flavored by sumac. Dagga is a Gazan salad usually made in a clay bowl and is a mix of crushed tomatoes, garlic cloves, red hot peppers, chopped dill and olive oil. Its seasoned with lemon juice immediately before being served. Salatah arabieh or “Arab salad” is a salad used with most meals. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers are the main ingredients. Lettuce is cut into long strips, then chopped into thin strands, the tomatoes and cucumbers are chopped into cubes. Finely chopped parsley and mint give it a “particular zest” according to chef Ali Qleibo. A pinch of salt, the juice of a whole fresh lemon and several tablespoons of olive oil are used for final touch ups.

Rice meals
Rice is the basic ingredient in ceremonial dishes, and is a very important element of Palestinian meals. Rice dishes are usually the main dish of Palestinian dinner, because they consist of a variety of ingredients commonly found within the Palestinian land. Rice is usually not served alone or as a side dish (see ruz ma lahma below), but rather it is incorporated within a larger dish or tabeekh (dish), that would include soups, vegetables, and meat (chicken or lamb). Meat is almost always present in Palestinian dishes. Mansaf is a very popular dish that is usually served during important events, such as a traditional wedding, engagement, funeral, baptism and circumcision. It is a dish incorporating all the elements of Palestinian land, such as bread, laban (yogurt) soup, rice, nuts (pine nuts), parsley and lamb, making it an important cultural dish. The meal is oftentimes served the traditional way in a large common plate, a sidr. The meal is usually eaten without the use of tableware, but rather each person sits beside each other eating from the same large plate. Maqluba means “upside down” in Arabic, and it is a dish made with a meat, fried vegetables and rice. The dish is cooked with the meat at the bottom of a large pot, then layered with fried vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, cauliflower and eggplant. Rice is then added to the dish as it completes cooking. When served, Maqluba is flipped upside down with the meat now at the top, hence the name. Maqluba is a popular dish, commonly served with salad and yogurt by Palestinians. Quzi is a rich rice dish with chopped vegetables and roasted meat made in the Taboon served with it. The dish is seen as comparatively simpler in its cooking than other Palestinian dishes, because it is cooked with basic rice (with diced vegetables) and a meat served on top of it. The meal is served in a large sidr, similar to mansaf, decorated with chopped parsley and pine nuts or chopped almonds. Another variant of this is the Zarb which has bread dough instead of rice although this is due to the Jordanian influence in the region. Ruz ma Lahma is generally the only rice side dish in most Arab and Palestinian cooking, with simply cooked rice, spices, ground beef and nuts. It is usually served with a full lamb, kharoof, as the main dish.

Stew meals
Stews are basic fare for every day family cooking and are always served with vermicelli rice or plain rice. They are popular because they provide a wide range of nutrients from the meat, the vegetables and the rice. The extra liquid is also essential in such dry climate. Stews are also economically beneficial, as they provide relatively small amount of meat into feeding large families, especially within the poorer population. Mloukhiyeh is a stew made from Corchorus. The Corchorus is picked during harvest time, and is either frozen or dried. It is widely popular in the middle east, as it is commonly grown in dry climate areas. The stew is cooked with lemon juice and water, and served with cut lemons and rice. The meal can be served with either chicken or lamb however it can be served without either (unlike many other Palestinian meals). Adas is a healthy lentil soup, common in the Middle East. Unlike other parts of the Middle East, Palestinians do not incorporate yogurt or other ingredients into this soup. Rather, it is made with lentils and chopped onions and served with sliced onions and bread on the side.

Bread meals
Palestinians bake a variety of different kinds of breads: they include khubz, pita and markook and taboon. Khubz is an everyday bread and is very similar to pita. It often takes the place of utensils; It is torn into bite size pieces and used to scoop various dips such as hummus or ful. Markook bread is a paper-thin unleavened bread and when unfolded it is almost transparent. Taboon receives its name from the ovens used to bake them. Musakhan is a widely popular Palestinian dish composed of roasted chicken, with fried onions, sumac, allspice, safron and pine nuts atop one or more taboons. The dish is usually eaten with the hands and served with cut lemon on the side. In April 2010, Palestinians were entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for largest Musakhan dish. Palestinian cuisine also includes many small pizza-like foods, including Manakish, sfiha, fatayer, sambusac and ikras. Sfiha is a baked miniature flatbread, topped with lamb and cooked red peppers or tomatoes. Manakish is a baked flat bread, usually topped with za’atar and olive oil. Sfiha are meat patties decorated with spices and peppers. Sambusac and fatayer are baked or sometimes fried doughs stuffed with minced meat and cooked onions or snobar (pine nuts). Fatayer is usually folded into triangles and unlike sambusac, it could be filled with arabic cheese or za’atar. Ikras is similar to sambusac and fatayer, by using dough stuffed with either meat or spinach, however they are not fried (like sambusac), and are usually served as a meal rather than meal addition or side dish. Sandwiches usually using markook or khubz, such as Shawarma and Falafel are also common bread meals. Shawarma can be served as a sandwich or meal with shaved meat and bread. Shawarma can be chicken or beef, and is adorned with a variety of garnishes. These can include pickles, hummus, or a garlic yogurt mix. Falafel, fried chickpeas, parsley and onion are fried into small patties and are adorned with similar toppings as shawarma.

Mahshi dishes are composed of rice stuffed vegetables such as, eggplants, baby pumpkins, potatoes, carrots and marrows as well as a variety of leaf vegetables, primarily grape leaves, cabbage leaves and less often chard. Mahshi requires delicacy and time—the main reason it is prepared before the day it is cooked and served. Many female family members participate in the rolling and stuffing of the vegetables, relaxing the amount of individual effort required, with great attention to detail. Waraq Dawali (stuffed grape leaves), is a mahshi meal reserved for large gatherings. The grape leaves are normally wrapped around minced meat, white rice and diced tomatoes, however meat is not always used. Dawali is an excellent representation of the attention to detail commonly found in Palestinian and Levant cuisine, with each piece being tightly wrapped to the size of cigarette morsels (some families differ in their structure).It is then cooked and served as dozens of rolls on a large plate usually accompanied by boiled potato slices, carrots and lamb pieces. Kousa mahshi are zucchinis stuffed with the same ingredients as waraq al-‘ainib and usually served alongside it heavy meals. If made with a large number of zucchinis as well as dawali it is known as waraq al-‘ainib wa kousa.

Dips and side dishes
Bread dips and side dishes such as, hummus, baba ghanoush, mutabbel and labaneh are frequented during breakfast and dinner. Hummus is a staple in Palestinian side dishes, in particular in hummus bi tahini, in which boiled, ground beans are mixed with tahini (sesame paste) and sometimes lemon juice. Hummus is often slathered in olive oil and sometimes sprinkled with paprika, oregano and pine nuts; the latter are especially popular in the West Bank. Chick peas are also mixed with ful (fava beans), resulting in an entirely different dish, mukhluta, with a distinct flavor and brownish color.Baba ghanoush is an eggplant or aubergine salad or dip with several variants. The root of all the variants is broiled and mashed eggplant and tahini lathered with olive oil, which can then be flavored with either garlic, onions, peppers, ground cumin seeds, mint and parsley. Mutabbel is one of the spicier variants that receives its zest from green chili peppers. Jibneh Arabieh or jibneh baida is a white table cheese served with any of the above dishes. Ackawi cheese is a common variation of jibneh baida. Ackawi cheese has a smoother texture and a mild salty taste. Labaneh is a pasty yogurt-like cream cheese either served on a plate with olive oil and za’atar—which is generally called labaneh wa za’atar—or in a khubz sandwich.

Snack foods
It is common for Palestinian hosts to serve fresh and dried fruits, nuts, seeds and dates to their guests. Roasted and salted watermelon, squash and sunflower seeds as well as, pistachios and cashews are common legumes. Watermelon seeds, known as bizir al-bateekh and pumpkin seeds, known as bizir abyad are eaten regularly during various leisurely activities: playing cards, smoking argeelah, conversing with friends or before and after meals.

Palestinian desserts include baklawa, halawa and kanafeh, as well as other semolina and wheat pastries. Baklawa is a pastry made of thin sheets of unleavened flour dough (phyllo), filled with pistachios and walnuts sweetened by honey. Burma Til-Kadayif, or simply Burma, especially popular in East Jerusalem, has the same filling as baklawa, but is cylndrical in shape and made with kanafeh dough instead of phyllo. Halawa is a block confection of sweetened sesame flour served in sliced pieces. Muhalabiyeh is a rice pudding made with milk and topped with pistachios or almonds. Kanafeh, a well-known dessert in the Arab World and Turkey. Made of several fine shreds of pastry noodles with honey-sweetened cheese in the center, the top layer of the pastry is usually dyed orange with food coloring and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Nablus, to the present day is famed for its kanafeh, partly due to its use of a white-brined cheese called Nabulsi after the city. Boiled sugar is used as a syrup for kanafeh.

Dining out
Restaurants or mata’im offer a brilliant array of cold appetizers known as the mezze. Notably, hummus bi tahini, mukhluta, sometimes nearly a dozen variations of eggplant salad, tabbouleh, fattoush, chili pepper and red cabbage salads and dishes made up by the chef are served. Kibbee balls and sfiha are the primary hot appetizers available. Heavy meals are rarely provided by restaurants, instead however, the entrées include shish kebab, shish taouk, rack of lamb and chicken breasts. Falafel shops or Mahal falafel offer mainly falafel and shawarma with several different contents. They also offer hummus or tabbouleh to be served with the meal. Coffeehouses (called al-maqhah in Arabic) serve hot beverages and soft drinks and are usually restricted to male customers—who take part in leisurely activities like playing cards or backgammon and smoking argileh (Arabic for hookah). Sweet shops or mahal al hilaweyat, can be found in the souks of cities and major towns, they offer a wide range of sweets common with Palestinians, such as, kanafeh, baklawa and anise-flavored cookies. Family-run shops often serve at least one type of sweet that they themselves created. The city of Nablus in particular are world famous for their exquisite Arabic sweets, and have some of the oldest sweet shops in Palestine.


  • Soft drinks: Soft drinks are also common in Palestinian homes and the city of Ramallah contains a Coca-Cola and Faygo bottling plant, while Gaza, Hebron and Nablus have distribution centers. A Pepsi-Cola plant in Gaza was shut down in 2007. Homemade fruit juices are also a common household drink during warm days and during Ramadan, the holy month for fasting by Muslims. In the Palestinian culture, coffee and tea is traditionally served to adults during a visit or gathering, while juice is served to everyone. Drinks such as tamar hind or qamar deen are served during special occasions to everyone. Tamar hind, originally from Africa is a liquorice drink made by soaking or infusing liquorice sticks, and adding lemon juice. Qamar deen is traditionally served to break the Ramadan fast (as is water), and is an iced drink made from a dry sheet of apricots soaked in water, and mixed with lemon juice or syrup. Rose or mint water is a drink commonly added to Palestinian sweets and dishes. However, it is also a popular drink on its own, and is seen as refreshing in the heated summers. Herbs such as sage can also be boiled with water to create a drink that is sometimes used for medicinal purposes. A warm drink made from sweetened milk with salep garnished with walnuts, coconut flakes and cinnamon, is known as sahlab and is primarily served during the winter season.
  • Coffee and tea: Two hot beverages that Palestinians consume is coffee—served in the morning and throughout the day—and tea which is often sipped in the evening. Tea is usually flavored with na’ana (mint) or maramiyyeh (sage). The coffee of choice is usually Turkish or Arabic coffee. Arabic coffee is similar to Turkish coffee, but the former is spiced with cardamom and is usually unsweetened. Among Bedouins and most other Arabs throughout the region of Palestine, bitter coffee, known as qahwah sadah (Lit. plain coffee), was a symbol of hospitality. Pouring the drink was ceremonial; it would involve the host or his eldest son moving clockwise among guests—who were judged by age and status—pouring coffee into tiny cups from a brass pot. It was considered “polite” for guests to accept only three cups of coffee and then end their last cup by saying daymen, meaning “always”, but intending to mean “may you always have the means to serve coffee”.
  • Liquor: A widely consumed liquor among Palestinian Christians, non-religious Palestinians and many less-stringently observant Muslims is Arak. Arak is a clear anise-flavored alcoholic drink that is mixed with water to soften it and give it a creamy white color. It is consumed during special occasions such as holidays, weddings, and gatherings or with the mezze. Beer is also a consumed drink and the Palestinian town of Taybeh in the central West Bank contains one of the few breweries in Palestine. In addition to regular beer, the brewery produces non-alcoholic beer for observant Muslims. The nearby town of Birzeit is home to Shepherds Brewery.

Holiday cuisine: There is a sharp difference of Palestinian courses eaten on a daily basis in comparison to those reserved for holidays—which include family and religious occasions for both Muslims and Christians.

  • Ramadan: In the past, during the fasting month of Ramadan, the Musaher of a town would yell and beat his drum to wake up the town’s residents for suhoor (lit. ‘of dawn’)—usually very early in the morning, ranging from 4-6 am. The meals eaten during this time are light and foods include labaneh, cheese, bread and fried or boiled eggs along with various liquids to drink. The muezzin‘s call to dawn prayers signaled the beginning of sawm or fasting. Breaking the day’s fasting traditionally begins with the brief consumption of dates and a chilled beverage. Palestinians make a variety of fruit-based beverages, including the flavors, tamar Hindi or tamarind, sous or licorice, kharroub or carob and Qamar Eddine. Tamar Hindi is made by soaking tamarinds in water for many hours, then straining, sweetening and mixing it with rose water and lemon juice. Kharroub is made similarly except instead of tamarind, carob is used. Qamar Eddine is made of dried apricots boiled into a liquid and chilled. The term iftar has a different meaning in Ramadan where it is used to describe the ‘breaking of fasting’ unlike its common meaning of breakfast in the morning. Iftar begins with soup, either made from lentils, vegetables or freekeh. Shurbat freekeh (“freekeh soup”) is made from cracked, green wheat cooked in chicken broth. There is a wide variety of meals served during iftar, ranging from small plates or bowls vegetable-based courses or saniyyehs (large plates or trays) of a particular meat. Common small dishes on the dinner table are bamia—a name for okra in tomato paste, mloukhiyeh—a corchorus stew—or maqali, an array of fried tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes, peppers and zucchini. Pilaf or plain freekeh are normally served alongside the dinner meat. Each household prepares extra food to provide for their neighbors and the less fortunate—who must receive an equal version of the food eaten at home.
  • Holiday sweets: A common Palestinian dessert reserved only for Ramadan is qatayef, which could be provided by the numerous street vendors in several major Palestinian cities or towns as well as typical Palestinian households. Qatayef is the general name of the dessert as a whole, but more specifically, the name of the batter that acts as a base. The result of the batter being poured into a round hot plate appears similar to pancakes, except only one side is cooked, then folded. The pastry is filled with either unsalted goat cheese or ground walnuts and cinnamon. It is then baked and served with a hot sugar-water syrup or sometimes honey. Ka’ak bi ‘awja is a semolina shortbread pastry filled with ground dates called ‘ajwa or walnuts. The dessert is a traditional meal for Christians during Easter, however, ka’ak bi awja is also prepared towards the end of Ramadan, to be eaten during Eid al-Fitr—a Muslim festival immediately following Ramadan, as well as during Eid al-Adha. During Mawlid—the holiday honoring the birth of the Islamic prophet Muhammad—Zalabieh which consists of small, crunchy deep fried dough balls in dipped in syrup, is served. The dough is made from flour, yeast and water. A special pudding called meghli is prepared for a new born child, to celebrate new life. The dessert is made of ground rice, sugar and a mixture of spices, garnished with almonds, pine nuts and walnuts. Meghli is commonly made by Christian Palestinians during Christmas to celebtate the birth of the baby Jesus. An infant’s new tooth is celebrated with bowls of sweetened wheat or barley and sweets served after a child’s circumcision include baklava and Burma. Christian families in mourning serve a sweet bun known as rahmeh. It is a food eaten in remembrance of the dead and as a gesture of blessing the soul of the deceased person. The Greek Orthodox Church offer a special tray with cooked wheat covered with sugar and candy after a memorial service.

Read more on Wikipedia Palestinian cuisine.

Halawet El Jibn © Mahmood ALsalama/cc-by-sa-4.0

Halawet el-jibn is a Levantine dessert made of Semolina, cheese (where the name is derived), sugar and water. It has spread to places where Syrian have travelled, including Turkey © Mahmood ALsalama/cc-by-sa-4.0

Syrian cuisine may refer to the cooking traditions and practices in modern-day Syria (as opposed to Greater Syria), merging the habits of people who settled in Syria throughout its history. Syrian cuisine mainly uses eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic, meat (mostly from lamb, mutton and poultry), dairy products, bulghur, sesame seeds, rice, chickpeas, wheat flour, pine nuts, fava beans, lentils, cabbage, cauliflower, vine leaves, pickled turnips or cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, mint, a spice mixture called “baharat mushakkaleh”, hazelnuts, pistachios, honey and fruits. At the beginning of the 21st century, selections of appetizers known as meze are customarily served along with Arabic bread before the Syrian meal’s main course, which is followed by coffee, with sweet confectioneries and/or fruits at will. Many recipes date from at least the 13th century.


  • Fatteh – Pieces of Arabic bread covered with other ingredients
  • Fatteh bi-s-samn – Fatteh with hot grease
  • Fatteh bi-z-zayt – Fatteh with oil
  • Fatteh al-makdus – Fatteh with makdus and minced meat
  • Fatteh dajaj – Fatteh with chicken
  • Fatteh bi-l-lahm – Fatteh with meat
  • Makdus – Stuffed and pickled eggplants
  • Muhammarah – A hot pepper dip from Aleppo, made from Aleppo pepper
  • Shanklish – Cheese

Vine leaves

  • Yabra’ – Vine leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat cooked and served hot
  • Yalanji – Vine leaves stuffed with rice and a variety of vegetables and served hot or cold


  • Kebab – Grilled meat
  • Kebab Halabi (meaning “Aleppine kebab”) – Kebab served with a spicy tomato sauce and Aleppo pepper. It has about 26 variants, including:
    • kebab hindi, made from rolled lamb, with tomato paste, onion, capsicum and pomegranate molasses
    • kebab kamayeh, made from soft meat with truffle pieces, onion and various nuts
    • kebab karaz, made from lamb meatballs with cherries and cherry paste, pine nuts, sugar and pomegranate molasses
    • kebab khashkhash, made from rolled lamb or beef with chili pepper paste, parsley, garlic and pine nuts
    • siniyyet kebab, made from lean minced lamb served on a tray with chili pepper, onion and tomato

Kubbeh: A variety of Syrian dishes made from a fried, baked, grilled, cooked, or raw mixture of bulghur and minced lamb are called “kubbeh”. Kubbeh recipes include:

  • Kubbeh bi-s-siniyyeh – A plate of baked kubbeh
  • Kubbeh Halab – Kubbeh with a rice crust. Although named after Aleppo, this recipe seems to be of Iraqi origin
  • Kubbeh hamid – Kubbeh with lemon juice
  • Kubbeh labaniyyeh – Cooked kubbeh with yogurt
  • Kubbeh ‘qras – Grilled kubbeh
  • Kubbeh nayyeh – Raw kubbeh
  • Kubbeh safarjaliyyeh – Kubbeh with quince
  • Kubbeh summa’iyyeh – Kubbeh with sumac

Mahshi: A famous dish served in Syria is made from vegetables (usually zucchini or eggplant) which are stuffed (maḥshī) with ground beef or lamb or mutton, and nuts and rice.

Street food

  • Falafil – Fried balls or patties of spiced, mashed chickpeas, most often served in Arabic bread, with pickles, tahina, hummus, sumac, cut vegetable salad and often, shatteh, a hot sauce, the type used depending on the falafil maker
  • Ka’ak – Rings of bread, made from farina and other ingredients, commonly sprinkled with sesame seeds, occasionally served on the table to accompany Syrian cheese. A buttery and sweetened version of these, filled with crushed dates or walnuts, is eaten as a dessert, usually served to eat with string cheese shaped into a braid (jibneh mashallaleh)
  • Shawarma – Sliced and marinated meat shaved off a roasting skewer and stuffed into Arabic bread or sometimes baguette, alone with hummus, or with additional trimmings such as fresh onion, French fries, salads and pickles


  • Ba’lawah – Layered pastry filled with nuts, steeped in a honey syrup called “‘atr”, and usually cut in a triangular or diamond shape
  • Basbuseh – A sweet cake made of cooked semolina or farina soaked in simple syrup
  • Ghazal al-banat – Sugar cutton candy stuffed with pistachios or cashew
  • Halaweh Homsiyyeh
  • Halawet al-jibn – Pastry rolled and stuffed with cheese or thick milk cream, served with a honey syrup called “‘atr”
  • Halweh – A slab of sesame paste studded with fruit and candy/sweets
  • Kanafeh – Shoelace pastry dessert stuffed with sweet white cheese, nuts and syrup
  • Ma’mul – Biscuits filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts, and shaped in a wooden mould called “tabi'”. It is a popular sweet on Christian holidays (Easter), Muslim holidays (‘Id al-Fitr), and Jewish holidays (Purim)
  • Mamuniyyeh – Mixture of semolina and ghee butter simmered in water with sugar, usually served with salty cheese or milk cream called “qishteh”
  • Nabulsiyyeh – A layer of semi-salty Nabulsi cheese covered with a semolina dough and drizzled with a honey syrup called “‘atr”
  • Qada’ef – Semolina dough stuffed with a paste made from sweet walnuts or milk cream, with a honey syrup called “‘atr”
  • Qamar ad-din – Dried apricot paste
  • Suwar as-sitt (meaning “lady’s wristlet”) – A disc-shaped pastry steeped in a honey syrup called “‘atr” while the centre is covered with smashed pistachios
  • Taj al-malik (meaning “king’s crown”) – Round dry pastry, the centre of which is filled with pistachios, cashews or other nuts
  • Zilabiyyeh – Thin sheets of semolina dough, boiled, rolled and stuffed with pistachios or milk cream called “qishteh”
  • Znud as-sitt (meaning “lady’s arms”) – Phyllo pastries with various fillings


  • Arabic coffee – A beverage made from lightly roasted coffee beans along with cardamom, and served with dates, dried fruit and nuts
  • ‘Ara’ – A distilled alcoholic spirit, transparent in color, made from anise seeds
  • ‘Ayran – A yogurt-based beverage mixed with salt and water
  • Jallab -A fruit syrup which can be combined with liquid to form a hot or warm beverage
  • Al-mateh – A fruit syrup which can be combined with liquid to form a hot or warm beverage
  • Polo – A caffeine-infused drink produced from ground yerba mate leaves and served hot
  • Syrian beer – A beverage prepared from yeast-fermented malt, flavored with hops
  • Qahweh bayda’ (meaning “white coffee”) – A caffeine-free drink made from water and orange blossom water, sweetened with sugar at will, usually served in lieu of coffee
  • Château Bargylus and, of course, the wonderful wines from the Syrian Golan Heights, at the moment occupied by Israel

Read more on Wikipedia Syrian cuisine.

Lablabi © Drmaik/cc-by-sa-3.0

Lablabi is a Tunisian dish based on chick peas in a thin garlic and cumin-flavoured soup, served over small pieces of stale crusty bread. It is commonly eaten in inexpensive restaurants. Raw or soft-cooked egg is nearly always added to the hot soup mix (thus cooking), along with olive oil, harissa, additional cumin, capers, tuna and sometimes olives, garlic and vinegar or lemon or lime juice © Drmaik/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tunisian cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and desert dwellers’ culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from the many civilizations which have ruled the land now known as Tunisia: Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Spanish, Turkish, Italian, French, and the native Punics-Berber people. Many of the cooking styles and utensils began to take shape when the ancient tribes were nomads. Nomadic people were limited in their cooking implements by what pots and pans they could carry with them. The Tunisian tagine, is very different from the Moroccan dish. It is a type of a pie dish, made out of eggs, meat and vegetables, similar to the Italian frittata or the eggah. The openness to trade and tourism also brought international cuisines, like the Chinese, Indian, Japanese cuisine, or fast-food. Moreover, the intensification of commercial exchange with Europe and the rest of the world, made certain uncommon products available, which in turn allowed locals to experiment with other cuisines. Like all countries in the Mediterranean basin, Tunisia offers a “sun cuisine,” based mainly on olive oil, spices, tomatoes, seafood and meat. Tunisian cuisine developed from ancient Carthage, Rome, the Arab conquest of the Maghreb, and the Ottoman Empire. The cuisine has been strongly influenced by French and Italian (especially Sicilian) cooking. Unlike other North African cuisines, Tunisian food is quite spicy. A popular condiment and ingredient which is used extensively in Tunisian cooking, harissa, is a mix of spices commonly sold together as a paste . It is usually the most important ingredient in different sauces and gravies. Westernised harissa mostly contains red chilies to replace “black cumin” which is significantly different from standard cumin. Black cumin is readily available in the mediterranean and middle east and there are many people that say harissa is only “real” if it contains black cumin rather than chilies, which are not native to the region. Other common spices include cumin or cumin seeds, garlic, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, and paprika or smoked paprika. Tunisian wine has a long history dating back to the Antiquity like most Mediterranean countries with the Phoenicians and Carthage.

Tunisia has different regional aspects. Tunisian cuisine varies from north to south, from the coast to the Atlas Mountains, from urban areas to the countryside, and along religious affiliations. For instance, the original inhabitants of Tunis (the Beldiya), do not use harissa much; they prefer milder food, and have also developed their own breads and desserts. Closer to the Atlas mountain range, game is favoured. A diet may be composed of quail, pigeons, squabs, partridge, rabbits and hare. In the Cap Bon, people enjoy tuna, anchovies, sardines, sea bass and mackerels. On the island of Djerba, where there is a dense Maghrebim population, only Kosher food is consumed. In Hammamet, snails are enjoyed. Organs are traditionally staples of Tunisian cooking, such as tripe, lamb brains, beef liver and fish heads. Despite the strong presence of Fast Food and restaurants in Sfax, People from the city enjoy their traditional dishes more than anything else. Sfaxians tend to add their own touch to the Tunisian cousine. They have staple regional dishes such as “The Marka” which is a fish soup to which Sfaxians usually add vermicelli or couscous. The soup can also be eaten with barely bread or croutons.The Charmoula is also another Sfaxian dish made mainly of baked raisins and onions and spices and it is traditionally eaten with salted fish on the First day of Eid al-Fitr. Sfax is also famed for its pastaries which ranks 1st in the country. There are two kinds of Sfaxian Pastaries; daily pastry (locally called : hlou Arbi) like Makrouth, Doria, and Ghraiba, and there is also high range pastry for weddings and special ceremonies (like Baklawa , mlabbes, Ka’ak warka’). In Djerba kosher cuisine is available as well as a myriad of restaurant offering a wide range of regional dishes like rouz djerbi and mainly seafood based meals.

Main dishes
Couscous, called “Kosksi”, is the national dish of Tunisia, and can be prepared in many ways. It is cooked in a special kind of double boiler called a kiska:s in Arabic or couscoussière in French, resembling a Chinese steamer atop a Mongolian pot. Meats, vegetables and spices are cooked in the lower pot. Cooking steam rises through vents into the container above. It is layered with whole herbs such as bay leaves and covered with a fine-grain couscous. The couscous pasta is therefore cooked with aromatic steam. During the cooking process, the couscous needs to be regularly stirred with a fork to prevent lumping, as risotto is cooked. Preferred meats include lamb (kosksi bil ghalmi) or chicken (kosksi bil djaj) but regional substitutes red snapper, grouper (kousksi bil mannani), sea bass (kosksi bil warqua), hare (kosksi bil arnab) or quail (kosksi bil hjall). Although there are many ways to prepare and compose the dish, a classic recipe would call for the following ingredients: salted butter, bell peppers, shallots, Spanish onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas, chili pepper, harissa, celery, cinnamon, black peppercorn, carrots, turnips and squash. The idea is for the dish to contain many vegetables and a variety of Mediterranean ingredients. Contrary to the other north African varieties, the Tunisian couscous is then gently mixed for a few minutes with its sauce, until it colors it integrally. The first layer consists of a mound of couscous, then a layer of vegetables follows, and finally the meat is positioned on top. The presentation is finished with an additional drizzle of sauce and a sprinkle of fresh parsley, basil or mint (for lamb and mutton couscous). Substituting orzo, rice, Israeli couscous or barley for fine-grain couscous is not acceptable. In some regions, a medium-grain couscous is seldom used.

Typical Tunisian dishes are brik (a fried Malsouka dough stuffed with tuna and an egg), tajin (like a frittata or a quiche), shorba (soups), slata (salads), marqua (stews), rishta (pastas), samsa (a popular pastry), kifta (ground meat), kaak (pastries), gnawiya (gombos), merguez (lamb sausage) and shakshouka (ratatouille). Unlike Moroccan tajines, a tajine in Tunisia usually refers to a kind of quiche, without a crust, made with beaten eggs, grated cheese, meat and various vegetable fillings, and baked like a large cake. A popular seafood speciality is the ‘poisson complet’ or the whole fish. The entire fish, excluding internal organs, is prepared and fire-grilled, but it can also be fried, grilled or sautéed. It is accompanied with potato chips and either mild or spicy tastira. The peppers are grilled with a little tomato, a lot of onion and a little garlic, all of which is finely chopped and served with an egg poached or sunny side up. Finely chopped fresh parsley is sprinkled on top; a drizzle of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt complete the recipe.

In Tunisian cuisine, there are no sauces as in classic French cuisine, such as sauce béarnaise, sauce anglaise, sauce allemande or sauce hollandaise. Tunisian sauces, which are closer to spicy broths, are an integral part of the dish. Otherwise olive oils are often used as sauces, such as with the Tuna Fricassee. This said, harissa or hrissa is often said to be a Tunisian sauce, but it is better described as an ingredient of Tunisian cooking or a seasoning. Harissa is made of red chili, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, olive oil, and sometimes also caraway or mint. Two Tunisian sauces deserve mentioning: the Kerkennaise sauce and the Mloukhia. The first is made of capers, olive oil, tomato, scallions, coriander, caraway, cumin, parsley, garlic, white vinegar and paprika. The later is a dark green sauce served with shredded lamb or beef.

Additional dishes and foods

  • Asida – a sweet gruel pudding
  • Assidat Zgougou – an Aleppo pine pudding
  • Baklawa – layers of thin pastry interspersed with ground pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios, brushed in golden butter, baked and dipped in a honey syrup
  • Bambalouni – fried sweet donut–like cake served with sugar
  • Berber–style lamb stew – A simple stew of lamb cooked with vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, in a traditional clay pot
  • Bouza – rich and sticky sorghum puree
  • Brik – tiny parcels of minced lamb, beef, or vegetables and an egg wrapped in thin pastry and deep fried
  • Chakchouka – a vegetarian ragout similar to ratatouille with chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions, served with a poached egg
  • Chorba – a seasoned broth, with pasta, meatballs, fish, etc.
  • Felfel mahchi – Sweet peppers stuffed with meat, usually lamb, and served with harissa sauce
  • Fricasse – tiny sandwich with tuna, harissa, olives and olive oil. It bears no similarity to the classic continental European casserole of the same name
  • Guenaoia – Lamb or beef stew with chillies, okra, and spices
  • Harissa – Harissa is a traditional Tunisian hot chilli paste
  • Houria – cooked carrot salad
  • Kamounia – a beef and cumin stew
  • Khobz Tabouna – traditional oven–baked bread. Tunisian Khobz Tabouna is not a flat or pita like bread
  • Koucha – shoulder of lamb cooked with turmeric and cayenne pepper
  • Lablabi – rich garlicky soup made with chickpeas
  • Langues d’oiseaux or “birds’ tongues”, a type of soup with pasta shaped like rice grains
  • Makroudh – semolina cake stuffed with dates or almonds, cinnamon and grated orange peel
  • Masfouf – sweetened couscous, the Tunisian version of the Moroccan seffa
  • Makboubeh – tomato and pepper stew
  • Makloub – a folded-pizza sandwich, similar to a shawarma, made from pizza dough and filled with minced chicken, cheese, salad, harissa, mayonnaise and other sauces
  • Makoud – potato and meat casserole (similar to a quiche)
  • Marqa – slow–cooked stews of meat with tomatoes and olives, somewhat similar in concept to the Moroccan tajine stews
  • Mechouia salad – an hors d’oeuvre of grilled sweet peppers, tomatoes and onions mixed with oil, lemon, tuna fish and hard–boiled eggs
  • Merguez – small spicy sausages
  • Mhalbiya – cake made with rice, nuts and geranium water
  • Mloukhia – a beef or lamb stew with bay leaves, the name is from the green herb used, which produces a thick gravy that has a mucilaginous (somewhat “slimy”) texture, similar to cooked okra
  • Noicer pasta – very thin, small squares of pasta made with semolina and all–purpose flour, flavoured with Tunisian Bharat, a blend of ground cinnamon and dried rosebuds
  • Ojja – scrambled egg dish made of tomatoes and mild green chillies supplemented with various meats and harissa
  • Osbane – pieces of animal gut stuffed with meat and offal, a speciality from Monastir
  • Tunisian Salad – diced cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and onions seasoned with olive oil. Maybe garnished with olives, eggs and tuna. Analogous to the French Salade niçoise and Greek salad
  • Samsa – layers of thin pastry alternated with layers of ground roast almonds, and sesame seeds, baked in lemon and rosewater syrup
  • Shakshouka – a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin
  • Zitounia – ragout of veal or other meats simmered in a tomato sauce with onions, flavoured with olives
  • Torshi – turnips marinated with lime juice
  • Yo-yo – donuts made with orange juice, deep fried, then dipped in honey syrup

Read more on Wikipedia Tunisian cuisine.

Turkish breakfast © Tanyel/cc-by-sa-3.0

Turkish breakfast © Tanyel/cc-by-sa-3.0

Turkish cuisine is largely the continuation of Ottoman cuisine, which in turn borrowed many elements from Circassian, Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Greek cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including those of Southeast Europe (Balkans), Central Europe, and Western Europe. The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm with influences from Levantine cuisines, along with traditional Turkic elements from Central Asia (such as yogurt and mantı), creating a vast array of specialities—many with strong regional associations. Turkish cuisine varies across the country. The cooking of Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, and rest of the Aegean region inherits many elements of Ottoman court cuisine, with a lighter use of spices, a preference for rice over bulgur, koftes and a wider availability of vegetable stews (türlü), eggplant, stuffed dolmas and fish. The cuisine of the Black Sea Region uses fish extensively, especially the Black Sea anchovy (hamsi) and includes maize dishes. The cuisine of the southeast (e.g. Urfa, Gaziantep, and Adana) is famous for its variety of kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts such as baklava, şöbiyet, kadayıf, and künefe. Especially in the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees grow abundantly, olive oil is the major type of oil used for cooking. The cuisines of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions are rich in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia has many famous specialties, such as keşkek, mantı (especially from Kayseri) and gözleme. Dishes directly cognate with mantı are found also in Chinese (mantou) and Korean cuisine (mandu). A specialty’s name sometimes includes that of a city or region, either in or outside of Turkey, and may refer to the specific technique or ingredients used in that area. For example, the difference between Urfa kebap and Adana kebap is the thickness of the skewer and the amount of hot pepper that the kebab contains. Urfa kebap is less spicy and thicker than Adana kebap. Although meat-based foods such as kebabs are the mainstay in Turkish cuisine as presented in foreign countries, native Turkish meals largely center around rice, vegetables, and bread.

Turks usually prefer a rich breakfast. A typical Turkish breakfast consists of cheese (beyaz peynir, kaşar etc.), butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, and kaymak, sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage, can be eaten with eggs), pastırma, börek, simit, poğaça and soups are eaten as a morning meal in Turkey. A speciality for breakfast is called menemen, which is prepared with tomatoes, green peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs. Invariably, Turkish tea is served at breakfast. The Turkish word for breakfast, kahvaltı, means “before coffee” (kahve, ‘coffee’; altı, ‘under’).

Homemade food
Homemade food is still preferred by Turkish people. Although the newly introduced way of life pushes the new generation to eat out, Turkish people generally prefer to eat at home. A typical meal starts with soup (especially in wintertime), followed by a dish made of vegetables or legumes boiled in a pot (typically with meat or minced meat), often with or before rice or bulgur pilav accompanied by a salad or cacık (diluted cold yogurt dish with garlic, salt, and cucumber slices). In summertime many people prefer to eat a cold dish of vegetables cooked with olive oil (zeytinyağlı yemekler) instead of the soup, either before or after the main course, which can also be a chicken, meat or fish plate.

Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major foreign fast food chains have opened all over Turkey, Turkish people still rely primarily on the rich and extensive dishes of Turkish cuisine. In addition, some traditional Turkish foods, especially köfte, döner, kokoreç, kumpir midye tava börek and gözleme, are often served as fast food in Turkey. Eating out has always been common in large commercial cities. Esnaf lokantası (meaning restaurants for shopkeepers and tradesmen) are widespread, serving traditional Turkish home cooking at affordable prices.

Summer cuisine
In the hot Turkish summer, a meal often consists of fried vegetables such as eggplant (aubergine) and peppers or potatoes served with yogurt or tomato sauce. Menemen and çılbır are typical summer dishes, based on eggs. Sheep cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons and melons also make a light summer meal. Those who like helva for dessert prefer summer helva, which is lighter and less sweet than the regular one.

The rich and diverse flora of Turkey means that fruit is varied, abundant and cheap. In Ottoman cuisine, fruit frequently accompanied meat as a side dish. Plums, apricots, pomegranates, pears, apples, grapes, and figs, along with many kinds of citrus are the most frequently used fruit, either fresh or dried, in Turkish cuisine. For example, komposto (compote) or hoşaf (from Persian khosh âb, literally meaning “nice water”) are among the main side dishes to meat or pilav. Dolma and pilaf usually contain currants or raisins. Etli yaprak sarma (vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice) used to be cooked with sour plums in Ottoman cuisine. Turkish desserts do not normally contain fresh fruit, but may contain dried varieties. Eggplant has a special place in the Turkish cuisine.

In some regions, meat, which was mostly eaten only at wedding ceremonies or during the Kurban Bayramı (Eid ul-Adha) as etli pilav (pilaf with meat), has become part of the daily diet since the introduction of industrial production. Veal, formerly shunned, is now widely consumed. The main use of meat in cooking remains the combination of ground meat and vegetable, with names such as kıymalı fasulye (beans with ground meat) or kıymalı ıspanak (spinach with ground meat, which is sometimes served with yogurt). Alternatively, in coastal towns cheap fish such as sardalya (sardines) or hamsi (anchovies) are widely available, as well as many others with seasonal availability. Poultry consumption, almost exclusively of chicken and eggs, is common. Milk-fed lambs, once the most popular source of meat in Turkey, comprise a small part of contemporary consumption. Kuzu çevirme, cooking milk-fed lamb on a spit, once an important ceremony, is rarely seen.

Dairy products
Yogurt is an important element in Turkish cuisine. In fact, the English word yogurt or yoghurt derives from the Turkish word yoğurt. Yogurt can accompany almost all meat dishes (kebabs, köfte), vegetable dishes (especially fried eggplant, courgette, spinach with minced meat etc.), meze and a specialty called mantı (folded triangles of dough containing minced meat). In villages, yogurt is regularly eaten with rice or bread. A thicker, higher-fat variety, süzme yoğurt or “strained yogurt”, is made by straining the yogurt curds from the whey. One of the most common Turkish drinks, ayran, is made from yogurt. Also, yogurt is often used in the preparation of cakes, some soups and pastries.

Cheeses: Turkey produces many varieties of cheese, mostly from sheep’s milk. In general, these cheeses are not long matured, with a comparatively low fat content. The production of many kinds of cheese is local to particular regions.

  • Beyaz peynir is a salty brined cheese taking its name from its white color (“white cheese”). It is similar to feta but not as strong. This is produced in styles ranging from unmatured cheese curds to a quite strong mature version. It has many varieties due to source of milk, region (Ezine or Thrace) and production methods (classic or cultured). It is eaten plain (e.g. as part of the traditional Turkish breakfast), used in salads, and incorporated into cooked foods such as menemen, börek and pide
  • Çerkez peyniri means “Circassian cheese”. It has two variations, smoked or non-smoked
  • Çökelek is dried cottage cheese. There are many regional varieties of çökelek. Some are eaten fresh while others are preserved, either by storage in goatskin bags or pottery jars, or by drying in the sun
  • qurut and keş are regional names for dried bricks of yogurt made from low-fat milk or from çökelek made from buttermilk
  • Gravyer (analogous to Swiss gruyere) is produced in Turkey as well. Among others, Kars is famous for its graviera
  • Hellim is a salty, firm-textured goat cheese, generally with some mint added, made in Northern Cyprus. In Turkey, it is common to fry hellim in a pan in some olive oil
  • Kaşar is Turkey’s other ubiquitous cheese, a moderately fatty sheep’s cheese similar to the Greek kasseri, sometimes marketed as “Turkish cheddar”, being closer in consistency and taste to mild cheddar-style cheese than other Turkish cheeses. Less matured kaşar, called fresh kaşar, is widely consumed as well. Two varieties are popular Kars and Thrace
  • Kaşkaval is a wheel-shaped yellow sheep’s cheese, similar to fresh kaşar. The name comes from Romanian word cașcaval, which bears the Italian structure of caciocavallo
  • Lor is the other type of unsalted whey cheese, similarly made from the whey left over from kaşar or strained yogurt manufacture. Lor is used in traditional foods and desserts made from unsalted cheese like “ekşimik” and höşmerim
  • Mihaliç peyniri or Kelle peyniri is a hard sheep’s cheese that can be grated, like Parmesan cheese. Sometimes goat or cow milk is used. It is a specialty from Karacabey, a town in Bursa province which was called Mihaliç during Byzantine and Ottoman period. Mostly it produced from non-pastorized milk and processed by salt
  • Örgü peyniri, “braided cheese”, is a specialty from Diyarbakır
  • Otlu peynir (“herbed cheese”) is produced in many areas, chiefly in East Anatolia. Traditionally sheep’s or goat’s milk is used, but more recently cow’s milk otlu peynir has been produced. The type of herb used varies by region: in Van wild garlic is traditional; Bitlis otlu peynir contains a damp-loving herb known as sof otu. In other areas horse mint (Mentha longifolia) and Pimpinella rhodentha are used
  • Tulum is a mostly sheep’s curd molded in an animal skin bag called as tulum. There are regional varieties of tulum peynir in such areas as İzmir, Ödemiş and Erzincan. And each of tulum cheese have very different chrasteristics

Soups: A Turkish meal usually starts with a thin soup (çorba). Soups are usually named after their main ingredient, the most common types being; mercimek (lentil) çorbası, yogurt, or wheat (often mashed) called tarhana çorbası. Delicacy soups are the ones that are usually not the part of the daily diet, such as İşkembe soup and paça çorbası, although the latter also used to be consumed as a nutritious winter meal. Before the popularisation of the typical Turkish breakfast, soup was the default morning meal for some people.


  • Bazlama
  • Gözleme
  • Mısır ekmeği – cornbread
  • Lavaş
  • Pide – a broad, round and flat bread made of wheat flour
  • Simit – known as “gevrek” in Izmir, another type of ring-shaped bread covered with sesame seeds. Simit is commonly eaten in Turkey, plain or with cheese, butter or marmalade
  • Yufka – a round and flat bread, made of wheat flour, thinner than pide

Pilav and pasta

  • Pilaf – Plain rice pilaf is often the primary side dish to any meal. It is made by sauteing rice with butter until lightly toasted and simmering with water or stock
  • Domatesli pilav – tomato pilaf
  • Etli pilav – rice containing meat pieces
  • Nohutlu pilav – rice cooked with chickpeas
  • İç pilav – rice with liver slices, currants, peanuts, chestnut, cinnamon and a variety of herbs
  • Patlıcanlı pilav – rice with eggplant
  • Uzbek pilaf – rice with lamb, onion, tomato, carrot
  • Persian pilaf – rice with lamb, cooked in meat broth with pistachios, cinnamon, etc.
  • Bulgur pilavı – a cereal food generally made of durum wheat. Most of the time, tomato, green pepper and minced meat are mixed with bulgur. The Turkish name (bulgur pilavı) indicates that this is a kind of rice but it is, in fact, wheat
  • Perde pilavı – rice with chicken, onion and peanuts enveloped in a thin layer of dough, topped with almonds
  • Hamsili pilav – spiced rice covered with anchovies, cooked in oven. A speciality from the Black Sea Region
  • Frik pilavı – rice made of burnt wheat. A speciality from Antioch/Antakya
  • Mantı – Turkish pasta that consists of folded triangles of dough filled with minced meat, often with minced onions and parsley. It is typically served hot topped with garlic yogurt and melted butter or warmed olive oil, and a range of spices such as oregano, dried mint, ground sumac, and red pepper powder. The combination of meat-filled dough with yogurt differentiates it from other dumplings such as tortellini, ravioli, and Chinese wonton. Mantı is usually eaten as a main dish. Minced chicken and quail meats are also used to prepare mantı in some regions of Turkey
  • Erişte – homemade pasta is called erişte in Turkey. It can be combined with vegetables but it can also be used in soups and rice
  • Keşkek – a meat and wheat (or barley) stew
  • Kuskus – the Turkish version of couscous, which can be served with any meat dish or stew

Vegetable dishes: A vegetable dish can be a main course in a Turkish meal. A large variety of vegetables are used, such as spinach, leek, cauliflower, artichoke, cabbage, celery, eggplant, green and red bell peppers, string bean and jerusalem artichoke. A typical vegetable dish is prepared with a base of chopped onions, carrots sautéed first in olive oil and later with tomatoes or tomato paste. The vegetables and hot water will then be added. Quite frequently a spoon of rice and lemon juice is also added. Vegetable dishes usually tend to be served with its own water (the cooking water) thus often called in colloquial Turkish sulu yemek (literally “a dish with juice”). Minced meat can also be added to a vegetable dish but vegetable dishes that are cooked with olive oil (zeytinyağlılar) are often served cold and do not contain meat. Spinach, leek, string bean and artichoke with olive oil are among the most widespread dishes in Turkey.

  • Dolma is the name used for stuffed vegetables. Like the vegetables cooked with olive oil as described above dolma with olive oil does not contain meat. Many vegetables are stuffed, most typically green peppers (biber dolması), eggplants, tomatoes, or zucchini/courgettes (kabak dolması), vine leaves (yaprak dolması). If vine leaves are used, they are first pickled in brine. However, dolma is not limited to these common types; many other vegetables and fruits are stuffed with a meat or rice mixture. For example, artichoke dolma (enginar dolması) is an Aegean region specialty. Fillings used in dolma may consist of parts of the vegetable carved out for preparation, rice with spices or minced meat
  • Mercimek köfte, although being named köfte, does not contain any meat. Instead, red lentil is used as the major ingredient together with spring onion, tomato paste etc.
  • Imam bayildi is a version of karnıyarık with no minced meat inside. It can be served as a meze as well
  • Fried eggplant and pepper is a common summer dish in Turkey. It is served with yogurt or tomato sauce and garlic
  • Mücver is prepared with grated squash/courgette or potatoes, egg, onion, dill or cheese and flour. It can be either fried or cooked in the oven
  • Pilaf can be served either as a side dish or main dish but bulgur pilavı (pilav made of boiled and pounded wheat – bulgur) is also widely eaten. The dishes made with kuru fasulye (white beans), nohut (chickpeas), mercimek (lentils), börülce (black-eyed peas), etc., combined with onion, vegetables, minced meat, tomato paste and rice, have always been common due to being economical and nutritious
  • Turşu is pickle made with brine, usually with the addition of garlic. It is often enjoyed as an appetizer. It is made with a large variety of vegetables, from cucumber to courgette. In the towns on the Aegean coast, the water of turşu is consumed as a drink. It comes from the Persian “Torshi”, which refers to pickled “Torsh” (sour) vegetables

Egg dishes

  • Menemen consists of scrambled eggs cooked in tomato, green pepper, and can be onion and garlic
  • Çılbır is another traditional Turkish food made with poached eggs, yogurt and oil
  • Ispanaklı yumurta consists of eggs with spinach and onion
  • Kaygana can be described as something of a cross between the pancake and the omelet in Ottoman cuisine. It used to be served with cheese, honey, crushed nuts, or eggplant. However, it is almost forgotten in the big cities of Turkey

Meze and salads: Meze is a selection of food served as the appetizer course with or without drinks. Some of them can be served as a main course as well. Aside from olive, mature kaşar kashar cheese, white cheese, various mixed pickles turşu, frequently eaten Turkish mezes include:

  • Acılı ezme – hot spicy freshly mashed tomato with onion and green herbs
  • Acuka (also known as muhammara) – a spread having both Circassian and Syrian origins, prepared with from Aleppo pepper paste, ground walnuts, tomato paste, bread crumbs, garlic, and spices
  • Arnavut ciğeri (literally “Albanian liver”) – fried liver cubes served with onion, parsley and hot pepper
  • Roka arugula) salad
  • Patlıcan salatası – eggplant salad
  • Piyaz – white bean or potato salad with onion and vinegar
  • Şakşuka or in another version köpoğlu – fried and chopped eggplants and peppers served with garlic yogurt or tomato sauce
  • Bakla ezmesi – hummus prepared from broad bean
  • Barbunya pilakiborlotti beans cooked with garlic, tomato paste, carrot and olive oil
  • Borani
  • Börek – very thin dough layers stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables
  • Cacık – cucumber with yogurt, dried mint and olive oil
  • Cevizli biber – a meze prepared with walnut, red pepper, pepper paste, onion and cumin
  • Çerkez tavuğu (literally “Circassian chicken”)
  • Ahtapot (octopus) – On seatowns served as a salad or grilled
  • Çiğ köfte – raw meat patties, similar to steak tartare, prepared with ground beef (sometimes lamb) and fine-ground bulgur; a vegetarian version using tomato paste is known as etsiz çiğ köfte (literally “meatless raw meatballs”)
  • Çoban salatası – a mixed salad of tomato, cucumber, onion, green peppers, and parsley
  • Deniz börülcesi salatası (Salicornia europaea, also called common glasswort or marsh samphire)
  • Dolma – vine leaves, cabbage leaves, chard leaves, peppers, tomato, squash, pumpkin, eggplant or mussels stuffed with rice or meat
  • Fasulye pilakiwhite beans cooked with garlic, tomato paste, carrot and olive oil
  • Fava – broad/horse bean puree
  • Gavurdağı salad
  • Hardalotu – mustard plant salad
  • Haydari
  • Humus (from the Arabic for “chickpea”) – a spread prepared from sesame tahini, chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice
  • İçli köfte – (also known as oruk) – served either as a meze or a main dish; especially in the east of Turkey, when it is cooked through boiling in a pot, içli köfte is served as a main dish
  • Kabak çiçeği dolması – stuffed zucchini blossoms, a kind of dolma
  • Kalamar (calamari) – fried or grilled, served with tarator sauce
  • Karides (shrimp) – served as a salad, grilled, or stewed with vegetables in a güveç (a casserole)
  • Kısır – (also known as ‘sarma içi’) – a very popular meze or side dish prepared with fine-ground bulgur, tomato paste, parsley, onion, garlic, sour pomegranate juice and a lot of spices
  • Kızartma, various fried vegetables (eggplants, peppers, courgettes) served with yogurt or tomato-and-garlic sauce
  • Köfte – meatballs
  • Lakerda – picked bonito traditionally served with raki at taverns
  • Muhammara
  • Oruk: see İçli köfte
  • Semizotu (summer purslane) salad – served with yogurt
  • Sıgara boreğı – feta or hot dogs wrapped in phyllo dough and fried
  • Soslu patlıcan – cubed eggplant served in a sauce of olive oil and tomato
  • Tarama – a spread made with fish roe
  • Turp otu salad
  • Zeytin piyazi – olives and green onion salad

Dolma and sarma
Dolma is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak ‘to be stuffed (or filled)’, and means simply ‘stuffed thing’. Sarma is also verbal noun of the Turkish verb sarmak ‘to be wrapped(or hugged)’, and means simply ‘wrapped leafs’. Dolma and sarma has a special place in Turkish cuisine. It can be eaten either as a meze or a main dish. It can be cooked either as a vegetable dish or meat dish. If a meat mixture is put in, it is usually served hot with yogurt and spices such as oregano and red pepper powder with oil. If the mixture is only vegan recipe it should only have olive oil rice or bulgur and some nuts and raisins inside especially blackcurrant. Zeytinyağlı yaprak sarması (stuffed leafs with olive oil) is the sarma made with vine leaves stuffed with a rice-spice mixture and cooked with olive oil. This type of dolma does not contain meat, is served cold and also referred to as sarma, which means “wrapping” in Turkish. Dried fruit such as blackcurant; raisins, figs or cherries and cinnamon and allspice used to be added into the mixture to sweeten zeytinyağlı dolma in Ottoman cuisine. Vine leaves (yaprak) could be filled not only with rice and spices but also with meat and rice, etli yaprak sarma, in which case it was often served hot with yogurt. The word sarma is also used for some types of desserts, such as fıstık sarma (wrapped pistachio). Melon dolma along with quince or apple dolma was one of the palace’s specialties (raw melon stuffed with minced meat, onion, rice, almonds, cooked in an oven). In contemporary Turkey, a wide variety of dolma is prepared. Although it is not possible to give an exhaustive list of dolma recipes, courgette (“kabak”), aubergine (“patlıcan”), tomato (“domates”), pumpkin (“balkabağı”), pepper (“biber”), cabbage (“lahana”) (black or white cabbage), chard (“pazı”) and mussel (“midye”) dolma constitute the most common types. Instead of dried cherries in the palace cuisine, currants are usually added to the filling of dolma cooked in olive oil. A different type of dolma is mumbar dolması, for which the membrane of intestines of sheep is filled up with a spicy rice-nut mixture.

Meat dishes

  • Consisted of chicken or lean veal, Döner kebap is a common Turkish fast food
  • Tantuni (similar to dürüm, meat cut in very small pieces, served with lavash, a specialty from the Mersin province)
  • Kuzu güveç (lamb cooked in earthenware casserole)
  • Pastırmalı kuru fasulye (white kidney bean stew with pastırma)
  • Kuzu kapama (spring lamb stewed)
  • Haşlama (boiled lamb with vegetables and lemon juice)
  • Kavurma (“kavurma”, which means roasting/parching in Turkish, is generally used for roasted lamb. Çoban kavurma is a variety of it, prepared with diced lamb with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers and herbs. Kavurma is one of the favorite dishes of Ramadan.)
  • Alinazik, a home-style Turkish kebab variety which is a specialty of the Gaziantep province
  • Hünkârbeğend (the name means that the sovereign/sultan liked it, the dish consists of a puree of grilled eggplant with kaşar cheese, topped with cubed lamb meat)
  • Türlü (a stew of vegetables and meat cooked in güveç-casserole)
  • Külbastı
  • Ankara tava (pilav with lamb)
  • Elbasan tava
  • Tandır (without adding any water, the meat is cooked very slowly with a special technique)
  • İncik (lamb shank cooked in the oven)
  • Boraniye (broad bean/spinach/squash boraniye, vegetables cooked together with meat, yogurt and chickpea)
  • Karnıyarık (split-belly eggplant) (eggplants are cut off and fried. Then they are filled with minced meat, onion, garlic and tomato paste and cooked in the oven)
  • Köfte (meatball) is another meat dish in Turkey. The word köfte is sometimes preceded by the name of a town, which refers to the technique for cooking it or the ingredients or spices specifically used in that region, for example; İnegöl köftesi, İzmir köfte, Akçaabat köfte, pideli köfte (Bursa), Filibe köfte, Tire köfte, Islama köfte (mainly in Sakarya province) etc. Its main ingredients are minced meat, parsley, bread-egg (not necessarily, usually homemade köfte contains egg yolk and some crumbled bread) and a range of spices: cumin, oregano, mint powder, red or black pepper powder with onion or garlic. Kadınbudu köfte is another traditional speciality; minced meat is mixed with cooked rice and fried. Içli köfte can be described as a shell of “bulgur” filled with onion, minced meat and nuts. Çiğ köfte is a meze from south-eastern Turkey meaning raw meatballs, prepared with “bulgur” and raw minced meat. Terbiyeli Sulu Köfte is another meatball speciality cooked with flour, tomato paste and water in which lemon and egg sauce is added
  • Sucuk is a form of raw sausage (made with beef meat and a range of spices, and garlic) commonly eaten with breakfast. Instead of classical sausages (sosis), sucuk is the most used ingredient for snacks and fast-food style toasts and sandwiches in Turkey
  • Pastırma is another famous beef delicacy. Both pastırma and sucuk can be put in kuru fasulye (dry beans) to enrich the aroma. Both can be served as a meze as well. Sucuk or pastırma with scrambled eggs, served in a small pan called sahan, is eaten at breakfast in Turkey
  • Kokoreç (the intestines of sheep) with spices is a traditional low-price fast food in Turkey
  • Liver is fried in Turkish cuisine. “Arnavut ciğeri” (meaning Albanian liver), served with onion and sumac, is usually eaten as a meze, in combination with other mezes such as fava. “Edirne ciğeri” is another famous liver dish from Edirne. Liver is first frozen so that it can be cut into very thin layers. After being cut off, liver layers are fried
  • Kelle (roasted sheep’s head)
  • Kuzu etli enginar (artichokes with lamb)
  • Etli taze fasulye (green beans stew with meat)
  • Etli bamya (okra with meat)
  • İşkembeli nohut (chickpea with tripe)
  • Piliç dolma (stuffed chicken with spice filling)

Kebabs: Kebab refers to a great variety of meat-based dishes in Turkish cuisine. Kebab in Turkey encompasses not only grilled or skewered meats, but also stews and casseroles.

  • Adana kebap or kıyma kebabı – kebab with hand-minced meat mixed with chili on a flat wide metal skewer (shish); associated with Adana region although very popular all over Turkey
  • Ali Paşa kebabı, “Ali Pasha kebab” – cubed lamb with tomato, onion and parsley wrapped in phillo
  • Alinazik kebab – Ground meat kebab sautéed in a saucepan, with garlic, yogurt and eggplants added
  • Bahçıvan kebabı, ‘gardener’s kebab’ – Boneless lamb shoulder mixed with chopped onions and tomato paste
  • Beyti kebab – Ground lamb or beef, seasoned and grilled on a skewer, often served wrapped in lavash and topped with tomato sauce and yogurt, traced back to the famous kebab house Beyti in İstanbul and particularly popular in Turkey’s larger cities
  • Bostan kebabı – Lamb and aubergine casserole
  • Buğu kebabı, “steamed kebap” – cooked in low heat until the meat releases its moisture and reabsorbs it
  • Cağ kebab, ‘spoke kebab’ – Cubes of lamb roasted first on a cağ (a horizontal rotating spit) and then on a skewer, a specialty of Erzurum region with recently rising popularity
  • Ciğerli kağıt kebabı, ‘liver paper kebab’ – Lamb liver kebab mixed with meat and marinated with thyme, parsley and dill
  • Çardak kebabı, ‘arbor kebab’ – Stuffed lamb meat in a crêpe
  • Çökertme kebabı – Sirloin veal kebap stuffed with yogurt and potatoes
  • Çömlek kebabı, ‘earthenware bowl kebab’ – Meat and vegetable casserole (called a güveç in Turkish) with eggplant, carrots, shallots, beans, tomatoes and green pepper
  • Çöp şiş, “small skewer kebab” – a specialty of Selçuk and Germencik near Ephesus, pounded boneless meat with tomatoes and garlic marinated with black pepper, thyme and oil on wooden skewers
  • Döner kebab
  • Hünkâri kebabı, ‘Sultan’s kebab’ – Sliced lamb meat mixed with patlıcan beğendi (aubergine purée), basil, thyme and bay leaf
  • İskender kebap – döner kebap served with yogurt, tomato sauce and butter, originated in Bursa. The kebab was invented by İskender Efendi in 1867. He was inspired from Cağ kebab and turned it from horizontal to vertical
  • İslim kebabı, ‘steamed kebab’ – Another version of the aubergine kebab without its skin, marinated in sunflower oil
  • Kağıt kebabı – Lamb cooked in a paper wrapping
  • Kuyu kebabı, ‘pit kebab’ – Prepared from the goat it is special for Aydın region, similar to tandır kebabı
  • Kuzu incik kebabı, ‘lamb shank kebab’ – Lamb shanks mixed with peeled eggplants and chopped tomatoes, cream, salt and pepper
  • Kuzu şiş – Shish prepared with marinated milk-fed lamb meat
  • Köfte kebap or Shish köfte – minced lamb meatballs with herbs, often including parsley and mint, on a stick, grilled
  • Manisa kebabı – This Manisa region version of the kebab is smaller and flat size shish meat on the sliced pide bread, flavored with butter, and stuffed with tomato, garlic and green pepper
  • Orman kebabı, ‘forest kebab’ – Lamb meat on the bone and cut in large pieces mixed with carrots, potatoes and peas
  • Patates kebabı, ‘potato kebab’ – Beef or chicken mixed with potatoes, onions, tomato sauce and bay leaves
  • Patlıcan kebabı, ‘aubergine kebab’ – Special kebap meat marinated in spices and served with eggplant (aubergine), hot pide bread and a yogurt sauce
  • Ramazan kebabı, ‘Ramadan kebab’ – Meat mixed with yogurt, tomato and garlic stuffed with fresh mint or garnish on Pide bread
  • Shish kebab – Prepared with fish, lamb or chicken meat on thin metal or reed rods, grilled
  • Şiş tavuk or Tavuk şiş – Yogurt-marinated chicken grilled on a stick
  • Sivas kebabı – Associated with the Sivas region, similar to Tokat kebab but especially lamb ribs are preferred and it also differs from Tokat kebabı on the point that there are no potatoes inside
  • Susuz kebap, ‘waterless kebab’ – Cooked after draining excess fluid from the meat rubbed with salt and cinnamon in saucepan
  • Talaş kebabı, ‘sawdust kebab’ – Diced lamb, mixed with grated onions, brown meat mixed with flour dough
  • Tandır kebabı, ‘tandoor kebab’ – Lamb pieces (sometimes a whole lamb) baked in an oven called a tandır, which requires a special way of cooking for hours. Served with bread and raw onions.
  • Tas kebabı, ‘bowl kebab’ – Stewed kebab in a bowl, beginning with the cooking of the vegetables in butter employing a method called yaga vurmak, (“butter infusion”), before the meat itself is cooked in the same grease
  • Testi kebabı, ‘earthenware-jug kebab’ – Ingredients are similar to çömlek kebabı, prepared in a testi instead of a güveç, generally found in Central Anatolia and the Mid-Western Black Sea region
  • Tokat kebabı – Associated with the Tokat region, it is made with veal marinated in olive oil, aubergine, tomatoes, potatoes, onion, garlic and special pita bread
  • Urfa kebabı – is similar to Adana kebabı, but not that spicy

Turkey is surrounded by seas which contain a large variety of fish. Fish are grilled, fried or cooked slowly by the buğulama (poaching) method. Buğulama is fish with lemon and parsley, covered while cooking so that it will be cooked with steam. The term pilâki is also used for fish cooked with various vegetables, including onion in the oven. In the Black Sea region, fish are usually fried with thick corn flour. Fish are also eaten cold; as smoked (isleme) or dried (çiroz), canned, salted or pickled (lâkerda). Fish is also cooked in salt or in dough in Turkey. Pazıda Levrek is a seafood speciality which consists of sea bass cooked in chard leaves. In fish restaurants, it is possible to find other fancy fish varieties like balık dolma (stuffed fish), balık iskender (inspired by İskender kebap), fishballs or fish en papillote. Fish soup prepared with vegetables, onion and flour is common in coastal towns and cities. In Istanbul‘s Eminönü and other coastal districts, grilled fish served in bread with tomatoes, herbs and onion is a popular fast food. In the inner parts of Turkey, trout alabalık is common as it is the main type of freshwater fish. Popular seafood mezes at coastlines include stuffed mussels, fried mussel and fried kalamar (squid) with tarator sauce. Popular sea fish in Turkey include: anchovy (hamsi), sardine (sardalya), bonito (palamut), gilt-head bream (çupra) or (çipura), red mullet (barbun(ya)), sea bass (levrek), whiting or (bakalyaro), haddock (mezgit), swordfish (kılıç balıgı), turbot (kalkan), red pandora (mercan), Jack mackerel (‘istavrit’), white grouper (lagos) and bluefish (lüfer).

Turkish wine
The Caucasus region, where Georgia and Iran are located, played a pivotal role in the early history of wine and is likely to have been one of the earliest wine-producing regions of the world. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s first president, established the country’s first commercial winery in 1925. According to the OIV, the total wine production in 2005 was 287,000 hl. In the first half of 2009, wine consumption in Turkey reached 20,906,762 litres. With between 600 and 1200 indigenous grape varieties, there are numerous options that Turkish winemakers can pursue to make wine. Currently only 60 varieties are commercially cultivated. Some of the native Turkish varieties include the Yapıncak and Papazkarası grown in Thrace; the Sultaniye of the Aegean coast; the Öküzgözü and Boğazkere (used to make Buzbağ) of Eastern Anatolia; the Çalkarası of the Denizli Province in Western Anatolia, and the Kalecik Karası, Narince and Emir of Central Anatolia. In recent years, some of the international grape varieties have increased their presence, including Sémillon (known as Trakya), Riesling, Muscat, Gamay, Cinsault, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Pastries: Turkish cuisine has a range of savoury and sweet pastries. Dough based specialties form an integral part of traditional Turkish cuisine.

  • The use of layered dough is rooted in the nomadic character of early Central Asian Turks. The combination of domed metal sač and oklava (the Turkish rod-style rolling pin) enabled the invention of the layered dough style used in börek (especially in su böreği, or ‘water pastry’, a salty baklava-like pastry with cheese filling), güllaç and baklava
  • Börek is the general name for salty pastries made with yufka (a thicker version of phyllo dough), which consists of thin layers of dough. Su böreği, made with boiled yufka/phyllo layers, cheese and parsley, is the most frequently eaten. Çiğ börek (also known as Tatar böreği) is fried and stuffed with minced meat. Kol böreği is another well-known type of börek that takes its name from its shape, as do fincan (coffee cup), muska (talisman), Gül böreği (rose) or Sigara böreği (cigarette). Other traditional Turkish böreks include Talaş böreği (phyllo dough filled with vegetables and diced meat), Puf böreği. Laz böreği is a sweet type of börek, widespread in the Black Sea region
  • Poğaça is the label name for dough based salty pastries. Likewise çörek is another label name used for both sweet and salty pastries
  • Gözleme is a food typical in rural areas, made of lavash bread or phyllo dough folded around a variety of fillings such as spinach, cheese and parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle (traditionally sač)
  • Katmer is another traditional rolled out dough. It can be salty or sweet according to the filling. Katmer with pistachio and kaymak is a sweet food and one of the most popular breakfast items in Gaziantep
  • Lahmacun (meaning dough with meat in Arabic) is a thin flatbread covered with a layer of spiced minced meat, tomato, pepper, onion or garlic
  • Pide, which can be made with minced meat (together with onion, chopped tomatoes, parsley and spices), kashar cheese, spinach, white cheese, pieces of meat, braised meat (kavurma), sucuk, pastırma or/and eggs put on rolled-out dough, is one of the most common traditional stone-baked Turkish specialities
  • Açma is a soft bread found in most parts of Turkey. It is similar to simit in shape, is covered in a glaze, and is usually eaten as a part of breakfast or as a snack


  • One of the world-renowned desserts of Turkish cuisine is baklava. Baklava is made either with pistachios or walnuts. Turkish cuisine has a range of baklava-like desserts which include şöbiyet, bülbül yuvası, saray sarması, sütlü nuriye, and sarı burma
  • Kadaif Kadaif (‘Kadayıf’) is a common Turkish dessert that employs shredded yufka. There are different types of kadaif: tel (wire) or Burma (wring) kadayıf, both of which can be prepared with either walnuts or pistachios. Although carrying the label “kadayıf”, ekmek kadayıfı is totally different from “tel kadayıf”. Künefe and ekmek kadayıfı are rich in syrup and butter, and are usually served with kaymak (clotted/scrambled butter). Künefe contains wire kadayıf with a layer of melted cheese in between and it is served hot with pistachios or walnuts
  • Among milk-based desserts, the most popular ones are muhallebi, su muhallebisi, sütlaç (rice pudding), keşkül, kazandibi (meaning the bottom of “kazan” because of its burnt surface), and tavuk göğsü (a sweet, gelatinous, milk pudding dessert quite similar to kazandibi, to which very thinly peeled chicken breast is added to give a chewy texture). A speciality from the Mediterranean region is haytalı, which consists of pieces of starch pudding and ice cream (or crushed ice) put in rose water sweetened with syrup
  • Helva (halva): un helvası (flour helva is usually cooked after someone has died), irmik helvası (cooked with semolina and pine nuts), yaz helvası (made from walnut or almond), tahin helvası (crushed sesame seeds), kos helva, pişmaniye (floss halva)
  • Other popular desserts include; Revani (with semolina and starch), şekerpare, kalburabasma, dilber dudağı, vezir parmağı, hanım göbeği, kemalpaşa, tulumba, zerde, höşmerim, paluze, irmik tatlısı/peltesi, lokma
  • Güllaç is a dessert typically served at Ramadan, which consists of very thin, large dough layers put in milk and rose water, served with pomegranate seeds and walnuts. A story is told that in the kitchens of the Palace, those extra thin dough layers were prepared with “prayers”, as it was believed that if one did not pray while opening phyllo dough, it would never be possible to obtain such thin layers
  • Aşure can be described as a sweet soup containing boiled beans, wheat and dried fruits. Sometimes cinnamon and rose water is added when being served. According to legend, it was first cooked on Noah’s Ark and contained seven different ingredients in one dish. All the Anatolian peoples have cooked and are still cooking aşure especially during the month of Muharrem
  • Some traditional Turkish desserts are fruit-based: ayva tatlısı (quince), incir tatlısı (fig), kabak tatlısı (pumpkin), elma tatlısı (apple) and armut tatlısı (pear). Fruits are cooked in a pot or in an oven with sugar, carnations and cinnamon (without adding water). After being chilled, they are served with walnuts or pistachios and kaymak
  • Homemade cookies/biscuits are commonly called kurabiye in Turkish. The most common types are acıbadem kurabiyesi (prepared only with eggs, sugar and almonds), un kurabiyesi (flour kurabiye) and cevizli kurabiye (kurabiye with walnuts). Another dough based dessert is ay çöreği
  • Tahin-pekmez is a traditional combination especially in rural areas. Tahin is sesame paste and pekmez is grape syrup. These are sold separately and mixed before consumption
  • Lokum (Turkish delight), which was eaten for digestion after meals and called “rahat hulkum” in the Ottoman era, is another well-known sweet/candy with a range of varieties
  • Cezerye, cevizli (walnut) sucuk (named after its sucuk/sujuk like shape, also known as Churchkhela in Circassian region) and pestil (fruit pestils) are among other common sweets
  • Marzipan badem ezmesi or fıstık ezmesi (made of ground pistachios) is another common confection in Turkey
  • Another jelly like Turkish sweet is macun. Mesir macunu of Manisa/İzmir (which was also called “nevruziye” as this macun was distributed on the first day of spring in the Ottoman Palace) contains 41 different spices. It is still believed that “mesir macunu” is good for health and has healing effects. As with lokum, nane macunu (prepared with mint) used to be eaten as a digestive after heavy meals. Herbs and flowers having curative effects were grown in the gardens of Topkapı under the control of the chief doctor “hekimbaşı” and pharmacists of the Palace who used those herbs for preparing special types of macun and sherbet
  • There are also several types of ice creams based on salep powder or Cornstarch with Rose water such as Dondurma (Turkish gum ice cream), dried fruit ice cream, ice cream rose petals
  • Dried fruit, used in dolma, pilav, meat dishes and other desserts is also eaten with almonds or walnuts as a dessert. Figs, grapes, apricots are the most widespread dried fruits
  • Kaymak (clotted cream-butter) is often served with desserts to cut through their sweetness
  • Turkish tea or Turkish coffee, with or without sugar, is usually served after dinner or more rarely together with desserts

Street food

  • fried mussels, stuffed mussels midye
  • fresh walnuts taze ceviz
  • gözleme a very thin stuffed flat bred similar to paratha, fillings can include any combination of spiced potato, feta, spinach and ground meat
  • kokoreç
  • kumpir a baked potato served with kaşar cheese and many other toppings
  • lokma
  • roasted corn közde mısır
  • roasted chesnuts kestane
  • simit

Read more on Wikipedia Turkish cuisine. Photos von Wikimedia Commons.

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