Middle Eastern Foods

One of my favorite things to do is try new food. When I was in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago, I decided to go to a Lebanese restaurant for lunch. I’ve never been to a traditional Lebanese restaurant before, so this was a completely new experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the delicious taste throughout my entire meal. After eating at this restaurant, I began thinking about other traditional foods in the Middle East. Since I’m not too familiar with their favorite foods, I started to do some research. Here are 10 of CNN Travel’s top 20 foods in the Middle East.Jess Carnprobst


Many of us are probably familiar with this chickpea spread, as it’s becoming more popular in America as well. In the Middle East, they spread hummus on anything from a burger to a potato, but traditionally, hummus is spread on hot pita bread.


This is the Middle East’s version of pizza and is often eaten during breakfast or lunch. Manakeesh is a round bread spread with cheese, ground meat or herbs.

Grilled halloumi

These are mini, chewy slabs made from goat and sheep milk. The cheese inside is made with no bacteria or acid, as many cheeses are, so you can imagine how amazing this one is.

Foul meddamas

As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. The look of the foul meddamas is deceiving. It looks like a brown mush and is made of fava beans, olive oil, parsley, onion, garlic and lemon. It’s delicious once you give it a chance.


This is a Middle Eastern tradition made of fried chickpeas and herbs. Falafel is a must when adding to your list of foods you may want to experience.


This one is a salad made with bulgur, parsley, mint, onions and tomatoes. For any vegetarians out there, this is a great option for you.

Moutabal/baba ghanoush

This is a dip similar to humus. It’s a similar consistency to humus, but it’s also made with eggplant to give it an extra kick. It can also be made with chili to add extra flavor.


Fattoush is another salad you’ll want to try. It’s made of crispy lettuce, crunchy fried squares of pita, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, garlic, lemon, olive oil and mint. 

Umm ali

Umm ali is an Egyptian bread pudding that consists of a pastry cooked in milk and cream. Raisins, pistachios and vanilla can be added for extra flavor.


This one is definitely top on my list to try. It’s made with cow or sheep milk cheese and rolled in zaatar herbs or chili flakes. It can also be enjoyed with diced tomato, onion and olive oil. Count me in!

An important part of learning other cultures is trying their foods. Expand your horizons and try something that you could never have imagined yourself eating before. What Middle Eastern foods have you tried before and how did you like them?


8 thoughts on “Middle Eastern Foods

  1. This was really fun to read and it made me really hungry!! I really love trying different Middle Eastern foods so I like to hear of foods other people have tried, as well as good restaurants. I think trying and learning about new foods is the best way to connect people because everyone seriously loves food.

  2. I’ve tried a few of these before, and the specific spices that they use certainly take a little getting used to. However, this kind of food does grow on you. Also, you mentioned a few things I’ve never heard of, but they sound delicious so I’ll definitely have to try them out sometime!

  3. I love trying new food, so I knew this blog would interest me. Reading this made me quite hungry as well! I haven’t had many of these dishes, but just by reading their description I know that many of them I would like. Umm ali sounds delicious! I hope I have the opportunity soon to try these dishes I’ve yet to experience.

  4. I love reading about food. It’s so awesome that each culture has its own angle on particular meals. Falafel is in every culture, but can taste completely different in each region it is tasted in. When I was in the Middle East we had falafel that was very sweet and although we were at a nice restaurant it was an interest take on the meal.

  5. Do you remember the name of the restaurant? Also, what did you eat when you went there? I am from the DC area, and would love to try it out! All of these foods sound so delicious. I think one day we should have a GLC feast where we attempt to make some of these popular delicacies. It’s particularly interesting to see how transcendent pizza seems to be–manakeesh sounds divine!

    1. I believe it was called Lebanese Taverna and it was by the Omni Shoreham hotel. I had kabobs and Marisa had a sampler platter. They were both absolutely delicious! Yes, we should absolutely have a feast. Count me in!!

  6. My all time favorite is Tabouleh, i just love it! This blog is quite interesting as this is the first time I hear of Umm Ali or Shanklish, and I live in the Middle East. I guess I’m so used to the Lebanese food that I dont try anything else, but i definitely will! Oh and you guys have to try the desserts! Knaffeh, Baqlawa, Layali Libnan and many many other types, so here’s a link http://www.yummly.com/recipes/lebanese-desserts

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