20 top Middle Eastern foods -- which is the best?

20頂中東食物 - 這是最好的?

Here are our favorites. What are yours?

middle eastern food
Middle Eastern dips are multifunctional wonders, but they're worthy of being consumed on their own.

Fresh, wholesome, healthy, rich, aromatic -- it's no wonder that the past decade has seen Middle Eastern cuisine's global profile skyrocketing.

While everyone has their favorite dish, we hit up Lebanese-American food blogger Bethany Kehdy of dirtykitchensecrets.com, who a cookbook on Middle Eastern cuisine due out in 2013, for her take.

Her favorite dishes are simple and rustic, such as the m’jadarrah, lentil stew, also known as poor man’s stew, consisting of slow-cooked lentils with a sprinkling of burghul and caramelized onions and served with a side of zesty cabbage salad.

Or Kkshik -- a porridge made from burghul fermented with yogurt and dried in the sun on rooftops over seven days during the fall before being ground into fine powder.

“It’s soul-soothing, wholesome food in a jiffy, although an acquired taste, I’ll admit,” says the power blogger.

So what is your favorite Mideast dish?

Along with Kehdy’s takes, we rounded up 20 of our favorite Middle Eastern dishes to get you started.


hummusWhich came first, hummus or pita?

1. Hummus

The big daddy chickpea spread can be slathered on anything from a burger or baked potato to the traditional hot pita bread.

Veteran preference: more garlic, more better.

Where to try it: Abu Shukri, Via Dolorosa near Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, Israel; +972 2 627 1538

2. Manakeesh

The pizza of the Arabic world, manakeesh is a round bread sprinkled with either cheese, ground meat or herbs (zaatar). It's ideal for breakfast or lunch. Varieties come from both fancy Levantine restaurants or street vendors.

Where to try it: Al Hallab, Guarhoud Road, Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 282 3388

grilled halloumiHalloumi: not your typical grilled cheese.

3. Grilled halloumi

These mini-slabs of chewy goodness are made from goat and sheep milk. Unlike other cheeses, no acid or bacteria is used during processing.

Where to try it: Abdel Wahab, El Inglizi Street, Monot, Achrafleh, Beirut, Lebanon; +961 1 200 550

4. Foul meddamas

Made of fava beans, olive oil, parsley, onion, garlic and lemon, this dish doesn't have the most appetizing of presentations -- blobby brown mush is about the best we can say of it. Taste and texture make up for it.

Where to try it: The Pavilion Downtown Dubai Café, Downtown, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 447 7025

falafelThe genesis of falafel is a fiery topic.

5. Falafel

You may consider fried chickpeas with herbs as simply a great snack. Or tasty pita filler.

For Middle Easterners, however, the origins of falafel are a matter of patriotic interest.

The "New York TImes" has reported how the dish's provenance sparks fierce debates, but we're happy to sit on the sidelines and remain addicted to the taste.

Where to try it: Books@Cafe, First Circle Amman, Jordan; +962 6 465 0457

More on CNN: Travel agencies jump on halal tourism bandwagon

6. Tabouleh

You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this magical combination of bulgur, parsley, mint, onion and tomatoes. But watch out, you just might be tempted to switch teams after a steady diet of this popular salad. 

Where to try it: Cairo Restaurant, Al-Malek Talal Street, Amman, Jordan; +962 6 462 4527

baba ghanouj Baba ghanoush comes in a variety of styles.

7. Moutabal/baba ghanoush

Just when you're ready to declare hummus the best dip on the planet, you find moutabal. Similar to baba ghanoush, the dip offers a similar consistency with an eggplant kick. Spiced up with chili, it delivers a zing.

Where to try it: Zest, One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 440 1010

fattoushFattoush: simple ingredients, magical combination.

8. Fattoush

This tangy salad is one of the Middle East's greatest contributons to world culture. Crispy lettuce, crunchy fried squares of pita, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onion, garlic, lemon, olive oil and mint make for a refreshing addiction.

Where to try it: Al Halabi, Mall of the Emirates, Barsha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 395 1615 

9. Umm Ali

Egyptian bread pudding, or umm ali, is a hearty pastry cooked in milk and cream. Versions are made with croissant pieces, raisins, pistachios, vanilla and condensed milk.

Where to try it: Naguib Mahfouz Restaurant, 5 sikkit el badistan, khan el khalili, Cairo, Egypt; +20 202 590 3788

10. Shanklish

This cow or sheep milk cheese is usually fashioned into golf ball-sized bites and rolled in zaatar herbs or chili flakes (the latter version favored in Syria). Also often enjoyed with diced tomato, onion and olive oil.

Where to try it: Market Place, JW Marriott Dubai, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Al Rigga, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 607 7009

More on CNN: Middle East as an emerging travel market 

shawarmaShawarma: One of the prettiest sights in the world.

11. Shawarma

No, shawarma wasn't invented as a hangover cure. But the tender bits of skewered chicken, garlic puree and salad wrapped in pita have made it a beloved post-session snack the world over. One more, please.

Where to try it: Hashipudia, 6 Ha-Shikma Street, Jerusalem, Israel; +972 2 625 4036

shish tawookShish tawook: it's all about the marinades and condiments.

12. Shish tawook

Served with pure garlic paste, this simple skewered chicken dish is hugely popular in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and the Gulf region. Dishes are served with fries and pita bread.

Where to try it: Al Falamanki, Damascus Street, Beirut, Lebanon; +961 1 323 456

13. Dolma

Dolma goes horribly wrong when the stuffed vine leaves become flaccid and slimy after being left out in the sun for too long. They need to be fresh with succulent lamb or juicy vegetables. 

Where to try it: Asitane RestaurantKariye Camii Sokak 6, EdirnekapI, Istanbul, Turkey; +90 212 534 8414

koftaKofta: don't let looks deceive you.

14. Kofta

Common in Iran and Pakistan, these balls of minced lamb or beef have a spicy, onion kick.

You can fry, grill, barbecue or bake the patties, but they’re best served with a distinctive spicy sauce. In the Arab region, you'll find them in cylinder shapes, often on a stick.

Where to try it: Gulf Pomegranate Iranian Restaurant, ‪Al Ansab Road next to Al Agbiya Mosque, Muaskar Al Murtafa'a, Oman; +968 9 223 6697

15. Quwarmah Al Dajaj

Curry veterans, this may be a new one for you.

Known to most as Kuwaiti curried chicken, the zesty dish is made with a blend of Middle Eastern flavors and spices -- lime, ginger, turmeric, baharat, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika -- that combine to give it a disinctive pop.

Where to try it: Mais Alghanim, Gulf Road, Kuwait, +965 2 225 1155

More on CNN: 7 of the best restaurants in Dubai 

mansaf Mansaf may not be the most photogenic of foods but there's a reason it's practically the national dish of Jordan.

16. Mansaf

The small version of this Jordanian and Palestinian dish looks like a pizza covered with a lamb carcass, while a larger banquet variety can cover a whole table.

Despite the intimidating appearance, the tender mutton, covered in yogurt sauce and sprinkled with almond and pine nuts, makes for a culinary masterwork.

Where to try it: Jabri Restaurant, Wasfi Al-Tal Street, Amman, Jordan; +962 6 5681700

17. Kebab karaz

Otherwise known as cherry kebab or desert candy, this Syrian dish offers a new slant on the famed meat stick. Kebab karaz adds sour cherries and pomegranate pips, rendering the meaty mix blood red, sweet and sour. 

Where to try it: Al-Mayas, Al-Bedea, Kuwait City, Kuwait; +965 5 738 089

baklava Baklava: sickly sweet.

18. Baklava

Buttery filo pastry, chopped nuts, sweet syrup and honey dressing -- made from a recipe that dates to the Ottoman empire, it's no wonder baklava is one of the most enduring and beloved dishes on the planet.

Where to try it: Rihtim Cad, Kati Otopark Alti, 3-4 Karakoy, Istanbul; +90 212 293 0910

knafehKnafeh: savory cheese flavor, crunchy pastry crust.


20頂中東食物 - 這是最好的?





新鮮,衛生,健康,豐富,芳香 - 這也難怪,在過去十年裡,中東美食的全球知名度暴漲。



或Kkshik - 從burghul被磨成細粉之前在秋季發酵酸奶和在太陽下曬乾屋頂上七天以上做了粥。









哪裡來試試吧: 阿布舒克里,通過苦難之路附近的大馬士革門,耶路撒冷,以色列; +972 2 627 1538



哪裡來試試吧: 鋁Hallab,Guarhoud路,加爾胡德,迪拜,阿拉伯聯合酋長國; +971 4 282 3388




哪裡來試試吧: 阿卜杜勒·瓦哈卜,薩爾瓦多Inglizi街的Monot,Achrafleh,貝魯特,黎巴嫩; +961 1 200 550


做蠶豆,橄欖油,香菜,洋蔥,大蒜,檸檬,這個菜沒有最開胃的演講 - 滴狀褐色蘑菇大約是我們能說的是最好的。味道和口感彌補它。

哪裡來試試吧: 聖廷苑迪拜市中心咖啡廳,市區,迪拜,阿拉伯聯合酋長國; +971 4 447 7025






哪裡來試試吧: 圖書@咖啡館,第一圈安曼,約旦; +962 6 465 0457




哪裡來試試吧: 開羅餐廳,鋁馬利克·塔拉勒街,安曼,約旦; +962 6 462 4527

巴巴ghanouj 巴巴ghanoush採用的是各種不同的風格。

7。Moutabal /巴巴ghanoush


哪裡來試試吧:  激爽,一&Only The Palm酒店,棕櫚島,迪拜,阿拉伯聯合酋長國; +971 4 440 1010




哪裡來試試吧: 阿爾哈拉比,阿聯酋購物中心,Barsha酒店,迪拜,阿拉伯聯合酋長國; +971 4 395 1615 



哪裡來試試吧: 納吉布福茲餐廳,5 sikkit EL多菌靈,埃爾汗哈利利,埃及開羅; +20 202 590 3788



哪裡來試試吧: 市場廣場,JW萬豪酒店迪拜,阿布·貝克鋁西迪基路的Al Rigga,杜拜,阿拉伯聯合大公國; +971 4 607 7009





哪裡來試試吧: Hashipudia,哈Shikma街6號,耶路撒冷,以色列; +972 2 625 4036




哪裡來試試吧: 鋁Falamanki,大馬士革街,貝魯特,黎巴嫩; +961 1 323 456



哪裡來試試吧: Asitane餐廳卡利耶Camii SOKAK 6,EdirnekapI,伊斯坦布爾,土耳其; +90 212 534 8414





哪裡來試試吧: 海灣石榴伊朗餐廳,‪鋁安薩卜路旁邊的Al Agbiya清真寺,Muaskar鋁Murtafa'a,阿曼; +968 9 223 6697



已知最科威特的咖哩雞,在燦爛的菜是用一個融合了中東口味和香料 - 石灰,姜,薑黃,baharat,小茴香,荳蔻,黑胡椒,肉桂,肉荳蔻,辣椒 - 結合給它disinctive流行。

哪裡來試試吧: MAIS Alghanim,海灣路,科威特,+965 2 225 1155


mansaf Mansaf未必是最上鏡的食物,但有一個原因,它是幾乎約旦的國菜。




哪裡來試試吧: Jabri餐廳,Wasfi鋁塔爾街,安曼,約旦;+962 6 5681700



哪裡來試試吧:鋁瑪雅人,鋁Bedea,科威特城,科威特; 965 5 738 089

果仁蜜餅 果仁蜜餅:怪異的甜味。


奶油酥皮,碎果仁,甜糖漿和蜂蜜醬 - 從配方可以追溯到奧斯曼帝國做,這也難怪果仁蜜餅是這個星球上最持久的和心愛的菜餚之一。

哪裡來試試吧: Rihtim鎘,卡蒂Otopark ALTI,3-4的Karaköy,伊斯坦布爾; +90 212 293 0910




哪裡來試試吧: Habibah,鋁馬利克·侯賽因街,安曼,約旦




哪裡來試試吧:鋁Adhamiyah伊拉克餐廳鋁Asmakh StreetJasra,多哈; +974 4432 4326




19. Knafeh

This delicious cheesecake uses Nabusi cheese, which is common to Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. The blush coloring comes from orange blossom water or rose water.

Where to try it: Habibah, Al Malek al Hussein Street, Amman, Jordan

20. Iraqi masgouf

Remember the best piece of carp you ever had? No?

You would if it had been this carp, which is slow-cooked for up to three hours until the fat has been burned off, then served with lemon and pickles. 

Where to try it: Al Adhamiyah Iraqi RestaurantAl Asmakh StreetJasra, Doha; +974 4432 4326

More on CNN: 20 delicious ways to break fast after Ramadan 


What is your favorite Middle Eastern dish? Let us know in the comments below.


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