The Vegetarian’s Guide to Middle Eastern Food

Falafels, hummus – these are all wildly popular Middle Eastern Dishes. We’re sure you would have heard of them if not tried them. Have you looked beyond the more globally known dishes in the Middle Eastern cuisine and really explored the unbelievably great vegetarian selection of items? It’s definitely worth a try!

Packed with tradition, flavour, passion, and tons of nutrition – we are taking you on a truly green Middle Eastern food delight to explore the various dishes it has to offer.

If you are new to Middle Eastern cuisine, you would have heard of Falafel or Hummus since these dishes have gained global popularity. But have you wondered if there are inherently any vegetarian dishes in this cuisine? The answer is yes, and it would be a real shame if you did not explore the world’s richest and most authentic vegetarian Middle Eastern dishes.

Let us quickly go through some of them, shall we?

#1. Fattoush

The Fattoush Salad is a quintessential Middle Eastern food that is commonly prepared in Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon. The salad is freshly made with chopped greens, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, seasonal vegetables and is served with fried pita bread crisps. These ingredients are all tossed together into a dish along with a zesty lime vinaigrette dressing to bring out a burst of flavors.

#2. Tabbouleh

Made from bulgar and finely chopped veggies including tomato, onion, and parsley, Tabbouleh is another Middle Eastern salad that is low in calories and is packed with healthy ingredients. This dish is soaked with lemon juice and olive oil dressing and is commonly served with pita bread.

Bulgur is a whole grain that is rich in fiber, while parsley is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can improve your immunity. You can savor this tasty salad as a side dish or as a light yet filling lunch.

#3. Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup, also known as Shorbat Adas is a famous Middle Eastern soup that is made with lentils, vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, spinach, and coriander leaves. It is served along with pita crisps. This nutritious soup is packed with proteins and vital nutrients, making it an ideal dish for anyone looking to lose weight. It can be consumed any time of the year, but it is best relished during the rainy and winter seasons.

#4. Labneh

If you love Middle Eastern food, then you already might have heard of Labneh. Made of strained yogurt, this creamy and thick food has a similar texture to cream cheese, but with fewer fat, calories, and more protein. It is extremely healthy and is also known as a gut probiotic.

Labneh also has garlic, fresh herbs, spices, and a generous dressing of olive oil. It is served alongside mezze and can be eaten with Falafel, Pita Bread, and Hummus. It can also be eaten as a snack on its own. In fact, having it twice a week can mitigate cardiovascular disease risk.

#5. Ful Medames

A staple in the Egyptian diet, Ful Medames is a popular stew that is known to predate the Ottoman empire. The dish is commonly eaten for breakfast and is prepared with fava beans that are soaked, boiled, and slowly simmered. It has proven to have multiple health benefits since it’s rich in protein, fiber and can improve your heart health. The stew is seasoned with spices, onions, garlic, and lemon juice.

#6. Muhammara

If you are a fan of appetizing spreads and dips with your pita or veggies, you cannot skip out on Muhammara. The word comes from the word Ahmar, which means red in Arabic.

Muhammara is a roasted red pepper and walnut dip, that has a savory, smoky, and mildly spicy flavor to it. It is blended with bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses, red pepper flakes, and garlic. This delicious red dip has its origins in the Syrian city called Aleppo and has made its way from the Levant to various parts of the world.

#7. Paneer Shawarma

The dish has a similar preparation to authentic Chicken Shawarma. But instead of charred pieces of chicken, paneer is the real star of this recipe. Fresh cubes of paneer are marinated overnight in Arabic spices giving it an aromatic and rich flavor. The paneer is then wrapped in warm pita bread along with pickled vegetables, Toum (creamy garlic sauce), and fries.

#8. Batata Harra

Another famous vegetarian food from the Middle East is Batata Harra, which literally translates to spicy potatoes in Arabic. This yummy dish is the ideal accompaniment for almost any dish and can easily disappear quickly once placed on the table. Packed with flavor, this dish consists of crispy potatoes, garlic, paprika, chilly flakes, parsley topped with fresh herbs and spices.

We hope this blog has provided you with some valuable insights into vegetarian Middle Eastern dishes and has inspired you to try some out for yourself.

If you are looking for restaurants that serve authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, then order or visit Toum. You can also order from Zomato, Swiggy, and PetPooja. At Toum, all our dishes are prepared with utmost care and sanitation. We follow all COVID protocols and also have the option for contactless delivery. Feel free to contact us to know more about how each dish is prepared and served. We look forward to hearing from you!