There is no singular boundary for the geography — and there is no all-encompassing definition of the cuisine either. Just as people have traveled throughout the land, so, too, has the food. Case in point: Shakshuka, the saucy egg dish often associated with Israeli food that has its roots in North Africa. You’ll find flatbreads, grilled meats, spicy condiments and vegetable stews across the region, all with their own local flair. But that’s just a few wide-ranging examples. Here are a few trusted recipes from our archives to help you bring more of the breadth of Middle Eastern flavors to your table.
Za’atar Rubbed Pitas, above. This beginner-friendly recipe comes from “Bazaar: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes,” a book of vegetarian Middle Eastern and Persian food. It’s a good one to help you get your bread fix relatively quickly and features the spice blend za’atar, which often includes such ingredients as thyme, marjoram, sumac and sesame seeds.
Potato Tahdig. Perfect your efforts at the venerable Iranian tahdig, the dish treasured for its crust of crispy rice. This version stars a layer of golden potatoes. Be sure to take a look at Chicken Tahdig, too.
Crispy Herbed Falafel. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better home version of falafel than this one from Israeli chef and cookbook author Einat Admony. She’s also the source of our Spicy Red Shakshuka.
Koshary. The Egyptian dish that combines elements of other cuisines is a mix of lentils, rice and pasta topped with tomato sauce and fried onions. Megadarra also features lentils, rice and fried onions.
Turkish Yogurt Sauce. Yogurt sauce is a common condiment all over the Middle East, and this one hails from Turkey. Use with meat, vegetables and grains.