Characteristics of Middle Eastern Food
Middle Eastern food is defined by the region and the traditions of the people that live there and the food is closely related to Mediterranean food. Because pork is nether kosher or halal, most Jews and Muslims do not eat it and there for it is rare to find it is Middle eastern food.Also because the Koran forbids alcohol the food is not cooked in wine or other alcoholic drinks. Some commonly used ingredients of Middle Eastern food include olives, olive oil, pitas, honey, sesame seeds, sumac (a cherry red spice used for its sour taste), chickpeas, mint and parsley. Many main dishes do not include meat.The food of the Middle East is a celebration of life. No matter the country, the staples are fresh fruits and vegetables that grow in the hills. The spices and flavors of Middle Eastern food awaken the senses, sparkling against the thicker, richer tastes of the main ingredients. Mints, lemon, garlic, rosemary -- all have a fresh, astringent, refreshing quality. Throughout the region, the cuisine varies, but these things remain the same: fresh ingredients, astringent and piquant spices, olive oil, and only a little meat.
Food for Festivals
For Sabbath and other holidays all sorts of Hallah breads are baked. Jary, a thick lemony wheat vegetarian soup is prepared for Ramadan, and as a tradition, it is made with green herbs and mint as flavoring ingredients. El ham lahlou, sweet lamb dish, is prepared for the last day of Ramadan. Round Challah: The round shape symbolizes a perfect year to come. Sometimes raisins or honey are added to make it extra sweet. Apples and Honey: Dip the apples in honey to symbolize a sweet year to come.Head of Fish or Gefilte ("filled") Fish: Fish is an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance. The head of fish symbolizes the head of the New Year. The head also symbolizes hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteous acts. Head of Lamb, Sweet Chicken or Meat Dish: Head of lamb symbolizes our hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteousness. The sweet entree symbolizes our wish for a sweet year. Tzimmes: Tzimmes is an eastern European recipe for honey baked carrots. The Yiddish word "meren" means carrots and to increase. Carrots symbolize our hope that we increase our good deeds in the coming year. Some tzimmes recipes add prunes, sweet potatoes or even meat to the sweet carrots. Spinach: Spinach symbolizes a green year with plenty of produce. Rice: Rice symbolizes abundance. Honey Cake or Teiglach (crunchy dough boiled in honey): "This day is holy to God, your God; do not mourn and do not weep...for the joy of God is your strength." (Nechemiah 8:9-10). It is said that the Prophet Nechemiah introduced to the ancient Israelites the Persian custom of eating sweet foods to celebrate the New Year. Food Eaten at Every Day Life
Pita bread dipped in hummus or tahini, a ground sesame paste, is one of the most popular Arab dishes. Falafel is also well-known to people around the world, this burger made from chick peas, onion, potato and flour is a high-protein meal in itself although it contains no meat. Salads are a favorite dish. Lamb is the most commonly used meat. Cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini and spinach are the main vegetables along with beans (mostly garbanzo, fava and chick peas). Wheat and rice are the staple grains and they are used for flour and are mixed with meat and vegetables. Dairy products: Most dairy products are eaten in fermented forms, such as yogurt and cheese. Whole milk is used in desserts and puddings. Feta cheese, traditionally made of sheep or goat's milk, is the most commonly consumed cheese. Meats: Lamb is the most widely eaten meat. Pork is eaten only by Christians, not by Muslims or Jews. Many Middle Easterners will not combine dairy products or shellfish with the meal. Kosher beef, kosher poultry, lox (brine-cured cold-smoked salmon, much of which is slightly saltier than other smoked salmon), and sardines are also common foods. Legumes such as black beans, chick peas (garbanzo beans), lentils, navy beans, fava beans, and red beans are used in many dishes.Breads and Cereals: Some form of wheat or rice accompanies each meal. Pita and matzoh (unleavened bread) are common. Filo dough, which is used to make baklava, is also used in many dishes.Fruits: Fruits tend to be eaten as dessert or as snacks. Fresh fruit is preferred. Fruits made into jams and compotes (a cooked preparation of fruit in syrup) are eaten if fresh fruit is not available. Lemons and concentrated lemon juice are commonly used for flavoring.Vegetables: Potatoes and eggplant are the most commonly consumed vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are preferred raw or mixed in a salad. Vegetables are often stuffed with rice or meats. Green and black olives are present in many dishes, and olive oil is most frequently used in food preparation.


Recipes

Turkish Delight

external image Turkish-Delight-Lokum-A4dd67.jpg


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rosewater
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • Vegetable oil or shortening

Preparation:

In a 9 inch baking pan, grease the sides and bottom with vegetable oil or shortening. Line with wax paper and grease the wax paper.
In a saucepan, combine lemon juice, sugar and 1 1/2 cups water on medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine cream of tartar, 1 cup corn starch and remaining water in saucepan over medium heat. Stir until all lumps are gone and the mixture begins to boil. Stop stirring when the mixture has a glue like consistency.
Stir in the lemon juice, water and sugar mixture. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, Allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently.
Once the mixture has become a golden color, stir in rosewater. Pour mixture into wax paper lined pan. Spread evenly and allow to cool overnight.
Once it has cooled overnight, sift together confectioners sugar and remaining cornstarch.
Turn over baking pan containing Turkish delight onto clean counter or table and cut with oiled knife into one inch pieces.
Coat with confectioners sugar mixture. Serve or store in airtight container in layers separated with wax or parchment paper.


Gohoraibi- Butter Cookie Recipe



external image almond.JPG

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups blanched almond halves
  • 1 teaspoon clear almond extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat butter on mixing bowl for 5 minutes, or until fluffy. Cream in sugars. Add almond extract. Slowly add in flour. If you do not have a heavy duty stand mixer, you may want to mix in half of the flour with the mixer, then the remaining with a spoon. You don't want to burn out the motor on a hand mixer.
Chill in the refrigerator for up to one hour.
Roll out chilled cookie dough on a floured surface. Roll into a rope that is 1 1/2 - 2 inches thick.
Cut diagonally into diamond shapes.
Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Place one almond in the center of each cookie.
Bake for 12 minutes. Remove and cool on cooling rack.