Middle Eastern cuisine has variances by region, but when in
Saudi Arabia, some typical ingredients include:
Meats: chiefly lamb or chicken; also sometimes beef, camel, or goat Dairy: chiefly white cheeses and yogurt; also butter, eggs Grains: rice and wheat Legumes: chiefly lentils, chick peas, and fava beans Fruits and Vegetables: cucumbers, eggplant, okra, onions, citrus fruits, dates, figs, pomegranates Herbs, spices, greens: mint, thyme, parsley, sesame (especially tahini, a sesame paste), saffron, turmeric, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and sumac Other: olive oil, lemon juice
Following are some popular appetizers:
Tabbouli (also Tabbouleh) (a salad)
1/2 cup fine bulgur
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup boiling water
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 medium tomatoes (cut into 1/4-inch pieces)
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Stir together bulgur and 1 tablespoon oil in a heatproof
bowl. Pour boiling water over, then cover bowl tightly with
plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve,
pressing on bulgur to remove any excess liquid.
Place bulgur in a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients,
including remaining 2 tablespoons oil, until combined well.
Servings: Makes 4 to 6 side-sized servings.
Baba Ghanoush (an eggplant spread or dip)
2 medium eggplants (approximately 1 pound each, halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, chopped
(for accompaniment: pitas)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously oil rimmed baking sheet.
Place eggplant halves, cut side down, on sheet. Roast until
eggplant is very soft, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
Using spoon, scoop out pulp from eggplant into strainer set
over bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, allowing excess liquid to
drain from eggplant.
Transfer eggplant pulp to processor. Add 1/4 cup oil,
tahini, lemon juice, and garlic; process until almost
smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to
small bowl. (Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature
before serving.) Serve with pita.
Servings: Makes about 1 3/4 cups.
Hummus (Chick pea dip)
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 19-ounce cans chick-peas, drained and rinsed (if using
dried chick peas, soak overnight, then place them in a pot
with about one inch covering them, bring them to a boil and
then simmer over medium heat until the beans are very soft,
1 1/2 to 2 hours)
2/3 cup well stirred tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted lightly
(for accompaniment: pitas)
Mince and mash the garlic to a paste with the salt. In a
food processor, puree the chick peas with the garlic paste,
the tahini, the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the oil, and 1/2 cup
water, scraping down the sides, until the hummus is smooth
and add salt to taste. Add water, if necessary, to thin the
hummus to the desired consistency and transfer the hummus to
a bowl. In the food processor, cleaned, puree the remaining
1/4 cup oil with the parsley until the oil is bright green
and the parsley is minced transfer the parsley oil to a
small jar. The hummus and the parsley oil may be made 3 days
in advance and kept covered and chilled. Divide the hummus
between shallow serving dishes and smooth the tops. Drizzle
the hummus with the parsley oil and sprinkle it with the
pine nuts. Serve the hummus with the pita.