Tastes of the Middle East: 10 must-try dishes

Taste the flavours of the Middle East with an Abercrombie & Kent tour.

Taste the flavours of the Middle East with an Abercrombie & Kent tour. Photo: Supplied

There are many reasons to visit the Middle East – the ancient civilisation sites, bustling bazaars and cosmopolitan cities. But if there’s one thing not to be missed, it’s the incredible cuisine.

With its fragrant and spicy foods, the meals of the Middle East are sure to be a daily highlight of any travel itinerary. From flavoursome fattoush to wholesome hummus, sweet baklava to homemade halvah, visitors are sure to fall in love with everything.

Tourism to the Middle East is surging on the back of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with visitors flocking to countries such as Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent expect tourist numbers to continue growing with the Middle East predicted to be one of the hottest travel destinations of 2023.

Those considering a trip there can look forward to a mouth-watering array of dishes.

Here’s 10 must-try dishes

1. Bourekas
Also called bureks, these baked pastries come stuffed with a variety of foods – mainly cheese, spinach, meat, eggplant or potato. You can find bourekas in street-side eateries, bakeries and even supermarkets.

2. Hummus
You think you know hummus? Try authentic Middle Eastern hummus and think again. Served with just about everything from koftas to kebabs, this chickpea stable is so versatile and tasty.

Tea in the Middle East

Tea culture in the Middle East. Photo: Supplied

3. Fattoush
A simple, yet satisfying salad, fattoush is a great way to balance out heavier dips and meat dishes. Baked pita pieces are paired with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, mint, sumac, olive oil, garlic and lemon to make this refreshing ‘bread salad’.

4. Kofta
Takes meat on a stick to a whole new level. Kofta is one of the Middle East’s most famous foods. It’s made with either ground beef or lamb, blended with onion, garlic and spices, and grilled to perfection.

5. Baklava
You’ve had the Greek version, now try the Middle Eastern version. The difference is in the syrup. Instead of honey, baklava made in the Middle East is made using rose water or orange blossom sugar syrup.

6. Falafel
Eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, falafel is a popular food found throughout the Middle East. Made from spiced, ground chickpea shaped into balls and fried, it can be inserted into a kebab, eaten with a salad or dipped into hummus.


Kunafa. Photo: Supplied

7. Kunafa
This popular dessert is made with spun pastry called kataifi that’s soaked in a attar, a sweet syrup. It’s usually layered with cheese, but can also come with pistachio or cream.

8. Ful
Ful or ful mudammas is made from creamy fava beans and spiced just right with ground cumin, fresh herbs and a tangy lemon garlic sauce topped hot peppers. Eat it with fresh pita bread and enjoy.

9. Shawarma
Tender pieces of chicken or lamb are piled high and rotated on a spit then grilled for hours. Shaved off and served in a kebab or on a plate with a generous heap of salad, pita and dips.

10. Baba ghanoush
This eggplant dip has a wonderful smoked flavour that is so delicious served fresh. The eggplant is cooked with tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and spices.

Taste the flavours yourself with a tailor-made or group journey to the Middle East. Abercrombie & Kent offer tours in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iran, Morocco, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Abercrombie & Kent operates luxury small group journeys to more than 30 countries, and also offers Luxury Expedition Cruise and Tailor-Made journeys across all seven continents.

Call 1300 851 800, visit or contact your travel agent to start planning your journey today.

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