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How come Nuts are Important in the Arab Culture?

posted on: Aug 11, 2020

Hashems Roastery & Market

By: Joyce Behrens, Contributing Writer

Nuts are not just considered snacks in your pantry. As we all know, nuts are a great source of energy and are recommended for a healthy lifestyle. In the Arab World, there are cultural traditions and customs behind nuts. First, the benefits that nuts provide make them a popular snack. Another custom is cooking and baking. Nuts can be used not only as a flavor but also as a structural format in food. Nuts shops in the Arab world are very popular, especially as the Ramadan season approaches. Let’s explore the meanings behind nuts that were unknown until now.

Cooking and Baking

Mr. Baklava

Like other cultures, food plays a huge role as a display of heritage. Some popular nuts that represent the Arab world are pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts, and almonds. Nuts are used in different varieties when you are in an Arab kitchen. One is the crunch component to a dish. Nuts can be used to give another dimension to the food. Lebanese Hashweh is a great example to think about. Hashweh is ground beef mixed with cinnamon and pine nuts, sometimes incorporated into rice or as a stuffing. When pine nuts are cooked, they add a buttery and mild flavor to balance the spiced beef.

In terms of sweet treats, baklava is known for a variety of nut usage. As we already know, baklava is delicious filo dough layered with nuts, spices, and honey. The best nuts to have in these little creations are pistachios and walnuts. Syria is known for its desserts, especially how they incorporate nuts. Pistachios have a natural sweetness that can be used as a garnish or as a format. Walnuts have the same natural sweetness when used in desserts but also contain a good crunch element.


In the Arab world, it is important to greet your guests when they first come in the door. This is how nuts play a factor in Arab hospitality in a host’s home. Most of the time, there is a small bowl of mixed nuts on the table. Mixed nuts contain pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanuts, and almonds. The similarity that these nuts have is that they all share a salt component. They act as small snacks to enhance your appetite before the main course. Usually, these are popular nuts to share with others. Sometimes, the host of the party pairs mixed nuts with either dates or dried fruit. When pairing with a beverage, it varies. Mixed nuts can be eaten with a side of water, tea, or even coffee.

Nut Shops

Alia Yunis

Nut Shops are a common occurrence in Arab countries. The shops are similar to the US version of candy stores, but instead, they have nuts. The shops display the nuts in bins with the front view towards the customers. Nut shops carry a variety of nuts in different categories. There are nuts that are roasted, salted, smoked, sweetened, or just left in a raw form. You can find everything, from sweet pistachios to salty pumpkin seeds. Customers can ask employees for a certain weight (for example, half a pound to even two pounds) of nuts. The employee then weighs nuts on a scale until the desired amount is reached, before putting them in the bag.


During the season of Ramadan, nuts are an important essential to have. Nuts are a common snack to have after the sun has set. The fast begins at sunrise and breaks at sunset. Since nuts are a healthy source of iron and protein, it is usually the ideal snack. If one eats a large meal after eating nothing for a long period, the body begins to experience discomfort. After not eating nor drinking for a full day, nuts provide the needed nutrients.


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