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The History and Origins of Favourite Middle Eastern Dishes

posted on: Jan 4, 2022

Middle Eastern dishes have a rich history and are cooked using traditional cooking techniques. The good thing about these dishes is that you can serve them at any time of the day. This wholesome identity is part of the Middle Eastern culture. In fact, it visible in everything that comes from this region. You can even get a glimpse of the Middle East at, thanks to some of its casino games that were inspired by the Middle Eastern themes and motifs.


Some of you might not know, but Shawarma originated in the Ottoman Empire during the early 19th century. The word ‘shawarma’ is originated from the Turkish word ‘çevirme’ (it turns), which indicates the process of cooking the meat, as it constantly turns on the vertical skewer/spit.

Nowadays, due to the wide popularity of the dish, you can find different varieties and interpretations of Shawarma. Its cooking style is relatively simple, and its freshness makes it easy to digest. It usually consists of stacked lamb, chicken, beef or mixed meat served in a cone-shaped roll with shredded vegetables. 


Also known as faṭāyir, Manakeesh is a popular Arabic breakfast food. Made from Middle Eastern flatbreads, it is easy to prepare. Above all, it is enjoyed in the area of the Levant.

Manakish is a flatbread dish covered with various toppings. Its popularity grew in the Arabian Peninsula, after being introduced by Palestinian Muslims travelling to the Holy Places of Mecca and Medina.


Middle Eastern sweets are the most delicious desserts. Baklava is a popular dessert that originated in the Ottoman Empire during the 1650s. As time followed, Baklava became a popular dish in the Middle East and the Balkans.

There are some speculations that Assyrians first cooked the dish in 8 BCE. In addition, two ancient Greek desserts, Sesamis and Kopton, are also related to Baklava.

Hummus Dishes

Made of 4 key ingredients, including sesame, garlic, chickpeas and lemon, Hummus is a delicious Middle Eastern dish. However, there is no accurate information about its origin. The four essential ingredients were widely used in Egypt and later reached the Levant.

In a 13th century cookbook, this dish is mentioned as ‘hummus bi tahina’, meaning ‘chickpeas with tahini’, a darkened sesame paste. The word ‘Hummus’ comes from Arabic and means chickpea, a legume that was first cultivated in the Middle East 10,000 years ago.

Falafel Dishes

Recognised as the national dish of Israel, Falafel is a trendy starter food that is often eaten in the streets of the Middle East. In fact, it was so popular that McDonald’s even launched McFalafel in their outlets in Egypt. On the same note, in Ancient Egyptian culture, people enjoyed Falafel with a different texture. Falafel originated in Egypt as pha la phel, which means “having many beans”. Thus, it is appreciated by vegetarians. 


The magical thing about Middle Eastern dishes is their unique flavour and simplicity. Dating back as far as the 13th century, these dishes are still, if not even more popular today. However, you don’t have to go to the Middle East to appreciate these delicious dishes. You can find them in different restaurants all over the world.

Don’t forget to check out Arab America’s blog!