Most of my many jars of sumac and za'atar are courtesy of a good Lebanese friend of mine (any friend who brings you jars of spices specially selected by their relatives in the Middle East is the best kind of friend)—the same friend who introduced me to the idea of halloumi pancakes. In fact, it was at that exact same breakfast that I was introduced to these scrambled eggs, which he flavored with toasted pine nuts, sumac, parsley, and olive oil.
'Middle Eastern' on Serious Eats
Tabbouleh is an inherently simple dish, typically made from a mixture of chopped parsley and mint, onion, tomato, bulgur, olive oil, and lemon juice. Recipes abound, so the question is, can they be improved upon? The answer is, yes, in subtle ways that together make a more foolproof, more delicious dish.
There are lots of tabbouleh recipes in the world, but many give instructions that can lead to a sopping wet salad with bulgur that's too hard to eat. This one uses pre-salting steps to remove excess moisture from the tomatoes and parsley, then uses the water drained from the tomatoes to soak the bulgur until tender and flavorful. A hint of spices adds complexity and depth.
The mark of a great pantry is that it contains, simply and elegantly, the essence of one's cooking. The mark of a great chef is being able to transform these staples in unexpected ways. So it goes with Einat Admony. Let's take a look around.
Za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture most often made with sumac (a tart spice), sesame seeds, thyme, and oregano, gets a new starring role as a flavor for homemade popcorn. Best of all, it's incredibly easy: just sprinkle store-bought za-atar on the freshly popped corn and you're all set.
Let's talk about ful (pronounced "fool") for a minute, because you might find you like it even more than hummus. Where the chickpea is a wan wallflower, the fava is proudly, robustly funky. And with its mashed-up beans and rich broth, ful takes common ingredients like cumin, garlic, and tahini to bolder places than hummus ever could.
Ful mudammas, stewed fava beans, is a staple dish all over the Levant. Some versions are mild mannered and comforting. This one, loaded with olive oil, lemon, garlic, cumin, and a kick of chili powder, is anything but. Serve it as a bean stew or mash up the beans and use it as a high octane dip.
Hummus is fine, but the real power legume of the Middle East is the fava bean. Ful mudammas is the Egyptian breakfast dish of favas stewed with tahini and seasoned with garlic, cumin, and lemon. This creamy, comforting version is much like what you'll find around the streets of Cairo.
When Hasan Diab arrived in the U.S. more than a decade ago, it wasn't hard to find familiar street foods from back home: falafel, pita and even shawarma. But the fresh, spice-rich Palestinian home cooking he took for granted growing up in the Galilee was a rare treat here, usually available only in the homes of friends and family.
There are some spice blends that transcend the line between regional speciality and internationally beloved ingredient. Dukkah, the Egyptian nut, seed, and spice mixture that has recently found its way onto genre-pushing menus, is a prime example.
Bright, herbal, and generously spiced Middle Eastern dishes are wonderful with beer—if you choose the right bottles. Read this guide before you stock up.
Karam is one of the many small, independent shops and restaurants that make Bay Ridge so fun to visit: homey and familiar—even on a first visit—its excellent food is just one more reason to kick back and stay awhile.
I used to hate all things eggplant. Until I had my first taste of really great baba ganoush. It was made by a good friend of mine, an Israeli line cook who'd take time out of her afternoon to hover over the eggplants slowly charring over the open flames of the kitchen's burners, waiting until they were meltingly tender, before recruiting me to carefully peel them before she'd mix them up with lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and olive oil. The resulting dip was simultaneously smoky, savory, bright, and creamy...and I was addicted.
Rich, smoky, and creamy, our recipe for baba ganoush uses the salad spinner to concentrate flavor and a slow emulsion method for the ultimate in dippable texture.
In many ways, Cafe Nadery a gathering place inspired by and built around the Iranian heritage of the 21 people who own it. The café is a venue for readings, live music, film screenings, art exhibits, lectures, and fora. It just so happens they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The open patio seating and brunch-friendly vibe of Cafe Mogador make it a perennially popular St. Marks restaurant, but for me there's one real pull: the tagines.
Kabul Kabab doesn't nail every detail of pro kebabery, but it hits, turning deceptively simple grilled meat into a worthy night out.
Laban kishk is yogurt like you've never had it before: dried with cracked bulgur wheat, fermented for three to five days, and ground to fine powder between two hands. Hailing from pastoral Lebanon and found throughout the Levant, laban kishk belongs to a larger family of preserved foods grouped under and derivative of the Persian kashk.
This version of maqluba is a showstopper: a tall, golden savory cake filled to bursting with tender vegetables and crowned with yielding rounds of tomatoes.