Top Menu Choices Across The Middle East. Which Popular Middle Eastern Foods Would You Try?

Popular Middle Eastern food: Turkish sis kebab

Which of These Popular Middle Eastern Foods Would You Most Like to Try?

Whether you’re traveling to Dubai, Egypt or somewhere in between, guest author Charlotte Hurley has you covered with this list of popular Middle Eastern foods.

Middle Eastern Cuisine

Diverse is one word that describes what to expect from Middle Eastern cuisine. The region spans three continents with people of wildly varying culinary cultures. Of course, some countries in the region will share a few staples like roasted skewered meat and flatbreads. However, you will find various traditional meals that reflect the true spirit of the region. Here are a few must-haves on your menu from different Middle Eastern countries and maybe a reason to explore some countries you’ve never been to before!

Falafel in Saudi Arabia

Falafel is one of the most famous ​Middle Eastern delicacies​ that has gained popularity as a vegan option on menus. It is made of deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas, garlic, onions, and spices. Sometimes, fava beans can be used instead of ground chickpeas. The balls are brown and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. You can have it inside a pita bread to make a sandwich then garnish it with tomatoes and cucumbers. Experiment with different sauces such as coconut sauce to enjoy falafel in different ways. Usually, it is served as an appetizer.

Popular Middle Eastern foods: fresh vegetarian falafel with tzatziki sauce, selective focus

Fish Ambul Curry in Sri Lanka

The rich flavor and mouth-watering deliciousness of fish ambul curry have made it a favorite in Sri Lanka and beyond. Also called Ambul Thiyal, the curry contains a lot of spices and tamarind, which provides that signature sourness. The curry is made with a large and firm fish like tuna with a blend of spices, including black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, chilies, cardamom, and coriander.

Spices cooking ingredients for making curry, a popular Middle Eastern food

Camel in Dubai

If you are looking for the full Emirati experience, then a meal that has camel meat is a must-have. Camel masala is one of the ways to enjoy this delicacy. The camel platter is a favorite of the locals where the camel is served on a plate of rice and vegetables to eat together. Camel steak marinated in camel milk is another alternative. You can try the different menus of camel steak in ​Dubai​, depending on how adventurous you want to get.

Popular Middle Eastern Foods: overhead photo of camel meat biryani in a dish

Lamb kebab in Turkey

Turkey has one of the most delicious local foods in the Middle East, and lamb is the national cuisine. The meat is cooked in a hundred different ways to offer a wide range of delicacies. Kebabs are the most famous traditional dishes in Turkey. Try the sis kebab, which is skewered lamb meat grilled over charcoal or the doner kebab, which is rolled lamb meat cooked on a hot grill. Different towns in Turkey have their versions of the kebab, so expect a huge variety.

Popular Middle Eastern food: Turkish sis kebab

Plov in Azerbaijan

This rice delicacy can be made in various ways. Also called pilaf, plov consists of two parts; boiled saffron-flavored Basmati rice and a sauce known as gara. The gara contains meat, eggs, dry fruits, and spices. Lamb and fish are typical meat choices. The rice is cooked with a crispy crust. Parcha-dosheme plov is one of the dishes that you can try. It has mutton and prunes. Plov is one delicacy that you won’t miss at any authentic Azeri celebration.

Popular Middle Eastern Foods: Turkish Pilaf - Sehriyeli pilav

Korshary in Egypt

Korshary (or kushari) is one of Egypt’s most loved traditional meals. It combines rice, macaroni, and lentils seasoned with tomato vinegar sauce. The tomato sauce is made with a mixture of spices, including cayenne, cumin, and pepper that give it a nice kick. The dish is garnished with caramelized onions. Korshary is readily available in the streets on food carts. Apart from being delicious, it is surprisingly filling.

Popular Middle Eastern foods: Kushari - an Egyptian dish of rice, macaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a tomato-vinegar sauce; some add short pieces of spaghetti garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions

Besides the finger-licking local cuisine that you can indulge in, these countries offer a lot to see and do, including historical attractions. From the ​Pyramids in Egypt​ to the ​Hagia Sophia ​in Turkey to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the options are limitless.


More Posts Like This …


  • I am a mom of 2 who travels a lot for work (I work in the event/conference/tradeshow industry). I grew up  and currently live in Northern California.