Middle Eastern cuisine

While the Middle East is vast and diverse, similar culinary traditions can be found across the region. They have been formed by the Mediterranean climate, commercial routes to Europe, Asia and Africa, and the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Much of North Africa, Central Asia and the Balkans have a similar cuisine, influenced by a common Turkish heritage from long-term Ottoman rule on the one hand (Balkans, Middle East, North Africa) and Turkic culture on the other (much of Central Asia).

Iranian food, with its common use in savory dishes of pomegranate molasses, cherries, plums, almond paste and various distinctive herbs and spices, has some commonalities with Levantine food but is in many ways quite a distinct cuisine, and different from the cuisines of the Indian Subcontinent as well.



Coffee originated in Ethiopia, and reached the West through the Ottoman Empire. Together with tea, it is ubiquitous.

While alcoholic beverages are taboo in Islam, alcohol is available in more liberal Muslim cities and countries such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Turkey. Even in countries where alcohol is sold, binge-drinking and drunkenness are frowned on. Judaism and (most varieties of) Christianity are fine with alcohol, however, and even in some majority Muslim countries, alcohol production and consumption by and for minorities is tolerated.

Israel, Lebanon and the Caucasus have a tradition of wine-making dating back to ancient times.

The restrictions on alcohol and the warm climate make soft drinks and juices popular. A halal restaurant in the Middle East can have a juice list as extensive as a European restaurant's wine list.

See also

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