Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
It is getting to that part of the year where it gets cold and frosty. The junk food we have been accustomed to during the summer soon goes out the window in favor of healthy, warm hearty meals. The same premise is relevant in the Middle East where the winter season, albeit not as cold as the UK winter, means that meals become a lot healthier as a result.
This brings us to lentil soup. Lentil soup is usually requested frequently in Arabic catering as it lays the foundation of a great meal. It is a starter, but a satisfying one at that. In the Middle East its Arabic name is Shorbat Adas. It has different names and variations depending on where you are in that region. However, one thing stays the same – its popularity! Shorbat Adas is esentially made up 2 or 3 core ingredients. The first being Lentils and the second being water. Everything in between is a matter of taste!
Check out our recipe below and have a go at cooking it at home.
6 Cups of Water
1 clove of garlic
1 cube of vegetable Oxo
2 cups of red lentils
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of curry powder
2 teaspoons of salt
Make sure that you drain the lentils well and give them a thorough clean. Put all the ingredients in a big pan and mix them up. Afterwards, make sure you bring the soup to a boil and then leave it to sit for about 40 minutes. Finally, ensure that the soup mixture is not to thick and not too runny then serve with a dash of olive oil and mint. There you have it, a wonderful winter middle eastern soup to enjoy!
A recipe for kibbeh – A popular Lebanese Mezze
Kibbeh is a popular starter eaten mainly in Lebanon. It is made out of Bulgar Wheat and Minced beef. The filling consists of minced lamb or minced beef.
The secret of Kibbeh is all to do with the preparation. If the Bulgur wheat and meat mixture is made fresh and then fried straight away, it tends to be a lot nicer to eat! It is used as an accompaniment to many meals such as chicken shish Taouk, minced lamb kebabs and even just part of a wider mezze dish. You can find it at certain middle eastern shops or large international supermarkets that are on your high street, however, they are likely to taste different due to the manufacturing process and less focus on fresh flavour.
Below, we have provided you with Middlefeast’s take on this dish! You will probably find yourself cooking these every week and don’t worry if you find it tricky the first time. After a couple of times you’ll perfect it.
Ingredients (to serve 7)
250 grams of Bulgar wheat
2 tablespoon of turmeric
250 grams of minced lamb
Half an Onion
2 Tablespoon of Paprika
2 Teaspoons of salt
250ml of Sunflower Oil
Mix the Bulgur wheat and half the mince meat into a blender. Afterwards, add the spices such as paprika and turmeric. Keep mixing until you find the mixture becomes a dough. You then have to fry the remaining mince alongside chopped onions. Don’t forget to add salt to this when frying.
After the mince has been fryed, use the dough to shape torpedoes and place the mince meat inside. It is then best to put the prepared torpedoes into a freezer. You should leave it in there for about 3 hours to be safe. The reason for this is if they are left at room temperature before frying they will simply disintegrate into the oil.
Afterwards, take out the kibbeh from the freezer and fry for about 3 minutes turning on both sides. Then serve as a mezze or snack.
If you want try a similar dish called Kubbah. Check out our other blog post that shows you how to cook it:
There are several dishes in the middle east which can be adapted and tweaked based on taste or preference. The type of food in the region is so diverse that it will not be surprising to find so many variation s of the same dish. Like many world cuisines, people enjoy putting their own twist on things. So much so that the new dish created can be even more popular than the dish it was based on.
At Middlefeast we believe in providing the most thorough background information about Arab Food whilst simultaneously being at the forefront of a new type of contemporary cuisine.
Below we have showcased some meals or sides that are often made with a twist. A twist being a slight edge being given on a dish that makes it different to the perceived norm. Check out the examples below and try and make some next time you have Arabic Food.
Hummus: Can be made with Paprika, Beetroot and Tomato – Simply add these ingredients once blended .
Falafel: Falafel can be made not only with Chickpeas, but with potato and gram flower added. Potatoes can give a much softer texture and if gram flower is added the falafel will incorporate a much spicier taste.
Fattoush salad: When making a Lebanese Fattoush salad it is normal to add a citrus dressing within the salad to give a zesty taste. However, to give the dish a bit of a twist you can add Rose Water to the salad. Rose water may sound unusual, however, it has such a beautiful fragrance which makes it extremely versatile when added to particular foods . By adding the Rose Water, the salad provides a unique flavour but simultaneously compliments the salad.
The Middle East is an area rich in culture and history as well as conflict and tragedy. However, many foods were cultivated there such as pistachios, figs, and dates. It is also not commonly known that the process of fermentation was discovered in Arabia. This was used to produce items such as beer and also bread. The Middle East is situated in such a place that its position falls within the corners of nearly all the continents, unlike any other region. Foodwise, this has resulted in a type of derivative of world cuisine and a type of food fusion. About 500BC and due to conflicts at the time, the arabs created their staple diet and incorporated it based on readily available food resources such as rice, chicken and nuts.
It is also important to mention that religion plays a large part in relation to the meats which are consumed. Muslims and Jews do not consume pork, which has resulted in lamb being most commonly available alongside chicken. Beef is still eaten, however, it does not appear often at most arab dinners.
It has long been assumed that food from the middle east can be categorised under Lebanese. However, so many different types of dishes derive from all sorts of countries in thatregion. The list below gives a few examples.
Lebanon: Shish Tawook
Iraq: Lamb Quzi
Syria: Fettet Magdous
If you would like to have Arabic Food at your event or try anything from our weddings and events menu, then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our London catering service will do all the rest!
Kubba Halab is a middle eastern dish which is most commonly consumed in Iraq and Syria. The name Halab was an ancient city in Syria. It is made out of rice and cooked by forming the rice into a dough. The inside is filled with minced lamb or minced beef and then fried.
Kubba is synonymous with middle eastern food and arabic catering and comes in many different varieties. An example being Lebanese Kibbeh – this is very similar to Kubba Haleb, however, it is made out of bulgar wheat rather than rice. Kubba Mosul is another variety of Kubba, again derived from Iraq. This is similar to Lebanese kibbeh but instead of being fried this is usually set into a tray and cooked in an oven. It is very flat and long in shape in comparison to kibbeh which is torpedo shaped.
Kubba Haleb is quite a time consuming dish mainly due to the fact that a lot of preparation is needed. This is largely due to the fact that rice needs to be overcooked in order for it to form a dough. However, it is an integral part of a middle eastern food and is definitely worth the time taken to prepare it.
Ingredients (to serve 10)
500 grams of long grain rice
1 tablespoon of turmeric
500 grams of minced lamb
1 Tablespoon of Paprika
1 Tablespoon of salt
300 ml of Sunflower Oil
Cook the long grain rice until it is slightly mushy and then proceed to add the turmeric, this is important as the rice needs to be made into a dough later. Then cook the mince and prepare the onion by chopping it finely. Afterwards, add the chopped onions to the mince along with the paprika and salt.
Put the cooked rice into a blender until a dough consistency is formed. Once a dough is formed, shape small parts into torpedo shapes and fill with mince. Then place them in the freezer for 3 hours. They need to be frozen so that they do not disintegrate when frying.
Remove the kubba from the freezer and fry them until golden right around. Afterwards, serve with fresh mint and yogurt.
As part of catering our services, we offer Lamb Kebabs which are integral to any middle eastern event. Lamb kebabs are used in Lebanese catering services too as they are staple favourite amongst Arabic Countries. Lamb Kebabs come in all shapes and sizes aswell as different variations. They are also cooked through different means, for example, some homes in the middle east may have a clay oven built in or an outdoor barbeque. Whereas others may well cook their kebab through conventional means by using a standard household oven.
Whichever way an Arabic Lamb Kebab is cooked, you can guarantee it will taste good as long as the correct ingredients are purchased and that good quality meat, preferable organic is used. For optimal results and for the most distinctive flavour, we recommend a charcoal grill or barbecue as it just adds another dimension! Within Arabic Catering and Lebanese Catering, Lamb Kebabs are often sprinkled with Sumac which is a berry ground into a spice. This results in a scintillating flavour.
Why not try making some yourself, we have listed the main ingredients below.
500g of Lamb Mince (preferably one with a high fat content for added flavour)
50g of Lamb fat (if lamb mince is not fatty)
1 chopped onion
1 clove of garlic
2 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Tablespoon of Sumac (to sprinkle on at the end)
Wash the meat and place it into a large bowl.Then mix all the ingredients together by hand until a large ball is formed. Pull of 5 parts of meat from the large ball in order to shape individual kebabs. Stretch the mixture out either by hand or by shaping them with a pallet knife or a special kebab skewer as seen in the below picture. Once this has been completed, place them under a grill or on top of a barbeque and turn every 2 minutes for ten minutes. Then service by sprinkling Sumac on top and serve in Arabic khobez.
The Chicken Shawarma is the Arabic take on the ‘sandwich’. However, this ‘sandwich’ comes with either a lamb or chicken filling. Shawarmas started of as a common type of street food along with falafel. Serving them was particularly easy for the vendor due the meat being on a spit and Middle Eastern bread (Khobez) being used to wrap the meat up. Such is the popularity of this dish today, many high streets in places like Beirut, Amman and Baghdad have whole stores just dedicated to this Arabian food favourite.
In Arabic catering, the Chicken Shawarma is a must. Alongside hummus and falafel it is probably in the top five most recognisable arabic dishes. A shawarma can be relatively healthy to eat, however, certain places use certain types of chicken, mayonnaise and additional oil which naturally effects the nutritional values. However, it is entirely possible to make the Shawarma a healthy dish based on using little oil and using organic chicken thighs.
We have listed our own shawarma recipe below used in our Arabic Catering service, for you guys who enjoy your middle eastern cuisine!
1 Lemon and 1 Lime,
2 Cloves of Garlic,
1 tablespoon of ginger,
1 tablespoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of Tomato Puree
2 pieces of pickle and turnip
300 grams of organic chicken thighs
1 Lebanese Khobez (bread)
Start of by crushing the two cloves of Garlic. Then proceed by adding them into a bowl along with the lemon and lime, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and tomato puree. Make sure that this turns into a small kind of paste. Once you have done this, rinse the organic chicken in a bowl and then add the salt to the chicken. It is best to cut this into small pieces . Afterwards, add the salt to the mixture and then add the paste that you had prepared earlier. When this is completed, leave the bowl in the fridge for 24 hours to marinate. Lastly, take it out of the fridge and grill the chicken on both sides for 15 minutes (see video below) until golden. To finish, cut the chicken into small strips then serve onto arabic bread with garlic mayonaise, gherkins, pickled turnip and a sprinkle of lemon.
Over the last few years Falafel has come to the forefront of Middle Eastern and Arabic cuisine in the UK. It has been slowly introduced at food festivals and small takeaways and is now a prominent mezze product within supermarkets, restaurants and catering.
The appeal of Falafel comes from its simplicity and its unique flavour of which you would not expect from its core ingredient of Chickpeas. However, as boring as it may appear, Chickpeas are probably one of the most important ingredients in arabic food appearing in other dishes such as hummus. In the Middle East, Falafel is commonly eaten as a side dish but also as a sandwich. The sandwich usually contains a light Tahini and Chilli sauce along with pickles and Lebanese Khobz (bread).
Due to the rising popularity of falafel, many coffee shops and delis are beginning to offer falafel wraps. However, falafel is only ever eaten when fresh so if had not been cooked in the past 15 minutes prior to it being a sandwich – the flavour would vastly diminish and consequently veers away from what it should taste like.
Below is our recipe on how to make traditional falafel. It is simple to make and great for a light snack or light lunch. Our London catering services include falafel wraps as a lunch option and we also offer it as part of a wider events menu.
Instructions and Ingredients: (to serve 4)
500 grams of Dried chick Peas
2 Table Spoons of Cumin
100 grams of chopped parsley
Half an Onion
1 Tablespoon of Salt
2 Table Spoons of Paprika
Half a bottle of Sunflower Oil
Begin by soaking the dried chickpeas for up 2 days. It is imperative that chickpeas are soaked overnight atleast. Using tinned chickpeas will not work due to the moisture leading to the falafel mixture disintegrating when frying. After the chickpeas have been soaked, proceed to place all the chickpeas in a food processor and add the cumin, salt and paprika while mixing. Then finely chop the onions and parsley and gradually add them to the mixture. It is important to make sure the mixture is not too smooth and not too coarse. When the mixture is complete, place it in the fridge for about 2 hours in order for it to settle. Afterwards, shape small discs and place them in a deep fryer. Shallow frying will not work due the oil not cooking the whole falafel. Leave the falafel in for about 1 minute ensuring it is cooked right round and them serve with fresh Tahini sauce and Lebanese bread.
If you would like to try our fresh falafel, please enquire about our Middle Eastern catering services.
These days more and more people are reaching out to vegetarian cuisine. It is becoming a way of life for many people and with the health foods sector increasing year by year it can be of no surprise. Some of us associate vegetarian cuisine with salad based dishes or a meal with the core ingredients consisting of beans. However, there are so many more dishes that are not as well known yet and in our opinion add an another dimension to vegetarian cuisine.
Certain world cuisines are more top heavy with vegetarian dishes than others. For example, Indian food can be said to be heavily focussed on vegetarian cuisine due to the country having sizeable religious communities whereby the consumption of meat is prohibited. Indian food on the whole is very popular in the UK leading to people being extremely knowledgeable on both Indian meat and vegetarian dishes.
However, middle eastern cuisine is less well known. There are occasional comparisons with Mediterranean, Greek and Turkish food but on the whole it is still very different. For example, Moussaka is one of those dishes that is eaten both in Greece and the Middle East. One of the dishes that is exclusive to the middle east is Batinjaan – which translates to Aubergine soup in Arabic cuisine. It is made by grilling or frying the Aubergine first and then cooking a tomato based soup with coriander, tomatoes, onions and pepper. It is a very flavourful dish and the texture of the Aubergines give it a meaty taste.
Aside from the well publicised middle eastern vegetarian sides like Hummus and falafel, Kubbah Hamuth is less well know but nevertheless a delicious Iraqi and Jordanian dish. It is a common dish in arabic catering especially weddings. It can be best described as a rice ball that is filled with either mince meat or vegetables. A popular vegetarian filling within this dish is soya mince (see picture below).
Being based in Leeds and London, we can provide a full vegetarian menu for both locations if required. We can also provide a vegetarian menu for any event across the UK. If you are interested in vegetarian food and would like to know more about Middlefeasts vege options then please get in touch with us. Also, don’t forget to check back for part 2 of our veggie post!