For many first-generation Arab immigrants one of the pressures we face is to be as connected to our native culture as possible. Having a connection to your mother country isn’t a bad thing at all, it just can be hard sometimes, especially if you speak broken or no Arabic. Thankfully, one of the more delicious ways to bring Arab culture into your life is through food.
In a sea of McDonald’s and Burger Kings, however, it’s not always easy to find something as good as the food you can get back in the native country. Personally, I’m Egyptian-American so finding an authentic Egyptian-based (or even just generally Middle Eastern-based) restaurant is like finding a needle in a haystack; it’s very hard to find, and when you do, it usually isn’t the best. So, for me, I grew up on my mom’s food where every other week or so, we’d have fatir for breakfast, goulash for lunch, mologhaia (also spelled molokhia) for dinner.
Now, my mother’s food is absolutely amazing and I live for the days when I can have goulash for breakfast, lunch and dinner (it’s THAT good). However, I can’t exactly squeeze all you readers into my mother’s kitchen, therefore, I bring to you a list of seven salivatingly delicious Arab foods that will have you going for thirds, fourths, even fifths:
This thin pastry is perfectly complemented with honey and/or sugar, and your mom will still let you eat it for breakfast!
Shakshuka is basically the love child of eggs and ground beef, with your choice of vegetables sprinkled about. Personally, I like no veggies on my shakshuka but you do you boo.
Of all the Arab foods in the world, goulash is fave because it is soft (yet slightly) crispy phyllo bread, stuffed with either ground beef, cheese, spinach or all three, and it is HEAVENNNNNNNN….I live for goulash.
This lovely mixture is a dark green sauce I like to eat with rice and some chicken but it’s still just as lovely by itself as a soup.
Koshari is a combo of macaroni shells, rice, red sauce (typically tomato sauce), lentils and fried onions. Koshari reigns high on my fave foods list, second only to goulash. And if you happen to go to Cairo, Egypt anytime soon, pass by Koshari Tahrir in Tahrir Square because theirs is the best….after my mom of course 😉
This is a pita sandwich with lamb or chicken, tzatziki sauce and any kind of vegetable you may or may not want! Eating it is absolute heaven and I highly suggest having just lamb and tzatziki sauce as it is mmm, mmm, good!
If I had to pick one non-chocolate dessert to eat for the rest of my life it would be zalabia. I mean, just imagine such fluffy goodness – basically a better version of a doughnut hole – combined with honey, sugar and/or any kind of melted chocolate….oh gosh, sorry about that, I was drooling at the thought of zalabia. *sighs*
Now you guys are ready to up the ante and impress your friends and family next time you have to make some food last minute for a potluck, or rather, the next time you get that undeniable, what-ever-shall-I-do craving for amazing food. You’ll be thanking me when you take that first bite of goulash and sigh happily. You’re welcome in advance.