Almost every culture in the world has their version of a dumpling and the Middle East has its Shish Barak. These little plump dumplings are filled with minced meat and baked before mixed with a tangy yogurt sauce. The result is crisp, juicy meat puffs that are so good on their own, and even better with tart yogurt. Make a bunch of them and freeze so that all you need to do is to get them warm and toasty (in minutes!) It's that easy. Now, serve with a side of rice and you'll have yourself a hearty start to your pre-dawn meal.
Looking for something vegetarian to begin your morning? Why not try your hand at making Fattet Batenjen, a casserole dish that's said to have originated from Lebanon. An extremely versatile dish, each Lebanese household usually has their own method of putting it together - whether using proteins such as lamb or chicken, or as in this recipe, with eggplants! Fattet Batenjen can be served as an appetizer or as a main dish - we recommend having it together with rice on the side to give you a major energy booster for the day.
Forget eating cold, limp salad that tastes like grass and kick-start your day by whipping up Fattoush. Originating from Northern Lebanon, this minty, tangy and yet refreshing salad is said to have come about when Lebanese farmers would fry scraps of bread and mix them with whatever vegetables and herbs in season. The result? A highly flavorful salad that can be adapted with almost anything in your fridge. Hot tip: Want more flavor to your salad? A dash of pomegranate molasses, a sprinkle of sumac and some lemon juice can add layers of depth to the simple olive oil dressing.
A hearty and nutritious soup that can be made the night before, this Middle-Eastern dish is jam-packed with protein and fiber, all thanks to the meat and vegetables that make up a majority of the ingredients used. The Frikeh Soup (an Arabic word for "to rub") is a common staple in Middle Eastern cuisine made from green durum wheat that has been roasted before being polished to remove the shells. The roasting and rubbing also gives the wheat its distinctive savory and smoky flavour. Frikeh is also easy on the stomach, making it one of the absolute perfect pre-dawn meals to wake up to.
A rather classic and easy-to-make Middle-Eastern dish originating from Lebanon, Kibbeh Akras are meatballs made with bulgur and finely ground meat that's all perfectly spiced. The meat is actually stuffed in a hollow shell made from a combination of bulgur and minced meat - that's right, this comfort food is basically meat wrapped around meat! The bulgur, being a type of wheat, gives the dish the heartiness it needs in order to keep you full for the whole day. Make a whole bunch as Kibbeh Akras can be prepared and frozen way beforehand and baked as and when needed. Hot tip: Want more crips and crunch? Don't bake 'em, deep-fry instead!
Usually served at Lebanese family gatherings and parties, Arouz ala djej is a heartwarming and classic dish that features a juicy roasted chicken served together with aromatic, seasoned rice and nuts. The sweetness of raisins, together with warmness of the spices and juicy meat comes together wonderfully. Mixed nuts (or any type of nuts that you have on hand) adds a layer of texture to the dish, giving you a nice crunch in each bite. To give Arouz ala ajej an added freshness, serve this dish with a side of salad.
Unlike its cousin Arouz ala djej which is roasted chicken served with rice, Djej bel Frikeh uses the superfood frikeh as its choice carb instead. The smokiness of frikeh adds a layer of flavor that complements wonderfully with the roasted chicken and stir-fried vegetables.You'll find that the frikeh is slightly plumper, as it soaks in the delicious spiced chicken broth. As frikeh is a nutrient-dense grain that contains a lot of fiber, protein and iron, you'll be sure to have an Iftar that is not only healthy, but satisfying as well.
A common sight on Arab and Mediterranean dinner tables, these little bundles of Grape Leaves and Zuchinni are stuffed with minced meat and rice that have been spiced perfectly. This results in turning each bundle into concentrated flavor bombs that are sure to delight the whole family. Serve this dish the traditional way with a side of yogurt as a dipping sauce, and be sure to make more as you'll be surprised at how fast these go! Here's a tip: Use this dish as a way for you to turn preparing for Iftar into a family affair and get everyone involved with wrapping and stuffing!
Known to some as Saudi Arabia's national dish, Kabsa Saudi is a meat and rice dish that has gained popularity throughout the Middle-East and beyond. The leg of lamb is slowly simmered in a sauce of spices as well as tomatoes before the rice is cooked in the meaty tomato broth. The addition of saffron and rose water gives this dish its vibrant vermilion color and sweet fragrance. Kabsa is usually served during big gatherings so expect to be cooking for more than one. And if you're not a fan of lamb, substitute it with chicken or any other protein.
Mloukhiya with Chicken is a soupy dish that is popular throughout the Middle-East, East Africa and North Africa. Often confused with spinach, Mloukhiya - also known as Jew's Mallow - is the star of this dish with its distinctive green color and texture, almost similiar to Okra. The leaves are also nutritious, ideal for those who have been fasting for hours. Mloukhiya is usually made with chicken but if you're prefer beef or lamb, make that substitute! Serve this easy dish with a side of rice and you'll have yourself a nourishing Iftar!