Posts Tagged ‘Arabic Food’
Popular Arabic Cuisine
While Arabic cuisine differs greatly from region to region, there is one ingredient that no meal can go without: hospitality. Most meals in this area are as much about being hospitable and generous with others as they are about the actual menu. There are some customs at the table, too, and when you learn the Arabic language you’ll know just what to say (and how to say it) to make sure you enjoy the whole experience. Of course, over the years, Arabic cuisine has developed a very unique flavor that features the best of Mediterranean, Middle Easten, and Indian influences. Many of the most common dishes served in this area make use of ingredients not often used in the United States. This could include everything from lentils and fava beans to sesame seed oil and saffron. Some of these ingredients are just starting to become more popular in the west, but experiencing real Arabic cuisine is an experience you don’t want to miss. Common Foods and Dishes A lot of the cuisine in these areas will be filled with various fruits and vegetables. Most of the fruits are of the citrus variety, but the vegetables can include everything from cucumbers and eggplant to green beans and zucchini. Meats are also common in many dishes, but it is most often lamb or chicken. (Muslim Arabs don’t eat pork or drink alcohol, so you won’t see those very often except in the regions where other denominations live.) Tea is usually the most popular beverage in the area and is consumed quite regularly. Of course the exact type of tea is also dependent on the region, with places like Egypt serving a black and sweet tea while in Yemen you might be more likely to enjoy a milk tea. On the dairy side, you are likely to see a lot of yoghurt and white cheese. The yogurt of the region is made from sheep, cow, or goat milk, and it might be diluted with water to create a refreshing beverage or thickened to make it a tasty condiment. Most importantly, though, is the delicious bread which is pretty much an essential element of any table setting. There are a huge variety of breads, and they may be mixed in with other dishes or simply set out as a side, but it is almost always there and always tasty.
Some Regional Differences Arabic cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures, and the resulting specialty dishes of these regions have their own unique characteristics. In Egypt, for example, the cuisine leans vegetarian, and you can try the classic falafel or kushari. Sudan, on the other hand, usually goes pretty heavy on the spices, and their “mullah” is a very flavorful stew you won’t forget. And in Yemen you’ll find less emphasis on dairy, and you can try the saltah, a meaty dish filled with many different ingredients.
A Cultural Experience One of the best ways to start experiencing a culture is to sample the cuisine. Your Arabic course will get you started, teach you the language and some of the history, but don’t miss out on your chance to try something from the region for yourself. A lot of people are hesitant to try foods that are a little different from their everyday menu, but it’s a great first step into a different culture and some incredibly tasty cuisine.
During the last week of October, Muslims all around the world will celebrate Eid al-Adha (the Greater Eid). Eid al-Adha is an important religious feast celebrated annually on the 10th day of the Islamic Month Dhu al Hijjah; it starts after the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims) and lasts for 4 days. Islamic and Arab countries announce official holiday during those days.
Muslims and Arabs keep several traditions during this Islamic festival; they dress up with their finest clothes and go to mosques to pray the Eid prayer and visit their families and friends. Those Muslims who can afford, sacrifice an animal and distribute third of its meat on the poor, usually it is a cow or a goat or sheep depending on the region. Distributing meat amongst people, making contributions to the poor, charity work and families’ visits are prominent traditions of this festival.
In Egypt it is no different than any other Muslim country, however there is one special thing that is common in all Egyptian homes but not anywhere else which is the iconic meal of “Egyptian Fatta”. Egyptian Fatta is a ruling dish in Eid al-Adha, and consists of meat, rice, bread and red sauce.
You can uncover more about Islam, Arabic culture and traditions when you learn Arabic. Learning the Arabic language will open you up to the deep and rich world of Islam. You can spend a summer, semester, or full year abroad practicing your Arabic language skills and learning firsthand about Arab culture. At Arab Academy, our on-campus students had the chance to live this formidable Islamic festival while taking Arabic lessons. They learnt how to cook the Egyptian fatta on the hands of one of Egypt’s many talented chefs.