Rich spices and heavy wintertime comfort food: this is what often springs to mind when people think of recipes from the Middle East and North Africa. But with temperatures in parts of the region rising to 50 degrees Celsius in the shade, who wants to eat rich dishes that end in a food coma? Not to worry, regardless of what the mercury dials in, people here like to eat, so there are numerous healthy and heartwarming summer dishes to try as well. If you want to expand your culinary horizons beyond such staples as baba ghanoush, hummus, and tehina, check out these five less well-known recipes made with signature Middle Eastern flavors.
It’s not often that we have been to a picnic that didn’t include some kind of potato salad, but why not try Miriam’s Middle Eastern variation of this popular dish. Not only is it filled with other goodies such as carrots, peppers, lemon and olive oil, but it isn’t drenched in mayonnaise, so you don’t have to feel guilty about a little indulgence. And here’s the great thing, if you love this recipe so much that you don’t want to give it up when the weather turns chilly again, simply combine it with hot food and voila – it’s a perfect winter dish as well!
Anything homemade is better than store bought, but Miriam’s cucumber chips are absolutely delicious. Sweet and tangy and dressed up with cloves, cinnamon and turmeric among other local spices, this little treat will be a hit with both the adults and children in your life. And depending on where you live, cucumbers are usually easy to come by. Serve your chips on the side with the above Middle Eastern potato salad or simply keep a jar in the fridge for snacking and watch them go.
Nothing ushers in summer better than a juicy orange on a hot day, but why not give your oranges a little extra character with this easy Moroccan orange salad recipe. All you need is a bit of sugar, some navel oranges and cinnamon and you’re well on your way to turning an everyday fruit into an exotic dish that will have you dreaming of distant lands. And if you are feeling very adventurous, simply do a google search for more complex variations of this dish that sometimes include heart-healthy pomegranates and dates as well.
Nothing beats a hot summer day better than a scoop of ice-cream, but have you ever considered hummus ice-cream? It may sound a little strange, but it is apparently delicious and sweet like halva – another delectable staple of the Middle Eastern diet. La Jenda from Jaffa, Israel has the secret recipe for this tasty treat, which includes just the right amount of chickpeas, tahini, vanilla and sugar, along with a few stabilizers, but maybe you can try to come up with your own?
Even though it’s hot outside, we’re definitely not above having a rich desert at the end of the day – especially if it contains Arak, cream and figs! As a bonus, Miriam has added two recipes in one post, so check it out. But do it quick, because figs aren’t in season for long and it’s always better to get them when they’re fresh. Also, it almost goes without saying that organic and milk sourced from animals that lead a free-range life is best.