Middle Eastern cuisine is known for its rich flavors, bold spices and exotic ingredients.
When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine, many people immediately think of the main course dishes such as shawarma, kebabs, or falafels, but what about the middle eastern side dishes?
However, the side dishes in Middle Eastern cuisine are just as important and flavorful. They can add depth, texture, and a pop of color to your plate.
Whether you’re looking for something to complement your protein or add some color to your small plates, we’ve got you covered with some delicious Middle Eastern side dishes.
In this blog post, we will explore some unique and flavorful Middle Eastern side dishes that will make your taste buds sing!
20+ middle eastern side dishes
1. Baba Ghanoush
Baba Ghanoush is a popular side dish that originated in the Eastern Mediterranean region, specifically in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.
This dish is made with roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Once the eggplant is roasted, you simply scoop out the flesh and mix it with the other ingredients. It’s a perfect accompaniment to pita bread or as a dip for vegetables.
Muhammara is a Syrian dip made from roasted red peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, pomegranate molasses and spices.
It has a sweet and savory flavor profile and is often served as a dip or spread for bread or vegetables. The dish is easy to make and can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Discover More: Awesome Side dishes To serve with Muhammara
3. Fattoush Salad
Fattoush salad is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is a refreshing salad that is made with chopped vegetables such as cucumber, onion, tomatoes, radishes and herbs such as parsley and mint.
The salad is tossed with pita chips and a tangy sumac dressing. It’s a perfect side dish for grilled meat or fish.
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad that is made with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, parsley, mint, onions, and a lemony dressing. It’s a fresh and light side dish that is perfect for summer.
The bulgur wheat gives the dish a nutty and chewy texture that complements the fresh herbs and vegetables.
Shakshuka is a popular breakfast dish in the Middle East that can also be served as a side dish.
It’s a one-pan dish made with tomato sauce, peppers, onions, and spices. Eggs are cracked into the mixture and are cooked until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny.
The dish is perfect for brunch or as a side dish for a Middle Eastern-inspired meal.
This classic Lebanese dish is a refreshing salad made of parsley, tomatoes, onion, and bulgur wheat.
The flavors are bright and fresh, and the salad is perfect on its own or as a side dish to grilled meats. It’s a great way to incorporate more whole grains and fresh herbs into your diet.
7. Turkish stuffed eggplants (Karniyarik)
Turkish stuffed eggplants are stuffed eggplants, a popular Turkish side dish, and they’re surprisingly easy to make.
The eggplants are halved and roasted before being stuffed with spiced minced meat, rice, and tomatoes. The dish is usually topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and baked until bubbling and golden.
It’s a great option when you’re looking for something a little more substantial.
Hummus is a Middle Eastern staple, a creamy dip or spread made of mashed chickpeas and blended with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.
It’s often served alongside pita bread and other types of flatbread.
Originating in the Middle East, falafels are deep-fried balls or patties made from spiced chickpeas or fava beans and herbs like parsley or cilantro.
They’re often eaten with hummus in a wrap or on their own as a snack.
Consisting of lentils and rice cooked together with onions and spices like cinnamon and allspice, mujaddara is a popular Middle Eastern side dish that’s commonly served at dinner time.
Kibbeh is a classic Levantine dish widely served in the Middle East & North Africa region; these deep-fried croquettes are typically filled with minced beef & burghul wheat stuffed inside bulgur shells and then fried until golden crisp!
Labneh is a soft cheese traditionally prepared from strained yogurt or kefir.
This creamy cheese has a tart flavor which pairs well when added to salads & mezze platters for some rich texture contrast!
13. Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades)
Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmades) are made by wrapping fresh grape leaves around seasoned mixtures of minced meat & rice before cooking them either in broth/water or steaming them directly over boiling water.
They can be enjoyed hot as part of a meze platter or cold as part of an appetizer plate!
14. Bamia Bil Zeit (Okra Stew)
Bamia Bil Zeit is a classic stew usually prepared using large chunks of fresh okra combined with aromatic spices such as turmeric & cumin, along with slices of potato & onion simmered together in a tomato-based sauce.
It’s both hearty & tasty when served alongside steamed rice!
15. Fassoulia Bel Zeit (Green Bean Stew)
Fassoulia Bel Zeit is another popular stew from the middle east. It is one of the perfect choices for middle eastern side dishes.
It’s prepared by simmering green beans in a tomato base along with garlic cloves & warming spices to create an incredibly flavorful side dish that goes great when served alongside steamed basmati rice!
16. Kishik Soup (Kashk O’ Bademjan)
An incredibly unique soup originally hailing from Iran. It’s made by combining flavorful ingredients like dried yogurt flakes (Kishik) cooked down until thickened.
Then add sautéed eggplant cubes to finish off the soup – it’s comforting yet nutritious& deliciously satisfying too!
17. Stuffed Peppers (Imam Bayildi)
Taking inspiration from Turkish cuisine, these stuffed peppers are often filled with fragrant ingredients like onion, garlic, tomato, dill, parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, allspice etc., before being baked until tender.
It makes for an amazing veggie-centric meal, perfect when shared amongst friends and family alike!
Explore More: Best Sides to Serve with Stuffed Peppers
18. Warak Inab Banadoura
Warak Inab Banadoura is also known as ‘stuffed vine leaves’.
This traditional Syrian dish consists of vine leaves stuffed with ground lamb, onion, diced tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, currants, cinnamon, allspice etc., before being cooked slowly into savory perfection, making for one incredibly indulgent meal!
19. Moutabal Bil Zayt (Baba Ghanoush 2)
An exciting twist on the classic baba ghanoush, Moutabal bil zayt is prepared using grilled aubergines blended together with tahini paste, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt pepper, cumin, paprika, sumac, chili pepper etc.
This results in an incredibly rich taste that works great paired up against warm pita bread!!
20. Foul Mudamas
A rustic yet flavorful dish, Foul Mamas is prepared by cooking fava beans with garlic, onions, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, parsley, chili pepper etc., for an amazingly tasty side that goes great with some warm pita or as a filling in wraps.
21. Maqluba (Upside Down Rice)
Maqluba is a traditional Levantine dish. It is perfect for middle eastern side dishes.
It is often made by layering fragrant ingredients like spiced chicken, fried cauliflower & potatoes with basmati rice before flipping it upside-down onto a platter to create an impressive meal that’s sure to wow any dinner guest!
Flaky layers of phyllo dough filled with crushed nuts & sweetened with syrup or honey. (Recipe)
This deliciously decadent dessert is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth & make for a delightful ending to your meal!
23. Znoud El Sit
Sweet & flaky rolls made from phyllo pastry dough filled with either cream cheese or nutty filling like walnuts, almonds etc.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to tea/coffee after dinner & an amazing way to finish off an evening of delicious North African cuisine.
Learn More: Creative Side Dishes to Round Out the Perfect Tri-Tip Meal
24 Kaak (Sesame Bread)
Kaak is a traditional Arabic flatbread; kaak is made by combining sesame seeds with yeast, sugar and warm water before baking until golden and crisp.
It’s a great option for breakfast, snacking or as part of a bigger meal!
Best middle eastern vegetable dishes
Mouth-watering Middle Eastern vegetable dishes are a must-have on any table.
From hearty stews to stuffed vegetables, these recipes incorporate the freshest and most flavorful ingredients to create dishes with complex textures and flavors.
Here are some of the best Middle Eastern vegetable dishes that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
1. Stuffed Grape Leaves
A popular appetizer, stuffed grape leaves (dolma) are made by rolling a mixture of seasoned rice and herbs in grape leaves and steaming them until tender.
The filling can also be made with bulgur wheat or lentils for added nutrition.
Hummus is a creamy dip and is one of the most beloved dishes in the Middle East and beyond.
Made from cooked chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, it’s full of flavor and nutrition. Serve with wedges of pita bread for dipping or as a spread for sandwiches.
Kibbeh is a traditional dish consisting of ground lamb or beef mixed with bulgur wheat and spices before being formed into balls or patties and fried.
The inside is usually filled with sautéed onions, pine nuts, currants and spices like cumin, allspice and cinnamon for an earthy flavor that melts in your mouth.
4. Baba Ganoush
Another beloved dip of the region is baba ganoush – roasted eggplant mashed together with tahini sauce, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings like cumin or sumac for a smoky flavor.
Serve as an appetizer alongside fresh vegetables or spread onto toasted baguette slices for a delicious snack or light meal.
Fatteh is a comforting dish that originated in Palestine but has since become widely popular across the region.
Thanks to its tasty combination of crisp pita chips layered on top of creamy hummus topped off with sautéed onions, garlic cloves, almonds, and fragrant spices like cinnamon or nutmeg served over boiled chickpeas sprinkled with yogurt or tahini sauce – yum!
Falafel is fried balls made from ground chickpeas are one of the most well-known foods from the Middle East thanks to their crunchy exterior encasing flavorful interiors spiced up with herbs like parsley or cilantro along with warm spices like coriander and cumin.
Perfect when served as part of a salad wrap sandwich!
7 Spicy Fattoush Salad
Spicy Fattoush Salad is a bright salad packed full of vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumber peppers tossed together in olive oil dressing infused with zesty Sumac spice.
Then topped off with crispy fried pieces of Pita bread, making it both nutritious & delicious!
8 Tabbouleh Salad
Bursting with flavors, this healthy salad combines fine diced tomatoes & cucumbers along with finely chopped parsley & mint leaves, all tossed together in a lemony dressing and then topped off with cracked bulgur wheat & pine nuts giving it an irresistible nutty taste that no one can resist!
9. Tomato & Eggplant Stew
A staple comfort food, Tomato & Eggplant Stew combines chunks of potato & eggplant simmered in tomato sauce alongside garlic cloves & fragrant spices like turmeric & coriander, giving it an amazing depth of flavor that will make your taste buds dance!
10. Punkin/Squash Kibbeh
A vegetarian twist on this traditional classic kibbeh, this version uses punkin’ squash instead beef/lamb; however, it still keeps its original shape minus stuffing which is replaced by sautéed onion& potatoes, creating an equally delicious meal without meat!
These Middle Eastern vegetable dishes are sure to add flavor and excitement to your meal.
With the right ingredients, you can create meals that will tantalize even the pickiest eaters. Try one of these delicious recipes today!
5 best middle eastern side dishes for lamb
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern dish made up of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, and onions mixed with bulgur wheat and a variety of flavorful herbs and spices.
It’s light and refreshing, making it an ideal side dish for lamb dishes like kofta kebabs or roasted lamb chops.
Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese salad composed of toasted or fried pita chips, cucumbers, tomatoes, greens, radishes and other vegetables tossed together with a zesty lemon-sumac dressing.
This salad adds a bright burst of flavor to any lamb dish.
A hearty vegetarian dish consisting of lentils cooked with onion, garlic and fragrant spices like cumin and cinnamon.
Mujadara can be served as a main course or as a side to accompany lamb entrees like shish tawook or roasted leg of lamb.
4. Baba Ghanoush
Baba Ghanoush is a popular Middle Eastern dip made from mashed cooked eggplant blended with tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.
Baba ghanoush adds a creamy texture and smoky flavor to any lamb dish.
Hummus is a classic chickpea spread made from ground garbanzo beans flavored with garlic, tahini sesame paste, and lemon juice is a staple in the Middle East that pairs perfectly with savory Lamb dishes such as kebabs or stuffed meatballs called kibbeh nayeh.
7 mouthwatering middle eastern side dishes for fish
1. Baba Ganoush
This roasted eggplant dip is a popular side dish in the Middle East that pairs wonderfully with fish. It’s made with mashed eggplant blended with tahini, olive oil, and garlic, giving it a savory flavor. It’s often topped with chopped parsley or mint for extra flavor.
Tabbouleh is a classic Lebanese salad that features bulgur wheat mixed with vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley.
It’s lightly tossed in olive oil and seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. The refreshing flavors of the vegetables perfectly balance out the rich flavors of fish dishes.
Muhammara is a spicy red pepper dip from Syria and Turkey that’s made of roasted red peppers blended with spices such as cumin, chili powder, and paprika.
It has a delicious smoky kick that adds an interesting depth to fish dishes – making it perfect for those who enjoy bold flavors!
Dolmas stuffed grape leaves are ubiquitous in Middle Eastern countries and make a great accompaniment to any meal featuring fish.
They’re typically filled with either ground beef or rice cooked in a mixture of herbs such as mint, dill, oregano, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg before being rolled up into grape leaves.
Hummus is a creamy chickpea dip that is loved throughout the Middle East for its versatility – it can be served as an appetizer or side dish for any type of main course, including fish dishes!
Hummus is made using mashed chickpeas blended together with tahini sesame paste and plenty of garlic for an intensely flavored dip or spread!
6. Israeli salad
Israeli salad is a simple salad made from diced vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, onions cucumbers combined with fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley or mint leaves.
Tossed all together in a light vinaigrette dressing so you can enjoy all the flavors without overpowering your main course of fish.
Tzatziki is a Greek yogurt-based dip featuring grated cucumber, garlic and some combination of fresh dill weed, mint leaves, salt and black pepper.
Perfectly complements grilled fish dishes or can be used as a spread on sandwiches with fish fillings.
What are the best flavors to go with Middle Eastern dishes?
The combination of flavors used in Middle Eastern dishes provides a unique and savory experience. Common spices used are cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, paprika, cinnamon and sumac.
To compliment these flavors, there are many herbs like parsley and mint that can be used to bring out the flavor of any dish.
Some of the best flavors for Middle Eastern cuisine include citrus fruits such as lemon or lime juice; nutty elements like sesame or pine nuts; sweet ingredients like honey or dates; and earthy aromatics such as garlic or onion.
Adding a splash of olive oil to dishes gives them an added richness, while yogurt is often used to cool down spicier dishes.
Using different combinations of these ingredients, you can create a wide range of flavorful dishes.
For those looking to explore Middle Eastern cuisine, there are many exciting flavor combinations that can be used to make delicious dishes.
Experimenting with different herbs and spices will allow you to find the perfect flavor profile for your meal.
So, whether it’s roasted vegetables topped with olive oil and parsley or a creamy yogurt-based dip spiced up with cumin and sumac.
You’re sure to find some delectable flavors when cooking Middle Eastern dishes!
How do you display a middle eastern side dish on a platter at a party?
When displaying a middle eastern side dish on a platter at a party, it is important to use vibrant colors and flavors that will tantalize the taste buds of your guests.
Consider arranging items like colorful vegetables, pickled foods, olives, fresh herbs, nuts, dried fruits and warm flatbreads in an eye-catching way.
Greek or Middle Eastern dishes often feature roasted meats as well; these can be arranged around the other items to create an attractive presentation.
Add some finishing touches by adding decorative elements such as sprigs of brightly colored flowers or leaves for extra visual appeal.
Before bringing out the platter to serve your guests, make sure you have plenty of sauces and condiments available for those who want to add extra flavor to the dish.
Finally, don’t forget to include a pair of tongs or spoons so that everyone can help themselves without making too much mess! Enjoy your middle eastern side dish platter!
Middle Eastern cuisine is a treasure trove of bold flavors, exotic spices, and unique ingredients. It offers a wealth of flavorful and delicious side dishes that can be enjoyed on their own or paired with your favorite main courses.
Whether you’re a fan of creamy dips, fresh salads, or hearty side dishes, there’s something for everyone in Middle Eastern cuisine.
These dishes are perfect for spicing up your weekly meal rotations or impressing your guests with something new and exciting.
Explore and experiment with these recipes and let your taste buds take a journey to the Middle East!
What are popular Middle Eastern foods?
Middle Eastern cuisine is known for its variety of flavors, aromas, and spices.
Popular dishes include hummus, falafel, kebabs, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, shawarma, kofta, biryani and a variety of flavorful rice dishes.
In some Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and Syria, meze platters are popular appetizers that contain various types of dips, such as hummus and baba ghanoush as well as vegetables and other delicacies.
Many Middle Eastern desserts also have a unique taste due to the use of nuts and honey in them.
The most popular dessert is Halva which is made from sesame seeds ground into a paste with sugar, butter and other flavors.
Baklava is another popular Middle Eastern dessert made of layers of phyllo dough filled with a variety of nuts and soaked in sugar syrup or honey.
Other popular desserts include Kunafa, a sweet cheese pastry, and Um Ali, an almond-based pudding.