Hi. My name is Rachelle, and I’m addicted to Middle Eastern food. I was born and raised in Detroit—and the nearby city of Dearborn is home to one of the largest populations of people from the Middle East in the country, so I’ve always been surrounded by delicious food. But it wasn’t until after I went vegan that I became more adventurous and started trying new things. It’s been a love affair ever since. me-olives-arab-feature-crop You may not know that tons of traditional Middle Eastern foods are naturally vegan. In fact, you may not even know what Middle Eastern food is. But that’s OK—I’ve got you!

Find your local Middle Eastern restaurant ASAP.

Food for one—if you're me

Food for one—if you’re me

Here’s the need to know:

Hummus (aka “the only food you ever really need”)

All right, you guys, you all love hummus, right? Hummus—you know, the most delicious chickpea-based food ever? You can eat this LIFE-CHANGING spread on its own, smear it on veggies and crackers, use it on sammies in place of mayo, take baths in—whoa, this just got too real.

Hummus is a spread made of chickpeas, tahini (a sesame seed paste), lemon, olive oil, and spices. You can find it at every middle eastern restaurant and now at every grocery store! 

hummus-arab-feature

Falafel

If you haven’t had falafel, you haven’t lived. Falafel is a ball or patty made up of spices and chickpeas—and usually wrapped up with tahini or hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickled vegetables, in pita bread.  

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is a light and fresh salad made of chopped parsley, bulgur wheat (or quinoa–which is super popular right now), onions, tomatoes, lemon, mint, and seasonings. It’s great in a sandwich with falafel, or on it’s own with some pita bread and tahini. 

Fattoush

If I were on a desert island and could only eat one food, this would be it. Fattoush means “bread salad.” This tangy lemony salad is tossed with crunchy pita chips and the Arabic spices sumac and za’atar. Damn, y’all.

 
Toum (the white sauce in the container) is a traditional Lebanese garlic and lemon sauce that's often served alongside salad or as a dipping sauce.

Toum (the white sauce in the container) is a traditional Lebanese garlic and lemon sauce that’s often served alongside salad or as a dipping sauce.

Muhammarah

Not only is Middle Eastern food fun to eat, it’s also fun to say. Say it with me: Muhammaraaaaaah. This dish—which is usually made with red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate—is spicy, sweet, and savory. (Check out this great recipe from TheVegLife.com!)

Roasted-Red-Pepper-Walnut-D
TheVegLife.com  
 

Dolmas

Dolmas—or stuffed grape leaves—have gone mainstream. You can even find them at Trader Joe’s! These tiny little wraps are stuffed with rice, herbs, and spices (and sometimes, tomatoes and other veggies). Dip them in hummus or tahini or wrap ’em up with tabbouleh and hummus!

Mezze Platter

So you’re at a restaurant, and you want hummus, but you also want dolmas—and you’re itching to try the baba ghanoush. Well, you’re in luck! Most Middle Eastern restaurants offer a vegetarian mezze platter that has all the best stuff. I mean, come on, look at this—DAYUM. If you’re not drooling by now, you might wanna see a doctor. mezze-1-arab-feature mezze-2-arab-feature

Mujaddara

Mujaddara is a yummy mix of lentils, rice, and spices, topped with caramelized onions. It sounds pretty basic, but it’s healthy, flavorful, and delish. You can also top it with tahini, eggplant, tomatoes, and more. If you’re ordering at a restaurant, just make sure to ask for no melted butter on top. Mmmm

 

Find Middle Eastern foods at the grocery store!

You don’t need to have a Middle Eastern restaurant near you to get your nom on. Places like Trader Joe’s sell tahini (a crucial element in hummus—and it’s super-tasty on its own, too), hummus, tabbouleh, and more. Check out the “Natural Foods” section or the international aisle of your local grocery store. Here are my fave Middle Eastern–inspired recipes to make at home:

Shawarma

Made with vegan meat, because what kind of an asshole eats a lamb?! Vegan Gyro

Falafel Salad

Lemon-Tahini Veggie Bowl

tahini rice bowl

Baked Eggplant Marinated with Za’atar 

Going vegan doesn’t mean compromising on the flavor, and Middle Eastern food proves it!
 

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