Falafel and hummus have now become a staple part of the standard culinary vocabulary in the US right now and this doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how delicious Middle Eastern food can be.
However, these are not the only foods you can buy from Los Angeles Arabic supermarkets. Here are other ingredients that deserve a spot in your Middle Eastern kitchen:
Olive oil is often thought of in a Mediterranean context, this is actually a foundation of Middle Eastern cooking drizzled over different dishes at its most basic as a condiment. It offers numerous health benefits that there is no reason for you not to add to your cooking.
The pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient times, with roots in Iran and available in different forms all over the Middle East, from the sweet molasses you can find in most markets all over the region to Afghanistan’s street juice stands.
Dry and powdered sumac in dark brick red can add a touch of color to any meal. This spice is also important in tabbouleh, za’atar, and Fattoush. This is common in the Middle East, specifically in Lebanon. Its fruity and tart flavor adds acidity to dishes.
Sesame Seeds or Tahini
Appetizer favorites baba ganoush and hummus share one thing in common, and this is tahini. This paste made from hulled and ground sesame seeds can be made on your own using a food processor by grinding sesame seeds and adding some oil.
Tahini can also be used in non-traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Sesame seeds themselves are common in Middle Eastern cooking as well, mainly in sweet pastries such as sesame seed cookies.
Yogurt has always been a well-known food in the Middle East for many centuries and is usually mixed into a sauce to serve as a side dish or with meats. This is often mixed with cilantro, dill, and cucumbers.
By tradition, yogurt used in Middle Eastern cooking has a thick consistency, and there is also the popular Labneh, a spreadable and soft cheese made from yogurt. The easiest way to achieve a thicker consistency is to strain the yogurt using a cheesecloth for several hours in the refrigerator.
A common spice blend in the Middle East, Za’atar also means “wild thyme.” The thyme is often crushed together with sesame seeds and sumac to create a spice blend. However, there are a lot of variations depending on the specific region where it is made.
Either way, most of the spice tends to be made of oregano or thyme. The spice blend is also used as a table condiment that can be sprinkled on vegetables, meats, or whatever needs flavoring.
Lemons have been a staple of Middle Eastern cooking for the longest time. You will often find preserved lemons added to dishes. When you preserve them yourself, you can also keep this citrus handy for a longer time compared to fresh ones.
Other ingredients you can get from Arabic supermarkets include couscous, bulgur, mint, saffron, and feta.