When you think of Mediterranean cuisine, what comes to your mind? Hummus? Baba ghanoush? Tabbouleh? You’ve probably tasted or heard of one of these dishes before. Mediterranean cuisine is well-known for fresh, beautiful flavours and are fast gaining popularity for their plethora of health benefits associated with the diet.
Mediterranean cuisine is a combination of local foods and preparation methods used by people who live along the Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain, Greece, Egypt, Turkey and Syria. The Mediterranean diet is very rich in vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, potatoes, legumes, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and these are the primary components that are incorporated into the cuisine on a daily basis.
The basics of Mediterranean cuisines are olives, wheat and grapes and from these three, olive oil, bread and wine are produced. Other parts of the Mediterranean have taken the basics and adapted these foods to create a variety of unique dishes. Let’s take a look at some Mediterranean cuisine around the region.
Let’s start with Greece.
Greek food consists heavily of olive oil, vegetables, fresh seafood, wine, lamb, beef, lemon juice and cheese. We all know pita bread, a well-known Greek staple. But, do you know that pita bread is actually not served as a side bread but rather as a sandwich pocket for souvlaki, gyro and other sandwich fillings?
Dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves are typically filled with rice and herbs and then boiled till the leaves are tender. Gyro, another recognizable Greek food is meat that’s been cooked on a vertical rotisserie spit quite similar to the kebab.
Rich and savoury, Turkish food are famous for its meat-full skewers. Iman Bayildi is a spicy delight made of aubergines that are stuffed with a tomato, onion and garlic mixture and served with Pilaf. Borek is a flaky and delicious pastry filled with minced meat or spinach and cheese. It can be rolled and served as puffs or layered like lasagna. Looking for something sweet? Then try the Kunefe, a delightful dessert made with cheese, bread crumbs and pistachio nuts. Delicious and sinful, you won’t be able to stop with just one bite.
Syrian food represents the many cultures and civilizations of Syria. Syrian cuisine is similar to Levantine cuisines, mainly Lebanese, Palestinian, Jordanian and Iraqi cuisine. Kibbeh makes for a good introduction to Syrian cuisine, prepared using finely ground meat, bulgur, onions and traditional spices. In fact, it is so widely consumed that it is considered a national dish. Probably one of the most popular street foods, Shawarma is stuffed bread with shaved meat, onions, pickles, French fries and hummus.
Have you tried any Mediterranean cuisine? Which are your favourites?