The cuisine of Morocco is distinctive and delicious, including such traditional dishes as tagine (stew), couscous (steamed cracked durum wheat semolina), and kesra (an anise-scented bread). Fresh produce favorites include pump kin, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, tangerines, strawberries, Medjool dates, green beans, and bananas. Moroccan cuisine also relies heavily on seafood, sometimes marinated with charmoula, a stimulating combination of cumin, paprika, fresh herbs, and lemon juice. Spices characteristic of Mo roccan dishes include cumin, paprika, turmeric, Spanish saffron, cinnamon, and ginger. Meals are typically very low in fat and high in ﬁber, consisting primarily of grains, beans, and fresh vegetables and fruits (dried fruits are sometimes used in stews). Meat, seafood, and poultry are specialoccasion ingredients. Meals often end with fruit salad, and dessert usually consists of mint tea made with fresh spearmint, Morocco’s national drink. Algerian food is notoriously spicy with lots of sauces and ﬁsh dishes. Meals often start with soup or salad, then feature roast meat as a main course and fruit for dessert. Couscous is an Algerian staple, and French bread covered in spicy sauce as well as meat on skewers are available in many food stalls. Alcohol is expensive, and although Algeria produces some wines, they are generally not served in the country it self due to the Muslim prohibition of alcohol.
Tunisian cuisine has recently become popular. Tunisians are big fans of hot peppers. Common ingredients in the simple, healthful meals include nuts; olives; ﬁsh; olive oil; spiced octopus, squid, and shrimp; shredded greens; carrots; pumpkins; and zucchini. Vegetables and seafood are often blended or served separately with hot peppers, spices, lemon juice, and olive oil. Meals almost always begin with a salad of tomato, lettuce, onion, spices, and olives. Coriander, anise, cumin, and cinnamon are popular spices. Couscous is another mainstay. A fried pastry snack called brik is popular but not a daily part of the traditional diet. Other popular Tunisian specialties include chorba, a peppery soup; chakchouka, a ratatouille with chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and onions served with an egg; and tagine, a thick stew. Libyan cuisine is much like the cuisines of Algeria and Tunisia. Couscous is a mainstay. Spiced rice with meat and vegetables is a common meal. Libya is a Muslim country as well, and alcohol was banned by the government in 1969. Egyptian cuisine is inﬂuenced by the cuisines of Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. Common dishes in clude vegetable stews, rice and pasta, salads, and bread.
Some traditional dishes include fried eggplant, mixed or grilled salads often including grilled eggplant, beetroot, potato, mushrooms, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, cauliﬂower, tahini (sesame butter), artichokes, onions, spinach, and tomatoes; soups made with onion, tomato, yellow lentils, and other vegetables, and a variety of dried bean dishes; mixed dishes of ground meat, rice and lentils with tomato sauce, garlic and potatoes; stuffed grape leaves, walnut sauce, and a variety of breads. The cuisine of Lebanon has had an incredible inﬂuence on the world, considering the country’s small size. It is also in line with the components of the traditional Mediterranean diet: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Although chicken and lamb are the most common meats, animal products make up a small portion of the diet. Garlic and olive oil are the primary ﬂavorings, and butter and cream are rarely used.
Raw, cooked, and pickled vegetables make up a major part of most meals. Lebanon’s national dish is kibbeh, a fresh lamb-and-bulgur wheat paste similar to pâté, and sometimes served with yogurt sauce. Bread is a mainstay, present at every meal, often seasoned with olive oil. Several excellent Lebanese wines are available, but alcohol is al ways served with food. Like the tapas of Spain and the antipasti of Italy, mezze is a Lebanese collection of appetizers often including pickled vegetables, bread, seafood, and salads, both cooked and raw. Baklava, of Greek origin, is a popular Lebanese dessert. Coffee is served throughout the day, often ﬂavored with cardamom and heavily sweetened. Traditional Lebanese dishes include tabbouleh, a salad of bulgur wheat, parsley, and mint; fattoush, a toasted bread salad; hummus tahini, a paste of chickpeas, sesame butter, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley; and baba ghanouj, a roasted eggplant puree.
Traditional Turkish food includes many yogurt-based dishes, ﬁsh in olive oil, a variety of salads and stuffed vegetables including vine leaves, and the syrupy phyllo-pastry. desserts also popular in Greece and other Middle Eastern countries. The Turkish diet is still mostly in conformance with the traditional Mediterranean diet. Turkish vineyards produce wine grapes and yellow sultana raisins. Lamb and chicken are the most popular meats. Fresh ingredients are of primary importance, and produce is typically served season ally. Bread is a primary part of the Turkish diet. Popular local produce items include eggplants, olives, ﬁgs, pistachios, peaches, apricots, and several types of nuts, including pista chios and hazelnuts. Shish kebab and ﬂatbread are two classic Turkish dishes. Popular seasonings include mint, parsley, cinnamon, dill, garlic, pepper ﬂakes, and sumac. Turkish meals often include a zeytinagli, or olive oil course, in which various foods are prepared with olive oil. Minced meat dishes and seafood specialties are well known, and fruit is the most common dessert. Although Turkish coffee is famous worldwide, tea is a popular drink. Other traditional Turkish dishes include ashure, a cereal pudding with dried and fresh fruit and nuts; a yogurt drink called ayran; borek, a stuffed pastry; dolma, the term for any stuffed vegetable but most often referring to stuffed grape leaves; manti, a small, ravioli-like, meat-stuffed pastry; sis kofte, or shish kebab; and yufka, a ﬂatbread.
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