A good Arab meal is not only made raw sfihas and kibbehs. The famous spices of the East that seduced the Old Continent, make all the difference in these dishes. In addition to the seasoning universe, the hallmark of these delicacies is the exquisite mixture of meats and vegetables introduced in Brazil by the Syrian and Lebanese community, whose population in the country was estimated at 10,000 people in 2001.
“Our cuisine has a lot of vegetables too. Carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables are always used in recipes. Nobody eats too much meat ”says the Lebanese naturalized Brazilian Samir Jomaa, who alongside his brother, Armando, owns Shabab 's, a traditional stronghold of Arab cuisine in Santo André.
In addition to being very tasty and nutritious, Arab cuisine is suitable for party days, since the recipes were designed exactly to accommodate guests. “One of the main characteristics is really the abundance. Arabs like to receive well, with tables full of food and expect people to eat a lot. And all the time, ”says Beto Isaac, owner and chef of the Arabesco restaurant. “And Arab cuisine is also very popular in other corners of the world. To this day I still think if the hamburger was actually invented in Europe, since it looks a lot like a derivative of kafta (spiced meat skewer) ”, says Isaac.
The dishes have a huge variety of flavors and can adapt to different occasions. The lamb with ginger, for example, is a dish for occasions when several people are received. Lightness and practicality are the hallmarks of sandwiches on flatbread and one of the most popular salads in this cuisine, the tabbouleh, which mixes tomatoes, onions and cucumbers with the charming touch of wheat.
Flavors of Arab cuisine
The sheep is the main animal consumed. Its meat is roasted or stewed, usually stuffed and richly seasoned. Goat meat, chicken and turkey are also appreciated.
Among the grains, wheat, lentils, peas, chickpeas and rice stand out. Broad beans are typical of Egypt, present in fool midammis, a very thick bean-based soup, usually served during breakfast.
Vegetables and Vegetables
They are prepared stuffed and preserved. In Syria and Lebanon, they are called mehchi; in Turkey, dolmas; in Greece, dolmathes; in Iran, dolmeh. Among the main vegetables used are zucchini, cabbage, grape or vine leaves, chard, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Pickled vegetables, kabees or torshi are very popular and served as a starter or side dish.
They are essential in Arab cuisine.
Agricultural techniques have transformed the desert into fertile green fields, grapes, figs, pomegranates, plums, apricots, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts, dates, olives, guavas, mangoes, oranges, bananas, avocados and melons grow.
Fruits are found in natural markets, crystallized and dried. They are used in the preparation of cakes, puddings, syrups, jams, salads, meat stews, sweets, soft drinks, syrups and liqueurs.
They are widely used in Arab cuisine to give flavor or perfume to food. The most used are anise seed, caraway, clove, cumin, ginger, sumac, nutmeg, mace, sesame seed, garlic, onion, snubar and allspice. Herbs include basil, coriander, 7endro, fennel, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary and sage, turmeric and cardamom. And as flavorings, musk, amber, rose water and orange blossom water. It is common for each country to have its own mix of spices, found already ready in the trade. Syrians make bahar and Syrian pepper, which usually contains cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and black and white pepper. In Jordan and Lebanon, there is zahtar, a mixture of zahtar leaves, marjoram, thyme, roasted sesame seeds and the red and bitter sumac berries. Yemenis prefer zhug, cardamom paste, cumin, garlic and ground chili that makes your lips burn.
It is abundant on the Middle East coast. The main ones: red mullet, swordfish and marinated sardines. The dishes are seasoned with a rich ion of spices and sauces. At the table, everyone is drizzled with olive oil.
Always eat well
The abundant food at the table is known worldwide. Placing an Arab at a table with little variety of food, or ungenerous portions is a first-rate offense. For him, “tasting food” also has a connotation to fill the eye. There has to be a table full and ready. You need to be satisfied and see that there is still a lot left, even if this dish returns to the table the next day, along with others (this is not a problem, the seasoning will be better ...).
And to live up to that, no one can deny it, they developed a cuisine that was the most exuberant and extraordinarily rich. Everything in Arab food is eaten with bread.
We can risk saying that the limentos are eaten with the hands, without the cutlery. The bread, with the agility of the fingers, removes any food on the plate, bringing it tastefully to the mouth. Watching them eat with such taste, your mouth will automatically salivate, and you will feel like doing the same. They will say to you: “Coll habib, coll… sahténn” (“eat dear, eat… health”) and I hope you prove it, because if you don't, you will be committing the greatest offense, the penalty of which is death. Do not be surprised if he passes a piece of bread in the food and takes it directly to your mouth, making you eat. It's normal. Seeing you fall in love with the food and the taste of the food will make you more comfortable and happy.
Linked to both flavor and aromas, make the use of oriental spices a milestone. Everything proceeds with a condiment ritual, which cannot be missing any of the dishes.
In real Arab food (yes, because it also has that adapted to the Brazilian flavor), everything has a peculiar flavor, slightly apparent, but always peculiar. You put it in your mouth and feel something totally different what you have felt before. Some foods are even perfumed.
Grains are widely used in Arab cuisine: broad beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, wheat and more…. All combined with vegetables, fruits and even fruits such as pomegranates, apricots and a variety of dried fruits and nuts that give an aristocratic air, an exotic flavor when combined with spices.
For us in the West, it is pure delight.
The flavors and aromas of this rich cuisine show us why so many oriental kings have a passion for variety and abundance: pure pleasure for the human senses and the soul. Eating well dignifies existence.
The satisfaction of seeing your guest satisfied with a meal touches on generosity. Do you want to see a suspicious and angry Arab up close? Refuse food offered or eat little at your table. Not only will you ignite it, but it will visibly change your mood.
Therefore, always eat without fear of being happy and leaving the blame for the next day.
Taste, in the near future, will order these delicacies and for sure, you too will be bewitched forever. At home, there are days when I wake up, when I am coerced by my taste (or my will !!!), to eat a falafel (bean cake, typical Egyptian), or a kibe labaniye (kibe with a curd soup), or a wonderful mjadra (rice with lentils). It makes your mouth water, just to talk ...
Many people know Arab food only due to the spread of fast food, however it goes far beyond sfihas and kibbehs. The Arabs have passed through more than 4000 years of history, with that their culture has been influenced by its dissemination.
Defining the origin of Arab cuisine is a complicated task, some believe that it was civilizations that populated the “fertile crescent” (region of Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) that spread to neighboring countries like Egypt, Crete and Persia. In these rivers, in addition to fishing, irrigation systems were already used to grow vegetables, cereals and fruits. Milk was used to make curds and other derivatives.
It is noted that the variety is enormous not only in the foods and spices used, but mainly in the preferences of the different peoples and cultures that were all included in a group called Arabs.
When we go into the item herbs and spices, a famous icon of the Middle East, we must be very careful, even though we know that the possibility of combinations of these are numerous, as these people highly value the taste of the food they will consume. Therefore, these spices should only serve to enhance the flavor by adding them in the right amount. For example, there are those who do not like to mix mint in the kebab because they believe that the flavor of the meat is lost. So that we can know a little of these seasonings, a short list is below.
Cinnamon - kirfy
Although there is a huge variety, the ones used are Ceylon cinnamon and China cinnamon that appear indistinctly in sweet and savory dishes.
Cloves kabssh kurnful
One of the oldest spices used in sweets. When in savory dishes, it is usually associated with cinnamon.
Mint - naaná
Cited in Greek mythology it is indispensable in tabouleh and countless other dishes.
Small beans used only to make soups. seed found only in Arab emporiums, crushed and applied as a pasta flavoring.
Wheat - burghul
Sold in different ways, each has its usefulness:
whole wheat: for soups (should always soak the day before)
coarse wheat: used as a substitute for rice
fine wheat: to make kibbeh, tabouleh.
The Arab people conquered a great empire over the entire Middle East, part of Asia, North Africa, Sicily, Spain and Portugal. However, this civilization began to decline the 11th century, losing space to the Turks.
Arab families then began to cultivate their customs generation to generation persistently so that everything is not lost. Each family certainly has a unique version of recipes that were dictated by word of mouth and that have been maintained throughout these years.
So, the next time you go to eat some Arab dish try to find out the origin of it, I'm sure it will be an adventure in the history of many Arab ancestors.