several: Hamah, Syria
- "the bakery", but it's not called like this, since the sign is only in arabic. It sells gigantic chocolate croissants and cakes
Directions: sharia al quwatli. As u leave the Cairo hotel, turn left and walk about 3 blocks. It's the shop with the fake marble front
FULL MEALS AND SNACKS
- "al Marakheb Bridge restaurant" is a nice restuarant on the river facing the norias. Great mezzes and nice cups of chai. They might also serve full meals.
Directions: al Marakheb Bridge on the orontes river, near sharia abu al feda, where the microbuses depart.
Favorite Dish: see my hama page for more details
Restaurant Palmyra: Baalbeck, Lebanon
Food problems in Baalbeck: we tried several restaurants and none of them looked like a restaurant. We were not tempted. The other option would have been some sort of fast-food-lookalike places - once again we were not tempted. At that point we were getting desperate - and especially hungry... until we had a brilliant idea: the Palmyra Hotel would surely have a restaurant. It did, indeed, and it looked magnifically decandent... as if only ghosts have been eating there in the past 100 years. OK, we said...
Favorite Dish: Simple food, like the usual kebabs and mezzes... at the start of our meal we were brought a huge plate of veggies... and equally huge was the fruit bowl we were given at the end of our meal. The best, however was the... hummus! The best hummus I have ever had - delicious and not swimming
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ALHAMRA'A RESTAURANT (YEMEN): UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE
This Restaurant has everything! And you don’t have to speak a single word of Arabic to get a good meal. The Alhamra’a Restaurant looks like a McDonald's Restaurant from the outside and like a Kebab shop in the entrance. Don’t let that fool you. This is a large complex that includes the following:
• Fast Food (shwarmas, etc.)
• Full Service, but fast restaurant
• Family orientated restaurant
• Lovely garden area with a large fountain
• Dinning hall for large events
• Prayer area
• Clean Toilets and wash area
• Hygienic cooking areas/staff
Above all it has great food! And the best part is this:
Where the cashier is located is one real example of every food item and drink they do, covered up. They do this every day. You can see what they make, as they make it, and the price is written on each one. Look closer at the 2nd picture. Great food, great prices and the staff could not be more friendly. They do local dishes and do them well. A fantastic experience and worth a visit. Enjoy.
I am not normally a lover of Lamb, but the oven roasted lamb was excellent and a kebab here is to die for. Everything is made fresh and hot. Ask the staff if you can take a picture and they will pose for you!
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Local Arabic cold drinks
I `m often asked about Syrian/Arabic cuisine from foodie travellers on the forums so here you go ....
Kindly note that i`ll be writing about food and drink from the levant , mainly Syrian of which some are common or found in other parts of the Arab world too as the cuisine varies accordingly.The levantine consist of mainly Syria /Leb./Jor.... All photos here on the travelogues were taken by me earlier on as i `m merely transfering them from my past blogs about Arabic culture which i no longer contribute to and have discontinued.
Local cold drinks or juices associated more so with the fasting month of Ramadan and available throughout the year are Laban or Laban Airaan which is a yoghurt based drink , Kamaredeen an apricot based drink and Tamar Hindi made from tamarind as well as Jalab made from blackberries,it helps to know the names and constituents just incase you visit during this period as they are served in all eateries and throughout the year in local cafes.
I took this photo at an iftar buffet a while back.Iftar means breaking the fast.
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Arabic Cuisine: General view
Arabic cuisine has its roots in tent cookery.Nomadic tribes could use only transportable foods such as rice and dates, or ambulatory stock like sheep and camels in their recipes - which tended to be rough sketches rather than strict formulae.Originally, the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula relied heavily on a diet of dates, wheat, barley, rice and meat,with a heavy emphasis on yogurt products, such as laban.The nomadic Bedouin influence is broadened by other cuisines from the Arab world, notably from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt.Arabian cuisine today is the result of a combination of richly diverse cuisines, incorporating the Levant Cuisine,Egyptian Cuisine and the distinctive Cuisines of the Arabian Gulf & Yemen and The North African Arab countries resulting in a highly diverse food and drink culture.The Levant countries primarily Syria and Lebanon `s contributions,have been the greatest influence on modern Middle Eastern cuisine, and has helped to spread Arabic cuisine throughout the world from its centre in the Levant in such areas as Aleppo, Damascus, Beirut and Nablus.
Hospitality in the Arab world is second to none, and nowhere is it better expressed than in the age-old custom of serving freshly-brewed coffee or mint tea to every guest, whether the gathering be business or social.Essential to any cooking in the Arabian Peninsula is the concept of hospitality. Meals are generally large family affairs, with much sharing and a great deal of warmth over the dinnertable. Formal dinners and celebrations generally entail large quantities of lamb, and every occasion entails large quantities of Arabic coffee.In an average Arab gulf state household, a visitor might expect a dinner consisting of a very large platter, shared commonly, with a vast mountain of rice, incorporating lamb or chicken, or both, as separate dishes, with various stewed vegetables,sometimes with a tomato sauce. Most likely, there would be several other items on the side. Tea would certainly accompany the meal,as it is almost constantly consumed. Coffee would be included as well.There are many regional differences in Arab cuisine. For instance mujadara which is a rice lentil dish in Syria or Lebanon is different from mujadara in Jordan or Palastine or Egypt.Some dishes such as mansaf (the national dish of Jordan) are native to certain countries and rarely if ever make an appearance in other countries.Cinnamon is used in meat dishes as well as in sweets such as Baklawa.Other desserts include variations of rice pudding and fried dough. Ground nut mixtures are common fillings for such treats. Saffron is used in everything, from sweets, to rice, to beverages. Fruit juices are quite popular in this often arid region.
The foreigner who takes time to learn and experiment with this excellent cuisine will be immediately won over and rewarded with many wonderful surprises. Arabic food can rival any international gastronomy for originality and good taste, and, because it basically comprises simple, natural and easily digested foodstuffs, it ranks high in nutritional value with today's fitness-conscious society.
Favorite Dish: It is Customary in Syr./Leb. cuisine to put a huge or large platter of whole vegetables on the table in restaurants which should be complimentary most of the time .
Kharouf Mahshi meaning Stuffed Lamb in the levant and another version of it cooked differently called Qouzi in the gulf is the star of Arabic cuisine , The Syrian version has cinnamon, pine seeds ,ground beef ,nutmeg ,mild spices ..etc. incorporated in the rice but the Arabian Gulf countries version is more spicy with tumeric,raisins , hard boiled eggs ,cloves...etc.
It is served as a daily dish ( a portion ) along side a cucumber youghurt dip and green salad and as a whole in Buffets ,weddings or special occassions .
Arabic Cuisine: Main Dishes
Main dishes constitue of various kinds of kebabs be it chicken ,meat or even fish , either minced or marinated chunks .
Reyaash which are grilled lamb chops .
Mahshi which is stuffed vegetables such as aubergines,courgetts,tomatoes ,vine leaves,cabbage ,onions,lettuce ,..etc.), there are two kinds ,hot and cold .The cold one is stuffed with rice and herbs and cooked with olive oil, the other version has minced meat and is cooked in a tomato mint stew.
Various rice dishes such as makloubeh ( rice cooked with meat ,aubergine ,cinnamon and pine seeds)and white rice cooked usually cooked with vermicilli accompanied along with many kinds of vegetable meat stews.
Frekkeh a dish made with buckwhaet or cracked wheat /meat or chicken garnished with almonds & pine seeds.
Plus various dishes cooked in a yoghurt minty sauce like kousah bil laban ,sheikh al mehshi, shakriyeeh , kibbeh bil laban meaning stuffed zucchini or meat chunks or kibbeh cooked in a yoghurt sauce .
Note that Syrian and levant cooking uses lots of nuts and pine seeds for garnishing and rice dishes are usually accompanied by a side dish of Laban Rayeeb meaning a yoghurty dish usually yoghurt with cucumber ,mint and olive oil . Syrian yoghurt is second to none.
for a more comprehensive explanation and photos of Syrian dishes and cooking refer to my Damascus food travelogue.
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Arabic Cuisine: Desserts & Sweets
The first photo is riz bil haleeb ,arabic rice milk pudding
Aish Al saraya which means bread of the palace is a desert made with toasted crumbled bread with a sugary syrup topped with clotted cream and pistachio.
Third photos shows clockwise cream caramel , custard ,Kashtallia in the center , white color milk clotted cream pudding topped with pista . Katayef which comes in various varities and shapes and is popular during the holy fasting month of Ramadan the one here being katayeef asafeerah more like a small pan cake folded and tucked together at one endto make a cone which is then stuffed with clotted cream topped with pista sprinkled with honey or syrup called Ahtter.
A bowl of syrup is usually put on the side as shown.
For more on Arabic desserts check Damascus travelogue.
beduin restaurant: Palmyra, Syria
the restaurant is actually the cleanest -looking of all restaurants in Palmyra, and the place where the few tourists seemed to eat. Fortunately the food was quite good, and the owner friendly
Favorite Dish: the shish kebab was extremely delicious, the falafel ok and the hummus well, acceptable. However, but I did not taste it, the restaurant specialises in traditional beduin mensaff... the other people at the restaurant really seemed to love it
Middle Eastern Cuisine*
The Middle Eastern cuisine vary from country to another,but in general it`s Kosher(containg no pork),also it has many dishes that are tottaly vegetarian.
In Lebanon and Syria it`s famous for it`s stuffed vine leaves,Hummus dip and Shawarma(like Gyros).
In Jordan there the (Ma`loobeh)it`s a dish prepared with rice and egg plants.
In Palstine it`s famous for (Al Misakhan)it`s chicken rolled in bread with lots of onions.
And in Saudi Arabia it`s famous for the national rice dish called(Kabsah)served with mutton meat.
The middle eastern cuisine is spicy though not as much as the Indian cuisine,,but Arabs in general tend to add spices to their food as well.
Favorite Dish: If I`m going to start on what`s my favorite dish,,it will take me many pages to tell.
I almost love most dishes,but the ones are the best is the ones cooked and prepared by my mother ;-)
Fakher All Deen Restaurant: Fakher All Deen Restaurant
This is a true Jordanian Restaraunt, with a wealth of pure Arabic food. the price is very cheap and it is the place that the people af Amman got to not generally the tourists.
Favorite Dish: 'Mahshi Waraq inab', vine leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice and spices.
Our favorite restaruant was in...
Our favorite restaruant was in Izmir called Sine. VERY good and very resonably priced.
In Yalikavak our favorite was Gulten Abla's, family run and wonderful food and atmosphere!
Favorite Dish: At Sine's the shish is wonderful and well as the mercimek chorba (lentil soup)! Ask for pilav on the side, yummy!
In Dubai my favourite...
In Dubai my favourite restaurant is at the Emirates Gulf Club,followed by the Beachcomber at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.In bahrain it is Jims Restaurant located in 'Shawama Avenue' in Adaliyah
Emirates Gulf Club is Quality dining,good atmosphere, no rush,service is there always but unobtrusive,fine wine selection.
Jims is more relaxed with a feeling of being in his front room.A fine mixture of Arabic and Irish decor lends itself to be the sort of place you want to return to.
Favorite Dish: The menu's at both places are constantly changing so it is one of the nice things about both paces that there is always something new to be tried.Both restaurants have usually a good selection of se-food which is very good in quality and always fresh.The Emirates has a French Chef who is well known and Jims is of an Irish extraction
Who needs restaurants? There...
Who needs restaurants? There are always small stalls on the street selling various and sundry goodies to keep the hungries at bay. Fortunately, in both the Gulf and the Levant, you needn't worry about getting sick from street food. You can get kebabs, shwarmas, which are the same as gyros, humos, rotisseried chickens, etc. on seemingly every street corner. And during the fasting month of Ramadhan, the choice is even wider -- at night, of course!
Photo: A shwarma seller in Oman.
Oddly enough it is very...
Oddly enough it was very difficult to find restaurants that specialized in Arab cuisine. Oriental and Indian restaurants outnumber all others (at least that was the state of things when my parents left in 1995).
In general, the style and taste of the oriental restaurants is close to American Chinese and Japanese, but with slightly different flavors and better quality. No strange un-meat-like meat here and the portions are twice as big! There are also many great Indian, Philipino, Thai and Korean places to eat.
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OLD (Y)EREVAN RESTAURANT: A BIT OF PAGEANTRY IN ARMENIA
For some reason the entrance to this interesting restaurant looks like an expensive clothing boutique or upscale bookshop. The restaurant is actually upstairs. This massive entrance room has pictures of some of the many famous celebrities and politicians who have dinned here and the obligatory coat check. Upstairs is the ornate dinning hall decorated with traditional art, crafts and even representations of food. Definitely picturesque. The service was friendly, prices reasonable and the beer cold.
I found the Khashlama (stew) a bit watery, but good. The vodka served was warm and they are a little unsure about when to bring out the rice. The cool part was when the musicians appeared from nowhere and put on a great show.
If you had just one night in Yerevan, this would not be a bad choice just for the atmosphere and décor. The food is ok at an ok price. It’s also very easy to find, so enjoy!
I had the ‘Yerevan Lights’ for a starter. This is a tasty stew with chicken, pork, potatoes, green beans, peppers served in a tomato based broth. Delicious. My main meal was Khashlama – a stew made with lamb in either beer or wine. Not sure, the menu was unsure, but I am assured that chef poured some alcohol into it. Maybe himself instead and/or in addition to my food.
I washed it all down with an indifferent tasting Kotayk and warm vodka.
Warm vodka....Related to:
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