North African food is very spicy! It’s always good to learn to make a few dishes of your own, rather than just relying on store-bought ready-meals. One example of how we get it wrong is hummus. In North Africa, it’s always made fresh and served warm. Nothing like the cold greasy hummus in plastic tubs we have here. Make Your Own Tahini (Crowded Kitchen) with 2 recipes. Tahini is a calcium-rich creamed paste made from sesame seeds. Choose from plain or chocolate.
Use vegan butters with no palm oil. Use a reusable baking liner or unbleached parchment paper. Keep recipes away from pets, due to toxic ingredients.Homemade
Middle eastern cuisine is some of the most spicy on earth, and full of exotic ingredients like pomegranates, rosewater, orange blossom water (and lentils – okay not so exotic!) It’s great for plant-based meals, as the ingredients tend to be cheap and easy to cook (rice, beans, lentils) and the meals are often finished off with mint tea or strong black coffee.
This bowl of Creamy Pasta with Harissa (Pick Up Limes) is a nice change from tomato sauce. Harissa is a spicy sauce made with herbs, spices and chilli peppers, from the Maghreb region of North Africa. This dish is ready in just 15 minutes.
Here are some nice plant-based recipes and books to try, whether it’s your heritage, or you simply like Middle Eastern cuisine. Also see vegan alternatives to Halal (and Kosher) food. Both religions can be plant-based or vegetarian, if wished.
Plant-Based Middle Eastern Recipes
Za’atar Spiced Crispy Chickpeas (Crowded Kitchen) are a rich nutritious snack. Enjoy them alone or on salads, soups and grain bowls.
Easy Mushroom Shawarma (Crowded Kitchen) replaces the lamb with fungi. This spicy savoury dish can be made in a sheet pan, serve with dairy-free tzatziki, and warm pita.
- Try this recipe for tahini pasta (Crowded Kitchen). Makes a nice change from tomato sauce, and is very rich in calcium and protein.
- Middle Eastern Green Lentil Soup (Lands & Flavors) is a nice cheap and simple supper. It features tender lentils, hearty chickpeas and a spicy broth. Serve as is, or stir in some chopped greens.
- Mujadara (Crowded Kitchen) is a plant-based version of a classic Middle Eastern dish, made with lentils, quinoa, caramelized onions and a tahini yoghurt sauce.
- Middle Eastern Rice Pudding (Lands & Flavors) is a comforting and aromatic dessert. Scented with unique flavours and easy to adapt. Serve hot or chilled.
- Tahini Banana Bread (Short Girl, Tall Order) is the best recipe, free from refined sugar and sweetened with maple syrup. The perfect breakfast treat, it’s studded with vegan chocolate chips.
- Cranberry Pomegranate Tart (Addicted to Dates) blends the North American berry with the Middle Eastern fruit. It hasa roasted buckwheat base with buttery pecans, and is sweetened with coconut sugar.
- Pomegranate-Glazed Gingerbread Bundt Cake (Rainbow Plant Life) combines two winter tastes into one delicious sweet treat.
- Chocolate Tahini Freezer Fudge (Short Girl, Tall Order) is no-bake, easy to make and needs just 7 ingredients.
Plant-Based Middle Eastern Recipe Books
The Middle East is a melting pot of very spicy flavours, combined with cheap staples like rice and lentils. You will also find exotic floral waters (rose and orange) plus mastic, which tastes a bit like pine, often used for desserts. All washed down with mint tea or strong black coffee.
One controversial area of Middle Eastern food is its use of Halal meat, where animals are not stunned. But it’s perfectly possible to be vegan or vegetarian.
Vegan Recipes From the Middle East is a stunning collection of authentic recipes that are not just good for international foodies, but also offer plant-based recipes for Muslims (or anyone following Halal diets). By eliminating animal foods altogether, you can respect religions and be kind to animals at the same time.
The recipes in this book draw on the lands that offer rich and varied foods, based on grains, pulses, nuts, vegetables, fruits and spices. The author has focused on the varied cuisines of:
Whether a main course or traditional mezze, this book blends natural culinary delights from various food cultures, and combines them with contemporary approaches. The book features:
- Warm spicy stuffed vegetables
- Cool fragrant soups
- Delicate preserves
- Pilafs and breads
- Pickles & relishes
- Sweet pastries
Turkish coffee, boreks and an almond and rose cake decorated with rose petals add a touch of Middle Eastern promise, perfect for the long balmy days of summer. Epoch Times
Parvin Pazavi was born in Iran and spent her early years at the Caspian Sea and in Tehran, until the family emigrated to Europe. Valued for her culinary talent for years among her friends, she then made her passion her profession. She also used to edit a magazine for sustainable living.
Tahini & Turmeric is a real fusion book. The authors are two sisters who were born to Syrian-Lebanese Jewish parents, grew up in Barcelona and now live in the US. The book mingles traditional meals with healthy modern ingredients and techniques.
The Magic of Tahini which shows how to make this calcium-rich paste from sesame seeds, which is sold in light or dark versions. You can then find recipes to use it including a Sesame-full Quiche, Velvety White Soup, Marbelled Muffins and Coconut Black Tahini Ice Cream.
Hummus Where the Heart Is is by Croatian chef Dunja Gulin who shares tips to make the perfect homemade hummus to dip with breadsticks or slather on bread, then offers variations and recipes that us it. Recipes include Onion Jam Hummus and Baked Aubergine Hummus, and pink beet hummus. Plus daring hummus desserts!
Also read The Vegan Middle Eastern Cookbook (by Noha Elbadry-Cloud, with authentic recipes for Mixed Mushroom Fatteh, Bell Pepper Dolma, Vegan Meatballs in Sour Cherry Sauce, Kofta Skewers with Pickled Onions, Za’atar Flatbread and Spicy Tahini. And The Vegan Iraq Cookbook (by a London doctor, who grew up in the Middle East).
The Zero Waste Middle Eastern Grocery
- First stop, hummus. Real hummus is homemade and served warm, nothing like the plastic-wrapped icy greasy tubs found in supermarkets. So learn to make your own like this homemade hummus 4 ways (Crowded Kitchen) or buy from a proper grocery.
- Lentils and other legumes are easily found at zero waste stores, with no plastic packaging. Don’t use rice soon after cooking, as it’s a food poisoning hazard.
- Likewise, Middle Eastern food is very spicy. So it’s easy to find them loose in your local zero waste store. Or specialty grocers are more likely to sell them loose, without plastic packs.
Fresh Hummus 4 Ways (Crowded Kitchen) gives you four recipes to try. Start with the original, then progress onto vegan pesto, roasted red pepper with harissa, and pickled beet. Hummus is made with chickpeas, which are high in protein and calcium, and usually sold in tins. In the Middle East, hummus is always served fresh and warm with pita bread, never ice-cold in greasy plastic pots, like in supermarkets in the west.
Plant-Based Alternatives to Halal & Kosher Meat
Vegan Creamy Celeriac Passover Soup (May I Have That Recipe?)
One area of argument in England is the laws on halal & kosher meat. Our animal welfare laws require stunning, whereas religious slaughter does not stun animals. England is a very tolerant country, but obviously the welfare of animals being slaughtered is something very close to people’s hearts. Many people’s ‘religion’ tends to be ‘as long as you do no harm, that’s fine by me’. But of course, animals suffering for religions is harmful.
Try recipes for Not Mutton Mushroom Curry (Holy Cow Vegan) and Vegan Jamaican Curry Goat Stew. Don’t feed vegan meats to pets, as they contain pet-toxic ingredients like soy, garlic, onion or mushroom. If ordering online, keep ice gel packs away from pets and children.
One thing rarely mentioned is that it’s acceptable in both Muslim and Jewish faiths to be vegan or vegetarian (Israel has more vegans/vegetarians on earth than any other country bar Germany). So this would seem the obvious anaswer. The strict dietary laws in Judaism forbid eating meat and milk together, but of course if you eat neither, the issue disappears.
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia is not just a passionate vegan, but has invested heavily in Plant Based News, a most popular vegan news channel. Read Nada’s post on why you can be a vegan Muslim and helpful posts on Ramadan & Islamic vegan lifestyles.
Treat yourself to a recipe book or two! Isa Does It is just one of the fun recipe books by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, one of the world’s top-selling vegan cookbook authors. Self-taught (cooking up free meals for Food Not Bombs in her native New York City), she is massive in the US, and with Jewish heritage, you’ll always find recipes for pretzels, blintzes and matzo soup within her books.
Mayim’s Vegan Table is a nice recipe book by actress Mayim Bialik, who has Jewish heritage. She’s a star of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, and also a neuroscientist. Another good recipe book by a Jewish chef is Oy Vey Vegan.