Middle Eastern Cuisine

Middle Eastern Cuisine

Charity Dinner on 10/11/2016 in support of Volunteer Doctors/Cyprus Organisation

I was once having dinner in London with a Moroccan friend. He said, “You know Bill – It would be much more logical to have a Mediterranean Trading block than the current EU. It would encompass the countries of Southern Europe and of North Africa. There is far more in common between the people of these countries than between the people of Northern and Southern Europe.

Nowhere is this commonality more apparent than in the foods we eat. You can even see the similarities in the vocabulary. You have almost certainly eaten in Indian restaurants,  Keema Naans or Keema Kebabs, both made with minced lamb. India is, of course, further afield from the Mediterranean basin. By the time the word travels to Greece, it has evolved into “Kigma” (minced meat. Again starting off in India, we have Pilao rice, generally yellow (because of added spices) when cooked. From this we get the Armenian Adgem Pilafi, a dish of rice, meat and carrots cooked in a tomato sauce – a dish much adopted by the Greeks of Asia Minor before they were ethnically cleansed.  By the time the word has implanted itself in Greece and Cyprus generally, it is simply rice cooked in a tomato sauce.

Sometimes in this Mediterranean common market of gastronomy we eat the same foods prepared slightly differently. In Greece and Cyprus we have our Baclava in fairly large pieces and quite succulent with honey. In Lebanon, they make it into smaller, drier pieces. “Kleftico”, through the history of the word, has become an integral part of Greek culture, but we are not alone in having a special method of preparing slow-cooked lamb or of cooking lamb in a hole in the ground. The Moroccans have “Mechoui”, slow-cooked whole lamb which can be cooked slowly over charcoal OR in a hole in the ground turned into an oven with live hot coals.

We love to learn from each other’s Gastronomy and on the 10th November 2016 in Nicosia, you have a great opportunity to discover a variety of Syrian and Lebanese meze dishes. Diary ready? 7.30 pm is the time. The Zaatar Food and Arts Centre is the location. That’s at 61-63 Aeschylus St in Nicosia. Tel 77776600. They have a page on facebook. The event is billed as a night of Food, music and dance with a Middle Eastern sensation.  

The Zaatar Food and Arts serves Lebanese & Syrian cuisine in Nicosia within the Walls. It includes many vegetarian dishes in their menu. They have a regular bellydance evening on Saturdays and they also hold a variety of jazz events and other cultural events. They point out that their daily menu prices are normally much lower, but that this particular evening is a charity event organized by the Volunteer Doctors of Cyprus, an organisation providing free clinical treatment for those in need. “We never turn anyone away!” is the Doctors’ motto.

Photos Courtesy of Zaatar Lebanese Restaurant for which our thanks.