Learn how to cook Arabic food with these simple guidelines. Understand that Arabic food is very simple to make and is usually a one-pot meal. Arabs like to have a simple tomato and cucumber salad with some condiments on the side, too. Most Arab food has rice–many Arabic dishes use regular short grain rice. Learning to cook Arab food is very easy with the following tips.
Things you'll need:
- A recipe to follow
- Required ingredients
- The basics of Arabic food. When contemplating Arab food, remember that Arabs value their food and desire to have the best meal possible. The main meal of the day must have meat, rice and usually a vegetable. Arab food requires a lot of oil, mainly olive oil.
- Rice a main Ingredient. Most Americans eat potatoes with their meals, but Arabs eat rice. A typical Arab meal would consist of rice (mainly short grain), meat, vegetable and bread. Besides knowing the size of the rice, top quality rice is imperative. Many meals on an Arab table will require an Indian rice called Basmati. Basmati rice is used in many dishes including kabsa, an Arab favorite.
- Oils used. The favorite oil in Arab countries is olive oil. Olive oil is native to most countries and many households have freshly squeezed olive oil. Freshly squeezed extra virgin olive oil is used for salads, dips, humus and light sauteing. Extra virgin olive oil will burn and become toxic at 320 degrees. To fry meat or vegetables, most Arabs will use corn oil or virgin olive oil. The other oil used often is ghee or purified butter. Many meals will call for half ghee and half oil ratio to give the oil a higher cooking temperature and excellent flavor.
- Meat that Arabs use. Chicken is a mainstay of most Arab homes. For a nightly family meal, chicken is used. Fish is always fried and is considered a special meal. Lamb is served to guests. Guests would be insulted to receive chicken with a traditional Mansaf meal which is yogurt, rice and meat. Some may use fried chicken with the meal, but it would not honor the guests.
- Vegetables in the meals. The main vegetables used in meals are potatoes, carrots, onions, eggplant and cauliflower. All the vegetables are fried before adding to the meals. To start the dish, add some oil and when the oil is hot, add in the onions and potatoes. After the onions are translucent, you are ready to add in the rice and chicken broth. Veggies, such as cauliflower and eggplant, are deep fried and layered at the bottom in Maglooba.
- Condiments. Although you will see one large meal a day on Arab tables, they do like to have many condiments. You may see some turnips (kabees el lefet) that have been fermented in beet juice and salt, and some stuffed small eggplants. Normally, every table will have salted pickles and a plate of cut up veggies. To complement the meals, there will be some kind of tomato and cucumber salad and bowls of yogurt also.
When cooking Arab meals, remember that the guest is the most important person to enter the home. An Arab meal would always have large portions and a lot of food as not to insult the family. Guest are given top priority and it is an insult for a home to ever serve a guest with just enough food to go around. Normally the guest's plate is filled over and over again to the point of stuffing the plate. Arabs are insulted with anyone who does not eat and eat well.