In the Middle East, breakfast is a big deal, especially on the weekend. Trust me, we take the most important meal of the day to a whole new level. It is almost a fiesta of flavors, colors and textures. If you have never started your day, Middle Eastern style, you are in for a treat!
Since it’s January and everyone is buzzing with new year’s resolutions, and :
Don’t skip breakfast
Seems to be on many lists, along with
Eat more home-made meals
Try new things
Make more time for the family
I thought I’d help you cross these resolutions off your list with a post about Middle Eastern breakfast
Breakfast in the Middle east, particularly on a weekend is a celebration of family time. With the crazy fast paced life that we are all living, there is very little time to enjoy a family meal, especially breakfast, when you are running out for work or school. That’s why most families make a point of preparing a big breakfast on the weekend to enjoy some quality family time.
Usually that big breakfast is one of three options:
- Falafel, fool and hummus with pita bread or Kaek and tea (No need to reach for Google translate! read on, you’ll find out what they are)
- A variety of homemade staples like labneh, nabulsi cheese, jams, zaatar , dukka and olive oil
- Wraps, sandwiches and manakeesh
In this post, I ‘ll cover the first option and follow it with separate posts for option two and three to make it easier for you to find the recipes. If you like these post, do let me know with a comment and I may add a couple more 🙂
Fool, hummus, falafel, bread/ kaek and tea
FOOL (sometimes called Fool Medames)
This is the unknown sibling of hummus that never got the world wide fame. In the middle east, hummus and fool go hand in hand. Yet for some reason fool remains mostly unknown outside the middle east despite being just as tasty and open to seasonings and flavor combinations as hummus is.
Fool is the Arabic word for fava beans but when you say I’m having humus and fool for breakfast or when you wake up at 7am (on a weekend!) to get hummus, fool and falafel from the little restaurant that makes killer fool and the best falafel in the neighborhood you are referring to a dip made from cooked fava beans.
Fool- the dip- in its simplist form is mashed cooked fava beans served with a drizzle of olive oil and some lemon juice. The possibilities for jazzing it up are simply endless. I am listing my favorite way for serving it but promise to post several more versions in the future
1 can Fool (cooked fava beans)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced (you can add more if you like)
1/4 cup mint leaves chopped
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top
1 clove garlic minced (optional)
- In a small pan, heat the fool (including its canning water) on medium heat, till it boils. Lower the heat and simmer for few minutes
- Take off heat; mash with a pestle or the back of a spoon
- Add the tomatoes and mint, reserving some for decoration
- Pour mixture in a serving plate, top with remaining mint and tomatoes
Drizzle with olive oil.
For many, it’s not the weekend if their Friday (the weekend throughout the middle east is Friday and Saturday) doesn’t start with the famous trio, flafel, hummus and fool.
You can find my go to recipe for falafel that I have been using for years, here
My recipe for perfect smooth hummus that is better than anything you can buy is here
No matter what you’re serving for breakfast in the middle east, pita bread HAS to be there. Whether you use it to scoop hummus, dip it in olive oil and zaatar or wrap it into a sandwich.
Ka3ek bel semsem or sesame bread is a traditional bread popular in the Levant countries (Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon). Many start their day buying one of these from bakeries or carts selling it in the street. If you pass through any of the old streets of Amman in the early morning, you are bound to hear ” toasty toasty ka’aek” being called out from an old man driving his cart, greeting you with a smile and a wish for a wonderful morning. If you stop by, you can buy this sesame bread plain or as a sandwich filled with cheese, zaatar, falafel or oven baked eggs.
Tea: is the number one breakfast drink in the middle east. Even the coffee lovers go for a cup of tea with their breakfast. The tea is usually served with fresh mint leaves or dried sage.