The food of the Middle East is diverse and full of flavor. With culinary traditions that have been cultivated over centuries and dishes that have been influenced by the Arabic practice of hospitality, it’s definitely a cuisine that will win over your heart (and your stomach!). Check out these five delicacies that you need to try in the Middle East.

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Forget Pizza And Try Manakeesh

Everyone knows that Italy is the birthplace of pizza. But the Middle East has its own variation of pizza that will definitely win over your heart. It’s called manakeesh and is simply to die for. Like many Arabic dishes, the appeal of manakeesh is in its simplicity.


You can find a range of different toppings on the round and flatbread base of manakeesh, but the most common varieties are cheese, ground meat or za’atar. The latter is a Middle Eastern spice combination usually comprised of ground thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, and salt.

Manakeesh is often served for breakfast but you will also find it available for lunch. While you can order it from a restaurant, it’s also commonly found sold from the carts of street vendors throughout the Middle East. It also makes for the perfect snack to grab on the go, especially when you’re in the mood for some comfort food!

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth With Kanafeh

If you’re a sweet tooth visiting the Middle East, you are in luck. There are countless decadent desserts available in the Arabic world, many of them flavored with sweet syrups, crushed nuts, and cream. Anyone who’s a fan of cheesecake has to try kanafeh, a dessert which is commonly found in Palestine, Syria, Egypt , Jordan, and Lebanon.Sometimes referred to as simply knafeh, this dish features either Nabusi cheese or clotted cream that is layered between thin pastry or semolina dough. The pastry is soaked in sweet syrup and the cream is sometimes flavored with nuts. The blush coloring of the dessert comes from the addition of either blossom water or rose water.Each Middle Eastern country has its own variation of the popular dessert, with Turkish, Greek, and Balkan cuisines also serving up their unique versions of it.NEXT: The Safest (And Most Dangerous) Places In The Middle East