TASTE THE ARAB WORLD THROUGH BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER AND DESSERT
Rama Fayoumi / Blog: Arab Culture in Ankara / COMD 357 Multimedia Journalism Sonbahar 2021-22 Listeleme Projesi
|The Arab world is rich in flavors. It was inspired over the centuries by Turkish food, Indian food, Greek food and many more. It uses different blends from various countries and accustoms it to an Arabic taste palate. It utilizes many different spices and ingredients and is quite different from region to region, although some similarities remain across countries of close geographical distance. The levant countries use olive oil, garlic, and sumac very often. The gulf area uses rice and meat heavily in its cuisine, while the North African area uses fresh vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. The main common spices used in Arabic food are cardamom, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, pepper, and cinnamon. Although there are differences across different Arab regions, some Arab dishes have become so popular that they are served all over the Middle East.
Arabic food is one of the fastest ways to travel to the Middle East. A bite is enough to take you back home and soothe your nostalgia, you end up leaving with a full stomach and a full heart. So, I put for you a list of places to visit that will momentarily take you back home.
Even though Arabic restaurants in Ankara are limited, I have managed to find a few that had the most famous Arabic dishes such as Hummus and Falafel, Shawarma, Mandi and my all time favorite Knafa. The restaurants I visited are all Arab owned. They’re called Vizavi, Castello and Rice and Spice, they are all located in Bahçelievler and are only a few minutes away from one another. Here are four meals that will take you back home through breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
1. BREAKFAST: A TASTE OF PALESTINE IN VIZAVI
The origin of hummus and Falafel is highly debated with each country claiming it as their own, but the most agreed upon aspect is that hummus is from the levant region and Falafel is Egyptian. Hummus and Falafel are one of the most famous Arabic breakfasts and you can never eat one without the other. The main ingredient in both is chickpea. Hummus is a chickpea dip, while Falafel is ground chickpeas fried. The restaurant I went to, Vizavi, is a Palestinian restaurant. The second you walk in, you’re immediately taken back to the Arab world by the smell of Falafel being fried and the beautiful voice of Mounir, a famous Egyptian singer, singing in the background. We ordered hummus, Falafel, and Palestinian tea, which is basically tea with mint.
For more information on the different items they offer, directions and opening hours check out their pages. Adress: Bahçelievler, Taşkent Cd. No: 3 D:C, 06490 Çankaya/Ankara
2. LUNCH: A TASTE OF SYRIA IN CASTELLO
Shawarma is the Arabic version of doner, it is based on the same idea of chicken cooked on a vertical rotisserie, but its taste is completely different. It originates from the Levant region. Shawarma is made up of chicken, creamy garlic sauce and crunchy pickles wrapped in Arabic pita bread and is usually dipped in more garlic sauce. The restaurant we went to, Castello, is a Syrian restaurant. It is quite small and only has outdoor seatings, but the tables are almost always full even in this cold weather because of the delicious Shawarmas. The restaurant does offer other sandwiches, but this is the most ordered one. A frequent visitor named Tarek Ali, who is an Egyptian obsessed with Syrian shawarmas, said, “It tastes exactly like the one’s I’ve tried home, maybe even better. I come here every time I miss Arabic food.”
Price: 💰 💰
For more information on the different items they offer, directions and opening hours check out their pages. Adress: Bahçelievler, Taşkent Cd. No:8, 06490 Çankaya/Ankara
3. DINNER: A TASTE OF YEMEN IN RICE AND SPICE
Mandi is a traditional Yemeni dish. It is originally cooked in a pit underground. As you can see it is made of two main ingredients rich and chicken. The rice and chicken are made using a rich mix of spices including Cardamom, saffron. It is always served with Zahaweg, a spicy red sauce made of tomatoes, green peppers and garlic. The restaurant we went to , Rice and Spice, is a Yemeni restaurant and offers a variety of Yemeni dishes ranging from breakfast to dessert. This was one of the most ordered dishes they served.
For more information on the different items they offer, directions and opening hours check out their pages.
4. DESSERT: A TASTE OF PALESTINE IN VIZAVI (AGAIN)
Picture taken by Mohammed Obeid.Knafeh, or as commonly known in Turkey, Künefe, is a Palestinian dessert originating from Nablus. It is a buttery, crunchy dessert that is eaten all over the Middle East. It is made mainly of stretchy cheese and shredded spun pastry called kataifi (the orange part), then it is topped with sugar syrup and crushed pistachios. In Palestine, it usually has two types Kheshneh (Coarse) or Na’meh (Soft). So, the orange part is either served crunchy or it is finely shredded and is soft. We ate it at the same restaurant we had breakfast Vizavi. It smelled and tasted exactly like the Knafeh back home. It was hot and stretchy and had just the right amount of sweetness. If you’re planning on eating it after lunch, or dinner makes sure you save some space because it is a heavy dessert.