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Vegetables such as lentils, beans and peppers are popular as are spices, including cumin, nutmeg, turmeric and caraway.
Middle Eastern food gained international popularity in the 1990s along with the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet, emphasizing the consumption of olive oil, legumes, fruits, nuts, vegetables and fish, and offers a reduced risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
Hummus is an Arab spread made from mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic is also often eaten with pita bread.
Falafel is made from chickpeas and/or fava beans that are mixed with seasonings such as onion, parsley, sesame seeds and spices and then shaped into balls or patties and deep fried.
Middle Eastern Cheeses Most consider the Middle East as the birthplace of cheese which occurred thousands of years ago.
Cheese's earliest incarnation came in the form of a type of sour milk.
Umm Ali is the Egyptian version of bread pudding made with puff pastry and is often topped with whipped cream.
The eggplant is popularly baked to provide a soft texture and smoky flavor.
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Some of the world's earliest civilizations originated in the Middle East, a region encompassing Western Asia and portions of North Africa.
Popular foods throughout the Middle East include olives, chickpeas, flatbread, yogurt and cheese.
Lamb and mutton are favorite meats of the region, as pork is prohibited by Islam and Judaism and is not commonly eaten.