Helpful Tips on Understanding Your Arabic Menu |

Helpful Tips on Understanding Your Arabic Menu

Let us help you understand your order

Posted on

12 February 2014

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Arabic food has become a staple across the worldwide cuisine, as herbs and spices from the Middle East become more and more popular...

Arabic food tends to be rich in the food that is made available including a lot of dishes containing chicken, goat, chickpeas and flat breads. It is a very tasty cuisine due to the use of herb and spices that are abundant in these regions. Furthermore natural ingredients such a locally sourced vegetables and oils are used in this cuisine.
In the Gulf, Arabic restaurant cuisine has more-often-than-not become synonymous with Lebanese cuisine and many menus, whether they are for a dine in restaurant to a take away or delivery place have Lebanese staples as well as a few delicacies from other Arabic countries.

Many people know what the staples are. Biryani and Shish Taouk are popular restaurant orders, as is Shwarma and Manakeesh. We delve beyond the hummus, tabbouleh and falafel and tell you what the rest of those strange sounding words in your menu are...


This is the Arabic version of a toasty or a calzone. It is a flat bread that is baked in a wood oven with a variety of ingredients. Once it is cooked, it is folded over. The man’ousheh, also known as a manakeesh, does not have a base spread, and does not have to be topped with cheese. Many expats love this simple snack, but some of the ingredients can be confusing.

This is a Middle Eastern herb from the oregano family.

This is a strained yoghurt dish that is usually served fresh as a side dish or on a man'ousheh. However it can also be dried and formed into balls, which are marinated in olive oil. Labneh can be made from different types milk (cow or camel) and this can impact on its flavor.

Akkwai cheese

Cheese Akkawi
This is a white brine cheese that is commonly made using cow’s milk, but can also be made from goat’s or sheep milk. It has a smooth texture and a mild salty tasting Cheese Kashkawan: Type of melting cheese similar to kashkaval

This dish is a type of cheese made from cow or sheep milk. It is formed into balls and often covered in zaatar and Aleppo pepper (made from capsicum), before it is aged and dried.

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A spicy sausage made from ground beef that has been spiced and allowed to dry for several weeks. It has a very high fat content and is salty to the taste. Soujouk may be eaten raw, used in cooking or on top of a manakeesh.

Spinach Fatayer
These are a hot favourite, they are small tasty triangular pastry pies and they make the perfect finger food.


There are three main kinds of food with this name: foods based on curdled milk products like yogurt or cheese; foods based on barley broth, bread, or flour; and foods based on cereals combined with curdled milk. In Turkish and Greek cuisine, there are closely related foods called tarhana or trahana.

Lahm baajeen
A delicious pastry stuffed with an assortment of meat.

SEE ALSO: Kishkki recipe

Sometimes called kafta. This is one of the most popular dishes in Lebanese cuisine. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions. In Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, koftas are usually made of beef, lamb, mutton or chicken. They are often shaped into meatballs which are prepared with a mixture of ground meat, rice and leeks, and served dry.

Awarma is the word used to indicate bits of lamb preserved in lamb fat; it is usually prepared in rural areas and the jars are used up throughout the year to flavor one dish or another.

Similar to soujouk, Makanek is a Lebanese red meat sausage dish.

Foul Medames
Hailing from Egypt, Foul Medames is dish of cooked and mashed fava beans served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. It is often served as a breakfast dish, or a starter to a main meal.

Hindbeh bel Zeit
A classic Lebanese salad of blanched chicory leaves in oil.


An Arabic fold over pizza type dish – small pastries stuffed with meat and cheese and herbs or alternatively also the name used for pizza

SEE ALSO: Baba Ghanoush recipe

Two thin pieces of pastry with meat in the middle. Very tasty!

Kefta Kebab

Kafta Kebab
Also known as shish kebab. It consists of köfte, minced lamb meatballs with herbs, often including parsley and mint, on a stick, grilled. It is usually served with plain rice and a salad. Köfte is usually made of ground meat. It can also be made without any meat at all however, as in the case of lentil or potato kofte.

Kebab Khashkhash
Kofte kebab is a dish in which kofte and kabab are served in tomato and yoghurt sauce.

Kibbe Orfalieh
These are kibbe in a deep broth of tomato and onions.

SEE ALSO: Arugula salad with grilled aubergine

In the Middle East, kebab refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames; large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls. The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes, it may now be beef, goat, chicken or fish. 

Kebab Istambouli
Kebab made with pine kernels.

Kebab Anatakly
Kebab with added Aubergines.

Kebab Halabi

Kebab Halabi
Kebab with parsley.

Kebab Izmirly
Kebab with cheese.

Kebab Antabli
Kebab with mushrooms.

SEE ALSO: Beef shawerma with cucumber yoghurt sauce

Lehem Meshwe
Usually lamb (lehem means lamb) cubes on skewers grilled with vegetables.

Squid or calamari rings


It is stuffed Arabic flatbread made from the same meat as kofta spread onto the bread and the outsides brushed with olive oil before it is cooked over an open fire.

This is a dish made from the spinal cord of a lamb. In Arabic cuisine generally all the parts of the animal are used either for food, clothing or shelter.


Phyllo pastry that is stuffed with either meat or cheese or sometimes spinach and other vegetables.


Is a sweet decadent dessert usually made in one of two ways:

• Flour-based – This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The primary ingredients are clarified butter, flour, and sugar.
• Nut-butter-based – This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut butter and sugar.


Creamy yoghurt dessert, almost like a pudding, it is rich and very sweet.

A traditional Lebanese dessert made of semolina, sugar, and butter infused with sugar syrup, orange blossom, and rose water. It's topped with a milk-based cream filling and roasted nuts.


An Arab cheese pastry soaked in sweet syrup.

Umm Ali
Very similar to British bread pudding.