Spices in Arabic Cuisine
Thyme is proven to have anti-parasitic, antibiotic and anti-spasmodic properties.
Oregano is one of the most common spices in the Arabic and Mediterranean cuisine, also rich in Anti Oxidants that helps prevent certain cancers. Best to use in any tomato based dishes.
Basil is also known as Rihan or Habaq. Basil has a strong flavor and regularly used in salads and stews in Arabic cuisine. Arab’s use it in cooking as a flavoring herb in marinades for fish, lamb and in simmered meat. These are often fibered onto skewers in the middle of meat and fish.
Sumac used as a souring agent in the Levant and Arabic cuisine. A regular consumption of the spice promotes healthy digestion.
Sesame seeds have a semi sweet nutty flavor. The seeds are always present in breads and pastries in Arabic cuisine. It is grounded until it forms into a thick paste and is mixed to ground chickpeas to form Hummos Tahini.
Za’atar is a combination of these 4 spices (thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, sumac) with an olive oil. Za’atar is a very healthy dip eaten with Pita Bread. Arabs believe that it helps to digest the heaviness of the bread.
Cardamom is whole seed is peeled and mixed to a warm cup of coffee. Cardamom is an essential ingredient to Arabic and Turkish coffee. It is believed to enhance appetite and helps people suffering from Halitosis.
Cinnamon is another healthy spice that is used in Arabic cuisine. It is very beneficial to those who have Diabetes as it slows down the absorption of sugars to blood stream.
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in meat stews and soups. It’s also mixed in the meats for marinating. Also recognized as a brain tonic where its studies show prevention of Alzheimer’s disease are promising.
Saffron is one of the most expensive spice in Arabic cooking. It compliments fish and rice stews. This spice also contains chemical called crocetin that helps lowers the blood cholesterol.
Chili Peppers can be found in different Arabic foods and is one of the ingredients in pickled cucumbers, an appetizer in a typical Arabic meal. It is beneficial in speeding up the metabolic process of our body and also has a strong anti biotic properties.
Anise seeds a spice used in breads, pastries and can also be taken as a tea. It aids in regulating the insulin and hormone levels.
Garlic is used in sautéing meats and vegetables. It’s also pureed with lemon juice, oil and is used as a tasty tangy sauce to broiled chicken. Garlic is also believed to prevent certain cancer.
Nutmeg is a popular in the west as an ingredient in pastries and cookies, it also used in the Middle East as a spice in heavy stews. It has a strong anti-inflammatory property that is very beneficial especially to those who are suffering arthritis. An excessive amount (6 tbsp per day) of this spice is harmful and may cause hallucinations and diarrhea.
Mixed spices or locally known as Baharat. It is composed of seven or more spices on the list that is often used in chicken broilers and meat skewers. The composition and the measurement of each spice vary depending on the region and country. Each of the Middle Eastern countries has their own version of the mixture.