Easter In The Middle East

Easter In The Middle East

Easter In The Middle East 1000 667 Rouba Shahin Middle Eastern Cooking

Easter In The Middle East 

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everyone! 

On Easter, Christians all around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a period of displaying spirituality, fasting, prayer and joyful family gatherings. 

I believe that this celebration is the perfect moment to enjoy the time spent together with your family and friends. After all, what is a holiday without having your dear ones gathered together in one place!

Also, Easter marks the time when family customs and traditions are passed down to the younger generations. 

Customs such as egg colouring and the egg matches (eggs are struck together, the winner is the one who beats all the rest) you have with the members of your family are some of the most common for this celebration.

Preparing the food that will be served on Easter Sunday is also a family business. Normally, lamb dishes, ma’amoul, stuffed dates, halva, and other pastries will be found on the table of any Middle Eastern family on Easter day. 

(Let’s not forget about the chocolate eggs and chocolate bunnies everyone is buying during this time. Who doesn’t love chocolate, after all?)

Coming back to the traditional food matter, what are the best recipes one can cook for the Sunday Easter lunch/dinner?

What to cook for Easter – Middle Eastern recipes 

As a devoted foodie and also a busy mum, I want to share with you a few of the recipes that you can easily prepare for your own family for this beautiful celebration. 

I know how overwhelming it can be to cook for any family celebration, so the recipes I included are simple and easy to make and will leave all your guests asking for seconds (trust me).

Let’s jump right into it. ?‍?

Ma’amoul

stuffing ma'amoul dough

In the Middle East, Easter celebration meals are not complete without the notorious shortbread buttery cookie called ma’amoul

Stuffed with dates, walnuts or pistachios, and dusted with icing sugar, these cookies are the best sweet reward after a month of fasting during Lent.

The dough is made with semolina, then pressed into traditional wooden moulds (see photo above). The nutty fillings contain rosewater or orange blossom which adds a heavenly taste and fragrance to them.

ma'amoul filled with pistachio

These cookies are also made when celebrating Eid which marks the end of Ramadan. In fact, they are one of my favourite treats as they remind me of childhood and looong hours of baking with my mother.

Kibbeh Nayeeh (Lamb Tartar)

lamb tartare served hors d'oeuvre style

This festive and rustic Middle Eastern dish is a must for your Easter table! 

My Kibbeh Nayeh is raw lamb minced very finely and combined with fresh herbs and the perfect amount of spice. 

The key for this recipe is to have fresh lamb meat from a trusted butcher – don’t even think of using the ready-to-go minced meat you can find in the supermarkets.

I think this dish is so easy to make and serve, not to mention that there are no leftovers in my family when it comes to lamb tartar. 

You can, of course, serve it the traditional way where it’s a shared plate

kibbeh nayeh served in a plate

 

Spinach and Lamb Rice Pilaf

spinach lamb rice

This is a one-pot meal made only with good and healthy ingredients, most of them being pantry essentials.

There’s something about the lamb and rice combination that just makes this dish a winner at any dinner party!

Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder Roast

roast lamb with veggies

Mouth-watering food alert!

This easy recipe is more time-intensive as it takes 3 hours in the oven to roast, but the result won’t disappoint: a tender lamb shoulder infused with rosemary and garlic that can be simply pulled off the bone. 

You can pair this dish with a herb salad or a regular fresh vegetable salad.  

Stuffed Dates

dates stuffed with middle eastern flavours

After a long period of fasting, there’s nothing that tastes more delicious than a date. Plus, they are a great source of energy and vitamins.

I like to stuff the dates with nuts and coconut, it adds some extra crunchiness to them. If you want to try this too, all you have to do is to cut the date in half and add the filling of your choice. Yummy treat in just a few seconds!

Spicy Lamb Pastries

spicy lamb pastries

This is really my own cheat version of my mum’s signature dish, Laham-B-Ajeen, which is made with traditional dough.

I think that using ready puff pastry instead is the best choice if you’re time-constrained and it still does justice to this delicious dish.

Also, the great thing about this recipe is that you can make these in batches and freeze them so they can be enjoyed when you have guests or when your children want a quick snack.

Hummus 

hummus garnished with black sesame and pomegranate

I truly think that hummus shouldn’t miss from the Easter table – it’s such a staple dish in the Middle Eastern world.

Be it simple hummus, avocado hummus, chilli avocado hummus, Musabaha hummus or your own secret family recipe – you can’t go wrong with this dish!

How do you and your family celebrate Easter? What traditions do you have and what signature dishes do you like to prepare?

 

With Love