The Christmas dinner menu varies from country to country, depending on what ingredients are available and what is native to each region. Here are some dishes you may find for Christmas dinner across the Middle East:
The Mezze, or AppetizersAppetizers in the Middle East are an important part of the meal. You will find many dishes served on small plates in a Middle Eastern mezze. Common Middle Eastern appetizers include:
Hummus is one of the most popular Middle Eastern appetizers. Made with mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and spices, hummus is used as a dip for breads, pita sandwiches, and even veggies. Several different spices and ingredients can be used to add a variety of flavors to hummus. Popular hummus variations inlcude roasted garlic, red pepper, and kalamata olive hummus. Here you will find tons of hummus recipes and cooking tips.
Baba ghannouj (ba-ba gan-oosh) is just as fun to eat as it is to say! This eggplant based dip if full of flavor and super easy to make. Like hummus, baba ghannouj has tahini, a sesame paste as one of it's main ingredients. The slightly smoked flavor of the eggplant is accompanied by garlic. Serve with pita wedges or veggies. Try this fantastic, easy baba ghannouj recipe.
Spinach fatayer, are small, triangular spinach pies that are the perfect finger food! Fresh spinach, walnuts, and a few ingredients that are common in every kitchen make this appetizer simple and quick to make. This spinach fatayer recipe is perfect for last minute appetizers, especially when you use canned biscuit dough in place of dough from scratch for this recipe.
Main DishesLamb dishes are the most popular holiday main dish because it is widely available. Unlike western countries, turkeys in the Middle East are very small, and many would be required to serve a large group of people. Middle Eastern Christian families in the U.S. commonly adopt traditional western holiday customs like a turkey or ham. Pork products, however, are not widely available in Middle Eastern countries due to the large Islamic following.
Roast leg of lamb may sound difficult, but is just as simple to prepare as beef roast. Leg of lamb is a very tender dish and goes with many side dishes. This roast leg of lamb recipe is perfect for beginners.
If you are serving a turkey this holiday season, why not stuff it with pomegranate stuffing! Pomegranates and turkey compliment each other very well. Try this pomegranate stuffing recipe for your next holiday meal.
Baked ham is one of the most popular Christmas main course. About.com's own Southern Food Guide, Diana Rattray has several baked ham for you family to enjoy.
Side DishesSeveral dishes may be offered, and the most common may be:
Couscous is an easy versatile, grain that goes with everything. Couscous can be "doctored up" by adding veggies, spices, even fruit like cranberries. Here you will find a variety of couscous recipes.
Green beans with toasted pine nuts is the perfect side dish for any meat for chicken dish. The crunchiness of the nuts compliments the green beans very well. Try this green beans with pine nuts recipe.
Steamed asparagus with lemon is the perfect side dish. Not only is it easy to make, it has few ingredients. Completely foolproof!
Middle Eastern DessertsDessert is one of the most anticipated courses of a holiday meal. In the Middle East, you will commonly find fruit as the dessert, depending on whats in season. It is light, sweet, and a nice ending to a big meal. However, there are several Middle Eastern desserts that are perfect for the holidays, like:
Baklava takes a lot of time to make. It's sticky and gooey. You will get messy - thats a given. But it is worth it. Baklava is such a dessert of passion. The passion it takes to make it, enjoying the sweet taste with each bite, makes it a dessert that is one of a kind.
Baked quinces are a great dessert. Quinces are like an apple or pear, with a little more tartness. The quince is not a very popular fruit in the west, but can be found in many supermarkets. Try this baked quince recipe.
Middle Eastern people are famous for stuffing food -think stuffed grape leaves, stuffed green peppers. Fruits are not excluded. Dates are perfect for stuffing! These stuffed dates are stuffed with almonds and rolled in powdered sugar. Perfect for coffee or tea!