Arabian Winter Warmers: Foods to keep you Toasty in the Chilly Middle East

Published February 8th, 2012 - 22:01 GMT

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Sahlab is a wintery comforting hot beverage.
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Image 1 of 10: The Mideastern winter milkshake that locks hunger & chill away! "Sahlab" is famous in the region as a hot winter beverage. Variously sahlep or salep, this creamy, dairy drink, or more gelatin dessert, is sometimes taken as breakfast served with sesame bread sticks. Made from dried powdered orchid roots, it is heated with milk, sugar & cinnamon.

Castanah are the Arabic for chestnuts, usually roasted.
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Image 1 of 10: Castanah: Arabic for chestnuts, roasted chestnuts over the fire are a winter treat here as elsewhere. Sometimes added to rice dishes for that extra winter nourishment and goodness. Adds nuttiness to stews.

Carawya or Mughli is seedy nutty dessert.
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Image 1 of 10: Variously, 'Caraw-ya'/ Caraway/ Mughli, Caraw-ya is a hearty pudding mix of caraway seeds, rice powder, sugar & cinnamon, loaded with raisins, coconut, raw pistachios, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, pine nuts. This special dessert is served to new mothers for its nutritional value for nursing. It is a comfort dessert eaten without occasion.

Walnuts are full of wintery goodness.
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Image 1 of 10: Walnuts- While visually resembling something more akin to animal brain-matter, this is just good old walnut goodness... Walnuts and almonds get used in many hot dishes this season.

Addas, Lentil, soup is a popular winter choice.
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Image 1 of 10: 'Addas' soup (lentil soup) and other wholesome soups in general are an obvious must-have in winter. Specialties served this season are usually lentil and bean varieties. An Iraqi favorite "quba hammouth" is a delicious soup with quba (kebab style) meat pieces, tangy with lemon sourness.

Lentil-grain stews are Arab winter specials.
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Image 1 of 10: Stews of lentils with rice are commonly eaten to stave off the cold, such as 'Mujaddarah' - or beefed up versions of this rice & lentil concoction, as 'Harrak Usba'ou' - which adds bread & pasta. 'Mujaddarah lubyeh', a winter spin on the classic, replaces lentils with green beans. Egyptian 'Bisarah' uses lentils & a medley of beans & grains.

Khubaizi is a Mideast hot green leaf dish.
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Image 1 of 10: Khubaizi: While cabbage and swiss chard are seasonal and used in many dishes this winter season, this dish 'Khubaizi' uses another spinach-like green leaf ingredient, found especially in desert regions after a good rain. Taken in winter, this iron-rich food is ideal to ward off those winter flus!

Kishik is a Levant curdled yoghurt specialty.
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Image 1 of 10: Kishik can refer to a regional specialty food based on curdled milk products like yogurt or cheese; or based on barley broth, bread, or flour; or cereals combined with curdled milk. Eaten as a soup with rice or cracked wheat, or taken as 'manakeesh' on pizza-style bread, kishik or kashik it is a comfort warming food that is enjoyed in winter.

Msakhan is a Palestinian stodgy affair.
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Image 1 of 10: "Msakakhan" - A Palestinian specialty, best eaten in winter cause of its comfort-food properties: This indulgent, stodgy, affair is enjoyed uninhibitedly with hands for the full experience. Layers of oil-soaked bread with chicken, pine-nuts, onions and Sumac spice. This favorite Palestinian dish offers a tart kick through its Sumac flavor.

Freekeh is a smokey Levant dish.
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Image 1 of 10: Freekeh: Smoked wheat is more traditional than rice in the Levant, as is bulgar cracked wheat (used in Kishik), as rice did not always grow in the region. 'Freekeh' is taken in a hearty stew with chicken or vegetables. Deceptively filling, it looks fluffy & cous-cous-light, but tastes smokey, nutty and ever so satisfying. Used in winter soups.

In the winter months, people are obviously in need of warming foods, such as soups and winter casseroles. Even the Middle East, more renowned for its summery salads and room temperature olive oil dishes, has something to serve up when those scorching summer months turn a deadly shade desert chill!

2012 has dished up a protracted cold spell in the Middle East as well as in the wider globe and Eastern Europe. Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon and even extremities of the Arabian peninsula as Kuwait have shivered through the lows of the last couple of months, while countries where revolutionary conflicts are heating up, are suffering no less from the unkind cold.   

Some of the region's nourishing and healthy winter foods can keep you warmer, and guard against winter viruses. Both sweet and savory, here are some of the Levant and Arabian seasonal specialties.

For reminders and introductions to some winter warmer treats, click through the picture show, and please feel free to suggest items missed out from this short-list!

 

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