Do you ever get excited to make a middle eastern recipe and realize that it includes an ingredient that your local grocery store doesn’t carry? Have you ever wanted to visit that middle eastern market across town but aren’t sure what you’d find there to buy?
Well, here is my ingredient shopping guide for a middle eastern market and what you can do with these wonderful products!
So, what do I buy at the Middle Eastern Market?
Let's take a look and get started!
Dairy Products to buy at the Middle Eastern Market
Lebneh - "yogurt cheese",
I find multiple uses for this in my kitchen and happily substitute it for sour cream! I mix it with some fresh or dried herbs for a dip, mix it into salad dressings, dollop it onto salads and grain dishes and use it in desserts like my Yogurt Cheese Tart with Fresh Berries.
Plain Yogurt: Again, you can definitely find this in your local grocery store, but the prices are definitely better at the middle eastern markets!
Feta Cheese - although you can buy feta in most major grocery stores, I've found that feta packed in brine is far superior to those plastic tubs I find at my local grocery store. Feta's tart saltiness can perk up any number of dishes like this Roasted Red Pepper Dip.
In most of the markets, you can buy feta in brine in the deli section and buy as much, or as little as you want! Or, if you're like me, you buy it in a handy box.
Canned Goods and Condiments:
Tahini Paste: Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini paste can be used in dressings, sauces and is one of the main ingredients in hummus! I love to drizzle tahini paste over roasted or steamed vegetables!
Tomato Paste: Although you can find this at any grocery store, I really like the flavor of the tomato paste I get at the middle eastern market. Once opened it lasts for quite a while and it's definitely cheaper than the cans you get at your local grocery store.
Orange Blossom Water - a
3. pomegranate molasses - a syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice and sugar,I use this in salad dressings, sauces, cocktails
5. Rose Water - similar to Orange Blossom Water, Rose Water is used in much the same way. I love the floral notes it imparts to dishes and drinks like this Sparkling Rosewater Lemonade.
Herbs and Spices
Middle eastern markets are a treasure trove of herbs and spices! You can find all the same ones you find in your local grocery store, plus a variety of ones unique to Middle Eastern cuisine!
6. Sumac-a non poisonous herb used in both middle eastern and greek cuisine, sumac adds a tart, sour note to a wide range of savory dishes. Sprinkle it on warmed pita bread brushed with olive oil or in these Turkey Zucchini Sliders.
7. Za-atar- a spice mix used throughout the middle east, it's a combination of sumac, thyme, marjoram, sesame seeds
Ras El Hanout: Ras El Hanout is a Moroccan spice blend used in a variety of dishes. Although the blends vary (depending on who is making them) this blend typically has coriander, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, cardamon, ginger, and turmeric. This is one of my "go to's" or simply roasted meats like these Ras El Hanout pork skewers.
Other Middle Eastern Ingredients:
10. Pita bread, lavash, sangak - the range of breads alone is worth the trip! Seriously though, my local middle eastern market has so many different breads that it's always hard to choose and the pita bread is far better than anything I can find in my local market.
Honey and dried fruit: Middle eastern markets typically carry a large variety of dried fruits and nuts - dates, raisins, apricots, pistachios and cashews are almost always on my list! A variety of honeys, including Acacia, are also available.