The weather is warming up, and that means it’s time to get out there and eat good food! It’s great to experiment with tasty new foods, but it can be intimidating to order off a menu when you don’t know what something is. That’s why we’ve picked out the best 12 Middle Eastern foods to try this summer.


What is it?
This is a very simple food – it’s meat that is cooked on a spit over a long period of time. That means the meat is juicy, tender and full of flavour.
Try it at Zaitoune: Grab a lamb or chicken shawarma wrap at lunchtime, or sit down to enjoy a chicken or lamb shawarma platter with friends.


What is it?
Falafel is a patty made out of chickpeas, fava beans and some delicious herbs and spices. These are then fried until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian source of protein, falafel is a perfect pick.
Try it at Zaitoune: Grab a falafel wrap for your lunch, or enjoy a Vegetarian Mixed Plate. You can even order a side of falafel to add to your favourite meal!


What is it?
Tahini is a simple paste made out of sesame seeds. Although it doesn’t sound appealing on its own, it’s a foundational ingredient for many tasty Middle Eastern dishes. It’s also a great source of plant-based calcium.
Try it at Zaitoune: We use tahini in our hummus, Baba Ghanoush and Samkeh Harra, as well as an ingredient in some of our wrap sauces. Check our menu for even more tahini options!


What is it?
Hummus, or hommus, is a dip made out of chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, garlic and lemon juice. It’s perfect for dipping bread, flatbread or even meats into. Hummus is also very popular with little ones, so share it around the family!
Try it at Zaitoune: Grab hummus with pine nuts, spicy meat or both as side option. If you’re with friends, why not get a sampler dip plate to share?

Baba Ghanoush

What is it?
This delicious dish is made using char-grilled eggplant, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. The smoky flavour is truly unique, and makes it a crowd-pleaser. Perfect for dipping bread, vegetables and meats.
Try it at Zaitoune: Order it as a side, on the Vegetarian Mixed Plate or served with the chicken and chicken & lamb Feast Boards.


What is it?
This simple salad is not to be missed. Made with tomatoes, parsley, mint, bulgur and onion, it’s seasoned to perfection using olive oil, lemon juice and salt. The fresh minty taste will revitalise your palate.
Try it at Zaitoune: Enjoy it as a side, or try it with our half-metre and metre Feast Boards to share with loved ones.


What is it?
Kafta takes meat to the next level. Using a combination of Middle Eastern spices, lamb or beef is flavoured to perfection and cooked until juicy. It can be served on a skewer, or as a meatball. At Zaitoune, we pride ourselves on our lamb kafta.
Try it at Zaitoune: Grab a wrap at lunchtime, or enjoy with our Mashawi and Skewer plates at the dinner table.


What is it?
This traditional Arab dish is made used lamb, yoghurt and spices. It is slow-cooked, and then served with rice or bulgur. It is the national dish of Jordan, so you know it’s tasty!
Try it at Zaitoune: Enjoy a lamb mansaf, or try a chicken mansaf if you want a twist on the traditional dish.


What is it?
Muhammara is a tasty pepper dip. It’s made using Aleppo peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses and a blend of herbs and spices. If you like spicy capsicum dip, this is the original.
Try it at Zaitoune: Order as a side, grab a Vegetarian Mixed Plate, or enjoy it with your metre or half-metre Feast Board.

Samkeh Harra

What is it?
This is a Lebanese-style dish that uses white fish. It’s prepared with a tasty tahini sauce, and then served on a bed of rice. In Arabic, ‘Samkeh Harra’ means spicy fish.
Try it at Zaitoune: Find our Samkeh Harra option on the main menu, made using sustainable NZ Hoki fillets.


What is it?
This tasty salad is made using flatbread and garden vegetables, and is dressed with a combination of garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and olive oil. The flatbread is nice and crispy, so you get plenty of crunch with every mouthful.
Try it at Zaitoune: Order fatoush as a side, or try it from one of our half-metre or metre Feast Boards.


What is it?
Kibbi is a tasty little ball of mince, spices and bulgur. There are many different types of kibbi depending on the origin of the recipe and what ingredients are used. At Zaitoune, we use lamb mince and pine nuts, and serve them with yoghurt.
Try it at Zaitoune: Grab a side of kibbi, or share a metre Feast Board with friends or family.
Are you ready to try some of these delicious dishes? Make sure you pop over and book yourself a table at Zaitoune today!