When people think of Middle Eastern cuisine, they’re quick to think of rice and kebabs. But more often than not, many forget that the tea-loving culture has a sweet tooth and know a thing or two about mouth-watering treats. In Australia, we’re lucky to be exposed to a number of different cultures and their cuisines, and in Brisbane, we’re especially spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options.
The Middle East is responsible for creating some of the world’s tastiest desserts, many of them traditional family recipes that most would have never had the pleasure of tasting before.
After some research, we decided there were (WAY) too many of these traditional sweet treats that we hadn’t even heard of before. More than ready to put our tastebuds to the test, we teamed up with the good people at Mecca Bah to find out which Middle Eastern desserts we had to try.
Safe to say that the results have been life-changing. Read on to see our round-up of our new favourite Middle Eastern desserts that you need to add to your foodie hit list.
Like most Middle Eastern desserts, Ranginak is traditionally a dish that is served with a cup of hot black tea. Also known as Persian Date Cake, this no-bake dessert is full of flavour and packed with soft, chewy dates that are stuffed with toasted walnuts. The dessert is filled with spices including cinnamon and cardamom and topped with a generous serving of pistachios. The taste and texture alone are enough to put this dessert at the top of the list.
Arabic for ‘Just A Kiss’, Basbousa is a Middle Eastern cake that is known for being sweet and used traditionally for special occasions. The sweet cake is made from yoghurt, semolina flour and topped with pistachios, and is left to soak in syrup, which is what makes the cake super sweet and moist. We tried the Yoghurt Semolina cake at Mecca Bah and their interpretation of Basbousa is soaked with rosewater syrup making it taste as sweet as it looks.
This traditional dessert has long been a popular offering to celebrate special occasions such as Persian New Year. Nowadays, Shole Zard is a common dessert that is made to share with family and friends. Shole Zard is a rice pudding that is made with saffron, which is what gives the dish it’s bright yellow colour.
There is no doubt that the most popular Middle Eastern dessert would have to be Lokum (familiarly known as Turkish Delight). No matter how the recipe is interpreted, Turkish Delight is always a soft, chewy and sweet treat. Whether it’s dusted in icing sugar, coated in chocolate or made into a delectable brownie like they do at Mecca Bah, Turkish Delight always has a distinct rosewater taste.
Popularly known in Western countries as Persian noodle dessert, Faloodeh is a Middle Eastern Dessert that is a semi-frozen dish that can be compared to sorbet. Thin, vermicelli-like noodles are chilled in ice water then added to a syrup mixture before being chilled again until the syrup is almost completely frozen.
These little golden gems - also known as Persian doughnuts - are the kind of treat you’ll try once and never be able to go without again. They’re basically deep-fried dough (like your traditional doughnut) but it’s when they’re soaked in syrup that takes these golden morsels of goodness to the next level.
Persian Halva is originally an Arabic dessert that literally means ‘sweet’ and is a dense paste that is made with syrup, saffron, rosewater and cardamom. Halva recipes have been interpreted many different ways in various countries throughout the years but have long been a dish traditionally served during the month of Ramadan.