Street Foods Found in the Middle East

Middle Eastern street food is a staple of the region’s culture dating back to the ancient days. From the spice markets of Aleppo to the bustling markets of Cairo, street food is an important part of everyday life in the region. Middle Eastern street food consists of food that is sold from a food cart, sidewalk stand, or mobile cart. The variety of food sold by street vendors varies from country to country. Each country has its own unique street food that is enjoyed by locals as well as tourists. Some of the most popular types of Middle Eastern street food include falafel, shawarma, lahmacun, and ful medames. Middle Eastern street food is made with local ingredients and spices. Many of them have a history dating back hundreds of years. The following article explores the different types of Middle Eastern street food, their origins, and regional variations.


Falafel is a deep-fried ball made from chickpea flour and spices. Falafel is popular throughout the Middle East and can be found in different variations. In Israel, falafel is stuffed with fresh fava beans, other Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia make falafel with fava beans, chickpeas and spices. Falafels can be eaten as a snack, appetizer, or a meal. They can be served as a pita sandwich, stuffed inside a flatbread, wrapped inside a flatbread, or even eaten as a dip with pickles. Falafels are healthy and low in calories. They are a protein-rich food that can be consumed as part of a healthy diet.


Lahmacun is a Turkish-Arabic street food made from fava beans, bulgur wheat, spices, and a tomato-based sauce. The sauce is what makes this dish so exceptional. Lahmacun can be found throughout the Arab world, however, it is most popular in Turkey. The dish was first introduced to the Turks by immigrants from Syria and Lebanon. The modern version of the dish consists of thin slices of sesame-seed-laced bread baked in a clay oven. The original version of the dish was served fried, however, the modern version of the dish is now served grilled, baked or steamed.


Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish of grilled slices of lamb or beef on a spit. The meat is marinated in a special spice paste and then shaved off the bone. Shawarma is popular in most areas of the Arab world and can be found as far west as Morocco and as far east as the Arabian Peninsula. Shawarma is also known as “Arabic pizza,” because it is similar to the Italian dish pizza.

Ful Medames

Ful medames is a popular Egyptian dish made from fava beans and spices. The beans are mashed with a fork or a special tool called a ful. Ful medames is served in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, and salt. Ful medames is a staple of many Egyptian homes, especially on Mondays when the dish is served to break the fast during Ramadan. Ful medames is an inexpensive dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Lemsa Ghatam

Lemsa ghatam is a popular Indian street food made from puffed rice processed in a tamarind tree. The puffed rice is filled with spices such as cumin and coriander. The most popular lemsa ghatam seasoning is black cumin and coriander, however, there are many variations on the seasoning. Lemsa ghatam is served hot or cold.

Fattouch Bread

Fattouch bread is a type of flatbread favored by Arabs. The bread is made from wheat flour and yeast and is baked in an earthenware or clay oven called a taboon. Fattouch bread is similar to pita, however, it is thicker and can be eaten with a variety of dishes. Fattouch bread is also larger, which makes it ideal for sharing dishes with friends or family.

Shish Barakah

Shish barakah is a type of shawarma made with chicken and spices. Shish barakah can be found in most Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Bahrain. Shish barakah is best eaten with a cool Arabic beverage such as mint tea, lemon tea, or ayran. Shish barakah is best eaten when it is still warm from the oven.


Sambosa is a popular Indian street food found all over the Middle East made from a roti (flatbread), chickpeas, and a spicy sauce. The roti is fried in a pan and then covered with the sauce and chickpeas. The most popular sambosa seasoning is a blend of tomatoes, onions, and green chilies. Sambosa is best eaten with a cool beverage such as lemonade or mint tea.

Bureksh vol-au-vent

Bureksh vol-au-vent is a type of Middle Eastern street food made from stuffed cabbage leaves. The stuffed cabbage leaves are filled with rice and spices and then steamed. Bureksh is a popular street food in the Indian Subcontinent. Bureksh is usually served during the festive Hindu and Muslim celebrations. Bureksh is served with a variety of side dishes such as peas, potatoes, and curried vegetables.


Street food is an important part of the culture in the Middle East. It is made from local ingredients and spices. Each country has its own unique street food. The types of street food vary from country to country, and some of the most popular are falafel, lahmacun, shawarma, ful medames, and sambosa.