Arab traditional foods: Preparation, processing and nutrition

Mohammed Al-Khusaibi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional foods represent the geographical distinct environment, resources and culture of people. According to the EUROFIR “Traditional food is a food of a specific feature or features, which distinguishes it clearly from other similar products of the same category in terms of the use of “traditional ingredients” (raw materials or primary products) or “traditional composition” or “traditional type of production and/or processing method”" (Tajkarimi et al., Trends Food Sci Technol 29:116–123, 2013). It can also be simply defined as products with specific raw materials, and/or with a recipe known for a long time, and/or with a specific process (Cayot, Food Chem 102:445–453, 2007). Food is a traditional symbol of Arab hospitality. Rosenberger (1999) wrote that even when people was suffering from scarcity of food and poverty, the traditional foods was always served to travelers and guests. Nowadays, special types of traditional cuisine are usually prepared to honor guests. Historically, there are several factors caused the emergence of traditional foods. For examples, a special dish named tharid is prepared by soaking pieces of flat bread in a meat stock. The simplicity of this dish might represent the arid climate and scarcity of raw materials. On the other hand, abundance of some crops with the limited market in the ancient time caused farmers to think about traditional preparation methods to preserve the food. It is not only the environment and resources contributed to the nature of traditional foods in the Arab countries, but religious beliefs have also influenced to flourish of different dishes through permitted and restricted ingredients (Tajkarimi et al., Trends Food Sci Technol 29:116–123, 2013). For example, Muslims are prohibited from eating pork and drinking alcohol (Forum, 2009; Tannahill, 1989). This prohibition is extended to the use of ingredients obtained from pig and the use of alcohols in food preparation. The Arabic culture is rich in traditional food dishes that are prepared domestically and these foods are nowadays available in restaurants and sometime in the street food vendors. This chapter will give an insight view on the different plant-based and meat-based food dishes. The chapter will discuss the preparation methods, ingredients, and nutritional quality of Arab traditional foods. It must be noted that in term of the name of the traditional foods or dishes, there are always minor variations in the spelling and phonation. The English spelling of Arab traditional foods vary from country to country. In addition, different names of same dishes are noticed among different countries.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood Engineering Series
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameFood Engineering Series
ISSN (Print)1571-0297


  • Arab
  • Coffee
  • Condiments
  • Dips
  • Fermentation
  • Ghee
  • Herbs
  • Mediterranean
  • Rice dishes
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Bioengineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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