Vegan Wonder

Discover the Vibrant Flavors of the Middle East: A Vegan’s Guide to Falafel, Hummus, and Beyond

It’s no secret that plant-based eating is on the rise. Vegans and vegetarians are no longer a niche group, and more people than ever are embracing a meat-free diet for health, ethical, and environmental reasons. And if you’re one of them, you already know how exciting it is to explore new cuisines and dishes that don’t revolve around animal products.

Today, I want to introduce you to the vibrant flavors of the Middle East. This region’s plant-based dishes are so delicious and varied that they will leave you wondering why everyone isn’t obsessed with falafel and hummus.

The Vegan Allure of Middle Eastern Cuisine

Middle Eastern cuisine has long captivated the taste buds of people around the world, and for good reason. These dishes are full of bold flavors, aromatic spices, fresh herbs, and hearty plant-based ingredients. And the best part is that many of these dishes were traditionally vegan or easily adapted to be vegan.

So, where do you start? Allow me to introduce you to some of the most beloved vegan dishes from the Middle East, starting with the obvious:


Falafel is a crispy, golden ball of chickpea or fava bean goodness. It originated in Egypt and has since spread throughout the Middle East and beyond. In fact, it’s now so popular that you can find falafel in many parts of the world.

The exact origins of falafel are unclear, but it’s believed to have been around for thousands of years. Some historians believe it dates back to ancient Egypt, while others believe it’s a much newer dish that originated in the Middle East in the 17th or 18th century.

Regardless of its origins, one thing is certain: falafel is a delicious vegan staple that deserves a spot in your kitchen.

If you’re not familiar with making falafel, don’t worry. It’s easier than you think. Here are the basics:

  1. Select high-quality, dried chickpeas or fava beans (soaked overnight and drained).
  2. Add in onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and scallions, along with some spices (such as cumin, coriander, and paprika).
  3. Process everything in a food processor until you have a chunky mixture.
  4. Form the mixture into balls or patties.
  5. Deep fry until crispy and golden brown.

Serve falafel with hummus, pita bread, and pickles, or use it as a base for a more elaborate dish.


Speaking of hummus, it’s another Middle Eastern vegan staple that has become popular around the world. Hummus is a creamy dip made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. It’s simple to make, delicious, and incredibly versatile.

To make the perfect hummus, start with the following ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed

Blend everything together in a food processor until you have a creamy dip. If it’s too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Topping ideas include paprika, olive oil, and chopped parsley. Serve it with pita bread, veggies, or crackers.

Beyond the Classics

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to explore some other delicious vegan dishes from the Middle East.

Moutabal (Baba Ghanoush)

Moutabal (also known as baba ghanoush) is a smoky eggplant dip that’s similar to hummus but with a different base.


Tabbouleh is a bulgur wheat and herb salad that’s refreshing, light, and perfect for summer. Simply mix cooked bulgur with parsley, mint, onion, tomato, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.


Fattoush is a vibrant pita bread salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, parsley, mint, and a lemon-olive oil dressing. The pita bread is torn into pieces, toasted, and added on top.

Lentil-Based Dishes

Lentils are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. They’re hearty, nourishing, and incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas:

  • Lentil soup
  • Lentil salad
  • Stuffed bell peppers with lentils

Embracing the Spices and Herbs of the Middle East

The Middle East is known for its aromatic spices and herbs. Some common ones include:

  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Sumac
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Clove
  • Nutmeg

These spices can be used to add depth and complexity to any dish. Experiment with them in your falafel or hummus, or use them in other dishes like lentil soup or stuffed bell peppers.

Herbs are also a big deal in Middle Eastern cuisine. Some common herbs include:

  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Scallions

They have the power to transform a simple dish into something extraordinary.

Serving and Sharing Middle Eastern Vegan Delights

Now that you know how to make some delicious Middle Eastern vegan dishes, it’s time to talk about how to serve them. Here are some ideas:

For a casual gathering, simply serve your falafel, hummus, and other dishes on a large platter with pita bread on the side. Encourage people to dig in and mix and match as they please.

For a more formal gathering, consider plating each dish individually. Garnish them with fresh herbs, spices, and olive oil. For example, you could serve falafel with a bed of greens, topped with a dollop of hummus and a sprinkle of paprika and parsley.

You could also create a mezze-style spread, where you have several small plates with different dishes. Encourage people to try everything and share.

No matter how you serve it, Middle Eastern vegan food is best enjoyed with good company and lots of laughter.