I think Middle Eastern food is one of the best cuisines in the world. It is diverse with a mix of Indian, Persian, European and its own. Unfortunately, most Middle Eastern dishes require long time of preparation. That is why you hardly find a good Middle Eastern dish at restaurants beside Falafel, Humus, Baba Ghanouj and Mashawi (barbecued meat).
Another reason why there is a wide variety of Arabic dishes cooked at home, but almost nothing at restaurants has to do with culture. Arabs prefer home cooked meals than restaurants food. A habit that seems to change rapidly with more Arab women working now than ever before.
A new business even emerged, to serve families with working parents, called “Kitchen.” A business that hardly existed, at least in Jordan, fifteen years ago. These new “Kitchen” businesses are not restaurants, their food is served at customers’ houses. They cook all homemade dishes that housewives used to cook. Usually, these meals require time to prepare and cook. A time that a working wife and/or mother don’t have nowadays.
Many Jordanian women use the service of these “Kitchens” when they host friends or families. Instead of buying food from restaurants which don’t offer home-cooked dishes, a woman will call her favorite “Kitchen” and order food for 10 or 20 people. Another reason why these “Kitchens” are getting popular is because they are managed by a woman or maybe two in a house instead of a restaurant. Hence, people feel their food is like homemade food.
These “Kitchens” even make Eid’s deserts which usually keep women busy for two to three days preparing and baking them. The pastries in the picture above are made by my mother, not from a “Kitchen.”
Stuffed zucchini, stuffed grape leaves, Kibbeh (if you haven’t eaten this before, I pity you), Moajanat (pastires filled with meat/cheese/spinach), Mansaf (a traditional Jordanian dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice) and many more are food usually ordered from these “Kitchens.” Preparing and cooking any of these require hours of preparations and cooking/baking.