The cuisine of the Middle East generally falls under the category of “Mediterranean” cooking, that heart-healthy combination of olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit, cheese and moderate amounts of fish and poultry.
Many of the dishes of the Middle East — tabouli, falafel, pita, hummus, baba ghanoush — have become popular beyond the region, especially in Europe, North America, Australia and parts of South America.
Middle Eastern cuisine itself breaks down into several subcategories, among those are the cooking traditions of the Levant, Egypt, the Arabian peninsula, the Maghreb, Iran and Israel. Ingredients common to most of these cuisines are honey, herbs, parsley, mint, sesame seeds, eggplant, tomatoes, rice, bulgur wheat, couscous, chicken, pigeon, lentils, chickpeas, dried fruit, figs and dates. Pork is avoided and beef is rare.