It is easy to get lost in the numerous sauces and dips that the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine has to offer. They can be eaten on their own, used as ingredients in creating a whole new dish or eaten with bread or chips. Let’s break down 5 that you should try.
This creamy sauce made from sesame seeds has gained recognition world over for its versatility. It can be used in the making of hummus, as a sauce for falafel, it can be used in making baba ganoush and as a salad dressing.
One of the reasons it fits so well with other dishes is that it is savory rather than sweet.
Toum/ Garlic sauce
Toum is native to Lebanon and is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Those who love Shawarma know that the two often go together. That’s not all you can eat it with though; Toum goes well with chicken, beef and vegetables.
To make it at home, all you need is fresh garlic, oil, salt and lemon juice. You might opt to grind it by hand but a food processor will work just as fine. Add the oil and lemon juice last, in small measures at a time. This will ensure that the mix is just right and that you arrive at the consistency you desire. Some chefs advise using a mildly flavored oil like canola oil so that there is no competition between the garlic and the oil.
If you are a fan of coriander or cilantro then Zhoug is the dip for you. Like Tahini, the ingredients, which include hot peppers, garlic, black pepper and cardamom, are mixed with olive oil. Zhoug is easily identifiable by its green colour, but in some parts of the world, there is a red version made by using red peppers.
Zhoug can be eaten with just about everything. From adding it to your Shawarma, to eating it with falafels. It can also be used in non-Middle Eastern food; spread some on your burger, hot dog or taco.
You can also add zhoug to your marinade and give meats that extra kick. Plus, if made at home, it can keep for 7 days in the fridge so you don’t have to make a new batch every day.
Harissa is for those who like some heat with their meals. The main ingredient is red hot peppers. This dip is a common addition to a Mediterranean mezze plate. Although it hails from Tunisia, it has spread beyond its country and can be found in other cuisines. Add it to grilled fish and even rice.
When it comes to versatile sauces, hummus takes the cup. It can be made light or thick, and eaten warm or cool. It also brings together the flavor of tahini, because tahini is sometimes used as an ingredient.
Like most of the dips and sauces, hummus doesn’t dictate the dishes you can eat it with. Eat hummus as a veggie dip, as a sauce with pasta, as a dip for chips and of course as a spread for your Shawarma.