Middle Eastern Mezze

PUBLISHED: 17:11 16 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:21 20 February 2013

Middle Eastern Mezze

Middle Eastern Mezze

Middle Eastern Mezze recipes from Green Season Cookbook by Rachel Demuth

Middle Eastern Mezze

Mezze comes from the Persian maza meaning taste, relish. Mezze is eaten in a relaxed manner, either chatting over a drink with friends before a meal or as a meal in itself. The variety of dishes is huge, make up your own mezze selection and serve with fresh bread, olives, sprigs of fresh herbs, lettuce hearts, ripe sweet tomatoes, ridge cucumbers and spring onions.


An Egyptian mix of roasted nuts, seeds and spices, eaten with bread dipped in olive oil as an appetizer. This recipe makes a large quantity, but keeps well in a sealed jar, its so delicious, it wont last for long!

Serves: 8

Dietary: Vegan Wheat free


100g hazelnuts

25g pumpkin seeds

25g sesame seeds

25g pinenuts

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

a good pinch of Maldon sea salt


Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas4.

Roast all the nuts and seeds separately. Place the hazels on a baking tray and roast for 8 minutes until the skins are beginning to blacken, remove from the oven, leave to cool and then rub off the skins. Roast pumpkin seeds for 5 minutes and sesame just a couple. The pinenuts are best dry-fried (with no oil) in a frying pan over a medium heat, keep stirring until they are golden and then decant into a bowl.

Dry-fry the coriander seeds and then the cumin seeds in a frying pan until they smell fragrant. Roughly grind in a pestle and mortar.

Rub the skins off the roasted hazels.

Wiz the nuts and seeds up in a food processor to a loose bread crumb consistency. But if you dont have a processor, they will crush easily in a mortar. Decant into a bowl and stir in the spices and the salt.

Lebanese Aubergine Yoghurt Salad

This is a cross between a dip and a salad with the sour sumac complementing the well-oiled lubricity of the aubergines.

Serves: 4

Dietary: (Vegan Option)


2 small aubergines cut into small cubes

3 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp sumac

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tbsps plain yoghurt or soya yoghurt

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

handful of parsley, chopped

juice of a lemon

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pre-heat the oven 200C/Gas6.

Place the aubergine cubes in a bowl and mix in the olive oil, mix and decant into a roasting dish. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The aubergine should become soft, but still keep its form.

When the aubergine is cooked sprinkle over the sumac, mix and set aside to cool.

When cool. Mix in the crushed garlic, yoghurt, toasted sesame seeds, parsley, and lemon juice. Season to taste. Serve as part of the Mezze or on its own with pitta bread.

Tips: Sumac is the dried red berries of a Middle Eastern bush Rhus coriaria with a sour flavour. Sumac is always sprinkled on after cooking. Traditionally used as a substitute for lemon juice.

Falafal with a Tahini Dip

Falafals come originally from Egypt, but are now found in all Middle Eastern cuisines. The key to a delicious falafal is to make them moist enough. Many you buy are so dry they stick to the roof of your mouth. These are very tasty little nuggets of moistness, with a crisp outside.

Makes: 16

Dietary: Vegan


240g cooked chickpeas

4 garlic cloves, crushed

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp baking powder

4 tbsps chopped fresh coriander

1 tbsp light tahini

1 tsp lemon juice

50g white breadcrumbs

sunflower oil for deep or shallow-frying


Whiz the chickpeas up in a food processor or pound in a large pestle and mortar to a breadcrumb like consistency. Decant the crushed chickpeas into a large mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix with your hands into a soft dough that sticks together, if its too dry add a little water. Form into little balls about the size of a walnut. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat enough oil in a wok, so that the falafals can be submerged in the oil or use a deep-fat fryer. Deep-fry a few at a time, until golden brown and crisp. If you prefer to shallow fry, you will need to keep on turning them over so that they fry evenly. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve hot as part of a Mezze with the Tahini Dip or stuffed in pitta with shredded lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad and topped with the Tahini Dip.

Tahini Dip


100ml light tahini

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp shoyu


Mix the tahini, lemon juice and shoyu together to a thick paste. Add water a little at a time until you have a smooth creamy mixture.

Tips: Tahini is sesame seed paste. There are two types, light which is de-husked and dark with its husks still on. We much prefer the light as the dark tends to be bitter. Keep in the fridge after opening to stop it going rancid.


Tabouleh or bulgar salad is popular all over the Middle East. This recipe has lots of fresh herbs and salad vegetables and less bulgar than is the norm, which is the way we like it.

Serves: 4

Dietary: Vegan


1 large handful flat parsley

1 smaller handful fresh mint

100g coarse bulgar

250ml boiling water

juice of 1 lemon

50ml olive oil

1 small red onion, finely diced

4 tomatoes, finely diced

1/2cucumber, finely diced

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Remove the stems from the parsley and mint and chop fine.

Soak the bulgar in the boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and squeeze out all the water.

Place the bulgar in a large bowl, add 1/2 the lemon juice, all the olive oil, stir and leave to stand for 30 minutes. The bulgar should absorb all the dressing and be tender.

Mix in the chopped herbs, red onion, tomato and cucumber.

Season to taste and add more lemon juice for a very tangy tabouleh.

Tips: Bulgar is made from wheat, which has been de-husked, parboiled, dried and then cracked.

For a wheat free option use quinoa, which would need to be cooked first (see recipe.)

The above ingredients are traditional, but you could add, nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

Fattoush Salad

Fattoush is a Syrian salad packed with fresh herbs, traditionally made to use up stale bread.

Serves: 2/4

Dietary: vegan


2 little gem lettuces thickly shredded

1/2 cucumber, diced

4 spring onions, sliced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

handful of flat parsley, roughly chopped

handful of mint, roughly, chopped

handful of coriander, roughly chopped


3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

juice of one lemon

1 tsp pomegranate syrup

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lavash or pitta breads


Mix all the vegetables and herbs together in a salad bowl.

Make up the dressing and pour over the salad.

Split the lavash or pitta breads, open them out and toast until crisp. Then break them up into bite-sized pieces.

Mix the toasted lavash or pitta into the salad and serve at once.

Tips: Pomegranate syrup has a sweet and sour flavour and is available from Middle Eastern Stores.

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