Situated at the rich nexus of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Middle Eastern flavours are as complex and varied as the region itself. Chinese rice, Silk Road spices, among others, passed through indigenous and mobile hands, creating dishes seasoned with mobility and peppered with history. Spiced meats, flatbreads, and diverse vegetables tell the stories of peoples ancient and modern.
Scarborough, with a large population of Middle Eastern migrants, reinterpret these culinary tales, and situated in one of the most diverse cities in the world, craft new stories in turn.
They are found all over Scarborough, but especially in the west near the city's beautiful mosques, serving quick bites such as kebabs and shawarma, but never failing to cater to a core cultural need: the community meal. Local restaurants are furnished with circular tables and banquet halls, and serve shared bowls of hummus, tabbouleh, and ornate platters of honey-drizzled sweets.
Softened chickpeas are mashed into crumbly bits, and fragrant medley of parsley, cilantro, and scallions are incorporated as a moist green mixture. By hand, a mince of garlic cloves, cumin, and coriander combine with a puff of white flour, and ... View More or Locate
A bowl of fresh hummus sits comfortably within an arrangement of ‘mezze’, quietly unobtrusive yet a staple of the Levantine table. A soft blend of cooked chickpeas embracing garlicky tahini, lemon juice, and various spices, hummus is the precursor to ... View More or Locate
Late summer afternoons can be enjoyed with the freshness of a yogurt drink and the sizzle of kebabs on the barbecue. Skewered and grilled over the heat of burning coals, there are variations in type and presentation to be found ... View More or Locate
In no more than five minutes flat, your visit to a shawarma store goes from a swift slice across slow-cooked chicken or beef dripping with fat, to a full stomach without knowing much of what’s happened in between. It is ... View More or Locate
After a satiation of spiritual appetite at one of Scarborough’s many mosques or churches, families of all sizes and generations are beckoned into the warm kitchens of Middle Eastern restaurants.
Here, take turns scooping soft mashes of tahini and hummus spread into the tart bunches of tabbouleh, and gathered savoury lamb or crispy and aromatic falafel within the folds of warm pita bread. Alternatively, enjoy an evening relaxing at one of Scarborough’s many shisha bars and juice bars, where stories and laughs are exchanged.
The Middle East has been a centre for world affairs, of trade and exchange. Long known for wheat cultivation and fermentation, it is here in an area called the Fertile Crescent, that leavened bread and beer originate, as well as other grains, nuts, and fruits including barley, pistachios, pomegranate, figs, and dates. Mobility and militarization in 550-330 BCE between Arabian warriors during the Persian empire marked the spread of nuts and dates, and traders traveling what would have been considered “the Orient”, extending from the Middle East to sub-continental India and into Indo-China. These changes brought the exchange of spices and other edible goods from the region.
The Jewish and Muslim populations, whose cultures forbid the consumption of pork, would instead showcase lamb as the prized protein of their cuisines, to be found in dishes such as the kofta or kebab. Later, the Ottoman Empire and its shifting peoples and cultures would introduce into the region phyllo pastries and Turkish coffees.