--- Watch A Middle East Feast 8.00pm Thursdays on SBS Food (see the breakfast episode on July 15), or stream it free via SBS On Demand. For recipes, articles and more head to the program page here. ---
"A good Middle Eastern breakfast is all about bringing the family together, over a generous spread of small plates that will typically include things like eggs, vegetables, beans, cheese, pastries, and fresh breads," says Shane Delia in A Middle East Feast, in an episode dedicated to great ways to start the day.
Whether you're gathering a family or a group of friends for a feast of many dishes, or you just want to bring a little of the spirit of a Middle Eastern breakfast to your table, the key is to make it feel fresh, colourful and full of flavour, and eat with joy. "Middle Eastern food is more than just a meal," Delia says. "It's a way to connect with family and friends. It's generous, it's full flavoured, and it's all about sharing."
Here are some of our favourite recipes - including some favourites from Delia's kitchen.
"You need to have cheese with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern breakfast," says Shane in A Middle East Feast, and what a way to do it! He describes this dish as "really simple, really sexy, really tasty": slices of wonderful haloumi wrapped in crunchy kataifi pastry, fried until crunchy and golden, then served while warm with a honey, pine nut and lemon dressing.
Shane Delia's guest on his breakfast episode of A Middle East Feast is Linda Jones, who is not only a successful restaurateur herself, but also the niece of Abla Amad, the pioneering woman who helped develop Melbourne's love of Lebanese food. Jones makea a baked fatteh, a dish of bread, chickpeas and yoghurt. Often for fatteh the bread is fried, but in this version, it's baked. "I've got nothing against frying. Love frying," Jones explains. But with this particular dish, I think that once you fry the bread, and you put it with the layers of yoghourt and tahini, and then you drizzle the ghee on at the end, it just can be a little bit rich for the morning." So baked it is, creating a dish that's just the right degree of rich for a breakfast spread.
From Shane Delia's Recipe For Life, this is a delicious combination of freekeh, nuts, seeds, mint and greens, topped with eggs and a yoghurt-tahini sauce. It's like a savoury granola, inspired by the wonderful flavours and ingredients of the Middle East.
Like your eggs with some kick? Here, shane rolls boiled eggs in dill and serves them on top of a mix of roasted capsicum, thick slices of basturma and some Aleppo pepper.
Taking its name from the Arabic word for ‘engraved’ because of the indentations on the dough, this Lebanese 'pizza' is a breakfast favourite. Try the version below, with za'atar, haloumi and tomato, from the Feast magazine archives or ring the changes with Hoda Kobeissi's version where the topping options include za'atar, tomato and onion or Vegemite and cheese.
This fragrant bowl is delicious served warm, but just as good the next day, when it has thickened slightly, so it's a great recipe if you want breakfast for one or two, with more to enjoy on following days, or make a pot in advance for a quick mid-week reheat. Top the creamy rice, cooked with cinnamon, honey, vanilla and lemon, with chopped pistachios, pomegranate molasses or whatever toppings you have at hand.
From Melbourne chef Shannon Martinez, this richly flavoured 'mince', topped with hummus, is begging to be scooped up with torn bread. Perfect as part of a spread.
This is a very pretty breakfast, inspired by the Middle Eastern love of labneh. You'll need to start the recipe the day before you serve the dish, as the yoghurt needs to strain overnight (you can make your own yoghurt, or use your favourite purchased Greek-style yoghurt).
This egg dish, from Under the Mediterranean Sun by Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol, is Turkish in origin, but the same sort of savoury warm yoghurt is used all over the Middle East. The pair say it is good for breakfast, brunch or dinner.
"I like to eat this straight from the pan and therefore wait for everybody to take theirs so that I can be last and keep the best bits to myself. Try it and you’ll see exactly what I mean, but just keep this information to yourself or you’ll need to fight for it. Been there, done that," writes Tomer Amedi jokingly of his version of this Middle Eastern favourite, but it's easy to see what he means. With a batch of matbucha (a tomato and capsicum stew) made ahead and kept in the fridge, this hearty egg breakfast is ready in 25 minutes.
Breakfast on the go, a snack or a gift - these versatile bars can be any and all. Packed with almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, honey and spices (and if you like, rosewater or orange blossom water), they are a portable sweet treat.
How could we resist saying "falafel for breakfast"! And of course, it's a perfectly good breakfast choice too. Give it a go with Egyptian broad bean falafel (pictured below), baked falafel with tomato herb salad and tahini sauce, herby green falafels, or even falafel waffles.
This recipe brings together an assortment of Shane Delia's favourite sides to serve with brekkie, featuring dressed radishes, a creamy ricotta and tahini molasses and fresh toum garlic dip with Lebanese bread. Get your spread on!
An impressive one-pan meal, this heearty breakfast is finished with a tahini' lemon and garlic dressing. Serve with plenty of bread to soak up the rich sauce!
If you have small earthenware dishes like the ones shown in the picture, do use them as they make all the difference to this wonderful breakfast.
In the Middle East, people eat a lot of labneh (strained yoghurt). These make a great mezze when served with lovely fresh flatbread, but they’re also delicious for lunch!
We like to make these delicious bread-like pancakes for an indulgent breakfast. They're sublime with some honey and butter to serve.
The addition of more herbs in this version gives it a vibrant green colour, as well as a grassier flavour and fragrance that works well with many dishes. The Chefs' Line
“One of the things I love most is getting home from the supermarket and opening up and smelling a package of fresh yeast. It’s a bit odd, I know, but I love it. What is even better is the smell of the house after baking with yeast and this bread does the job beautifully. You can swap the halva spread, halva and chocolate filling with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar; nutella and ground almonds; or poppy seeds.” Deanna