October 29th, 2013
12:00 PM ET
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Qwaider Al Nabulsi is an unremarkable place, at first glance.

The clue is in the glamorous Indian woman standing out front waxing lyrical to a group of hungry looking tourists.

The setting is a Palestinian-Jordanian restaurant in Dubai (Qwaider Al Nabulsi, Al Muraqabat Street; +971 4227 5559), the tourists are refugees from the city's culinary mainstream, and the woman is Arva Ahmed - underground food guide extraordinaire.

Ahmed is talking about the history and variety of Middle Eastern cooking.

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Filed under: Blogs • Middle East • Middle Eastern • Travel

Carving the way to kebab greatness
May 16th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Kebabs: the food of ancient Ottoman emperors, Persian courts and, in recent times, inebriated persons.

In much of the Western world, particularly Europe, the kebab has become the must-have meal for all variety of people falling out of pubs and clubs between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

This couldn’t be further from the situation in the Middle East. Here, grilled meat served with salad and flatbread or rice is a meal for all the family.

Find out where 5 of the world's best kebab joints are on CNN Travel.

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Filed under: Cuisines • Middle Eastern • Travel

Saudi Arabia: A fast food nation looking to slow down
March 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: Each month, Inside the Middle East takes you behind the headlines to see a different side of this diverse region. Follow us on on Twitter: Presenter Rima Maktabi: @rimamaktabi, producer Jon Jensen: @jonjensen, digital producer Mairi Mackay @mairicnn and writer Cat Davies @catrionadavies

Yasser Jad has a dream to open a fine dining cookery school in Saudi Arabia.

He founded the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association three years ago to create a network among his country's best cooks and encourage them to improve their skills and now has 270 members.

But he believes there's more to do in developing fine dining.

Read the full story: "Saudi foodies ditch fast food for fine dining"

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Filed under: Bite • Cuisines • Middle East • Middle Eastern • Travel

iReport: 30 days, 30 kitchens: Making food in the UAE
August 11th, 2011
03:15 PM ET
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Carefully sliced meats are tenderized and cooked over flames. Simmering vegetables intermingle in appetizing combinations as they prepare to accompany comforting foods like steak and potatoes. Pastries form eye-catching designs, as if they were placed there to serve as centerpieces.

Photographer and iReporter Sean Blake's account of his visit to The Butcher Shop & Grill is told through still images, plus a bit of glowing praise.

"I would like to unofficially change the name of this place to 'The Immaculate, Super Fresh, Awesome, Never Go Home Hungry, Definitely Will Go Back, Butcher Shop & Grill,'" he writes.

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Filed under: Destination Adventure • iReport • Middle Eastern • Travel • UAE

August 1st, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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During the month of Ramadan, which begins today and continues through August 30th, from dawn to dusk observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings.

Throughout this ninth month of the Islamic calendar, at sunset, the family will gather to end the fast with iftar - a communal meal that often starts with the consumption of a date, as the Prophet Muhammad was believed to have done. Dishes vary according to regional and familial traditions and tastes.

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Filed under: Bite • Buzz • Cuisines • Halal • Holidays • iReport • Middle Eastern • Ramadan

June 27th, 2011
01:45 PM ET
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Women in the West Bank town of Nablus are preparing to open a cookery school to teach Palestinian specialties to foodie tourists.

The school will be part of a cultural and social center, called Bait Al Karama, and will be the first women-led cookery school in the Palestinian Territories, according to its organizers.

It has already joined the Slow Food movement, the international association set up to combat fast food culture and concerned with organic, locally-sourced food.

Read Hungry for adventure? Head to West Bank cookery school and get recipes for Knafeh and Makloubet Zaher below.

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Filed under: Cooking • Make • Middle East • Middle Eastern • News • Recipes

January 31st, 2011
04:45 PM ET
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Get your Philly cheesesteak on - in Bahrain
December 9th, 2010
07:15 PM ET
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Nothing says Philly grub more than the cheesesteak. And now they’ll be available in the Middle East – Bahrain to be exact.

The Philly cheesesteak has been around the City of Brotherly Love for some 80 years. Tony Luke’s, the iconic Philadelphia sandwich shop on the city’s South Side, is celebrating its touching down in Riffa with a grand opening on Dec. 12.

More locations are expected to open over the next few months in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The opening in Bahrain is the first of 60 cheesesteak shops planned for the Middle East and North Africa — all indoors, and all halal.

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Filed under: Bite • Cheesesteak • Cuisines • Middle Eastern • Philadelphia • Regional Sandwiches • Sandwiches

September 10th, 2010
02:00 AM ET
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CNN Producer Amir Ahmed and wife Mona Megahed share the story of how their family celebrates Eid al-Fitr - the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. From dawn to dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings. Click through the gallery above for images of Eid fare around the world.

Ramadan and Eid are special times of the year when people from various parts of the globe enjoy cooking and sharing their traditional foods. Muslim families typically break their fast together and savor the scrumptious meals that have been prepared that day. We have tried a variety of traditional food during this Ramadan but we must admit; our favorite is the Egyptian cuisine. Perhaps we are biased because we trace our roots to the Middle East.

Breaking the fast is a truly social event. At dawn, typically Egyptian families invite friends and relatives to break their fast with either dates or a drink of "Qamar-eddeen" - an apricot juice with small bits of different dried fruit and nuts.

The delicious drink – almost exclusively served during Ramadan – is supposed to supply the body with a much needed dose of sugar after many hours of fasting. It contains raisins and bits of figs, dates, apricots, pine nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

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Filed under: Bite • Cuisines • Egyptian • Eid • Holidays • Middle Eastern • Ramadan • Ramadan

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