There is no shortage of food blogs out there to help you find every recipe under the sun. There is, however, a shortage of food blogs dedicated specifically to Middle Eastern cuisine, where recipes for favourite dishes from my youth are available for the struggling cook (read: me).
I may have watched my mother cook the same dish a million times, assisted her in the kitchen by fetching ingredients and chopping onions and washing the mountain of pots and pans (and colanders and strainers and cooking utensils and bowls and chopping boards) that are a result of every cooking session, but if I had to recreate a recipe myself, I always draw a blank. Just how much exactly is "a bit of oil"? What does it mean to just "fry the meat"; what kind of meat are we talking, what quantity, what cut? And what does it mean that I'll "just know" once the "something or other" is done?
To help me learn the Arab dishes I grew up on, and desire every time a craving for some comfort food strikes, I've gathered a few food blogs that celebrate the diversity of Arabic cuisine. Here are a few of my favourites, whether you're an Arab wondering exactly how to make 'Fattet Makdous', or a non-Arab eager to recreate that tabbouleh salad you love ordering in every Lebanese restaurant you ever visit.
My two favourites are: Syrian Foodie in London: This is my absolute favourite blog, because the result of every recipe is exactly right, and a perfect recreation of the dishes my own Syrian mother makes. Syrian food is the crowning glory of all the Middle East - no other country's repertoire of dishes compares. You'll enjoy this blog, and the recipes are detailed and easy to follow.
Dirty Kitchen Secrets: This blog combines dishes from Lebanon with all sorts of international recipes. The writer's detailed description of some of the essential ingredients in Lebanese cooking are invaluable. She makes labour-intensive dishes that require slow, lengthy cooking sound easy and accessible.
Here are a few more: Taste of Beirut: Lebanese food recipes for home cooking Zayt and Zaatar: Hasn't posted in a while, but look in the archives for some gems Bhibik Ya Neh Neh: Posting is sporadic, but the recipes come with mouthwatering pictures Olive Juice by Tony Tahhan: Excellent Syrian recipes in a blog that combines pictures with detailed stories perfectly - a pleasure to read. Simply Heaven Food by Afaf: Good luck if you're reading this blog when hungry. Stomach grumbling is inevitable. And finally: Orange Blossom Water: this blog has not posted anything new since March last year, but the archives are a wealth of excellent recipes.