Food & Cooking

Women in the family preparing a lamb tagine, Morocco
Women in the family preparing a lamb tagine, Morocco. Source: Lucyin (Self-photographed) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

People of Arabic speaking backgrounds enjoy inviting guests to their home for meals and sharing food together. Sharing meals is an opportunity to express the essential values of hospitality. Meals are generally large family affairs, with much sharing and a great deal of warmth over the dinner table.

Dinners and celebrations generally involve large platters of food which are shared commonly amongst guests. Typically, these include a vast amount of rice, incorporating lamb or chicken, stewed vegetables and all foods are heavily spiced.

Historically, foods relied greatly on a diet of wheat, barley, rice, dates, meat and yoghurt products, Middle Eastern cuisine today represents a combination of richly diverse cuisines that span the Arab world from Morocco to Iraq and include Lebanese, Egyptian and others. Additionally foods have incorporated spices and influences from India, Turkey, Berber, Persia (Iran) and others.

Key Foods and Flavours

Tashreeb Iraqi meat dish.
Tashreeb Iraqi meat dish. Source: Miansari66 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Lamb and chicken are the most commonly used meats, with beef, goat, other poultry and fish in many regions.

Pork is completely prohibited for Muslim Arabs – being prohibited under Islamic law, it is considered both cultural and religious taboo (‘Haram’); however, Christians of Arabic speaking backgrounds eat and enjoy pork products.


If you are working with young people, women or seniors and want to explore interactive group activities that support social connection, you can use cooking as a great way to engage Arabic Clients and ensure that your work is culturally relevant. See Arabic Cuisine for some delicious recipe ideas.

If you are interested in making Arabic coffee with clients, then there are a few simple steps for you to follow and enjoy this hot beverage:

Note: This video shows you how to make Arabic coffee using green (unroasted) whole coffee beans - you can purchase roasted ground coffee beans instead and omit the steps of pan roasting and grinding the beans.