To discover Middle Eastern cuisine, you don't necessarily have to get on a plane. You can also visit chef Jaimie van Heije's favourite spots at De Bazaar in Beverwijk, or make a reservation at De Sjalot in Nijmegen by Sibrecht Benning. Of course, you can also stay at home. Cook for yourself, enjoy a good wine from Lebanon and have a great evening. TEXT KATJA BROKKE

The Middle East is known as the birthplace of a lot of beloved dishes and its wines - especially from Lebanon - have also been on the rise for years. The Netherlands has massively embraced the satiating hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouleh, pides, couscous, dolmas and tahini. The cuisine consists of homely comfort food. Fresh. Sweet. Suitable for eating together, sharing at a big table full of bowls, plates and carafes.

Portions of love
The countries that fall within the Middle East are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. When talking about cuisine, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and Syria in particular come to the fore. The first confectioners were Hebrews who lived in the present-day countries of Israel, Jordan and Iraq. They were already making pastries in the second millennium BC. So good, in fact, that a global advance was unstoppable. That advance began with the Greeks who introduced pastries to Europe, the story tells. Not only pastries like baklava have reached our country, by now you can also find Middle Eastern herbs, spices and savoury dishes here in several places, consisting mainly of mezze; generous portions of love shared with friends and family, similar to Mediterranean tapas.

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