Every region across the world has a set of unique flavors. Japan is famous for its ginger, wasabi and sesame seed, while Mexico is known for its variety of peppers. Middle Eastern food is unique as well that to its unique spice profile. There is a lot of diversity in Middle Eastern food, mainly due to the fact that the region is made up of 17 different countries with different food cultures.

Traditional middle eastern food is made with the oldest spices in the world. Over the centuries, Arabic people have perfected the art of mixing spices to create decadent flavors. Here is a look at some of the essential spices from the Middle East that you must try.

Aleppo Pepper

Also known as the Halaby Pepper, the Aleppo pepper is an Arabic spice from Syria and Turkey. The pepper turns dark red when it is ripe and often coarsely ground. It has a mild, fruity and raisin-like flavour with cumin undertones and hints of saltiness.

Aleppo peppers can also be found as dry pepper in grocery stores. Its flakes do not have any seeds, as you would expect. These peppers are commonly used to make meat dishes.


Harissa is a dark red chilli past that originates from North Africa. It is widely used in Algeria, Libya and Morocco. The harissa is made of local chillies pounded into a paste with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, caraway, coriander, salt, and cumin.


The list of must-have spices from the Middle East cannot be complete without mentioning saffron. The spice comes from the saffron crocus flower. Saffron is the stigma of the plant. Each flower produces three stigmas that must be hand-picked, making it one of the most expensive spices in the world.

It looks like a tiny red thread. Saffron has a delicate flavor and is popular with Middle Eastern rice dishes, and it gives its trademark yellow colour. It can also be used in ice cream, desserts and drinks.


Sumac is a common spice in Middle Eastern cooking. It is made from finely ground sumac berries and gives a beautiful pink colour when added to food. Sumac has a strong floral and fresh aroma. It has a tangy flavour with floral undertones, and it is typically used in souring agents for meats, stews and dressings.


Baharat is a Lebanese seven-spice blend. The mixture varies from region to region but is often a combination of allspice, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, coriander, cloves and cardamom. People across the Middle East use Baharat in fish, rice and meat dishes.

Rose Water

Rose water has a delicate and floral flavour. It is common in Middle Eastern deserts, such as Turkish Delight and halva. You can also use rose water in Israeli malabi with pomegranate syrup and rose water rice pudding.


Fenugreek is a herb with a sweet and nutty flavour. Many people compare its taste with maple. It is commonly used in Indian recipes and middle eastern dishes such as Persian kuku sabzi. 


Cumin is among the most popular dishes in the Middle East. It is highly fragrant with a strong and savoury flavour. Cumin makes mixed greens, hummus, cucumber, tahini and many other decadent dishes.


While most people use nutmeg in dessert dishes, people from the Middle East use it in meat dishes. It is used to add extra savoury flavour to dishes in the Middle East.

Are you looking to liven up your pantry? At ChefCo, we have all types of spices under the sun. We promise you will find what you want to elevate your dish. We also have different types of grains, foodstuffs, herbs, pulses and oils to make your food shopping easier under one roof.


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