Home » Cuisine of the month » Mediterranean

Mediterranean

Mediterranean food is immensely popular all over the world. The wonderful aromas and flavours of the varied cuisines of this region tend to leave a lasting impression on all those who appreciate good food. Two adjectives – robust and intense – beautifully describe the range of dishes from coastal Spain through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and along North Africa.

These countries have influenced each other’s food habits over the years and their cooking has evolved into sharing common principles. There is a great regional diversity between the countries around the Mediterranean Sea and yet there are so many similarities. They mostly use the same ingredients and have many similar dishes. It probably has to do with the shared climate and produce, the age old trading between the port cities, with the same influences from – Roman, Greek, Arab, Ottoman, Spanish – spreading across the region. The hall mark of Mediterranean cuisine is its flexibility, the vast range of ingredients and its numerous variations.

Though there are a number of similarities the Mediterranean cuisine in its entirety can be divided into three main regions: North African, which is Morocco; Eastern Mediterranean which covers Egypt, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey; Southern European which consists of Italy, France and Spain. Southern European food has distinct touches of wine and herbs, while the North African food has spices adding that special flavor. 

Model for healthy eating

Mediterranean diet is very nutritious and is held as a model for healthy living. The high life expectancy of people living around this region is proof of this. Plenty of grains, fresh vegetables, pulses, fresh fruits and nuts, with little meat, plenty of fish, and olive oil as the medium of cooking are the major ingredients of the Mediterranean cuisine and have long been adopted as ideal healthy fare. Olive oil contains a high proportion of mono-unsaturated fats which research has proved its beneficial effect on health. Bread is a staple food throughout this region and is an integral part of every meal. It is served with a bowl of soup or a platter of fish or with a bowl of hummus or with tapenade. Also the variety of breads available through this region is remarkable. Though the basic ingredients remain the same the range of flavours and textures are simply amazing. From the soft Italian breads to the gorgeous Greek olive breads to the delicious unleavened pitta breads – they are all delicious and wholesome.

The real appeal of Mediterranean cuisine lies in its perfectionist quality of the cooking techniques, the rich flavours, aromas and colours, as well as its simplicity. It is the kind of food that anyone can begin to love and then continue the love affair for the rest of their lives! Many households around the world are adopting some Mediterranean food in their everyday cooking, as well as for entertaining. 

The region’s bounty

The best known dishes are simple fare produced for generations from plentiful home grown or local ingredients. The Mediterranean world is defined by the sea that lies at its heart and the consequence of this is a cuisine that makes full use of its abundant fish and shellfish. Onions, tomatoes, and garlic, surrounded by olive oil, begin many of the Mediterranean dishes. Eggplants are abundant, as is squash, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, artichokes, okra, and a variety of greens and lettuces. Legumes are also quite hearty like lentils, chickpeas, fava beans in Egypt, green beans in France, white kidney beans in Tuscany. Fresh herbs that are widely used include rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, fennel, and oregano. A characteristic that must be noted about the Mediterranean’s food is that the regions fresh fruits and vegetables are second to none.

The mouth watering delicacies

Perhaps the best part of the Mediterranean cuisine is the importance given to snacks and starters that can be served any time of the day. The Spanish tapas are renowned. So also is the sumptuous selection of appetizers called meze that the Greeks, Turks and Moroccans enjoy so much.

The Mediterranean Sea makes it possible to include an endless variety of fish and shellfish preparations. Each country has its own distinct flavour but one thing common is that they insist on fresh catch – practically taken from the sea straight into their kitchens. The classic Seafood stew delicately flavoured with saffron is something to die for. However seafood is not the only non-vegetarian ingredient one can enjoy on their menu. Veal, lamb, pork and chicken are also cooked in plenty.

There is a wrong notion that the Mediterranean food is all about non vegetarian. You can find some of the most luscious and flavourful vegetarian fare here cooked with sun ripened eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes that not only add flavour and taste to the dish but also tremendous visual appeal. Salads feature quite prominently on a Mediterranean menu. Colourful vegetables with simple dressings make ideal first course and even serve as great accompaniments to the main course.

As is anywhere else in the world, a Mediterranean meal too ends on a sweet note. A peep into their repertoire will reveal a mind boggling selection of sweet treats. From the gorgeous looking gateaux’s to dainty cakes, from crisp biscuits to delicate tarts, the Mediterranean sweet dishes are known for their fabulous falvours and textures. The glorious selection of seasonal fruits such peaches, apricots, melons and cherries give that royal touch to the sweet dishes. Dates are widely used throughout the region, either served filled with cream or ricotta cheese or as a delicious filling for mouth-watering tarts.

Mediterranean food, while simple to cook, is delicious and healthy too. So just sit back and enjoy the extremely robust and delicious fare! 

Recommended Recipes

Recent Cuisines

Bengali

Bengali

The Big Bong Theory

Read more...

French

French

Scientific research over the years has shown that France has a low rate of chronic heart disease des

Read more...

Mexican

Mexican

What is the most common impression about Mexican food? That it is hot and wholesome and has...

Read more...

Parsi

Parsi

Parsi cuisine adds to the richness and variety of the Indian cuisine. Parsi food is a mix of...

Read more...

Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh

If you are in Uttar Pradesh, you can find classic and traditional foods in each and every corner...

Read more...

Andhra

Andhra

The cuisine of Andhra Pradesh is reputedly the spiciest of all Indian cuisine. Foods include...

Read more...

Bengali

Bengali

What comes into the mind when we talk about Bengali Cuisine? It’s the delicious fish...

Read more...

Gujarati

Gujarati

Gujarati dishes have so much to offer in terms of taste, presentation and cooking techniques....

Read more...

Maharashtrian

Maharashtrian

A large part of Maharashtra lies on the coastline. The food in these cities and villages makes the..

Read more...

Goan

Goan

Goa's 450 years under Portuguese rule has produced a unique blend of eastern and western cuisine...

Read more...

Rajasthani

Rajasthani

Various types of curries and delicious sweets is what the Rajasthani cuisine is all about...

Read more...

Chinese

Chinese

The demand for Chinese food is growing at a very fast pace. This entire furore about Chinese food...

Read more...

Banarasi

Banarasi

One striking fact for gourmets that is hard to believe about the cuisine of Banaras is the fact...

Read more...

Thai

Thai

Thai food is an original and rich amalgam of aromas, subtle blends of herbs and spices and ...

Read more...

Kerala

Kerala

Food of Kerala cuisine is strongly flavoured – it is hot, spicy and sour. Tamarind, yogurt, raw...

Read more...

Mangalorean

Mangalorean

A distinct flavour is what differentiates Mangalorean cuisine from any other Indian cuisine...

Read more...

Italian

Italian

Italian cuisine is world’s most popular cuisine and the reasons are very obvious...

Read more...

Kashmiri

Kashmiri

Kashmiri food carries with it a delicious nip of all things hot and spicy. It might be a little...

Read more...

Sindhi

Sindhi

Sindhi cuisine is delightful, and those who have had a taste of it will know that there is a great..

Read more...

South Indian

South Indian Delicacies

There is something unique about the South Indian food that evokes extreme devotion from all who...

Read more...

Konkani

Konkan

Konkan coastal cuisine is primarily the food of Konkani speaking people. The Konkani cuisine is as..

Read more...

Delhi

Delhi

Delhi being a conglomerate of different cultures, can serve people with Bengali preparations...

Read more...

Marwari

Marwari

You will find here a variety of Marwari recipes ranging from Bharwan Gatte, Arbi ka Khatta Shaak...

Read more...

Punjabi

Punjabi

Punjabi food is wholesome and full of rustic flavour. The custom of cooking in community...

Read more...

Moghlai

Moghlai

Moghlai food brings in visions of dishes that are aromatically marinated in masalas of ginger and...

Read more...

Haryana

Haryana

Just like the people of Haryana, who are simple, robust and inextricably linked to the land, so is..

Read more...

Coorg

Coorg

Call it Coorg, call it Kodagu, but one thing is for sure - this place can grow...

Read more...

Hyderabadi

Hyderabadi

Of all the Muslim cuisine, Hyderabadi is the only cuisine in the sub-continent that can boast of...

Read more...

Chettinaad

Chettinaad

If you like your food hot and spicy and non-vegetarian, then you must try Chettinaad cuisine...

Read more...

Royal Cuisines of India

Royal Cuisine of India

India is a land of kings and emperors. India is also known for its hospitality that is the essence..

Read more...

Wishlist