Middle Eastern Side Dishes for Lamb: Top Picks for Perfect Pairings

Middle Eastern cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors and textures that complement the rich taste of lamb dishes. One of the highlights of this culinary tradition is the wide array of side dishes that elevate the overall dining experience. This article will delve into the world of Middle Eastern sides that pair beautifully with lamb, ensuring your next meal is a feast to remember.

Popular Middle Eastern side dishes for lamb include meze-style options that feature small plates of appetizers, ideal for sharing and for adding a variety of textures and flavors to the table. Bread-based sides such as naan and pita bread are also great accompaniments for lamb dishes, allowing diners to appreciate the different layers of taste and aroma in each bite.

Whether you are a seasoned cook or a newcomer to Middle Eastern cuisine, these side dishes will not only enhance the flavor profile of your lamb dish but also provide your guests with an authentic and unforgettable dining experience. So, without further ado, let’s explore the delectable world of Middle Eastern side dishes for lamb.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore diverse Middle Eastern side dishes that complement lamb dishes
  • Meze-style options and bread-based sides add variety to your feast
  • Enhance your lamb dish with authentic and unforgettable flavor profiles

Popular Middle Eastern Side Dishes for Lamb

When it comes to enjoying a delicious lamb dish, accompanying Middle Eastern side dishes can enhance the flavors and provide a satisfying, well-rounded meal. Three popular categories of side dishes are rice-based, vegetable-based, and legume-based dishes.

Rice-based Side Dishes

Rice is a staple in the Middle Eastern cuisine and complements lamb dishes perfectly. A few rice-based side dishes include:

  • Pilaf: A seasoned rice dish cooked in broth, containing vegetables, nuts, and sometimes raisins. Using fragrant spices like saffron, cinnamon, and cardamom adds complexity to the dish.
  • Biryani: Similar to pilaf, Biryani is more heavily seasoned and often includes meat, typically chicken or mutton, mixed with the rice. This can be served alongside lamb as a contrasting flavor.
  • Mujaddara: A combination of rice and brown or green lentils cooked with spices like cumin and coriander. Traditionally topped with caramelized onions and served with yogurt.

Vegetable-based Side Dishes

Pairing lamb with vegetable-based side dishes can add color and nutritional value to the meal. Popular choices include:

  • Tabbouleh: A refreshing salad made from finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, and bulgur wheat, seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Fattoush: A tangy, colorful salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and crispy pieces of pita bread tossed in a zesty dressing.
  • Baba Ganoush: A creamy, smoky eggplant dip prepared by grilling or roasting eggplants, then blending them with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice.

Legume-based Side Dishes

Legume-based side dishes offer an extra boost of protein, fiber, and a delicious accompaniment to lamb dishes. Some options include:

  • Hummus: A smooth, creamy dip made from cooked chickpeas, blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. It can be served with pita bread or used as a topping on lamb dishes.
  • Ful Medames: A flavorful dish made from cooked and mashed fava beans, seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It can be served with pita bread or as a side to a lamb entree.
  • Falafel: Deep-fried balls or patties made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of both, seasoned with herbs and spices. These can be served with tahini sauce or alongside a lamb dish to provide contrasting textures.

Meze-style Side Dishes

When serving lamb in a Middle Eastern meal, it’s essential to have a variety of meze-style side dishes. These small plates offer flavorful complements that round out the dining experience. We’ll explore three popular options: Hummus, Baba Ganoush, and Tabbouleh.


Hummus is a creamy dip made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. It’s not only delicious but also nutritious, as it’s packed with plant-based protein and fiber. The smooth texture of hummus works well with the tenderness of lamb dishes, and it can be easily spread on bread or used as a dipping sauce.

To make hummus, simply blend the following ingredients until smooth:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush is another popular Middle Eastern side dish, made primarily from eggplant. It shares some similarities with hummus, such as its creamy texture, but has a unique smoky flavor brought about by roasting the eggplant. This side dish pairs well with lamb, as the smoky notes work beautifully with the meat’s rich flavors.

To prepare Baba Ganoush, follow these steps:

  1. Roast one large eggplant until the skin is charred and the flesh is soft.
  2. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin.
  3. Blend the eggplant with 1/4 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt to taste.


Lastly, Tabbouleh is a fresh and vibrant salad made with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and mint, all dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. This zesty side dish provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of lamb, cutting through the heaviness and adding a boost of flavor to each bite.

Here’s a simple Tabbouleh recipe:

  • 1 cup cooked bulgur wheat (cooled)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well. Allow the flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes before serving.

By including these meze-style side dishes with your lamb, you’ll not only enhance the overall dining experience but also transport your guests to the diverse and exciting world of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Bread-based Sides for Lamb

Lamb dishes in the Middle East are often accompanied by bread-based sides. The versatility and simplicity of these sides only enhance the flavors of the main dish. Two popular bread-based sides are Pita Bread and Lavash.

Pita Bread

Pita bread is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and pairs perfectly with lamb dishes. This slightly leavened bread has a distinct pocket-like structure that makes it perfect for dipping sauces or holding fillings, such as:

  • Hummus
  • Tzatziki
  • Baba ghanoush

To enjoy pita bread with lamb, simply tear off a piece and use it to scoop up your lamb dish, or cut the Pita into smaller pieces and serve alongside cooked lamb as an edible utensil.


Another popular bread-based side dish is Lavash. This thin, soft flatbread is commonly found in Armenian and Iranian cuisine and has a slightly chewy texture. Lavash is traditionally baked in a clay oven called a “tonir,” but can also be made on a stovetop. Some ways you can serve Lavash with lamb are:

  • Wrapping: Use Lavash as a wrapper for grilled or cooked lamb, adding vegetables and sauces for additional flavors.
  • Dipping: Cut Lavash into smaller pieces for dipping into various sauces, such as yogurt-based sauces or chili-based dips, to complement your lamb dish.

Both Pita Bread and Lavash are versatile side dishes that can be used in numerous ways to enhance the flavors of lamb dishes. Whether it’s scooping, dipping, or wrapping, incorporating these bread-based sides will bring your Middle Eastern culinary experience to another level.

Leave a Comment