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Meze or mezze (/ˈmɛzeɪ/, also spelled mazzeh or mazze; Kurdish: meze; Persian: مزه,. maze; Turkish: meze; is a selection of small dishes served to accompany alcoholic drinks in the Near East, the Balkans, and parts of Central Asia. In Levantine, South Caucasian, and Balkan cuisines, meze is often served at the beginning of multi-course meals.
The word is found in all the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and comes from Persian مزه (mazze "taste, snack" < mazīdan "to taste").
Popular meze dishes include: Hummus, Tzatziki, Tarama Salata, Yaprak Sarmasi, Baba Ganoush, Imam Bayildi, Halloumi, Falafel, Muska Böreği, Calamari
Kebab dishes originated in the medieval kitchens of Persia and Turkey. They were generally made with smaller chunks or slices of meat, or ground meat, often cooked on skewers over a fire.
According to linguist Sevan Nişanyan, the Turkish word kebap is also derived from the Arabic word kabāb, meaning roasted meat. It appears in Turkish texts as early as the 14th century.
Flatbreads in the Middle East have been cooked in tandoors and on metal frying pans such as the tava, for thousands of years. They have been used to wrap meat and other foods for convenience and portability.
However, it was not until the wider adoption in medieval times of the large stone oven, that flatbreads stuffed or topped with meat or other foods were baked together, cooking the bread and the topping at the same time. A variety of such dishes, such as sfiha and manakish, became popular in countries formerly parts of the Ottoman Empire.
A thin flatbread, topped with spiced ground meat, became known as laham b'ajin (meat with dough), shortened to lahmajin and similar names.