Shahiya first launched as a Middle Eastern foodies’ social network, and the success of the site has since led to the launch of an iPhone app based on recipes submitted to the site. The name Shahiya literally means Appetite.
Based in Lebanon, the bilingual Arabic and English site is the brainchild of Carole Hani, Hala Labaki and Daniel Neuwirth. The site is 100% user-generated, and sets itself apart from other similar sites by focusing on cuisine almost entirely from the Middle Eastern region, with a few extras here and there. With foodies from all over the region contributing their favourite recipes, the site becomes an ideal place for anyone to learn a little more about Middle Eastern food and how to prepare it.
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While the content is fully user-generated, Shahiya’s editorial team moderates it to ensure that the recipes are useful, informative and reliable.
In addition to recipes, Shahiya also hosts a variety of user-generated restaurant reviews, with most emanating from Cairo, Beirut and Riyadh.
Shahiya is probably also one of the few places, if not the only place, where you can discover more about the nutritional information, such as calorie count, about Middle Eastern food. Because of its bilingual nature, the site is equally useful for members in the Middle Eastern region to share and try out recipes, and for anyone anywhere in the world to try their hand at something a little different.
With that in mind, the Shahiya team has since launched an iPhone app limited only to Lebanese recipes, based on the user-generated content available on the site. The recipes were tested, refined and included on the $2.99 app.
The iPhone app, Cook Lebanese, is available in English, Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. Something of a Cooking 101 for Lebanese cuisine, the app features an introduction to each dish, step-by-step preparation instructions, difficulty level and nutritional information. Because the recipes were tested and narrowed down by the Shahiyya team, they paid attention to the availability of the ingredients, choosing only recipes and ingredients which can be found anywhere in the world.
The recipes in the app can be browsed by category, or you can simply search for the ingredient or recipe of your choice, and can also be added to your favourites. When looking at any category of recipes, you can further filter the recipes down to vegetarian only.
Each recipe is carefully described, the ingredients listed along with step-by-step instructions, and detailed nutritional information including calorie count, and fat and cholesterol count.
The site and app’s main strength is the fact that it opens up a window of cuisine for a part of the world, with recipes coming straight out of Middle Eastern kitchens. If we had one criticism, it would be of the site’s design. The homepage is cluttered, and the overall design is somewhat dated. That said, content is king, and the content on Shahiya is certainly worth checking out.