Soya is not indigenous to the Middle East. That’s why there isn’t much of it in Veggiestan*. The Iranians and the Turks now produce quite a lot of soya beans, but this is mostly for cattle fodder. And many Iranian and Arabic housewives are addicted to daytime TV, especially celebrity medical programmes, so they all know that soya is good for them. It is big in Israel, as well. So there is a market for the stuff.
But nevertheless I was intrigued when young Afghan and Iraqi immigrants started coming in and asking for soya mince. It is most definitely not part of their national cuisine, they are certainly not vegetarian, and there is no shortage of cheap enough meat in our area. So I did a bit of poking.
Seems that the West, in its wisdom, is trying to encourage Afghan farmers to grow soya (amongst other things) in place of poppies, and has started a possibly well-intentioned but nevertheless-rather-patronising re-education programme to persuade poorer Afghans of its nutritional value. Soya oil is of course quite profitable, and there are quite a number of big corporations involved in this houha. Cynic I am not, but let’s just say all of this made me raise my eyebrows….
So now you know.
*The other reason is of course that you would not have thanked me for producing a vegetarian Middle Eastern cook book by simply going through the cuisine substituting the meat element with tofu.