The traditional Taste of Saudi Arabia
The traditions, norms, and cultures vary tremendously around the world and are expressed in private and public occasions. Food is one of the main indicators of these differences. Each country, culture is characterized by a special type of food or cuisine that grants the country a special identity and distinguishes it from the others.
As we approach the Arabian cuisines, we cannot but highlight the Saudi cuisine that is highly featured with its rich components and additives. Spices descending from the Bedouin life tend to add an exquisite flavor to the various dishes served which maintained the same taste since the days of our ancestors until today where no significant changes were made.
The Saudi dishes vary across the Kingdom, between the east and the west, the north and the south and the central region.
The “Kabsa” is considered to be the national dish of Saudi Arabia, consisting mainly of rice served along with chicken or meat and sometimes seafood in the coastal areas, along with authentic spices.
Other platters that derive from the “Kabsa” are “AlHaneeth”, “AlMathbi”, “AlMathlootha” and the fanciest of all is “AlMofattah”, where a whole cooked lamb is served on top of the rice to resemble generosity.
The second place goes to “AlMatazeez”. This popular Saudi dish consists mainly of wheat flour mixed with salt and water to form a soft texture dough, cooked along with meat and small pieces of vegetables served with gravy.
“Jereesh” that is considered a side dish served usually in Najd and the central region of the Kingdom. The groats (type of grain) is cooked with meat or chicken stew along with spices such as black pepper and cumin.
“Al Gursan” which is favored by the people in the central region, mainly Riyadh, its main ingredients are flour and ground-wheat mixed up with water and salt, the result will be a dough cooked on the saj, and then made with meat and vegetables.
As we move to the western region, mainly Jeddah, we can notice that they are famous for their “Saleeg”. A white-rice dish rice cooked with broth and served with roasted chicken or meat. People in in Hejaz region love this dish and enjoy serving it on special occasions and family gatherings.
Our next platter is actually as special as the previous ones. It originates from Terkestan when its citizens came for Haj and Umrah. It mainly consists of small pieces of dough filled with minced beef and grilled onion. This combination results in an awesome taste called the “Mantu”. Some restaurants have added more ingredients to its filling, but it has remained to be so tasty whenever it is served.
As to “Sayadiya” which is very famous in the Arabian coastal countries. People living along the Red Sea and in the eastern region on the Gulf favor this dish; which consists of brown rice served along with the grilled or fried fish and garnished with fried onion. In addition to some of the additives of sauces: tahini, or mushroom and cashews. There is also “Magbus al Samak” which derives from Sayadiya.
As we visit other regions, more dishes enrich our tasty experiences of this amazing cuisine, where we can find in Hael “Kabiba Hael” that consists of vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice. In other areas we find “AlMuttabaq” which is a stuffed dough filled with meat or eggs more like a spicy folded omelette; The Areeka is another southern favorite that is served for breakfast or sweet snack and is a Wheat bread baked and shopped drizzled with honey and luscious dates.
The recipes in the southern region were influenced by the Yemeni cuisine, which includes “Al Aseedah” consisting mainly from whole meal wheat, boiling water and salt, served with the meat and its gravy, and some ghee.
The southern region is also known for “AlHamees” a dish associated with Eid Al Futr and Eid Al Adha mainly made from small pieces of meat cooked over low heat and served hot with bread. Moreover, the dough tends to play a main role in most of the southern dishes, such as “AlDaghabees” which is a very heavy meal of dough and gravy and “AlMaasoob” which is mainly bread crumbs mixed with banana, ghee and honey. Sometimes for extra flavor, cream can be added.
The local ingredients such as dates, honey, or ghee and flour, distinguishes Saudi desserts, such as “AlKaleeja” from Qassim, which is distinguished with the taste of saffron and cardamom and drizzled with dates syrup, it is served cool and has become famous in the Gulf countries. And “AlHneini” dessert is most favored by Saudis in winter consisting of flour along with dates, butter, with saffron and cardamom.
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