Delicious Saudi Arabia
I love many things about Saudi Arabia: the scent of oud on women’s abayas, the color of desert sand, the rituals, the culture, and camels. The culture of Saudi Arabia is rich and has been shaped by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as an ancient trade center, and its Bedouin traditions. All this is reflected in the food the Saudis eat every day. To understand the culture of Saudi Arabia, you must experience the local dishes of Saudi Arabia.
Middle-Eastern Food Rules
In the past, spices and basmati rice were the most convenient to transport on a long journey. Similarly, dried dates and musky dried black limes were easy to store because of their long shelf life. Because of the desert all around the Kingdom, camel milk is widely consumed in Saudi Arabia. There are also certain items forbidden in the KSA such as alcohol and pork. The meat must be halal, which is the way how the animal is killed. Before the meat is eaten, Saudis bless the meat they will eat.
Hospitality and Generosity
Essential to any cooking in the Arab world are hospitality and generosity. Large families gather around meals. There is lots of sharing and warmth over the dinner table.
The dinner usually consists of a very large platter, shared commonly, with a vast amount of spiced rice with cooked spicy lamb or chicken, and with different stewed and spiced vegetables. The dish gets its flavors from the slow cooking process, where the meat is cooked in its fat and juices. Different types of bread are served with different toppings.
Usually, a visitor is warmly welcomed with a great table of dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, and cakes with syrup. Dried fruits include figs, dates, apricots, and plums. Fresh fruits include citruses, melons, and pomegranates. Arabic coffee is served the most, but Arabic tea is also a great refresher. Spices, such as cardamon are often added to the coffee.
The Bedouins eat dates, dried fruit, nuts, wheat, barley, rice, and meat. The meat comes from large animals such as cows, sheep, and lambs. They also eat dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk (Labneh). The Bedouins use many different dried beans including white beans, lentils, and chickpeas. They drink a lot of fresh verbena tea, Arabic tea, mint tea, or Arabic coffee. That makes a lot of sense as the desert at night can be very cold.
From all the traditional Saudi Arabian dishes I recommend trying tharid, which is a spicy lamb stew. It is served with thick barley flatbread. The dish originates from pre-Islamic times. Tharid used to be prepared with different kinds of halal meats and seasonal vegetables.
If you have a sweet tooth I recommend trying Ma’amoul. This sweet dish consists of fruits and nuts, such as pistachios, dates, and walnuts. These cookies are made in the shape of domes and prepared while celebrating special occasions and festivals. Saudis sprinkle them with powdered sugar. The cookies are served with coffee and tea.
musky – strong, warm and sweet smell (zapach piżmowy)
plum – an oval fleshy fruit that is Purple or yellow when ripe (śliwka)
buttermilk – the slightly sour liquid left after butter has been churned used in baking and consumed as a drink (maślanka)
stew – a dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan (potrawka, mięso duszone)
flatbread – a bread that has a wide surface and little fickness (podpłomyk)
to have a sweet tooth – to have a preference for eating sugary foods (lubić słodycze)
dates – are a sweet and chewy type of dried fruit that originates from the date tree (daktyle)
dome – a rounded vault forming the roof of a building or structure, typically with a circular base (kopuła)