Saudi Arabia - Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Saudi Arabian Cuisine HistoryEdit

Saudi Arabian Cuisine is the most traditional one that can be found globally. You can immediately taste the difference between Saudi Arabian Cuisine’s and the other cuisines. There have been three chief influences that have moulded the Saudi Arabian cuisine along side their cultural norms and values depicted in the Saudi Arabian Cooking today. Firstly the nomadic Bedouin influence, secondly the food constraints given in the Holy Book of Quran, and lastly the ancient Arabian Dominance of the spice routes.

The Saudi Arabians have inherited their cultural norms and values from the nomadic Bedouin, who had cherished hospitality, generosity, strength, chivalry and last but not the least, honour. This is still prevalent in Saudi Arabia today. A continuous flow of foreigners that came with the Arab dominance of spice trade centuries ago, also brought along with them some of their own cultural values that then were embedded into the Arab values as well.

Till this day, the Saudi Arabian hospitality remains unmarred. Their old tradition of being courteous to their guests still exits. In Saudi Arabia it is a common custom to allow for an extra portion of a cooking meal, in order to be prepared for an un-called for guest. They also make sure that some part of the food is left over; otherwise they believe that one might think that the guest was not fully satisfied. For the Arabs it is a joyous entertainment to serve to their guests and they consider it as an honour.

The Saudi Arabian cuisine is also influenced by their Holy book, The Quran. The Quran strictly states that Pork meat is impure, halal food is only allowed and alcohol is also strictly forbidden. The Arabic coffee and other fruit drinks are very popular. The Bedouin coffee which is served without any preservatives or sweeteners is a beverage of honour that is served to the guests. The custom of serving coffee is generally known as ‘gawah’, which is bound by certain rules of etiquette.

Genuine Saudi Arabian food is not commonly found in restaurants. The Saudi Arabian food is cooked and eaten at home, as cooking and eating are some of the intense social activities in Arabia.

Cuisines of Saudi Arabia Edit

Map of Saudi Arabia

Map of Saudi Arabia- Click to enlarge

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known for its abundant traditional cuisines, which mirror the mixture of the regions and the customs of the people there. Many dishes that you will find in Saudi Arabia are made of meat, rice, Wheat, vegetables and spices. Al-Kabsa is one of the most popular cuisines that you will find in Saudi Arabia. It is cooked with red or white meat or Chicken in a pot. rice is also included in the cuisine. A huge range of spices as well as salads can be added to the cuisine. It is thought to be a staple dish all through the Kingdom.

The Saudi Arabian Cuisine is very varied, but is rich and more cosmopolitan in the Peninsula than in the western province of Hijaz. With the surfacing of Islam in the seventh century, many people travelled from parts of the country to Mecca and Madinah for Hajj, from greater distances and in greater numbers. All these immigrants left a huge impact on the customs of Hijaz, and that led into the Hijaz cuisine becoming rich. Now in the modern times, with the increasing mobility within Saudi Arabia, the influence of the Hijaz has reached all parts of the regions of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabian Food Glossary Edit

Finding the ingredients for an Saudi Arabian Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.

Preparation Methods for Saudi Arabian Cooking Edit

There is no specified way of preparing a Saudi Arabian cuisine, using the right amount of spices in your cuisines works best. You will find many recipes that do not usually need oil in them, mostly boiled vegetables are used. In a Hijazi meal, which is now the most common cuisine found in Saudi Arabia, fresh fruits and desserts are the main ingredients. The desserts are made from sweet milk, rice for rice puddings and goat cheese. Many cuisines are made from bread, baklava, fresh fruits, raisins etc. For salads and hot sauces, duqqus, are served with this dish. Duqqus is a typical Hijazi cuisine which is prepared from fresh coriander, hot chilli peppers, garlic, tomatoes and lemon juice. The meat, whether red or white are prepared in gravy of kuftah (ground-meat patties) which are served with lemon packs and the Arab bread, and even sometimes with rice. Mabshur another very famous cuisine is very lean. It is served on a bed of rice topped with a thick yogurt salad that is prepared only with this dish. The yogurt in this dish is highly enriched with a combination of clarified Lamb fat and butter.

The Saudi Kingdom is well known for its variety of traditional dishes that reflect the diversity of the regions and the custom of the people. Most of the dishes contain meat, rice, wheat, vegetables and spices that give these recipes a special flavor. One of Saudi Arabia's most famous dishes is Al-Kabsa. Al-Kabsa is made of rice cooked with red or white meat or chicken in a pot. A variety of spices and salads can be added to the dish. Al-Kabsa is considered a staple dish throughout the Kingdom.

Meat is cooked in various ways. A popular way of preparing meat is called Al-Mandi. This utilizes ancient techniques of cooking, first employed when man discovered fire. A lamb or chicken, prepared with rice, spices and water is barbecued in a deep hole in the ground that is covered while the meat cooks.

Another unique Saudi Arabian way of preparing and serving meat is Mathbi. Al-Mathbi involves grilling seasoned lamb or chicken on flat stones that are placed on top of burning embers.

Special Equipment for Saudi Arabian Cooking Edit

There is no as such special equipment that you need for Saudi Arabian Cooking. Nevertheless, oven for baking the traditional Arab bread is always useful. In the past, when their was a custom to having extended families, usually the women in the family used to take turns in pounding wheat which was a long, arduous and an arm-tiring job. Nowadays, haris is often ground in food processors, but many women still prefer to do it in the traditional way, as they believe that the desired reliability can only be achieved by hand. Other than those common cooking equipments like a stove, grills and bean processors for the traditional coffee that they serve is needed. Although making Saudi Arabian Cuisines are highly time consuming, yet no special equipment is need. Even normal non-stick pots and pans are good enough to make your cooking easier.

Saudi Arabian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

Saudi Arabian food traditions and festivals are mostly such as the religious holidays, weddings, funerals and the night-time meals that they have during the month of Ramadan. During the month of Ramadan, traditional rice cuisines are served to the guests. On funerals a cuisine known as the Ruzz bi hummus is commonly served. This dish is made of chickpeas, meat and rice and is commonly cooked in the meat broth and served to its guests with a tahinah and a cucumber salad spiced with cumin, salt and pepper. On Saudi Arabian weddings, the most common dish that you will find is the Saliq which is a rice and Lamb and most recently rice and Chicken cuisine. This cuisine has its origins in Taif. When making this cuisine, professional cooks can be hired; they would build fire pits and fill pots that are huge enough to accommodate a Lamb. The meat is boiled for several hours to make a rich broth and then they add rice and milk to it. When the rice is smooth enough to actually flow, it is then poured into trays. You can normally serve up to twenty people making sure that there are pieces of Lamb or Chicken as a topping on it.

The ancient Arabian tradition of hospitality that developed continues unchanged to the present day. How well one treats one's guests is a direct measurement of what kind of person he or she is. It is common practice to allow for an extra portionwhile cooking a meal, in order to be prepared for an unexpected guest. When a meal is over, there should always be a good portion of food left over otherwise one might think that a guest had not been fully satisfied. To a Saudi Arabian, entertaining is joyous and it is considered an honor if a guest can be persuaded to remain for another meal. The guest would respond with a gift for the host.

The Qu'uran states that pork is impure, that animal blood is a pollution, and that alcohol is strictly forbidden. There are no bars in Saudi Arabia. Alcohol being forbidden, there are severe penalties for breaking the law, and this applies to all nationals regardless of religion. Arabic coffee and fruit drinks are popular alternatives. Alcohol-free beers and cocktails are served in hotel bars. Bedouin coffee, served without sweetening and flavored with cardamom is the beverage of honor that overrides mere alcohol.

Serving coffee to visitors is an age old custom derived from Bedouin hospitality traditions and an important part of Saudi Arabian generosity. The ritual of coffee serving is called gawha and is bound by rules of etiquette. In the presence of his guests, the host will roast, cool and grind the beans. Using a mortar and pestle, he will add cardamom pods in equal or more measure to the coffee beans during the grinding process. When the coffee is brewed, the host pours for his guests - traditionally only men. Unsweetened, fresh dates, a staple in the Saudi Arabian diet, are served with the coffee. The Bedouins have a saying that translates to ... "he makes coffee from morn till night." It is a way of describing a generous man, and no greater praise can be given.

Genuine Saudi cooking, but for a few of the sweets, is rarely to be found in restaurants. Saudi food is food of the home, where cooking and eating are intensely social activities, preparation falling on the shoulders of the housewife. During Ramadan where everyone fasts during the day, the hungry housewife spends her days preparing an evening meal that is a feast. There's an old Arabic proverb" "The woman killed herself with work, yet the feast lasted only a day!"

People in Saudi Arabian Food Edit

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