Saudi Arabia is a vast country made up of 13 large provinces (or regions as some call it), all distinct to each other in several aspects including climate, topology, culture and cuisine.
Many of the tribes living in these provinces were living in relative isolation since ancient times, and overtime, they developed their own cuisine using the local food items available in the area which they inhabited. The variety of traditional foods in the Kingdom is remarkable, with each province having something different to offer. Here are the traditional foods from all around Saudi.Photo Credit: 3odny.com
- Khamir – Jazan
This southern delight is a type of bread that is made from ground corn grains. It is made by kneading the dough and leaving it overnight. The following day the dough is baked in an oven, resulting in a bread that can be accompanied with any curry. This baked bread is still popular among the semi-urban and rural settlements in the region.Photo Credit: mekshat.com
- Haneeth – Aseer
Popular on the Tihama side of Aseer, this meat dish is the golden jewel of Aseer’s cuisine. The haneeth is made by chopping mutton into medium sized pieces and placing it in a muhannath. The muhannath is a traditional oven made from stone. Branches of trees are then placed inside so that the burning stones are separated from the meat. Then sand is used to cover the muhannath so that steam doesn’t escape. After a few hours of cooking the meat is taken out from the oven and salt is sprinkled before serving. Right from the first bite you will feel as if all the effort that was put into making the dish was worth it.Photo Credit: easytosale.com
- Bakila – Northern Borders
A plant called opophytum known in Arabic as ghasoul is used heavily in the Samh cuisines of the Northern Borders region. The opophytum is a desert plant that is perhaps only used in the cuisine of the people inhabiting the northern part of Saudi. To make the Bakila, which is a kind of bread, the seeds of the opophytum plant are soaked, ground, then mixed with dates.Photo Credit: hawamer.com
- Wishaiq – Jouf
The people living in the Jouf region have great diversity in the food they eat – heavily inspired from the Levant region. This dish called the Wishaiq is popular among other countries in the Middle East as well. Wishaiq is made from chopping meat into thick strands, which are then salted and hung on ropes to dry. This meat preparation can be stored for long periods of time and is normally cooked whenever needed. You can accompany it with spiced sauces if you’d like.Photo Credit: abunawaf.com
- Matazeez – Qassim
This famous dish from Qassim is made by cutting dough into small pieces. These pieces are then flattened and put in a pot that contains a meat broth. Sometimes local truffle and ghee are added in the mixture as well. Matazeez is a normally eaten during lunch or dinner. A small bite of this bread can instantly cheer you up.Photo Credit: qatarshares.com
- Thireed – Hail
Traditionally bread has been more popular in Arabia when compared to rice. This dish also is a type of bread. The Thireed is made by grilling the dough on fire or charcoal, which is later mixed with onions and ghee. Since it’s on the healthier side, eating the Thireed is like having a gastronomic adventure in which you won’t have to worry about the consequences later.
- Bur/Samen – Najran
Influenced heavily by Yemeni culture, the dishes in Najran are quite similar to those across the border in Yemen. The dish is usually eaten as breakfast. Dough is baked and placed in a container. Then, a hole is made in its center and ghee is poured inside it. Some families use honey or milk instead of ghee. Now this is something to drool over.
- Sileeq – Makkah
Being a melting pot of cultures, Makkan cuisine is influenced by the wide range of pilgrims it has seen over the years. Sileeq is prepared by boiling meat in water with various spices that results in a broth. This broth is then used to cook rice. Ghee is added right at the very end before serving.
- Jereesh – Riyadh
The Riyadh region has a wide variety of traditional recipes, most of which have been passed down from generation to generation. The Jereesh is a side dish that is a regular feature in many households in the central part of the country. It is made by mixing groats with milk at high temperatures resulting in a concoction that has exquisite texture and taste of course.Photo Credit: atyabtabkha.3a2ilati.com
- Mandi – Tabuk
Though popular all across Saudi, Tabuk’s Mandi is noteworthy. Mandi is made by putting a whole lamb with or without rice in an oven. The oven is then covered to prevent steam from exiting. After it has been left for around 2 hours in the oven, the delectable Mandi is ready to eat. Sometimes herbs are sprinkled on top before serving. Talk about something that is fragrant and succulent.
- Aseedah –Baha
Famous even beyond the Kingdom’s borders, the luscious Aseedah is Baha’s pride. This savory concoction is made from either corn or wheat flour. Yoghurt and broth are mixed steadily until the mixture thickens. This is then served with butter or margarine. A thickened version of this dish is known as Al Aish.
- Kibdah- Madinah
The famous dish that is found all over Saudi has been part of the traditional cuisine of the residents of Madinah for decades now. Kibdah is prepared by stir-frying lamb liver with onions, tomatoes, and various spices. No connoisseurs are required here; it’s always delectable regardless of who makes it.
- Muhammar – Eastern Province
Popular over the other side of the coast in neighboring Bahrain as well, Muhammar is a sweet rice dish that is imbued with assorted spices and date palm. Relish this with grilled fish.
So treat your taste buds with something traditional this weekend.