Chef Areej Al Shareef’s 30-Minute Recipe: Aubergine Fattah Recipe


Recipes curated especially for Destination readers by very special local chefs.

Top Chef season 3 participant Chef Areej surprisingly never fancied cooking until the age of 17. She used to bribe her way out of cooking chores in the household where she grew up. To get away with it though, she had to remain in the kitchen during meal preps to convince her family that she was the one actually doing all the cooking for the day. Curiosity inevitably stemmed from her periods of observation, and at some point decided to just go ahead and try cooking. With some encouragement from her parents, she ended up finding her true passion in life, quitting her day job to pursue being a chef full-time. She aspires to one day open a culinary school in Jeddah in support of Saudi talents who are interested in creating a name for themselves in the culinary world.


Recipe Name: Aubergine Fattah

dsc_7599-copyHere is Chef Areej’s fulfilling Aubergine Fattah dish that can be put together quickly in 30 minutes. It comes in handy when your day has been long and you find yourself running out of time to make Iftar/suhoor.

Yield: Serves 2
Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes


2   medium Aubergines
2   large potatoes
Arabic bread
Can of hummus
1   Pomegranate

Red Sauce:

3   tablespoons of olive oil
1   minced large onion
4   mashed garlic cloves
1   large tomato cut into cubes
3   tablespoons of tomato paste
1   teaspoon of vinegar
1   teaspoon of cumin
1   teaspoon of paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Yoghurt Sauce:

2   yoghurt cartons
2   mashed garlic cloves
1   tablespoon of dried mint
Salt and pepper to taste


– Dice the Arabic bread, tomatoes, and aubergines into small equal squares.

– Fry the Arabic bread, potato, and aubergine cubes till they become golden in color.

– In a separate frying pan, add olive oil, onion and garlic cloves till they wilt and become caramelized. Next add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and the above-mentioned spices to complete the red sauce. Stir until the mixture becomes homogeneous.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients mentioned above for the yoghurt sauce and set it aside.

– Put everything layered together in a clay pot for serving. From bottom to top, start with a layer of red sauce, then add a layer of potatoes, followed by a layer of aubergines, and conclude with a layer of Arabic bread covered in yoghurt sauce. Repeat the process as many times as necessary.

– Garnish with pomegranate.dsc_7543-copy


Chef Raneen Joudah’s Classic: Mini Bastilah Recipe


Recipes curated especially for Destination readers by very special local chefs.

Raneen’s love for teaching, cooking, and photography made food blogging appealing enough for her to quit her 9-to-5 in investments and asset management. Never regretting her decision, she encourages everyone who has a dream to go grab it by the horns. She has been blogging for three years now, and has managed to connect well with a wide audience, with her meticulous attention to detail, diligent attempts to perfect intricate cooking techniques, and the tips, tricks, and secrets that she shares. She admires Italian cuisine because “a few quality ingredients can make up for an incredible dish,” and French cuisine because “the elaborateness of techniques is brilliant and challenging.” Coming up with constant new content and bringing something new to the table on each and every occasion has been the most challenging thing for her to date.

Instagram: raneens.table


Recipe Name: Mini Bastilah

This Ramadan, she serves up Mini Bastilah, a traditional Moroccan classic with a twist. It’s a savory-sweet dish where chicken filling is beautifully wrapped in crispy filo pastry. The aromatic, savory, and soft interior balances well with the sweet crisp filo shell.

Yield: Serves 4
Total Preparation Time: 90   minutes


Chicken mixture:

2     chicken breasts
2     tablespoons of olive oil
1     chopped onion
1     tablespoon of chopped coriander
1     tablespoon of chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon of ginger, turmeric, black pepper, salt, and cinnamon
Sprinkle of saffron
1     cup water

Almond mixture:

1/2 cup of roasted ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
2     tablespoons of icing sugar
1     teaspoon rose water
Filo dough
50g melted butter
1     egg


– Place all chicken mixture ingredients into a pot on a stove (except for the water initially), stir for 10 minutes, then pour in the water and let it cook covered for 30 minutes.

– Remove chicken breasts from the stock and stir until most of the liquid evaporates.

– Add the egg to the stock and stir until well combined. Shred the chicken separately.

– In a bowl, mix the almond ingredients.

– Cut the filo pastry in half and place two layers in a small bowl, brushing each with melted butter.

– Fill filo sheets with about 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture, shredded chicken, and ground almonds each.

– Fold the filo pastry from all sides into a round bun, and move it onto a baking tray. Brush the outside with more butter, then bake for 20 minutes at 180°C. Garnish with icing sugar, cinnamon, and parsley, then serve.dsc_8629-copy


Free Exclusive Content with Viu This Ramadan!


Four Viu Originals and a Star Studded Line-up.

One of the most anticipated things we all wait for in Ramadan are the new show series curated especially for the Holy Month. Viu—a leading entertainment streaming service available in 17 markets including Saudi Arabia, and the production house for the recent Saudi celebrated series “Doon”—released 7 exciting series including 4 Arabic originals. For the first time ever, the originals will be available to viewers free of charge during Ramadan and a limited time after that.

The four originals are:

6-copyHaduta Morra: A drama series, starring Ghada Abdel Razek, realistically depicting the injustice a single woman can face, and the possible immoral steps she takes for self-salvation in an Arab community.

9-copyAl Zoga 18:  A comedy series, starring Hassan Al Raddad, that revolves around a playboy who falls in love with a beautiful girl and gets rejected. He decides to walk the extra mile to win her heart faking his own death!

3-copyZodiac: This is the first ever adaptation of the works of Dr. Ahmed Khaled Tawfik—the most famous contemporary writer of horror and science fiction in the Arab world. It is a 15-episode series that talks about university students’ discovery of an ancient Egyptian curse that causes them to fall dead one by one based on their horoscope. Starring Asmaa Abulyazeed, Khalid Anwar, and May el Ghety.

7-copyAna Sherry Dot Com: This 15-episode show features Sara Al Shamy and Mohamed Mahran. It describes how a young Egyptian girl striving for independence, rises from the ashes of failure as luck strikes with an online business opportunity.

Other Licensed shows include:

4-copySuper Miro: A 30-episode comedy show starring Amy Sameer Ghanim. Amy works as a journalist in a magazine, she plays the character of a superhero and encounters many comic situations.

5-copyHedud Al Shar: A 30-episode drama, starring Hayatt Al Fadh. This series is set in 1960s Kuwait, and focuses on a woman’s conflict with her enemies.

8-copyEl Deirfa:  A social drama depicting how the community and traditions can influence peoples’ lives, regardless of their individual hopes and dreams.

Viu content can be streamed on the Viu App on the PlayStore and the AppStore. For regular updates and show announcements, you can follow Viu on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wesam Kattan, Vice President of Viu MENA Marketing, shared with us that there are expectations for Hadoota Murra and Zodiac to have the highest viewership. He also expressed his excitement for this release, having confidence that Viu-ers will enjoy the fantastic range of content this Ramadan. When asked about “Doon”, he revealed that there are more seasons planned. Not only that, the production of new series starring local Saudi talents will also be in store for viewers soon.

Viu’s unique value proposition of fresh and localized regional and local premium TV shows, movies and originals entertains millions of consumers every day. Viu Originals bring to light compelling stories with world class production quality, also providing the opportunity for local talent to showcase their skills on a world stage.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity and huddle around with family and friends in the comfort of your living rooms after Iftar, and enjoy this limited offer from Viu today.


What’s Cookin?


Exploring cultures through food.

Whether its artisan pizzas, bento boxes, or mooncakes, cooks that have taken an interest in concept cuisines and gastronomy are serving up some culture on plates. Here are some that you can try out.

Graphic Designs You Can Eat!

_dbx1239Sakura Topia’s name is no coincidence – the soft Sakura pink readily stands out in Instagram photos of Dango prepared by Rowaida Fuad Oudah. Originally a graphic designer, Rowaida gives you a taste of Bento boxes and other authentic Japanese and Korean dishes.

It was the distinct savory taste of Katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked tuna shavings) that catapulted this Japanophile, who is also heavily influenced by the Korean Wave, into East Asian gastronomy. She offers a wide array of delicacies, most of which boast both technical competency and bright, lively, detailed presentations. Sweet Korean honey fried chicken, pickled kimchi, spicy kare rice, and O-nigiri are only a few of the 60+ items on her menu.

“Quality and freshness are top priority. I personally pick out the best ingredients from local specialty stores, and sometimes I even import certain goods, to make sure the Japanese and Korean experience is as genuine as possible,” said Rowaida.

Beyond the artistry and cookery, she offers various workshops on how to put it all together, and aspires to one day host her own TV show and expand regionally.

Instagram: sakura_topia

Behind the Bao

Bao Buns are soft, fluffy, cloudy-white, warm buns stuffed with savory/sweet fillings. “It took four months of experimenting to perfect these steamed buns,” said Youssef Al Youssef, one of five business partners who founded Baozi.

Investing in the originally Chinese Bao buns was appealing because there was a gap in the market. That came along with its own set of challenges, however. Customer feedback was seriously taken into consideration, and starting out small behind the shields of a food truck helped the owners execute adjustments to satisfy locals.

With lots of hard work and over the course of over a year, Baozi is now a restaurant that serves brisket, tenderloin, chicken, and mushroom Baos along with starters, salads, desserts, and drinks.

Location: 8592 King Fahad St., Riyadh

More than Just Shaved Ice


DISCLAIMER: This is an authentic Bingsu from Korea.

The next time a heat wave strikes, ‘protest’ with Bingsu! The shaved ice melts instantly in your mouth, leaving behind refreshing creamy richness. The ice itself comes in various flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and matcha.

You can choose from set menu items, the most popular of which is “Ghazal Beirut,” or you can have fun mixing and matching several toppings and syrups. The possible combinations are endless. Build yourself a heap of happiness with strawberries, mangoes, cheesecake bits, condensed milk, Nutella, lotus, marshmallows, pistachio, almonds, and the list goes on. Bingsu is served in either a plastic or waffle bowl.

The creative couple behind love to experiment with recipes and try out new foods. They hope to remain unique by constantly creating interesting flavor combinations, and hope to inspire Saudis to try out Bingsu in future travels to Korea through their franchise.


Seafood, Eat Food

dsc_2717-copyHaving gathered experience with seafood from running previous restaurants, Abdullah Al Masoud wanted to provide a new concept aimed at satisfying the public’s now more refined palates. His latest venture – 32Grimp restaurant – got its name from the number 32 denoting the direction of the North winds on the compass, while ‘Grimp’ is a play on the two words gambari and shrimp.

Despite running for only a couple of months now, the Japanese lobster roll on the menu has taken Riyadh by storm. The hearty roll has top quality lobster, cucumber, Chinese cabbage, butter garlic sauce, a signature sauce, and chives. This English dish is usually best enjoyed during summer time when it’s lobster season.

Keep them in mind next time you are in Riyadh, and in future, Jeddah and Dammam when they open braches there.

Location: Anas Ibn Malik Rd., Riyadh
Instagram: 32grimp


Sink or Swim


 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2019.

Arriving in Muscat, I experienced Omani hospitality first hand. They are very humble, welcoming, and generous people. You could easily spot how they treasure their heritage and take great pride in it. I felt included and excited for the opportunity to experience the Omani’s deep rooted customs and traditions. We spent our first day enjoying Al Mouj, which is a 10-15 minute drive from Muscat. The marina’s view was breathtaking, so we seized the opportunity and went for a refreshing walk then grabbed a bite.

The next morning we headed to the Grand Mosque of Sultan Qaboos first. I was taken aback by the chandelier in the main prayer hall which weighs 8.5 tons and includes 600,000 crystals. The prayer carpet was yet another exquisite work of art and such an appalling display of craftsmanship. Both are the second largest in the world and are major interior design features of the mosque.%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a7%d9%94%d9%86%d8%b8%d8%a7%d8%b1-%d8%aa%d8%aa%d8%ac%d9%87-%d8%a7%d9%95%d9%84%d9%89-%d8%ac%d8%b2%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d9%85%d8%b5%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a9-%d9%84%d8%ae%d9%88%d8%b6-%d9%85%d9%86

Next, we visited the beautiful Royal Opera House of Muscat. We took a quick tour of the place and got to witness several instruments that were gifts to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. Noteworthy, is the pipe organ, a masterpiece that spoke luxury and finesse, truly admirable. Then, we took off to see the National Museum. It was quite educational and I enjoyed the Maritime History Gallery the most. I learned that Oman has a nautical history that dates back to to before the 9th century.

All the sightseeing left me feeling famished. We took our lunch at Bait Al Luban Restaurant and had a chance to purchase their famous Luban from Souq Mutrah. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting Mohsin Al Busaidi (the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world) and Saleh Al Jabri (captain of The Jewel of Muscat – a traditional ship that was built using 9th century shipbuilding methods)  at Oman Sail’s headquarters.

EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour 2019 Photo : Vincent Curutchet / LLOYD IMAGES / Oman Sail

EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour 2019
Photo : Vincent Curutchet / LLOYD IMAGES / Oman Sail

Oman Sail invited us to attend EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2019. They are a national initiative aimed at igniting Oman’s maritime heritage through running sailing programs and encompassing a national sailing squad and other racing teams. The race was a two-week challenge composed of 5 stadium and coastal races that took place at 5 different venues using the standardized Diam 24 trimaran boat. Ten teams participated, three of which were Omani teams. The French Beijaflore team won the arduous race for the second year in a row. We were able to observe the intense race from afar somewhere along the coastline waters. It was a marvelous trip but sadly all things come to an end and it was time for us to finally set sail back home. Veni, Vidi, Amavi.



Half and Half: Wael Bin Huraib & Elena Bukaryeva


What happens when two people find their balance and perfect mate? They become the best versions of themselves, individually and as a unit. Here are some couples we spoke to who are definitely our #RelationshipGoals.

Wael and Elena’s worlds first overlapped lanes at motorcycle event meet-ups in Dubai. They soon became friends after Wael, who is very passionate about rider safety, started giving Elena practical lessons on her motorbike. With time, the bond between them grew stronger, and when the time was right, they tied the knot._k3a3270-copy

Today, they continue to bond over riding Harleys during short trips abroad.

After an accident in 2008, Wael realized the magnitude of how different riding a motorbike is from riding a car. This realization pushed him to take several international training courses, and he brought back this knowledge to Saudi and founded the Bikers Skills Institute. Elena took on registering and instructing women at the institute since after the driving ban on women was lifted._k3a3242-copy

When motorcycles are mentioned, adrenaline comes to mind. Not for these two, though! “I try to avoid the adrenaline rush and stressful situations on the road because that usually means trouble. Wael often teases me for being overcautious,” said Elena with a laugh._k3a3300desat-copy

Wael admires Elena’s kindness and readiness to offer a helping hand. It warmed his heart that he came home one day to find that she had taken in a street cat. Likewise, Elena thinks that Wael’s greatest assets are his “big heart,” determination, drive, and willingness to execute anything he sets his mind to.

Look for your life partner’s happiness before your own.” Wael Bin Huraib

Instagram: waelbh
Instagram: elena_bukaryeva


Half and Half: Dr. Wesam Kurdi & Prof. Khaled Al Kattan


What happens when two people find their balance and perfect mate? They become the best versions of themselves, individually and as a unit. Here are some couples we spoke to who are definitely our #RelationshipGoals.

Two oaths unite them – the Hippocratic oath, and the oath they’ve taken towards one another. Dr. Wesam explains that in a marriage, the husband and wife are like two parallel lines running alongside at a close distance.

Dr. Wesam is currently a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist (OB/GYN), and is the head of the Feto-maternal unit at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. “When I started residency, I’d already had my first child and thought maybe I should choose a nonclinical specialty to dedicate more time for my family. Khaled knew better, refused for me to ‘settle,’ and encouraged me to pursue OB/GYN, which was what I really wanted.”doctor-couple_raw-9-copy

Prof. Khaled is the Dean of the College of Medicine at Al Faisal University, and Consultant Thoracic Surgeon at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh as well. When it comes to Dr. Wesam, he confesses that her intelligence and wisdom are what make her special in his eyes. They’ve recently celebrated 33 years of marriage and have five children they’re immensely proud of. They agree that work-life balance is all about spending quality time together and delegating. The couple enjoys attending weddings together. As a family, traveling is their go-to activity for stress relief and reestablishing connectedness.

“Success in marriage comes from allowing a safe space for your significant other to grow, dream big, and chase those dreams. Loving one another from a place of surplus due to selflove and satisfaction is also crucial.” Dr. Wesam Kurdi

Instagram: khaled.alkattan


Maram Taibah: Writer


Maram’s passion for writing started in the film industry. Now she is a creative writing coach, and a novelist.

Already an avid reader, Maram was inspired by her 6th grade English teacher to become a writer. The dream was always there, but the route to it took many turns. Following what in her mind seemed to be a logical approach at the time, she went into the film industry hoping to engage with a larger audience through a medium that was more popular than books in Saudi.

Maram’s achievements in the world of film are numerous and noteworthy. “Munukeer,” a short movie written and produced by Maram about a Saudi housewife who tries to reignite a spark in a lifeless marriage, was nominated for the Best Muhar Gulf Short Award in 2015. “Don’t Go too Far” is her latest release and it screened in the Cannes Short Film Corner, Beirut International Women Film Festival, and Dubai Film Festival’s Cinetec. Working on this film was a dream come true because the story behind “Don’t Go too Far” is a very personal one, inspired by her older brother. Transitioning to TV production, she worked with MBC on directing “Sabah Al Kheir Ya Arab” for a year. She holds much gratitude for all the opportunities she has been presented with and the path she initially chose because it allowed her to discover that she doesn’t belong in the corporate world. It was time for her to fly solo and listen to the nagging voice at the back of her head that kept pulling her towards fiction and creative writing.

Finally breaking free from worrying about others’ opinions and the false illusion of security that a job provides, Maram became more dedicated to freelance writing. She is the author of two novellas “The Road to Elephants” and “Weathernose”. Currently, she is a creative writing coach who helps other aspiring authors complete their stories and overcome common problems like procrastination, lack of know-how, and fears of inadequacy and failure. “If the idea doesn’t speak to your heart, it won’t carry you through,” she tells her clients. Being self-employed, staying motivated and deciding on the direction of a one-woman ship is challenging, and forces Maram to face her inadequacies. Having that sort of insight, however, makes her a better leader for her clients, a more empathetic person, and more in touch with her authentic self. Proudly, Maram just completed the first draft of a fantasy novel that took her 5 years to develop. “I hope that it touches people the way it touched me.” She derives her inspiration from other authors and has been admiring the works of Philip Pullman lately.

Instagram: maram.taibah


Nadine Attar: Jewelry designer


Nadine’s jewelry design journey began when she created her own wedding jewelry. She started ‘Nadine Jewelry’ where her first line was focused on the soul.

Nadine comes across as centered, target-oriented, relaxed, and poised when you first meet her. She is very in touch with her core and is very specific about what she likes and dislikes, but like many of us, she has been soul searching. After 8 years in banking, one morning she decided to answer to her true calling – jewelry design.

Though she never thought of herself as an artist, she always admired art in all its forms. Her father, a renowned businessman whose trade is centered around luxury watches and jewelry, played a pivotal role in Nadine’s journey. It was when she was jewelry shopping with her father for her wedding that she thought, “Why not create my own? Why not wear jewelry that speaks Nadine?”

So she studied jewelry design in London at GIA, and became a gemologist, a certified diamond graduate, a certified gemstone grader, and an accredited jewelry professional. Treating it as a science and not a mere hobby, Nadine is very meticulous about the fine details.

Rouh (“soul” in Arabic), her first line of creation, was inspired by the story of a mother who wanted to gift her child a pendant with etched Quranic verses. Nadine wanted to make this a timeless memento for the child to cherish for eternity. Pieces in this line are meant to address matters of the Rouh, both spiritual and emotional.

Nadine Jewellery turned heads on the Red Carpet at the 2018 Cannes Film festival where it was showcased by Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio, film director Maram Taibah, and TV personality Ola Al Faris. She was also recently awarded Best Local Designer in Saudi Arabia for 2018 by Grazia magazine – a strong start for a strong business model.

Instagram: nadine_jewellery


Nada Al Nahdi: Explorer

Nada Al Nahdi

Nada seeks freedom through traveling, she blogs her travel and gives tips to budget travelers.

Half-Yemeni, half-Indonesian, and Saudi-born Nada initially thought that traveling was inaccessible to her because of limited finances, and that travelling solo isn’t much fun. This all changed after a close friend of hers shattered all of her misconceptions and proved her wrong.

A senior account manager by day, Nada seeks freedom from routine during vacations, roaming in search of firsthand experiences untainted by the views of others or the media. She has visited over 30 countries including disputed territories and perilous grounds. She has no fear and tries to keep away from the discouraging words of others and any surrounding negativity. “You’ll never know what it’s really like unless you try it,” she says.

Around three years ago, she started blogging about her trips. Nada shares anecdotes of various places she visited and vivid imagery of many sites on her website. Also, she lets her readers in on valuable tips for getting out and about while budget traveling with regards to backpacking, managing expenses, visa related issues and more.

Exploring local Saudi touristic sites has been particularly capturing her attention lately. “There are many undiscovered gems here in Saudi that escape the knowledge of locals because simply the culture of domestic tourism is lacking.” She is working on starting a non-profit travel community where she can guide people around Saudi, popularising cultural heritage and natural sites and empowering others to try out budget traveling.

Instagram: nadaalnahdi