Delicious desserts unite the winter dinner tables of Saudi Arabia.
With the arrival of winter in Saudi Arabia comes a uniquely traditional wardrobe, wonderful aromas of Arabic coffee, and innovative date dishes. Despite the diversity of winter rituals in each region, the people of the kingdom are brought closer together through similar yet distinguished winter dishes, showcasing the richness, and diversity of Saudi Arabia. So, upon your visit to any region, keep an ear out for this phrase, “here, we call this…”.
Similar to the French crepe, Medina’s Lahooh and Qassim’s Maraheef share the same shape, ingredients. However, they differ in their preparation, as the Maraheef have a lighter batter, which results in a thinner crepe. Lahooh on the other hand, has a much thicker consistency. Both are served as layers plated on a dish, topped with powdered sugar and cardamom.
Date Delectables: Affusa, Henaini, Haisah
Saudi Arabia produces a few of the world’s best dates, which are incorporated in the Saudi cuisine for their high nutritional value, with delicacies like Affusa in the East, Henaini in Najd, and Haisah in the West. The dishes are soft, and served hot. They are the perfect dessert for winter.
The simplicity of ingredients used to create this Saudi version of bread pudding has made the dish popular throughout the kingdom. Known as “Maasoub” within the Hijaz region, and “Marsah” in the south of Saudi, the dish consists of a mixture of ripe bananas and bread pieces, topped with honey and sour cream.
A traditional dish, passed on from one generation to the next in Hijaz, made of a jam-like dried fruit paste (apricots, figs, or dates) with a sprinkling of nuts. It is usually served as a breakfast staple, with bread, and on holidays and special occasions.
Warm Winter Beverages
Enjoying a warm beverage on a cold winter evening is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Two very popular winter beverages in Saudi are Qahwat Loz, made with warm milk and toasted almonds, as well as Karak Tea, full of fragrant spices such as nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. Whether you’re a coffee or tea person, these two are the perfect concoctions you need to stay cozy this winter.
Asida is a beloved traditional dish throughout all Saudi regions, each with a special topping, but a unified preparation method: flour is cooked with water on low heat, until the mixture is thickened and turned into a dough of flakey consistency. The dough is then spread out in a round dish, and served with ghee or sweetened butter milk in its center.
Masabib, Marasee, Qatayef
As fluffy as light mini pancakes, Masabib are cooked in a hot stone oven and served warm with honey or date molasses to dip in. The savory version, Marasee, is much thicker, whereas the Hijazi Qatayef are made up of white flour, folded into crescents, and stuffed with either cream or candied nuts, before being drizzled with syrup.
Balaleet, Al Shieriyah, Sewiyah
Balaleet is a popular Najdi dish that consists of sweet vermicelli noodles, topped with an omelette, and eaten for breakfast. The dish is also popular in the Hijaz region, under the name “shieriyah helwa” (sweet noodles), and in the Eastern Province, similarly, under the name “Sewiyah”, packed with sweet and fragrant flavors of cardamom and saffron.