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10 Saudi Dishes We’ll Be Enjoying On This National Day

In celebration of the Kingdom’s 90th National Day, get a little indulgent with your loved ones and get cooking!

via @kikiskitchenyt on Instagram

Is there anything more wholesome than spending a public holiday with your loved ones and enjoying a plethora of homemade traditional dishes? With Saudi National Day finally here, you won’t have to look much further than this short list of Saudi and Arabic dishes known and enjoyed across the Kingdom & beyond.

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Jareesh is a dish that hails from the northern region of Saudi Arabia and is made from cracked wheat that is slow cooked with tomato sauce and vegetables. Though the meat is optional, it’s a staple in the Saudi diet, and lamb is the meat of choice in this simple yet soulful dish. Flavored with spices such as cinnamon, bay leaves, cumin, and cloves, jareesh is cooked to a sticky consistency, which makes it the perfect comfort food!

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Also referred to as machbooskabsa is known to be the Kingdom’s national dish. It is made with rice and meat, most popularly lamb, chicken, fish or seafood. Spices such as black pepper, cardamom, saffron, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bay leaves add flavor to the dish, but kabsa’s main star is the meat or fish in it – more often than not, in the chicken version, a whole chicken is used. Pine nuts, onions, sultanas and almonds are also added and kabsa is finally served hot with daqqus, a home-made Arabic tomato sauce. 

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Penned, “the Saudi take on pasta,” matazeez is a traditional dish from the Kingdom that consists of flat doughy dumplings that are cooked and served in a hearty stew of vegetables, tomato sauce, spices and meat – usually lamb. Seasonal vegetables are also featured in this wholesome stew, including eggplants, pumpkins, zucchini, onions and carrots and spiced with dried limes, bahar spice blend and black pepper.

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Tharid is described as a spicy stew, traditionally cooked with lamb and thickened with barley bread. Stories passed down for generations recall that the dish predates Islam and was one of Prophet Muhammad’s favorite dishes. In modern times, tharid is now cooked with various meats stewed with vegetables and served on a thin bread. Ground cumin, ground cardamoms, ginger, garlic, cloves, bay leaves and black pepper also feature in this dish.  

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A popular street food, martabak is stuffed pancake featuring a variety of fillings, with some of the most popular being ground meat, eggs, peppers, garlic, onions, and even curry! The popularity of martabak has spread to various countries who all do it differently – including Yemen, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. The pancake style snack is garnished with mint or coriander for additional flavor. The name of the dish comes from the word “mutabbaq,” the Arabic word for “folded,” which refers to the way in which the stretchy dough is folded and prepared. 

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Ma’amoul are the crumbliest, butteriest, cookies filled with pistachios, walnuts, almonds, or dates. They’re made using a wooden mold to create perfect patterns and shapes, and are perfumed with cardamom and cinnamon inside. Often served at celebrations in the Middle East, these biscuits are a simple luxury that melt in the mout and are best served with a side of kahwa.

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Have you ever eaten a bite-sized, hot crispy, dumpling drizzled in honey? Well, you will when you try luqaimat. It’s a deep fried, yet surprisingly light, flour dumpling, which can kind of be likened to a donut, that isn’t sweet but begs to be bathed in date syrup, or honey. The phenomenal luqaimat rise to fame during Ramadan but are still indulged in year round.

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Kunafa is a cheese lover’s dream come true! The base is a mild stretchy white cheese called akkawi, topped off with a rich semolina pastry, soaked to the core in a sweet rose water syrup. The sweet-dish is baked in a pie dish and cut into pieces for serving. For breakfast though, it is best served in a warm kaakeh!

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Legend goes that muhallebiyeh was introduced to Arab cuisine in the late 7th century by a Persian cook who served it to an Arab general by the name of Al-Muhallab Bin Abi Sufra. He loved it so much; he named it after himself! The thickened milk pudding is flavored abundantly with vanilla, orange or rose water, and topped with pomegranate syrup, desiccated coconut or chopped nuts. Enjoy!

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This baked, semolina based, curd soaked, rose flavoured syrup drenched cake sprinkled with coconut bears the taste of all things associated with Saudi Arabia. The luxurious dessert boasts a delightfully light texture and stands out with flagrant flavors.

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