Ramadan Eating Habits in Saudi Arabia

Ramadan is a one month season in which Muslims fast during the day, basically from the sunrise until the sunset. And when we say “fasting” we mean completely fasting, no water no nothing.

This is why this season in particular have it’s own unique diet, dishes, and drinks. They are prepared in a way that makes you compensate and nourish our body once you break the fasting. That being said, still there is a number of exteremly fatty and sweet and heavy recipes that are only prepared during Ramadan.

So Ramadan Breakfast “Iftar” table consist of many things, and you decide how to start your meal.

Mainly, everyone like to start with Dates! and the date mate is a cold heavy cream “Gishta”. You divide dates in half and dip it in Cream and indulge your senses as you earned it after a long fasting hours. The cream is firm not loose in body, and it is really creamy and heavy, very slightly sweet – from lactose not added sugar- , the date whether it’s moist or hard, too sweet or not too sweet; it will be great when dipped in Gishta!

Some replace the Gishta with Laban “drinkable yogurt”, as it makes you feel fuller faster. You will enjoy the combination of sweet and sour and hints of dairy if you choose to consume this choice.

Arabic coffee must be on the table (You can read more about Arabic Coffee here) and some like to start with it first along with dates. From a health point of view, it is not recommended to drink coffee first thing when breaking a long day fasting, as caffeine causes dehydration and Arabic coffee has a high caffeine content. But am one of those who start with it !

Now many choose to pray and then come back and start eating the meal, and some like to eat on one go. Once they come back from prayer, they will find the table ready to be attacked!

I will only list table content in this article, and then will explain the properties of these items on a weekly article during Ramadan.

For Food, Ramadan table must contain: Soup – is a must eat daily-, a choice of pastry or bakery -Sambosah most popular-, and a salad. Some people choose to add rice, pasts and other dishes that are eaten in regular days.

For Ramadan Drinks: (again bear with me and try to pronounce the following names) Ghamar Eldeen, Karkadeeh (hibiscus), Tamar Hindi (tamarind), Jalab, Soobia

For Ramadan desserts: Loqimat, Sweet cheese Sambosa, Kataief, Puddings like Mohalabiahو rice pudding, and Debiazah

Next week, the article will bee about Ramadan foods. stay Tuned!


Winter Drinks in Saudi Regions

I promise you, by the end of the article you will get to know at least one new winter drink of our region (if you live in the middle east don’t cheat please hehe). Let me first brief you about our whether in winter, it is not crazy cold! but the issue is, it gets very dry; and dry winter gets directly to your bones with no permission. As a result, you feel fatigued and powerless all day long until you hit your body with a cup of warm drink that energizes you.

Sahlab – Orchid Drink:

To be accurate, this drink is a traditional winter beverage that was discovered in the 14th Century during the Ottoman Empire. Extremely popular in the Western Region of Saudi. Salep powder is produced from the bulbs of some species of orchid family “reason behind the name”. If you fail to find Sahlab powder you can prepare it from: Milk powder, Sugar powder, Rice powder, Corn starch, and vanilla; in additional to the water and the toppings.

It is a white, thick – smoothie like- hot drink. You will perceive many milky creamy notes along with ricy hints and starchy chalky mouth-coat. Now what makes it so unique, is your choice of “Toppings”! Cinnamon powder is a must topping, you can add with it any of the following: Coconut, Nuts (Walnut, Almond, Pistachio) with these you will create a mixture of different textures. You can put all of these toppings together to get the warming effect.

Karak Chai:

This tea is simply “ridiculously if i may say” Black tea with evaporated milk infused with major warm spices! yes that’s it! some prefer one spice only, personally i like them all in one cup – they blend so well-. Main spices: Cardamom and Saffron, I add little sprinkle of clove powder; some add Cinnamon and Ginger – i don’t like them with this tea-.

You will taste intense tea flavor (you can increase/decrease it), the evaporated milk gives you creaminess and cooked milk notes, and the spices with the tea and milk gives you a premium indulging sensation. The texture is not thin as thin as tea, slightly thicker and heavier on the tongue. Unfortunately, I highly recommend that you add sugar to this drink! sweetness adds a lot to it’s flavor. Originally, Karak tea is called “Masala tea” in South Asian countries, and Chai Adani in Yemen. in the Gulf we call it Karak. the differences between them are: 1- the milk being used, 2- the spices added.


In winter, Ginger is the King! all fridges in Saudi must contain Ginger. We prepare it in too many ways, with/without milk, with or without other spices and flavor enhancers. You must know that we prefer the fresh ginger for drinks “ginger powder mostly used in cooking”.

Ginger tea might contain: grated ginger, lemon and saffron. Or: grated ginger and cinnamon. Could be grated ginger and fresh mint leaves. Honey can be used as sweetener. i recommend these if you are a fan of spicy and sour combinations. Warning: these drinks give you burning warmth not a normal one at all! Personally, i don’t recommend sugar with these drinks.

If you are a fan of creamy spicy blends, try Ginger milk. Heat your milk first -very important- then add grated or powder ginger, don’t heat much afterwards (it may ferment and gives you off flavor notes). You can control the flavor intensity of the ginger by adding more or less. It is tasty when it is sweetened.

Do you have similar drinks in your region? tell us about it.

Have you tried any of these drinks?

ماهو التقييم الحسي للمنتجات؟

نستخدم حواسنا بشكل يومي لتقييم كُل مايدور حولنا، نختار بشكل لاواعي مايعجبنا من: طعام، معطرات، ملابس و غيرها… هل خطر ببالكم تساؤل عن ماهو دور الحواس في كل هذا؟
تردني أسئلة بشكل يومي عن التقييم الحسي – تقييم المنتجات عن طريق الحواس. ماهو؟ و ماطبيعة عملي فيه؟ و كيف يدعم هذا التخصص مُصنعوا المنتجات الإستهلاكية
هذه المقالة مخصصة للإجابة عن هذه الأسئلة بشكل عام و كذلك لرغبتي بالتعريف عن هذا المجال بشكل أوضح

التقييم الحسي إختصاص فريد من نوعه و مهنة نادرة جدا في منطقة الخليج. في الواقع هو فرع علمي بحثي، قائم على تقييم المنتجات الإستهلاكية بإستخدام الحواس الخمسة: النظر، الشم، التذوق، السمع و اللمس. إستخدام الحواس قد يكون بشكل تلقائي أو بعد تدريب مكثف على كيفية إستخدامها

تساؤل، هل نستخدم جميع الحواس في تقييم المنتجات مثل المأكولات و المشروبات؟ هل كل الحواس جزء من تقييم الحسي للمنتجات؟ الجواب هو: نعم! قد يبدو أن بعض الحواس أقل أهمية من غيرها، لكن هذا لا يلغي أهميتها في تقييم المنتجات. تقييم المنتجات عملية متكاملة، يجب أن تشتمل على كل الخواص المحسوسة عبر كل الحواس بلا إستثناء

ما هي فائدة التقييم الحسي؟ ماذا يقدم أو يضيف للشركات و المصانع؟

بلا شك معرفة خواص المنتج المحسوسة أحد أهم نقاط القوة التي يضيفها هذا العلم لأي شركة
لا يمكن معرفة جودة منتج دون معرفة خواصه المحسوسة! فبالإضافة للإختبارات الكيميائية و الميكروبيولجية الفحوصات الحسية المستمرة تساهم في تأكيد جودة المنتجات
يعتمد قسم الأبحاث و تطوير المنتجات في بشكل رئيسي على هذا العلم لتقييم أداء منتجهم في السوق، خصوصاً عند مقارنة المنتج بالمنتجات المنافسة
عملية تطوير و إبتكار منتجات جديدة كذلك يلعب فيها التقييم الحسي دور كبير لمعرفة الخواص المرغوبة والغير مرغوبة في أي منتج

من يقوم بمهمة تقييم المنتجات؟
الجميع! في نهاية اليوم، كلنا مستهلكين لمنتجات مختلفة كثيرة مما يؤهلنا أن نكون مقيمين ممتازين لهذه المنتجاتات بسبب استهلاكنا له. لكن التقييم الحسي يُصنف المقيمين الى قسمين: مستهلكين و مُقيمين مدربين. المُستهلك يعطي رأيه، مدى إعجابه او عدم إعجابه في منتج معين و إقتراحاته

من هو المقيم الحسي؟ او مقيم المنتجات؟
المقيم الحسي (متذوق الطعام- تسمية خاطئة لهذه الوظيفة) يستخدم جميع حواسه لتقييم و تحليل صفات المنتج، كذلك يقوم بتقييم منتجات إستهلاكية غير الطعام والشراب مثل: مستحضرات التجميل، مستحضرات التنظيف، الخامات، المفروشات، الملبوسات … و تطول القائمة. أما متذوق الطعام فيقتصر عمله على تقييم أطباق معينة يكون مدرب بشكل كافي على تقييمها،تقييم طريقة طهيها، و يعطي رأيه بشكل شخصي غالبا

كيف أعمل كمقيم حسي للمنتجات؟
لا يمكن إنكار متعة هذه الوظيفة، لكنها حتماً ليست بالسهولة المتوقعة! على المتقدمين إستيفاء شروط و إجتياز بعض الإختبارات المتخصصة
أهم الشروط هي كفاءة المتقدمين بدنيا. أهمها سلامة الحواس و عدم وجود أي تحسس من أي مواد غذائية أو غير غذائية. عند إجتياز المرحلة الأولى نقوم بعد ذلك بإختبار حساسية الحواس في إختبار متنوع مدته ساعة و نصف إلى ساعتين تقريبا. هذا الإختبار يُبين لنا مدى كفاءة حواس المُتقدم و إستخدامه الصحيح لحواسه، بناء على نتيجة هذا الإختبار يتم قبول المُتقدم و تبدأ رحلة التدريب المكثف والمتخصص التي لا تقل عن ستة أشهر. تصميم ومحتوى التدريب يعتمد على المنتجات التي سيقوم المُقيم بتقييمه

أتمنى أن أكون وفقت في توضيح أهم المباديء في علوم التقييم الحسي و علوم المستهلكين. تظل التفاصيل كثيرة جداً لا يمكن إختصارها، يمكنكم طرح تساؤلاتكم و سأكون سعيدة جدا بالإجابة عنها

Bo’khoor البخور

Have you ever came across people that are holding an object that produces a thick smoke -probably smells wired to you- and they are literally trying to saturate themselves with that smoke? If you seen this before, congratulations! you have been in Gulf for too long; just kidding. But really, ever wondered what is that?

Bo’khoor is a fragrant aromatic wood, that is highly used in the gulf in many occasions. As it can be seen in the picture, Bo’khoor is basically tree stems of certain special trees. Those stems then go through natural and artificial processes to gain particular qualities qualifies them to be used as Aromatic substance/agent.

These trees grow mainly in East Asia in many countries like: Indonesia, Malaysia, South China, and India. The appropriate tree for Bo’khoor must be 20-30 years old years old tree-sometimes older-. Believe it or not! these stems develop their fragrant properties as a result of fungal attack, which transforms the white wood color to darker shade of brown (color is an indicator of Bo’khoor quality grade).

Ok! am not gonna bore you with the processing details. Let’s jump to the sensorial characters, shall we!

You already know this thing comes from wood, you are expecting the woody aromas, right? those notes are there, but that’s not all. First you need charcoal or a special instrument so stems start producing the aromatic smoke.

This Blue-ish white cloudy smoke will contain mainly the following aroma notes in different concentrations:
Agarwood (patchouli like aroma), woody, Sandalwood, some burnt notes, cinnamon hints.

As many ladies use it to fragrance their hair, clothes, and personal belongings; they like to personalize the aroma as well by adding some oils like: Amber, Musk, jasmine -floral scents; or add some spices or powders like: Saffron, sage, and Arabic Gum. It is used also to spread scent to the room, hall, or furniture. In Western region they even use it to perfume cups to serve water and juice for special guests.

It might smell weird and intense for you at first, but once you mingle in any gulf culture, you will smell it’s hints everywhere. As it holds very sentimental value to the region. It reminds us of our holey occasions, weddings, spiritual gatherings, grandmah’s house! and because it used to be (and some kinds still are) expensive, you will only smell it in the very important events.

Would like to highlight one last fact before closing, Bo’khoor is totally different from Incense. might be same in concept, but source and aroma are nothing alike.

So tell us, have you came across Bo’khoor before? How was your experience?

Hope you liked the article!

Arabic Coffee

This was my first Article ever about food and beverages! I hope you enjoy reading it!
Since everyone was Celebrating #coffee#International#day on 1 October 2018, I wanted to take the opportunity and introduce some information about our Saudi Arabic Coffee.
Brewing and preparing Arabic Coffee in Saudi Arabia is very different than any Arabic coffee in Gulf or middle east, in fact it’s flavor profile differs from one region to the other within Saudi itself!

Originally, coffee beans used to prepare this coffee grows in Yemen. The top two beans in terms of their quality are either Harary beans or Kholany beans.
Beans are slightly roasted, golden roast only not brownish or dark brown).

Our coffee is blended with flavoring agents in addition to the coffee beans which give it the unique overall flavor. Main ingredients include: Cardamom, Saffron, and cloves. Ratio depending on preference. some regions add some milk to enhance both flavor and texture.

We serve it in small special glass cups (Finjal), in a quantity not exceeding 15ml. it is strong, so you need to relax and take small sips and wait for it to do the mood stabilizing magic. 

Arabic coffee needs from 15-20 minutes for the beans to boil on low heat before it’s ready for consumption (other ingredients will be added after coffee is ready). The ratio defers depending on individual preference. The ratio I use: 1L water, 30G Coffee, 2 table spoon Cardamom, and add a little saffron and cloves.
I’m sure you are wondering about the sensory properties of this drink by now!

Let me give you the main hints and notes you will notice from the first sip. First, you will see blond liquid drink, with a strong released spicy odor. Then you will perceive Acidic Bitter taste with floral spicy flavor with no sweetness at all (we don’t add sugar to this kind of coffee). It dissolves very fast leaving a strong refreshing spicy aftertaste driven by the cardamom and clove notes.
Some people experience some oral numbness when consume too many cups, and if coffee was prepared with crushed cloves instead of whole cloves. 

There are many Cafes that serve Arabic coffee in Saudi, so it will not be difficult to find and you don’t need to stress yourself with the preparation.

According to one of the latest studies published on Caffeine content in coffee, it appears that the less roasted beans (the lighter the color) the more Caffeine it contains. So careful! this coffee will keep you up all night.

If you prepare your coffee differently, come and tell us about it!

Saudi Arabian Cuisine Journey

Would you like to take a journey discovering a whole new and unique cuisine? join me and learn more about the Saudi Arabian cuisine, its history, geographical impact on preparation or choices of food, and how those affect eating behaviors.

Saudi Arabia consist of many different terrain, with no doubt this has a great impact on the food choices based on the available resources. Interestingly, this gives every region of Saudi Arabia completely unique set of foods and drinks. For this particular reason, you will find it a joyful experience to eat around the kingdom moving from one region to the other. 

Let me brief those terrain very simply. The central region is basically a desert land, surrounded by two major coastal regions the eastern and western regions; whereas southern region consist of many green highlands. So you can have a question jumping in your head now: how would the Saudi Arabian cuisine taste like? 

Even though all cuisines are available nationally nowadays, let’s agree that every region have a geographical inspired recipes. Therefore; this can explain some of the regional related eating behaviors. For example: some of the central region residents highly dislike seafood, as they did not grew up eating it. Another good example: many people from the coastal regions consider central region food too dry and carbohydrate based compared to their iodine based diet.

One factor that has a high impact on the eating behavior in Saudi, is having parents from two or more different regions. You will find those families more open for different food choices, and more willing to try new things. I am born in family with a central and southern region roots (and other non-Saudi roots too). This makes my background strong in those two regions food more than other areas.

Historically, resources available in the central region were mainly: livestock (in which meats, dairy, and wild ghee and butter comes from) and grains. Whereas it was well known for eastern region residents to grow rice and various fruits and vegetables in their farm lands. And of course coastal areas are well known for their fresh seafood.

Now that you know a lot about our culture, history and geography you are ready to learn about our cuisine. In this article I am going to list the most famous dishes for each region, and those are the dishes that I will be describing in my following articles on weekly basis, so stay tuned for that! The names will sound gibberish with no sense at all at this stage, but I advise you to enjoy trying to pronounce them 🙂

Starting with the central region, famous savory dishes are: Kabsah, Jereesh, Qursaan, and Marqoq. Famous desserts are: date based (Honainee, Geshd and Mohalaa), Kleeja, and Masabeeb.

Southern region dishes are many, but I am more familiar with the sweet ones. Such as: Areekah, Mabthooth, Mashgooth and the tastiest local bread ever Qors or Gors.

Western region is a culture by its own when it comes to food! I am personally not an expert in their dishes. What am sure about is that most dishes there are seafood based such as Sayadiah, and the seafood vegetable casseroles.

I am a big fan of a none seafood based dish called Saleeg and absolutely will write an entire article about it.

Two of my favorite dishes that are shared between all regions: Edam (savory), and loqimat (dessert).

One article will be specified to describe the different ways of preparing rice; as it differs from region to the other as well.

Finally, I will not forget about the local beverages. Mainly beverages common here are hot such as: Geneger Milk, Mint Tea, Habag Tea (basil like herb), and Gesher (coffee peel).

You just used your eyes to read my article, read my next work to allow me stimulate the rest of your senses.

Let the cuisine journey begin!

A little about me!

I started my career in the sensory evaluation field back in 2012.

The journey was vague at the beginning, because i have a bachelor degree in Nursing Sciences which is too different from what i decided to move to.

I Can’t deny how difficult it is to start a career in your region as the first and only one in this profession. Because not having resources around you like professional colleagues or training institutions will make your progress a little bit slower. Am lucky that traveling was not an issue for me to reach proper top class organizations to learn more.

What made me learn quicker was the amount of different products i was involved in evaluating and also the great product and process developers i worked with.

One day, i came across a wonderful program given by University of Nottingham that was very suitable for my needs and working hours.

So the education journey began. Pssion and eager to learn really helped me enjoying this journey.

In December 2018, i completed my studies in Post Graduate certificate in Sensory science, qualifying me as the first Saudi in my field leading it in my country.

I decided that this is a big responsibility for me to to raise the awareness about the importance of this scientific discipline.

So, i started writing articles about different ptoducts that i would love to share with you hoping that you find them interesting.

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