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.

Ginger:

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?

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!

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