The traditional delicacies of Saudi Arabia
27 Nov 2014 15:00 PM
Saudi Arabians have been consuming the same type of food for thousands of years and no trip to the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula would be complete without sampling some of its traditional fare.
Based on the food eaten by the Bedouin nomads, key ingredients include wheat, rice, chicken, lamb, dates and yoghurt, and dishes are usually rich in calories in order to give people the strength they need for work.
Other ingredients vary depending on what is available in each region. Each area of Saudi Arabia has its own cuisine and if you’re travelling around the country, it’s highly recommended to sample the local specialities.
Laban – a Saudi Arabian yoghurt drink
Laban is a refreshing yoghurt drink that is consumed all over Saudi Arabia.
It can be bought pre-made or you can make it yourself – blending half a cup of water with half a cup of unsweetened yoghurt and adding ice cubes to make it extra cool and revitalising.
Not only is it tasty, it also has lots of health benefits.
Yoghurt is known to contain probiotic cultures, or ‘good bacteria’, which aid digestion and give you a healthy gut. It’s also a good source of calcium and vitamin D, not to mention incredibly refreshing under the hot Arabian sun.
Coffee and dates tradition
Drinking coffee is a longstanding tradition in Saudi Arabia and is the usual way that the locals greet their guests.
Servings your guests coffee and dates is a sign of hospitality and generosity, and at the end of Ramadan, Muslims here break their fast with water, Arabian coffee and dates.
Millions of dates are produced in the country every year so it’s no wonder they are such a key part of the national cuisine.
Drinking black tea is also a common custom, which is done in both formal and casual meetings between family, friends and even strangers.
Fast food in Saudi Arabia
While Saudi Arabian cuisine is still dominated by traditional fare, you’ll be surprised to hear that fast food restaurants are now cropping up in the country.
From Burger King and McDonalds to Pizza Hut and KFC, American fast food chains can be found in the major cities. Saudi Arabia even has its own local fast food called Al-Baik
, which is based in Jeddah.
Saudi Arabian mealtime customs
Most people tend to eat a light meal in the morning and at midday, and have their larger meal in the evening.
Hands are washed in a cleansing ritual before and after each meal and most traditional food is eaten with the fingers on the right hand – bread can be used to mop up stews.
Eating out or enjoying a family meal is a popular way for Saudi Arabians to socialise and thanks to the growing number of expats in the country, more international cuisine is becoming available in hotels.
Take the Jeddah Hilton Hotel
– as well as serving the finest Persian cuisine, delicious international food is also available. This gives you the best of both worlds at a choice of five excellent hotel restaurants. If you’ve ever sampled any traditional Saudi Arabian delicacies, we’d love to hear your recommendations for what to eat on future trips – leave us a comment below!