Saudi chefs share Ramadan food favorites, iftar essentials

Wed, 2020-05-13 01:09

RIYADH: As Muslims around the world mark the holy month of Ramadan with fasting, prayer, and reflection, they are also celebrating it with cooking, feasting and constant snacking between sunset and sunrise.
Arab News asked Saudi chefs to share their favorite Ramadan dishes, as well as tips on how to prepare them.
Khulood Olaqi, a “Top Chef” judge and owner of Oishii Sushi, said no Ramadan spread was complete without shorbat habb, a traditional Saudi soup made with boiled grain and chunks of lamb meat in a red broth.
“To me, the quintessential Ramadan dish is shorbat habb, especially on the first day. I don’t think I ever get tired of it. It has been a symbol of Ramadan for me ever since I was a child,” she said.
Saudi pastry chef and “Top Chef” competitor Abdul Aziz Al-Humedan said his post-fasting essential was a pot of Arabic coffee before anything else, accompanied by dessert. “I have to finish the whole dallah (traditional Arabic coffee pot) myself, along with dates and a traditional Ramadan dessert,” he added.
He takes his coffee with knafeh, aish as-saraya (a Levantine dessert of breadcrumbs soaked in simple syrup and topped with cream and ground pistachio), or luqaimat (small balls of fried dough traditionally soaked in syrup). “My table and my breaking fast are not complete without at least one of those,” he said.
Faisal Abdul Rahman, an aspiring Saudi chef and passionate home cook, told Arab News that his idea of the perfect Ramadan food was sambousa. Also known as sambousak, and similar to the Indian samosa, it is made of fried pockets of dough filled with ground beef or cheese and is a staple in Saudi cuisine.
“What’s better than meat-filled fried dough? It exists in every culture for a reason. And during Ramadan, after a long day of fasting, I like to say that while we will be rewarded for our efforts in the afterlife, biting into the crisp exterior of a sambousa is our reward in this life,” Abdul Rahman said.
He pointed out that making sambousa dough was not as hard as people might think. “It’s flour, water, oil and salt. With this (COVID-19) pandemic going on, not only is it hard to get groceries and especially those high in demand, it’s also a fantastic time to pick up a new skill. Go on YouTube, find your favorite recipe and get into it,” he added.
Those looking to familiarize themselves with old favorites, or even learn new recipes, can follow Olaqi on Snapchat or Instagram at @khuloodolaqi, or Al-Humedan at @azizusa.
For Saudi recipes, look for Eman Gazzaz on YouTube, whose bilingual Saudi cooking channel “Saudi Food With Eman” has more than 129,000 subscribers.

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Saudi chefs share Ramadan food favorites, iftar essentials