Traditional Food of Saudi Arabia

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has got a rich past immersed in culture and tradition. Saudi people are always proud of their heritage, and even more proud and generous when it comes to sharing this heritage with people from other nations. Traditional food in Saudi Arabia is one of the most generously shared aspects of their heritage.

Traditional Saudi food include a lot of meat, basmati rice, flat bread and fermented goat milk, this is probably due to a long history of herding sheep and goats, as well as a lack of rich fertile soil suitable for farming.

Even though new farming technology has allowed growing numerous produce in Saudi Arabia now, Saudi Arabian cuisine has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years.

Saudis are still fond of their traditional food, as they should be. Traditional Saudi food is delicious and rich in flavor.

So let’s take a look on the most renowned and the hidden gems of traditional food in Saudi Arabia.

Kabsa Kabsa is the number one dish in Saudi Arabia.  Whenever you talk to any Saudi, a lot of them will tell you that their favorite food is Kabsa.  Kabsa is made of rice, vegetables, and meat.  The Saudis usually eat it during lunch and some even eat Kabsa every day.

Margoog Margoog is a liquid sauce that contains meat, vegetables, and a type of flour paste.

Jereesh Jereesh is made of groats (type of grain) that may be accompanied with onions, chicken, red pepper, and tomatoes.  Jereesh is not the main dish for the meal like Kabsa or Margoog.  It is more of a side dish.

Gursan Gursan is a special flour is baked and made with meat and vegetables.

Arekah Arekah is a really heavy breakfast food that was eaten a lot in the past and was used to help the Saudis work hard through their tough days.  This food comes from the southern part of Saudi Arabia and seems to be delicious based on what I have heard about it.

Mathlotha Mathlotha is a cuisine that is more prominent in the south of Saudi Arabia.  It is a dish mixed with Kabsa, Jereesh, and Gursan.

Mande Mande is a type of Kabsa where the meat is cooked a little differently.  In order to make Mande, you must first dig a hole in the ground where the meat will be cooked.  After the hole is dug, place charcoal inside of the hole along with the meat, cover it, and then cook it for a few hours. You will later add rice and other vegetables to the dish.  All of the Saudi Arabians I have spoken with say that Mande is delicious.

Mofatah Mofatah is like a big Kabsa that is eaten on special occasions in Saudi Arabia. Typically if a guest comes to visit or there is a wedding, the hosts kill a sheep and use it to make Mofatah.  Killing sheep for guests has been a Saudi Arabian tradition for years, although now it is more rare to find the Saudis actually making this dish at home.  Most people now will bring a sheep to the restaurant where the restaurant chefs can prepare the big Mofatah dish for them.

Matazeez Matazeez is a plate that is very similar to Margoog.  The big difference is that it does not have this liquid sauce like Margoog does.

Hainini Hainini is a sweet Saudi Arabian cuisine that you can eat during the winter.

Ferek You will be able to try Ferek only in the winter in Saudi Arabia.  It is a brown paste made with onion that is not sweet like Hainini.

Saleek Saleek is a lighter Saudi Arabian dish that is comparable with Risotto.  It is also one of the more healthy plates you can find in Saudi Arabia.

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