8 Regional Dishes to Eat When Travelling To Saudi Arabia

Traditional Arabic Dishes
by Anupriya Mishra

Food is a love language for many people out there and every country has its own sets of culinary treasures that are totally worth devouring. Today, we’re talking about the flavourful dishes spanning Saudi Arabia. Boasting a melange of spices and vibrant options, these dishes are sure to leave the foodie in you spoilt for choice. So,  to make this choice easier for you, we have handpicked 8 traditional Arabic dishes that you must eat when travelling to Saudi Arabia.

8 Traditional Arabic Dishes That You Must Eat

1. Thareed


Pic credits: Wikimedia Commons

Thareed is a highly popular Arabic dish that supposedly dates back to pre-Islamic times. This is a lamb stew made using a bunch of spices and is served on flatbread. There are several variations to this dish, as Thareed goes well with several vegetables including okra, carrots, pumpkin, and gourd. It is generally served on Arabic bread called Khobuz, which absorbs the flavourful sauce. As such, this comforting Middle Eastern dish is said to have been the favourite of Prophet Muhammad.

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2. Saudi Banana Masoub

Saudi Banana Masoub

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A famous breakfast dish, this is a Saudi banana bread mash that makes for a hearty way to start your day. Originating from Yemen, generally over-ripe bananas are mashed together with ground flatbread and milk/cream. Although it bears similarities to banana bread, it is quite different. The bready dish is generally topped with nuts like almonds, honey, and raisins. Doesn’t it sound like a great way to start your day?

3. Jareesh

jareesh or harees

Pic credits: Wikimedia Commons

Jareesh is another traditional Saudi Arabian dish that has been around for quite some time. It is one of the oldest dishes in the country and the consistency often lies between that of porridge and gruel. Made using crushed wheat, and flavoured with spices like cumin, parsley, and coriander, the final result is nothing short of tempting. Did you know Thareed is popularly eaten during the month of Ramadan? Yes, and is also commonly known as Harees!

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4. Ma’amoul

Traditional arabic dishes

Pic credits: Flickr/mobetalay

Ma’amoul is a fantastic treat that makes for the perfect sweet nibble. Generally speaking, these are butter cookies that a made with semolina flour. While it is crumbly on the outside, the inside boasts a flavourful stuffing that will make you reach for another bite! These melt-in-your-mouth cookies are stuffed with pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and dates, making them a melange of exquisite flavours. As it happens, they are often served during celebrations in Saudi Arabia and are usually baked in classic wooden moulds to get pretty patterns on the shortbread-like exterior.

5. Shakshuka

Traditional arabic dishes

Pic credits: Wikimedia Commons

Another breakfast dish, Shakshuka enjoys a massive fan following in Saudi Arabia. The name Shakshuka is derived from the Arabic word, ‘shakka,’ which means stick together and it refers to how beautifully the ingredients that go into its making do just that! A bunch of spices like cayenne, chilli, and cumin add flavour to the poached eggs in a tomato and onion sauce. Together, these ingredients make this hearty dish! This sumptuous fare is definitely worth trying during your travel in the country.

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6. Kabsa


Pic credits: Wikimedia Commons

If you are fond of spiced rice, then you will definitely appreciate Kabsa. This is an Arabic mixed rice dish, that is generally served on a communal platter and is often relished during lunchtime. Rising from the Arabic word, ‘kbs,’ which means pressed, this yummy rice dish features ingredients that are pressed together to create a harmony of complementing flavours. In fact, it is also the national dish of Saudi Arabia and can be prepared with a variety of ingredients. However, it is worth noting that rice, vegetables, and meat are three staple ingredients that remain the same throughout the country.

7. Matabaq

Traditional arabic dishes

Pic credits: Flickr/Thomas Timlen

Matabaq is another popular Saudi Arabian dish which bears resemblance to stuffed pancakes or pan-fried bread. While it is believed to have originated in Yemen, the stretchy dough is often similar to roti. Usually eaten for lunch, these stretchy doughs are filled with stuffings that include meat, garlic, eggs, curry, peppers, onion, and coriander. As it happens, this dish finds influence from the Indian population in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. So, don’t be surprised if you find this savoury delight across several food stands while travelling.

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8. Umm Ali

Traditional Arabic Dishes

Pic credits: Wikimedia Commons

Also spelt as Om Ali, Umm Ali is a famous sweet treat found across Saudi that will make for a perfect ending to your meal. Literally translated to ‘Ali’s mother,’ this desert resembles a pastry with fillings comprising honey, nuts, cinnamon, and milk. Once rolled together, these are then baked until golden brown. Equivalent to an American bread pudding, but not quite similar this unique dessert can be found in cafes across the country.

So, which one of these traditional Arabic dishes do you plan to dig into first?

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