Arabic White Rice

One of the hardest things for me to get down when I started cooking was the correct way to cook rice. Growing up we never ate rice with our meals and the only time I ever remember having it was for dessert which was served with milk and sugar and not that often. However, when you marry an Arab you better learn how to cook rice because most meals that do not involve rice do not equal much of a meal and I have become quiet fond of the dish myself. You can really do a lot with rice I have found out over the years. This recipe is the simple white plain rice you will find served on most tables. Arabs always add a cube of Maggi in their rice dishes and well most other dishes as well. Nestle makes a fortunate off the Middle East let me tell you. Vinegar is really great when cooking rice because it keeps the rice from being sticky and makes it fluff to perfection. This is one the two recipes for basic rice that I always use, enjoy.

7 cups water
4 white rice seasoning cubes (you can use 7 cups of chicken broth to replace cubes and water)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1. In a 4-quart saucepan add water, bouillon cubes and vinegar, bring to boil.

2. Add the rice and cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is almost tender. Drain in a strainer. Heat half the quantity of butter in a large saucepan, add turmeric and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the cooked rice and spread the rest of butter on top of rice without stirring.
Cover and cook on low heat for at least 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Fluff up the rice using a wooden fork in order to become yellow and white mixed colors.

Yields: 5-6 servings

Farm Biscuits

Biscuits are certainly a Southern staple that you will find being made in every Southerner’s home. In the South we only bake buttermilk biscuits and you will find them on tables throughout the day served for breakfast with white gravy, always accompanying dishes such as fried chicken and of course we make dessert out of them as well by spreading honey and butter on top. Biscuits are the one recipe that I just could not do without, I always make them. Biscuits are certainly one of those recipes that require practice. If you over mix you will get a flat and hard biscuit in the end. I barely mix my ingredients together in the bowl when I dump it out on the board. Kneading is also a big mistake; do not be tempted to do it. Just mix, dump, flip, roll and cut very quickly for a perfect biscuit. 2 cups all purpose flour 2 tablespoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon shortening 1/8 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk 1/2 cup melted butter 1. Pre-heat oven to 500F. In a mixing bowl sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add shortening, mix in until mixture looks crumbles. Add baking soda and buttermilk. Quickly combine together being careful to not over mix. 2. Place dough on a floured surface or a non-stick baking mat. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut 2 inch circles. Dip biscuits into melted butter, covering all of biscuit. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden approximately 10 minutes. Yields: 8

Batata bil Laham

I have always been a meat and potato type of girl so if any recipe has a combination of the two I am in heaven. This recipe takes a bit of time and I have found it’s easier to pull up a chair at the table and work. I usually have a bit of the meat mixture left so I add a small amount of egg and breadcrumb’s and make kofta out of the remaining mix. These golden dumplings are perfect served with white rice. 5 potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed 1 pound ground lamb 1 onion 2 eggs, beaten 4 tablespoons coriander 1 cup bread crumbs 2 teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons sunflower oil 1-1/2 tablespoon curry powder 1 tablespoons turmeric oil for frying 1. In a small food processor add onion and coriander, pulse until chopped. In a medium sized bowl add onion mixture, turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, curry powder and turmeric. Add lamb, mix and sit aside. 2. In a large mixing bowl add potatoes, remaining salt and sunflower oil. Make the potatoes mixture into a dough like consistency. Take a small ball the size of a large egg. Make a bowl with the potatoes mixture and stuff 1 heaping teaspoon full of lamb mixture inside and shape ball into a ball covering lamb. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. 3. Add eggs in a small bowl and breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Add enough oil to fry into a saute pan on medium heat, allow to get hot. Dip potatoes into egg mixture and then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry on each side until golden and lamb is well done. About 10-15 minutes. Yields: 18

Khaliyyat Al-Nahl

My family absolutely adores this golden bread filled with cheese and covered with sugar syrup. This is bread that you will find served in many Saudi and other Arab homes. These superb rolls have a slight sweet taste and are filled with cream cheese; we use Kiri then topped with sugar syrup or honey. You can even sprinkle black sesame seeds on the bread before baking for another great flavor.

1 cup + 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon yeast
dash of salt
cream cheese
egg white

1. In a small bowl add yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and water, stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, sugar, butter, yeast mixture, salt. Add egg and milk a bit at a time until a dough consistency has formed. Form a ball, oil hands and apply all around dough ball not working into. Place into bowl, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for at least an hour.

3. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Meanwhile, ball dough into small balls the size of a large egg. Shape into a bowl and stuff with a heaping teaspoonful of cream cheese. Form back into a ball. Place balls in a greased pie tin touching one another. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

4. In a small bowl mix egg white with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush on top of bread. Place bread into oven and cook until golden, 25 minutes. Drizzle sugar syrup or honey on top of bread.

Yields: 8-9

Chicken Kofta

Chicken kofta is one of my favorite meals and it’s pretty easy to make which helps a lot. To save time I use my pre-mixed Arabic spice mix and chop up everything in a small food processor. I always serve this dish with white rice and tomatoes that I roast under the broiler until lightly charred. 4-5 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 1 onion 2 eggs 1/2 cup ground bread crumbs 1 teaspoon ground Arabic spice mix 2 garlic cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Sunflower oil 1. In a 4-quart saucepan on high heat add chicken breast and fill with water to boil. Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to simmer. Allow to cook until meat is no longer pink. About 30 minutes. 2. In a small food processor add onion and garlic, pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. When chicken has fully cooked add chicken pieces into food processor until chicken is ground. 3. In a large mixing bowl add chicken, cilantro, onion and garlic mixture, breadcrumbs, Arabic spice mix, salt and pepper. Mix well then add eggs, combine well. 4. In a sauté pan on medium heat add 3 tablespoons; add more as needed while cooking. Allow oil to become hot. Roll kofta into small long shapes or balls. Fry until golden on both sides, flipping when needed. Drain on a paper towel. Serve. Yields: 2 dozen

Brownie Bites

These cute little sweet bites are not your average brownies you see they have a secret ingredient inside which is the ever popular Almond Joy candy bar. The mix of the brownies, walnuts and smooth texture from the Almond Joy are a pleasurable mix. And the best thing about them is their small size which you can easily pop into your mouth. The cupcake pan that I used said that it was mini but I have another mini pan which is smaller so I think it’s more of a medium size since its smaller then my regular pan and larger then my mini one. You can use 1/2 cup shortening or butter in place of the mix that I have if you do not have one on hand. I personally like the taste and texture the combination gives. 1/4 cup shortening 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa 1/4 cup butter, softened 2 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup walnuts 1 almond joy candy bar 1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl add shortening, butter, cocoa; beat in eggs, sugar and vanilla using a hand mixer. Add in sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. 2. In a small food processor add walnuts and almond joy, pulse until coarsely chopped. Fold into batter. 3. In a non-stick mini cupcake pan add 1 heaping teaspoon full of batter into each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Yields: 30

Umm Ali

I get asked quite a bit by my readers why I do not have an Umm Ali recipe. Honestly it’s not a recipe that appeals to my husband nor me so I have never cared to make it. My husband bought me some new cookbooks (yes, I am obsessed) for Eid and one of the books that I bought was Sweets of Arabia by Osama El Sayed. He had a recipe for Umm Ali that looked simply amazing. Instead of using the traditional phyllo in the recipe he has used croissants. Umm Ali is a bread pudding type dessert after all so this really turns the recipe around. My house smelled heavenly while it was cooking and I could not wait to dig in. Wow what a difference this recipe makes compared to the other ones that I have tried. 6 plain croissants 1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 1/4 cup shredded coconut 1/4 cup raisins 1 tablespoon melted, butter 3 cups milk 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup whipping cream (or already whipped cream) 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios, walnuts or almonds, for garnish 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Tear croissants into chunks and place into a large bowl. Add almonds, walnuts, coconut, raisins and butter, toss to mix. 2. In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat add milk. Bring to a boil. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat. 3. Pour a little of the milk into a baking dish. Scatter half the croissant mixture into the dish, then pour in half of the milk. Add the remaining croissant mixture, spread evenly and add remaining milk on top. 4. Whip cream to soft peak and spread over top. Bake for 20 minutes, then place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden. Garnish with chopped nuts and serve hot. Yields: 6-8 servings


She’reya is a very old fashioned traditional dish found in Saudi and other surrounding Middle Eastern countries. Basically this easy dish is simply boiled pasta with sugar and definitely not anything fancy or hard to make. My mother in law told me the story behind this special dish and why she continues to always make it on the days that her family fast so that they will have it to break the fast. When her grandmother was a small girl her family was extremely poor. So poor that most days they did not have food to eat and the days they did it was usually borrowed. Maybe one day a neighbor would give them a small Arabic coffee cup with some tahina in it and they (the other three kids) would add water and drink it as if it were a soup. The mother (my mother in laws great-grandmother) would usually not eat just so the children would have food. This she’reya recipe was one that sometimes they would have and they would eat it with bread and it was such a treat. So my mother in law now always keeps the tradition alive by making she’reya. This beautiful story makes the dish so much more appealing and its found in a lot of Saudi homes during Ramadan since most were raised with it. 1/2 pack vermicelli, broken into small pieces (we use the nest) 2 cups water 1 tablespoon sunflower oil 5 tablespoons sugar 1. In a 4-quart saucepan on high heat add oil and vermicelli. Stir until color changes to a golden brown. 2. Add water and reduce heat to medium, add sugar. Cook until water is fully absorbed. Yields: 4 servings

Lamb Mandy

{finished mandy}
{after smoking}
{ready to serve}
There are special ovens for mandy, which are dug in the ground, and which give a special flavor and delicious taste. However, if these ovens are not available you can use the above ground method like your stove. For some time now I have had request to post this recipe. My chicken mandy is actually the most popular recipe on Ya Salam Cooking. I even made a video to guide you step by step with my smoking method. Mandy is smoky flavored dish so this is a step that you do not want to miss. 2 kilo lamb shoulder 5 cups basmatti rice 5 cups water 2 onions, cut into slices 1 tomato, grated 2 tablespoons mandy spice mix 2 tablespoons butter, softened + more for smoking 1-1/2 teaspoon salt 1 black lemon boiled eggs, optional 1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. In a small bowl add mandy spice mix and butter, mix well. Cut a few deep slits around lamb. Rub mixture all over lamb and deep into slits. Cover lamb tightly with aluminum foil. Place into oven, after 30 minutes reduce heat to 350F. Allow to cook for 2 hours, reserve juice. 2. When lamb has finished take a saute pan on high heat add reserved lamb juice. Add rice, water, onions, tomato, black lime, and salt. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low and cover. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes not uncovering until. Leave heat on low. 3. Meanwhile, heat coal. When rice has finished place an onion shell into center with a spoon of butter. Arrange lamb around pan. Place hot coal onto butter in onion shell, quickly cover and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.

Eid Mubarak

{chicken quacker soup}
{macarona with chicken}
Today Muslims worldwide were fasting due to it being the day of Arafa. The Day of Arafa (Arabic: يوم عرفة) is an Islamic Holy Day, in which it is said that the religion had been perfected. It is the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage and the day after it is the major Islamic Holiday of Eid ul-Adha. At dawn of this day, Muslim pilgrims will make their way from Mina to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafa and the Plain of Arafa. It was from this site that Muhammad (Salla llahu Alayhi Wasalam) gave his famous Farewell Sermon in his final year of life. It is said that a believer who fasts on this day expiates for the past year's sins and the sins for the year coming. My family and I went to my in-laws house to break our fast and my mother in law made an amazing spread. This is a typical meal that we would break our fast with during Ramadan. I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday, Eid Mubarak.

Eid al-Adha

The Eid season is upon us this year. The weather in Riyadh is perfect right now and has finally cooled down so that families can get out and have picnics and enjoy the cool weather that rarely reaches us. My husband has the hajj vacation for a week as do most white collared jobs, it’s really nice to spend the extra time with your loved ones and of course many people are going for hajj. The city has been decorated with beautiful lights that are shaped as bukhoor holders, dullahs, clocks and perfume. All of the things that have significant history in Saudi culture. For those who do not know what Eid al Adha is I will try to shortly sum up our holiday to you. It is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Isma'il as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. The meat is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the other third is given to the poor and needy. I have been cleaning my home all day preparing for the holiday and getting everything ready to cook. My sweet husband came home and surprised me with these luscious Saudi sweets from tmreya. I am a HUGE fan of their sweets. They have the most luxurious dates for your palate covered in varieties from cardamom, cocoanut and chocolate. This particular box that my husband presented me had several coatings on my favorite sukary dates and two dips, chocolate and caramel for dipping. These dates paired with the dullah full of Saudi qahwa that he brought me home truly made my day. I love when our men shower us with love, don’t you? I hope that you and your family have a blessed Eid this holiday season.