Shorba Dajaj

I am a soup person I would happily live on soup, salad and bread forever those are my favorites after all. This recipe is at the top of my soup list and I could go for it anytime but it especially popular throughout the month of Ramadan. Muslims usually break their fast with sometime of soup. In Saudi its Quaker soup, in Algerian shorba frik, Moroccan harira and The Emirates have shorba dajaj which is just a simple chicken noodle style of soup.

If you have fresh chicken stock on hand use 4 cups then 4 cups of water if not you can use 8 cups of water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes. Also choose your favorite pieces of the chicken or you can use mixed. I usually use chicken bread and chicken legs so my entire family is happy. Make sure to always use chicken with skin and bones, that where the taste comes from after all.

1 cup cilantro, fresh, cleaned and chopped
6 pieces of chicken (bones and skin)
1 large white onion, diced
8 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes (I use Maggi)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups dried vermicelli
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Juice from 1 lemon
1 lemon quartered for serving

1. In a stock pot on high heat add water, chicken cubes, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low-medium, cover and allow cooking for 1 hour.

2. After the hour is up in a small skillet on medium heat add butter and vermicelli, cooking until golden. Add cardamom, mixing and allow to sauté for 5 minutes. Place mixture and lemon juice into shorba, mix and allow cooking for a remaining 30 minutes. Serve hot with lemon wedges. 

Yields: 8


Balaleet is a popular Emirati dish but all Gulf countries have a similar version yet with various names. The mixture of sweets accompanied by eggs may seem strange to those who have never had it but this quite normal throughout Gulf countries and has been popular even with early Bedouins. The taste is very nice and one that will surely win you over.

250 grams dried vermicelli
3-6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup orange blossom water or rose water
Pinch saffron
3 eggs, beaten
Pistachios for garnish

1. In a saucepan on high heat add 1 tablespoon of butter. Add vermicelli and boil, strain when almost cooked.

2. In another saucepan on medium head add 2 tablespoons of butter, sugar, orange blossom or rose water and vermicelli, mix. Add cardamom and ginger, mix well. Reduce heat to low. Cover and steam until water is absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet on medium heat add 1/2 tablespoon of butter when melted add eggs. Cook until golden then flip and cook remaining side.

4. Place the vermicelli mixture onto a serving platter, add sliced omelet and sprinkle with pistachios.

*You can also omit the eggs and add 1/4 cup sultanas before steaming.

Yields: 3 servings

Al-Tazaj Iftar

Al-Tazaj is this amazing little chicken place that we have across Saudi Arabia. They have some of the best chicken that is infused with lemon and garlic. This is my son’s favorite place to eat and he always wants to go there. He went on and on about eating there this evening so that’s where we had our iftar. They offered everyone laban, dates, corn soup, samboosas and Fattoush to break their fast with and then we ordered chicken and fries. Of course you have to buy the basboosa since they have the best basboosa you will ever try, it’s so delicious.

Later on around 10pm my husband dropped us off at the mall. I love shopping during Ramadan the malls open after night prayer and stay open until 2am and they are always filled with people. I have always been a night owl anyway so it works for me since this is country that does everything late.


Qastaleeyah is one of the most loved desserts in the Emirates. I love this light tasting dessert that leaves a linger of the Gulf favorites cardamom and rose water. Light desserts are my go to in Ramadan because a day of fasting and a nice iftar can only make one handle so much. You could also add ground cloves or a bit of cinnamon while cooking if you would like however this is how I personally prefer it.

2 cups milk (I use full fat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons rose water
Ground pistachios, for garnish

1. In a small saucepan on medium heat add milk, sugar and cardamom. Mix well allowing sugar to dissolve.

2. Add the cornstarch and whisk until well combined. Continue to whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens like glue.

3. Reduce the heat to low and add rose water, mix well cooking for a remaining 2 minutes. Pour into serving ramekins, cover with plastic wrap (poke a small hole in top to prevent sweating) and allow chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

4. The next day after custard has set garnish with pistachios and serve.

Yields: 3 servings

Another Iftar

I have told you a million times how much my husband and I love eating at The Noodle House. It’s a mix of Malay and Indonesian dishes two of our favorites. They have this lovely iftar menu where each person chooses an appetizer, soup, main dish and dessert. It was a massive amount of food really but at that time we were all for it. They brought fresh dates, water and Saudi coffee to us as soon as the adan played so we could break our fast. 

Soto Ayum is one of my favorite dishes ever and I have the recipe here if you all would like to try it. That was a meal in itself to me and I took my main dish home. I always order an espresso after we eat to go with my dessert because they have the best espresso I have ever had. I adore the service they always treat us so well each time we go and we know most of them by name. If you live in Saudi, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait or Cyprus you should give them a try.

Homemade Yogurt

While fresh plain yogurt is widely available in the Middle East it may not be as easy to obtain in the Western countries so I thought I would show you all a simple recipe for making it at home. I have made this several times and it worked out flawlessly each time. There is something special in making something yourself, isn’t there? As I told you all before yogurt is a pretty popular staple here in Saudi. We eat it with every meal practically and I personally adore in plain with a bit of honey drizzled on top for suhoor.

I always use full fat milk and yogurt starter because they are much creamier but you can use what works best for you. If you would like much thicker yogurt you can reduce the milk to 3 cups instead of the 6.

6 cups milk
3 tablespoons yogurt

1. In a 4-quart saucepan on medium heat add milk bring to a full boil then reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 3 minutes.

2. Allow milk to slightly cool until mixture is no longer hot just warm. Mix 3 tablespoons of starter yogurt then add to the milk, stirring mixture with a wooden spoon. Cover with a lid then wrap entire pan in a towel to keep warm.

3. Allow to sit in a warm place for 8 hours not disturbing. When finished refrigerate overnight then serve.

Yields: 6 cups

Lebanese White Coffee

 Lebanese white coffee is a simple and fragrant drink loved for its soothing properties and light taste. This is the perfect after dinner drink for those who are not black coffee or caffeine drinkers. When I first heard about this drink I thought it was like my favorite white coffee drink in Malaysia but soon found out it was not actually coffee at all. You can add a bit of sugar if you would like to this drink most people prefer not to as do I.

1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
Sugar, to taste

1. In a small saucepan on high heat add water. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low. Add orange blossom water and sugar is using, mix well.

2. Pour into fanajeens and serve.

Pistachio Filled Dates

In Saudi some typical ingredients for filling and covering dates would be coconut, chocolate, sesame seeds and nuts. I made this mixture with pistachios and orange blossom water. We prefer to have light desserts during Ramadan since everyone is full from iftar and not in the mood for a heavy dessert. This plumb filled date is perfect Arabic coffee or habek tea.

20 dates, pitted (I used sukary)
1/4 cup pistachios
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

1. In a small food processor add nuts and orange blossom water, grind until a paste has formed.

2. Carefully open dates keeping closed side intact and with a small spoon fill with nut paste, pack in. Place on a serving platter and serve.

Today’s Iftar

Applebee’s is the one place that I could never get tired of I mean we eat there all the time and I love it. I especially love going there during Ramadan. They have this massive buffet filled with every one of their appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. And that is only what they offer you while you wait on your main course which is an entrée of your choice. They have dates and water waiting for you on the table and bring Vimto and Saudi Coffee too.

Today was the worst day of fasting that I ever remember in all my Ramadan’s. I have no idea what the problem was nothing new was happening and honestly I never really eat until late anyway. My stomach was cramping so bad that I could not even concentrate on anything significant. When we were able to eat I felt like a ravished dog. I was just thanking Allah over and over for the blessings we have of being able to have the things we do and be able to live the lives that we do. We truly are blessed compared to so many people in the world and hey this is what Ramadan is about you know getting that you’re blessed

Algerian Maakoud

These golden little rounds taste perfect hot or at room temperature and make a impeccable snack or side dish. I made a batch of these for a late night snack and it was just right. I tried making batch beforehand by only forming a patty and coating in flour and it fell apart then I followed the directions and added them into the balls and then formed the patty coating again and they were perfect. So make sure to follow the directions exactly.

4 medium sized potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 small white onion, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
Flour, for rolling patties
Sunflower Oil, for frying
scallions for garnish

1. In a large mixing bowl add potatoes, onion, parsley, salt, cumin, garlic, pepper and eggs, mix well.

2. In a small bowl add flour (about 1 cup). Roll potato mixture into small balls the size of golf balls then roll in flour, roll again into a ball, flatten then coat patty with flour.

3. On medium heat add enough oil for frying. Carefully place patties into hot oil and allow cooking on each side until golden about 2 minutes. Place on a paper towel to drain oil.

Yields: Approximately 16

Adapted from Culinary Couture