Chocolate Pudding

I was having a major chocolate craving last night and the thought of chocolate pudding entered my mind since it was kind of easy. I have never actually made homemade pudding and I never cared for the boxed or prepackaged stuff, it has this funky taste to it. I thought with all these pure and simple ingredients this version had to beat store bought. So I made a batch up and patiently waited until today to try it. Wow, I was blown away it’s so full of flavor and chocolate what a perfect dessert.

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Cadburys)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups milk

1. In a 4-quaty saucepan on medium heat add sugar, cornstarch and cocoa powder. Carefully whisk in milk. Continue whisking until thickened and bubbly and whisk for an additional few minutes.

2. Add 1 cup of milk mixture into a medium bowl. Add eggs into 1 cup of milk mixture, mix and then add contents into pan. Whisk well. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla, mix well.

3. Carefully pour into a bowl, cover and allow chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

Yields: 4 servings

Kitchen Love

My New Kitchen Items

1. Klaus and Yves Shakers
2. All the Buzz Travel Mug
3. Colorful Palate Utensil Set
4. Bubby's Matryoshkas Measuring Cups

I order from ModCloth quite a bit and have never been disappointed with any of their products. They have some of the cutest clothing, jewelry and home items that I have found and the shipping is pretty decent. This kitchen items are a few of the latest things I received in my order and I really am happy with all of them. The cat salt and pepper shakers are adorable and hold a great amount. The utensils are colorful, this travel thermos is perfect for one person to carry a hot drink and it fits in my purse, have a magnet that holds them all together and they are really durable and these measuring cups are so nice they are high quality and look cute on your counter.

Overall I was really pleased as always with these items and will order some more stuff for my kitchen soon. The travel mug and measuring cups are already sold out things actually sell out pretty fast over at Modcloth but you can add an item to your watch list and they remind you when it comes back in. Sometimes I get tired of the boring standard stuff and want something a little more unique for my kitchen.

Berber Adas

The root of most Moroccan food can be traced back to the Berbers. Berbers have lived between North Africa; Egypt and the west coast of Morocco as far as history is recorded. It has been said that the Berbers made an impact of the food of the region long before the invasion of the Arabs and although they did revert to Islam they were keen to make the point that they were not from the Arab descent. We can all thank the Berbers for dishes such as tagines and couscous. This basic lentil recipe is a simple village dish which is usually served with a piece of bread. Black lentils have more texture and hold their shape unlike red lentils.

2 tablespoons olive oil with a slice of butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-1/4 cups brown lentils, washed and drained
2-1/2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. In a 6-quart saucepan on medium heat add olive and butter. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender about 3 minutes. Add ras-el-hanout and sugar, mixing well. Add lentils, coating well.

2. Carefully add water and raise heat to high. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low. Cool for 35 minutes until almost all the liquid has absorbed. Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and garnish top with cilantro.

Yields: 4-5 servings

Fatin Hareth

Black seeds have served as an important health and beauty aid to Arabs for years. Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said that black seed is a cure for everything but death. [ Al-Bukhaari, 5364; Muslim, 2215]
In Saudi Arabia black seed remains a traditional remedy for asthma, coughs, stomach problems, fatigue, cancer and much more. The whole seeds and oil is used to beautify skin and hair.

Fatin Hareth is an old fashioned recipe made in the southern province of Saudi Arabia. This is not a hard recipe to make but you should not leave the stove what so ever while making it to make sure nothing burns as it only takes a handful of seconds to cook each batch.

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons black seeds
2 tablespoons yogurt
1/4 cup oil (I used sunflower or corn oil) plus more for frying
4-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl add yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water. Sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder and sugar, mix. Add black seeds, yogurt, oil, and vanilla and yeast mixture. Mix well. Add a little bit of water at a time until dough consistency has formed. Place a small amount of oil onto hands and rub around dough ball. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. In a small skillet on medium heat add enough for frying (about 1/4 cup). On a lightly floured surface (I use non-stick baking mats) with a rolling pin roll dough thin (paper thin). Carefully cut into strips 1/2 inch wide and then into triangles up and down the long strips. Place into hot oil frying on each side until golden.

4. Drain on a paper towel. Drizzle or dip into sheerah (sugar syrup) afterwards then serve.

Yields: 4-1/2 cups

Eid Lunch

Eid Mubarak everyone I hope you’re having a lovely day. My schedule is so messed up from Ramadan and I have no idea how I am going to fix it. Everyone stays up all night in Saudi throughout the month and now here in a few weeks my son starts school for the first time and they have to be there by 7:30am I am cringing of the thought lol. When I finally fell asleep last night (this morning) some kids started shooting fireworks right at my window and it was so loud it scared me and of course that lasted for what seemed like forever. Fireworks are really popular here during Eid with the kids.

My family and I got up and got dressed and had a nice Eid lunch and then spoke with all of our family on the phone that are out of Riyadh. It was nice catching up with our loved ones. Now we’re all just resting and about to head out for the evening for dinner and taking our son to play. I hope your day is going well whatever you may be doing.

Eid Mubarak


Eid Mubarak everyone inshAllah you all had a successful month. I am pretty proud that I was able to reach my goal of posting almost every single day of the Holy Month. I missed a few of the last days due to just wanting to spend some time with my family and getting stuff taken care of. You all may not know it but being a food blogger is a huge amount of work and if you like any food blog you should always let them know you appreciate it. Being a foodie is not just about the food anymore on top of trying to make the perfect recipes you have to try to get a nice pictures, then edit your pictures, make a nice story to go along with it, make sure you write everything out correctly and the post it. It takes so long to just get one post done but like I said I am proud that I was able to provide everyone with a bit of insight about how Ramadan is in Saudi but now I need a week or so off to refresh my brain.

It’s hard to believe Ramadan has gone and come and it’s just the beginning of August, kind of surreal right? I do not have much of an appetite when it’s hot to begin with and then adding fasting on top of the heat really was not making me hungry. Drinking is always the worse for me anyway. Tomorrow morning Muslims all over the world will wake up early and partake in the Eid prayer. All of the stores are closed on the first day of Eid here in Riyadh so we will probably just go out to eat somewhere and then enjoy the next two days of Eid shopping and so on. What are your Eid plans?

Spices Part.1

black seeds / Saudi Coffee / Turmeric

Growing up in the South I was never introduced to Spices we just do not do a lot of innovative things to our food. It’s the same thing fried with salt and pepper. I have told you all before here how I never knew how to cook until I got married. It’s funny to think that the first thing a simple Southern girl started out in the kitchen was making Saudi food. I was a new bride and wanted my impress my husband with his favorite dishes. Back then you could not find any Saudi recipes online and I had no idea where or how to start. That is how Ya Salam Cooking started it was own personal folder or my recipes and tips plus I figured there had to be more girls out there like me.

When I embarked on this journey to learn how to cook it was also when I was introduced to the world of spices. I had no idea there was so many so many spices and all of the various things that you could use them for. I immediately became a hoarder of spices having to have at least one of everything. I started buying all kinds of books about spices so that I could learn everything humanly impossible about them, I was obsessed. Now six years later I love knowing what spices are in something simply by smelling it and what spices go well together and in what dish. But today I want to talk about using spices in a different way and that is its medical way.

For decades people all over the world have been using spices for medical purposes. I am going to have a small series in alphabetical order of what certain spices are used for here in the Kingdom. Many of these are still used today and were part of early Bedouins medical practices.I have put the Arabic name next to it as well.

Myrrh (murr)

Loss of Appetite
Coffee (qahwa)
Dates (tamr)

Black Seed (habba souda)
Honey (asal)

Alum (shabba)

Blood Cleanser
Arugula (jarjeer)
Cress (al hara, rashad)

Boils and Abscesses
Cress (al hara, rashad)
Mangrove (qurm, shura)

Black Seed (habba souda)
Cress (al hara, rashad)
Fenugreek (hulba)
Frankincense (luban)

Breast Abscesses and Mastitis
Fenugreek (hulba)

Caraway (karawiya)
Fenugreek (hulba)
Nakhwa (nakhwa)

Dates (tamr)
Turmeric (kurkum)

Date Selections

This evening we had finger foods for iftar and I also placed a plate of various dates on the table, about 4 of each. It’s nice trying the flavors of different dates. It’s funny to think that the main part of my life I had never even heard of dates little on tried them. There were so many things that I had never saw or tried coming from a small town the stores just carry what they people buy which means not a lot of change. As soon as I took my first bite of a date I desired more and now it has become one of my favorite fruits to have plain or mixed into other recipes.

Here is a list of the date’s pictures above.

1. Sukary Ahmar

2. Nabtat Ali

3. Sheeshi

4. Wannana

They are all wonderful in their own right but the wannana is one of the best dates you will ever try. It’s black, soft as butter and so light and sweet. Sheeshi is the dates ate by diabetics and people that cannot have nor want a lot of sugar. You all know I love all the sukary dates and the nabtat ali are sweet and harder they remind me a lot of ajwa dates yet nowhere near as sweet.

What dates have you tried and which ones are your favorites?

Ramadan Decorations

Every year I vow to take pictures of all the Ramadan decorations all over Riyadh to share with you all but for some reason or another I never seem to get any images. A week or so ago I snapped a few while we were out but I never shared them since it was a few messily images in hopes to get more. But guess what I still do not have anymore and I doubt I will so I thought I would go ahead and share the few I do have.

The streets of Riyadh are lit up with decorations and every single shop window is decorated and wishing everything Ramadan Kareem. Ramadan is nice in Saudi (like Christmas in the West) and I wish I could show you all how nice for those of you who live outside of a Muslim country.

I Love AeroLatte



A few months ago I came across a blog that had a nice cup of homemade cappuccino on it and I could not believe she did not have a fancy coffee machine. Her secret weapon to get the ultimate cup of froth was an aerolatte. I had to order one for myself and when it arrived I thought the packaging and product was very high quality. I took a small bit of milk, warmed it for a few seconds and whisked it. I would not believe the amount of froth and how it stayed put this little thing produced. I am just in love with this.

To give an example I poured a small amount of milk and then whisked in and you can see in the pictures how much froth is produced from that small amount. I have been using Starbucks house blend in my French press with freshly frothed milk and have been enjoying the best coffees here at home. If you like coffee then you should really get one of these. You will not regret it!

Yorgurtlu Kofte Kebabi

For those of you who love Middle Eastern food then this is the dish for you. It’s complete with everything in one impeccable dish of toasted pita bread, fresh yogurt, golden pine nuts, soft and tender kofta with bright sumac over the top. Make sure you layer this dish right before serving so the bread stays crisp.

Tomato sauce:
1 white onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

3 large pita breads
1-1/2 pounds ground lamb
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sumac plus more for topping
2 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 scallion, chopped

1. In a sauté pan on medium heat add olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook until tender. Add red pepper flakes, tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar, mix well. Cook for 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl add lamb, salt, pepper and cilantro, mix well. Make golf ball size shapes and form into small sausage shapes. Use a non-stick baking mat or foil on a baking sheet. Place kofta and broil under a high broiler in the oven for 8 minutes.

3. Toast the pita bread under the broiler for a few seconds until crisp and breakable. In a small saute pan on medium heat add butter, pine nuts and sumac, cook until golden.

4. In a serving platter crumble pita, pour tomato sauce on top, add yogurt, pine nut mixture, and sprinkle sumac then place kofta on top. Garnish with scallions.

Yields: 4 servings

Chocolate Biscuit Dessert

I first had this dessert at my mother in laws. I have to admit when I saw it I did not think I would like it; it is just something I have never tried before. My son and I ended up eating the entire pan, no joke that is how good it is. This reminded me of a Saudi version of southern banana pudding. The tea biscuits and the chocolate combine so well overnight. I have never seen any Qashta in the states so you can make your own version here.

Since I originally posted this recipe I have since went back and reworked it and the ingredients to make sure that everyone would be able to make it. This recipe has been viewed thousands of times thus making it a popular one yet some of the ingredients were only available in Saudi. I wanted to give everyone a chance to make it. I prefer this new recipe it has so much more flavor. Also if you can not find tea biscuits you can use vanilla wafers (we do not have those here). 2 (200 gram) tea biscuit packets

1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (170 gram) can qashta

1. In a large mixing bowl add cream, with a hand held mixer beat until peaks form. Add powdered sugar and coco, mix well with blender. Fold in qashta, mix.

2. In an 8x8 dish add cream mixture and spread out all over bottom of dish. Add a layer of tea biscuits (in 3 strips up and down) and continue layering mixtures. Cream layer should be on top. Crumble 2-3 biscuits and sprinkle on top.

3. Cover dish with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hour.

Yields: 6 servings

*updated from 2/18/09


I doubt most of you have ever heard of sobia it’s a very old fashioned traditional recipe of Saudi. One so old that it’s in fact starting to die with the new generation as time goes on in Riyadh but I have heard the drink thrives on in the Western province. Sobia is a barley drink make in the homes of the older generation during the Holy month every year. Men usually go out after asr and sit up a little stand to sell their homemade sobia to the passersby’s to take home and have for iftar. I usually see 4 different colors clear, yellow, red and purple. Some are flavored with raisins, tamarind while others are plain. Sobia is pretty cheap and its sellers do not sell for the money but more so to try to keep a tradition live.

Sobias ingredients include barley, brown bread, cinnamon, sugar and cardamom. The bread and barley is placed in a large pot for 24 hours then the mixture is boiled with the above spices and sits another day. Then the bread is strained and poured and sugar is added into 1-1/2 liter jugs or large plastic bags.

This is the recipe I was able to get to share with you all. Personally I am not a fan of sobia I mean it taste like bread and water which is not something I like but those who grew up on it love it.

1 whole wheat pita bread
12 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon oats

1. Cut bread into small pieces. In a large bowl add 6 cups of the water, oats, 3/4 cup of the sugar and bread, soak overnight.

2. Squeeze bread with hands, drain twice with a strainer. Add cardamom, cinnamon and then drain for a third time.

3. Add remaining water and sugar; stir well until sugar has dissolved. Pour into jugs and place into refrigerator. 

* I hope you all can see the sobia well enough. My husband snapped this for me on a cloudy day through a dirty window with an Iphone lol.  

Saudi Dates

Saudi Arabia produces more dates than any other country in the world and they are the finest dates at that. The Palm date tree is nothing less than amazing it is the proud symbol on the Saudi flag after all. The Kingdom is home to over 40 varieties of dates. Date Palms produce fruit for over 70 years and offer about 400 pounds of fruit per season. Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said “There is a tree among the trees which is similar to a Muslim (in goodness), and that is the date palm tree.” [Book #65, Hadith #359]

Here is an expat worker unloading fresh dates from his truck by the boxes to sell in front of the mosque next our home. Dates are always popular but especially during Ramadan. People buy boxes and boxes at a time.


Hummus is such a delicious treat regardless if you scoop it with fresh warm bread or crisp vegetables. Luckily it’s also a healthy treat so go ahead and indulge because this is one snack I personally cannot get enough of. When I have some extra ground beef or lamb leftover from a recipe I like to toast some pine nuts and add both on top of a freshly made batch of hummus, its wonderful.

1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained
4 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of ground cumin
pinch of ground coriander
4 tablespoons olive oil
paprika for topping

1.Place chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a food processor. Blend until smooth. You can add more water to get a thinner consistency if you would like.

2. Place into a serving platter, cover and place into refrigerator allowing to chill for at least 1 hour. Garnish top with paprika.

Yields: 6 servings 

* You can also add cucumbers, olive oil or pine nuts to the top.

*updated from 12/11/07

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush was the first Arabic dish that I ever tried when I was a student in Chicago. I had no idea what the origin of the dish was or even what was in it. Now that I think about it that was also the first time that I even had eggplant. I immediately loved the dish; I could not get enough of it and kept dipping my soft warm pita bread into it over and over. Over the years I have made eggplant in several dishes I just adore the rustic nutty and smokey flavor that they hold once cooked.

1 large eggplant, pierced with a fork all over
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil plus more for top

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and bake for 1-1/2 hours. Turn frequently! A knife should go through the vegetable smoothly. Allow to cool then peel and trash the skin.

2. In a large bowl mash the pulp with a fork. Set aside. In another bowl add garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, tahini and 4 tablespoons of olive oil, mix well.

3. Add the mixture into the mashed eggplant, mixing well then drizzle the top with olive oil. Serve with fresh pita bread and vegetables.

Yields: 6 servings

Honey Glazed Pistachio Muffins

Early Bedouins were eager to exchange fresh goat meat, produce or woven baskets for the cardamom that burdened the camels of the tradesmen. Cardamom has always been a favorite of the Arabs with their coffees, main dishes and sweets. Honey is also a valuable ingredient for Arabs for its flavor and medical properties. Honey is used as a salve for burns, helping women gain strength after birth, cold and coughs and all around general health in the Kingdom. Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam said "Make use of the two remedies: honey and the Quran." (At-Tirmithi)

This evening I decided to make 5 perfect dainty muffins. They have no oil or butter in them and you will not dare miss it. The crunch of the pistachios, scent of the cardamom and sweet honey glaze will leave a light linger on your palate.

8-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk
4 tablespoons beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
3 heaping tablespoons yogurt
3 tablespoons crushed pistachios
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
honey for glaze

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom, mix well.

2. Add buttermilk, egg, vanilla and yogurt, mix well. Fold in pistachios.

3. Line 5 liners into a muffin pan and fill 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

4. Brush honey on tops with a pasty brush.

Yields: 5

Shish Barak

 It was several years ago as I was flipping the pages of Arabesque that I came across this interesting recipe for a new style shish barak. Originally shish barak is homemade dough filled with meat and plotted into a yogurt bath much like Turkish manti. I became quite taken with the recipe and just had to make it. This dish quickly became my husband’s favorite dish. Over the years I have tweaked it a bit and made it work for me. I do not make it that often as anyone who has worked with fillo knows that it’s a labor of love but hey it’s Ramadan and he asked for it so I spent the evening frying, stuffing, rolling and baking my golden little heart shaped pastries.

10 fillo pastry sheets (unfreeze for a few hours before use and then lay a damp towel over at all times or they will not be usable)
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon garlic, diced
1-1/2 teaspoons dried mint
1-1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 small onion, chopped in food processor
Dash of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper to tasting
1/2 tablespoon allspice

1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add sunflower oil and meat, cook thoroughly. Add onions, cinnamon, allspice, molasses, salt and pepper allowing cooking for a few minutes. Make a well in the center add pine nuts and toast until golden.

2. Cut each fillo sheet in half. Place the long end of the sheet towards you. Place meat mixture towards bottom leaving enough room on all sides to roll (meat in this should be like a cigar amount and shape).  Roll gently up, when finished coil into a heart shape. Then place on a baking sheet.

4. Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Brush tops with butter and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden.

5. In a medium sized mixing bowl add yogurt, olive oil, garlic, and mint. Mix. Place on top of baked shish baraks or serve in an individual serving dish.

Yields: 4 servings

Saudi Snack Store


 I always want to take so many pictures of things to show you all around Saudi but it’s really hard. People hate cameras here and you find it extremely difficult to ever take any pictures even in a small shop like this people tend to think you want to steal their idea or have pictures of them, weird I know. What is really odd is that as much as people hate cameras you always see everyone with their phones taking pictures and making videos. It’s kind of incognito and makes everyone feel more comfortable I guess.

My husband snapped these pictures for me with his IPhone and I hate camera pictures they are so fuzzy but it’s hard to tote around the Canon especially since people would make some huge deal I am sure. I wish I could get a camera that did not look like one yet took awesome pictures. Something like the CIA uses or something lol I mean I only want to take pictures of stores and items to show you all for crying out loud what is the big deal?

So here you have it a few snaps of a snack store we have up the road from our house. This store is decorated in the traditional Saudi manner like a mud house with drapery hung around. The hand weaved circles you see hanging on the wall are what people ate on at one time and many still do. All of the patterns are common for the Najdi area. In a store like this you will find dates, cookies, tea and coffees all being old fashion Saudi products.