Monthly Archives: April 2013

Zucchini Pancakes



We’re getting some really beautiful zucchini right now in Saudi and I love to buy them in abundance to make some of my favorite Spring dishes such as this one. These little vegetable pancakes are the perfect light snack or side dish for dinner. You could even do an assorted platter with various vegetables. Sour cream is not always easy to find here and when you do its not like the normal one so I usually substitute that with plain yogurt which I always have on hand.

1 cup shredded zucchini
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil, for frying
Yogurt and olive oil for serving

1. In a saute pan on medium heat add olive oil.

2. In a mixing bowl add zucchini, onion, parsley, salt, pepper and onion, mix well and incorporate egg. Make into small patties and fry until brown about 4 minutes on each side.

3. Place on a plate and serve with a small bowl of yogurt with olive oil drizzled on top.

Yields: 4 servings

Cows in a Blanket


One of my favorite party foods has always been cows in a blanket. Back home we have a big bowl on our table for every holiday or party and they always go fast. Last weekend I threw my son a graduation party with all of our family and I made a batch of these. I like to have mine plain but you could add cheese to the dough if you would like and also set up little bowls of various dips if you would like.

1 package of beef cocktail weenies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cold butter
3/8 cup buttermilk (I used laban)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Cut in cold butter until mixture is coarse. Add a small amount of buttermilk at a time until a dough like consistency has formed. Allow dough to rest for a few minutes.

3. Tear off a piece of dough and wrap around cocktail weenie until all has finished. Place on a non-stick baking mat and cook for 13 minutes.

Yields: 30

Barbunya Tavasi


Red Mullet is a popular fish throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. The fish is always served whole but have your fish monger clean it by removing the insides, eyes and tail. It has a fine and delicately flavored, white, textured flesh and the reason you should not to do much to the fish but add very few ingredients. I love this simple Turkish recipe and it’s perfect served with some sort of a potato side dish.

5 red mullets (cleaned with head on)
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for frying
Lemon for serving

1. In a saute pan on medium heat add 1/4 cup olive oil. In a food processor add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cilantro and garlic pulse until a marinade forms.

2. Stuff the inside of the fish with the above mixture then brush the outside of the fish with olive oil. Add the flour into a bowl and roll the fish into the flour, covering entire fish.

3. Add the fish into the pan and cook on each side for 6 minutes. Place fish onto a plate and serve with lemon wedges.

Yields: 5 servings

Shaiba Leaves


SHAIBA leaves were another exotic and new spice I was taught about after entering the Kingdom. I had never seen anyone using such a spice before in cooking. At that time I had no idea what lichen was for or that people even used it to flavor foods. A small dried up leaf that looks moldy is not something you would think was a nice flavor after all. I quickly started to research the new find my mother in law introduced me to and told me was a must for Saudi cooking.

I found almost nothing about the leaves online. However I was able to find out that this particular lichen grows on a small shrub in the Arabian Peninsula and was also referred to as ‘old man’s beard’ since the flowers look like small white beards. The lichen genus Usnea derives its name from Arabic ushnah, “lichen.” The famous Islamic physician Al-Razi (Razes) reports various medicinal uses of lichen in his celebrated book Liber Mansoris (Kitab al-Mansuri).

Some popular Saudi dishes that use lichens are Magazlia, Zurbian Rice, Bukhari Rice and Kabli rice. Anywhere from 2-6 small leaves are thrown into the dish and removed before serving.

Spices shaiba leaves compliment well with:
Bay Leavs