Monthly Archives: May 2013

Al Bukhari bil Dajaj



Chicken Bukhari rice is one of my favorite Saudi recipes. The flavors of the rice, spices, carrots and chicken just mix so well together. I have found that it’s better to try to use certain spices when cooking Gulf recipes than to always take the easy way and just use your already mixed Arabic spice (baharat). While it does taste great and is something that I use in some of my dishes, it will also make all of your dishes taste the same way. Unfortunately that is a complaint I have with most food places here in Riyadh. They all use the same Arabic spice mix on all of their recipes and regardless of what they are they all end up tasting the exact same way.

If you use a good rice brand then you will not need to soak your rice usually but when not cooking it the traditional way I have found that it works on best in the end to soak the rice while you prepare and cook the rest of the meal. You can use a whole cut up chicken or whatever pieces that you may like as well. I just usually try to use chicken breast since they are healthier. If you want to try my vegetarian recipe of this dish check that out here.

1-1/2 cups basmati rice (soaked in water for 20 minutes and rinsed)
4-6 skinless and boneless chicken breast
2-1/4 cups water
1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 medium white onion, dice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tomato, diced
1 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube (I used Maggi)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 shaiba leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large saute pan on medium heat add olive oil, onions and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes until onions are tender (but not golden). Add the chicken breast and then sprinkle cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric and shaiba leaves on top. Cook for a few minutes until chicken is slightly golden on outside.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cube and water. Bring to a full boil, cover and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the chicken breast and set aside. Add carrots, salt, pepper and rice, mix. Bring to a full boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes, add chicken breast cover and cook another 5 minutes just to warm. Serve chicken bukhari with salata hara.

Yields: 3-4 servings

Kentucky Butter Cake


When I saw this recipe floating around Pinterest I just knew I had to make it. I cannot say I was always a big fan of bundt cakes because when you’re a kid you just kind of think of them as old people cakes. I mean a cake without frosting? I have came to appreciate bundt cakes and now even look at them as rather classy. The thing about a good bundt cake is that it’s so amazing you do not need all that frosting on top. Just a sprinkle of sugar and maybe some fresh fruit and there you have it.

This cake is so moist hence it being a butter cake after all. My husband says that Southerners are obsessed with butter and he’s right we are. My mom has a picture of me as kid sitting on the kitchen counter eating out of the Blue Bonnet tub. But hey I did not remember Arabs being that healthy did you?

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Powdered sugar, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add in the buttermilk butter, vanilla, and eggs. Beat for three minutes at medium speed. Pour the batter into the bundt pan.

3. Bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool, remove from pan and place on cake platter then sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Yields: 1 cake

adapted from simmer and shoot




Halva is a popular dessert throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean especially during the month of Ramadan. This is the Albanian version and my favorite. Most of the Arabic recipes use brown flour. In all recipes you can choose to lump into onto one giant shape and serve it that way or make smaller pieces like I have. I always make this smaller batch and shape it into a flower like the above picture. This is the perfect dessert to serve with hot tea.

Some people like to allow the flour and butter mixture to cook longer until dark brown or you can choose to cook it until golden like I do, they both taste the same. When you first start cooking the halva it will be thing but during the course of the 15 minutes it will thicken up and clump as it should so do not add or remove anything.

7 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
hot water (just a bit about 2-4 tablespoons)

1. In a saucepan on medium heat add butter and allow to melt. Add flour into butter and use a flat disk and spoon to make sure the mixture has no lumps and is mixed well. Allow to brown (golden or dark brown).

2. Add the sugar and a small amount of water, mix and allow to cook for 15 minutes while mixing. After the time is up the mixture will thicken up mix hard until it balls and shake the pan. Allow to cool (bit not to long) and shape as you would like.

Yields: 4 servings



Batbout is a small little Moroccan bread that pretty much looks like a mini pita. It is popular in Saudi during Ramadan and that is the only time you’re able to find it here that I know of. I love to place batout on the table with toppings such as cheese, olives and zatar early in the mornings during the Holy month and because of their small size kids always love them as well. These little golden circles are so simple to make and bread always taste perfect straight from the oven. You can check out the Saudi version here.

1/2 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar for the yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil

1. Making the Dough:
1- In a small bowl add yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and a little bit of warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
2- In a large mixing bowl add flour, oil, salt, the reaming sugar and yeast mixture.
3- Add warm water, little by little, while mixing the ingredients until you are able to form a dough ball. You only need enough water to get the ingredients together, and the dough ball should not feel wet or sticky.

2. Kneading the Dough:
1- Place the dough on a counter and start kneading using the palm of your hands.
2- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until you get a soft and elastic dough.
3- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a medium thin layer. With a drinking glass cut into circles.
4- Place the disks on a baking pan, cover with a clean cloth, and let the dough rest in a warm place for at least 1 hour, preferably 2.

3. After the dough rests, you will notice that the dough disks puff up. Heat a heavy pan on medium heat, and when it’s hot, place the batbout on the pan to cook. Cook the batbout for a few minutes on each side, until they become golden brown, and thoroughly cooked.

Yields: 4-6 servings

adapted from Cooking with Alia