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


Mouloukhiek was an Arabic dish that I had heard a lot about but never had the pleasure of tasting. At all the grocers here in Saudi I have saw huge green stalks of the leafy green vegetable with tons of people grabbing them up. I thought that dish must be good if that many people are making it. I cannot say this is an actual eye pleasing dish myself as my first reaction was like ‘what is it’. But after I tried it I really loved everything about it and now see why it’s so popular throughout Arab countries. This is a bath my mother in law made and her recipe as well, she made a chicken version because I love chicken. Many people use lamb or a chicken and lamb mixture as well as rabbit. This dish is typically served with white rice and pita bread.

4 pounds fresh mouloukhiek, picked, cleaned and dried
1 large chicken, cut up
salt, to taste
1 onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups chicken broth

1. In 4-quart saucepan add water and salt, add chicken. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low and cook until fully cooked. About 45 minutes. Shred chicken when finished. Cover and keep warm. Cut dried mouloukhiek up with a knife.

 2. In another saucepan on medium heat add butter. Fry onions and garlic until tender. Add cilantro and coriander. Add mouloukhiek and lemon juice with chicken broth.

3. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low. Cover and allow to sit until ready to serve.

Yields: 6 servings

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. 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

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