Arabic Tea Latte



A latte is a drink that has more milk than the other half (coffee, tea, etc). I thought it would be fun to make a latte out of a popular Arabic tea. Chai karak is a popular drink in the Gulf however not here in Riyadh. I am not sure if some other areas (like the eastern region) drink it or not. Some of my Saudi readers please let us know.

First, I made a strong tea mix since we will be using a lot of milk in the recipe. I used 1/2 cup of boiling water per bag (you can use loose). Make sure you only use black tea and nothing like earl gray. Saudis and well other Arabs make tea with black tea only. Warming the milk helps steep the spices and brings out more flavor and also dissolves the sugar, a must. This drink is so delicious and you may just forget about coffee.

2 black tea bags
1 cup milk
1 cup boiling water
5 green cardamom pods
Pinch saffron strings
Sugar, to taste

1. In a cup add hot water and tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Meanwhile on medium heat in a small saucepan add milk, cardamom pods, saffron and sugar. Mix well until sugar is dissolved them remove pan from heat.

2. Divide the tea mixture into two cups. Remove the cardamom pods from the milk mixture then use a blender or frother to make milk froth. You can also put it in a tightly sealed jar and shake like crazy.

3. Divide the spiced froth in half into each of the mugs.

Yields: 2 servings

Arabic Gulf Rice


This recipe is pretty much the standard recipe served throughout Gulf homes for dinner. The light flavors of popular Arabic spices mixed with a bit of tomato make for a perfect fragrant rice. During Ramadan rice is often ate for suhoor. I have found that most Muslims in the West tend to eat breakfast foods at that time while Muslims in the Middle East rely on foods that one eat for dinner such as rice, soups and samboosas to make sure everyone is full for the entire day.

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 white onion, diced
3/4 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup basmati rice, washed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 chicken bouillon cube
pinch ground cardamom
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 garlic clove, smashed

1. In a 2-quart saucepan on medium heat add oil, onion and garlic. Allow to cook until tender about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste, salt, rice, cardamom, cumin and cinnamon. Stir allow to cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add water and chicken cube. Stir well making sure chicken cube is dissolved. Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes then take off heat and allow to steam for a remaining 10 minutes. (Never remove lid).

4. Fluff with a fork and place onto a serving plate.

Yields: 3 servings

Arabic Pita Bread

Over the years I have had so many requests for Arabic pita bread but never got around to posting the recipe. My mammaw gave me a homemade cookbook when I got married and it contained this recipe and has since been the only pita bread recipe that I have ever used. Why change a good thing right? Since moving to the Middle East I have not made homemade pita bread. It’s freshly made here at
all times and even hot when you get it and did I mention dirt cheap. It’s about 1 riyal for a big pack which is around a quarter and if you order food from anywhere, they just give you packs for free.

However, I have to admit that today when I made this and tasted it I hated that I stopped making it for my family, it taste so much better. Usually when I bake bread, I always tell you all to use as little extra flour as possible after you make your dough, however do not go by that when making pita bread just remember that flour is your friend. You need extra when rolling it out, kneading and shaping. Also allowing your dough to rest in between each move is something that I have found is a must so that the gluten does not get over excited and works to your advantage. Also make sure your water is not too hot or you will kill the yeast yet not cold or it will not grow.
3 cups all-purpose flour + more for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water1. In a small bowl add yeast, pinch of sugar and 1/4 cup of the warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, remaining sugar, 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and yeast mixture, mix well. Add warm water a little bit at a time mixing until a dough consistency has formed. Knead for 10 minutes.
3. In a medium sized bowl add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brush all over sides and bottom of bowl. Add dough and brushing remaining oil on top. With your fingers lightly poke all over the tops and side of the dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a double folded kitchen towel. Place in a warm place (like a microwave) for an hour.
4. On a floured surface add dough and knead for 10 minutes working extra flour (about 1/3 cup) into dough. Break off 8 even pieces and roll into a bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
5. Pre-heat oven to 500F placing baking stone inside to heat up. On a floured surface shape ball into a circle with your hands then carefully flatten until 4-5 inch circles are formed. Add two pitas at a time to bake. Bake for a few minutes on each side flipping with metal tongs. Bust any puffy bubbles with a fork to allow steam out.
6. Cover with a towel to keep warm until serving time and store inside a plastic bag.
Yields: 8 servings

Arabian Gulf Pudding

Arabian Gulf Pudding is a tantalizing dessert served throughout the Gulf Countries. Plump sukary dates, freshly ground cardamom and fragrant rosewater make this little dish burst with traditional flavors. 

4 cups water
1 can (397 grams) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup diced dates
1 tablespoon rose water
Whole dates for topping
1.Add water, condensed milk, sugar and cardamom in a 1-quart saucepan on full heat. Bring to a full boil.
2.Add oats and stir. Simmer on low continuously stirring for 5 minutes. Add dates, stir for 1 minute add rose water and stir.
3.Add pudding into serving dishes, add a date then cover and place into refrigerator until serving time.
Yields: 8 servings