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

Healthy Chicken Kabsa


I have had the thought of making a healthy version of chicken kabsa for quiet some time and finally after all these years I made it today. This was the first time I had ever cooked or ate brown rice. I bought organic brown rice and it was expensive compared to the white rice but my husband and son eat a lot of rice so I thought it was worth it in the end. As you can see it looks a lot different from plain rice. I used chicken breast that had no fat, olive oil and fresh vegetables and spice for the kabsa flavor. My goal was to use only fresh and healthy ingredients and make this kabsa as healthy as possible.

You can soak the rice in water for 15 minutes before cooking to remove some of the starch if you would like, I did but be careful not to wash it all out so your rice cooks well. I found that the smoked black limes are really great in this dish because they give it a smoky flavor that’s all natural. The taste was spot on and we really enjoyed it. I would love to know the calorie and fat difference between the two because I am sure its pretty steep.

1 cups brown rice
2-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 black lime
4 cloves
5 green cardamom pods, bruised
Kholengan (1 small piece)

4 chicken breast, skinless and boneless
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Arabic spice
1 green chili, stem cup and split lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 black lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. In a small saucepan on high heat add olive oil, brown rice, water, black lime, cloves, cardamom pods and kholejan. Bring to a full boil, cover then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan on medium heat add half of olive oil. When oil is hot add chicken breast and brown on each side (not cooking fully). Bring chicken breast to one side of the pan and on the other side add remaining olive oil, tomatoes, onions, Arabia spice, chili, garlic and salt and pepper. Place black lime in the middle of the pan and cover. Allow vegetables to fully cook until soft and chicken to thoroughly cook until no longer pink and browned flipping and stirring from time to time, about 15 minutes.

3. When chicken has cooked place on a plate and sit aside. Carefully pour the brown rice into the saute pan and mix with the vegetables. Allow to simmer for a minute then plate rice mixture on a serving platter, place chicken on top then sprinkle cilantro on top.

Yields: 3 servings



I am always asking my mother in law for old traditional recipes so that I can make at home and share here on Ya Salam Cooking with you all. As she was going through everything I had them all and she jokingly laughed and told me that I know more Saudi recipes then she does. She then remembered Daghabees and I was intrigued with the recipe and story about it. Daghabees is a traditional recipe from Southern Saudi. The recipes in the Southern region are nothing like the recipes here in central Saudi where you have dishes full or meat and rice. They actually do not eat a lot of rice in the south and the dishes are much more basic.

Dagabees is a three part meal and is served the same way. A bowl is filled with the broth then on another plate you have the dough (kind of like dumplings to use in the West) and on a another plate is the meat. The three are then set in the middle and everyone just kind of digs in. Many homes also make the dish without the meat and use black lentils in its place since not everyone was able to afford meat. I am personally not a big fan of black lentils since they stay kind of crisp and not soft like red lentils.

My mother in law told me that when she was a little girl she would have to stay up late making tons of the dough rounds for this dish for her large family and that her mom would tell her that if she did not get it all taken care of she would not be allowed to go to school the next day. Could you even imagine telling that to a kid today? They sure are spoiled!

Traditionally lamb pieces with the bones still on (for flavor) are used for this dish but I am aware that lamb is not easily available to all of you so replace it with beef. You can also just use brown flour instead of Dubai brown (which my mother in law insisted was the best for this recipe). She also uses only chicken bullion cubes even in meat dishes because she says the meat cubes do not taste good so I just go with her on that one with my dishes as well because her food is amazing and she knows what she is doing. I also chopped my tomatoes, garlic and onion in my food processor because I hate big chunks of stuff in my food plus it really brings the flavor out.

Lamb pieces with bones (I used 8 big pieces)
1 large white onion, diced
7 cups water
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
6 green cardamom pods, bruised
2 tomatoes, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
2-1/2 chicken bullion cubes (Maggi)
3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups brown flour (Dubai brown)

1. In a stock pot add oil, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cardamoms. All lamb and brown on all sides then add tomatoes, saute and cover water. Add lid half way propped open on top and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make dough. In a a large mixing bowl add flour and a little bit of water until a dough consistency has formed. Make fluffy rounds the size of a tea saucer. When stock has cooked carefully drop dough rounds into the pan. Cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes carefully flipping dough every 5 minutes. Then remove from heat.

3. To serve add broth in one bowl, dough on one plate and meat on another plate.

Yields: 3-4 servings