Habek Tea



When I first came to Saudi I was offered tea by my mother in law. It was a new taste that I had never had before and I absolutely loved it. Later that evening before we left she handed me a large box filled with a dried herb and explained that it was habek and how I would go about making the tea myself at home. Habek is the Saudis favorite way to serve tea, and if you have had the pleasure of trying it then you know why.

Throughout the Warm months you will find fresh habek in all the grocery stores. And so they can have it all year around the women always dry a big batch to last. I am sure you’re wondering what in the heck habek is to begin with. Well, so was I so a few years ago. I did tons of research until I discovered what it was. If you ask a Saudi what the name is in English they will have no idea not even those who speak fluently. Everyone just knows it as habek. I found out that the English names are in fact horse mint or wild mint.

The herb looks a lot different from fresh mint. It has a lighter color and the leaves are tall and skinny. You make it the same way as you would mint tea (another Saudi favorite) and you dry it the same as well. I have never heard of this being sold anywhere else but I am sure you could grow it in your home. My mom grows all kinds of various mint back home (pineapple, chocolate, etc.). Hey, I had no idea mint came in all of those flavors as well until my mom introduced them to me. She says mint grows very easy, fast and all over the place. Aren’t these teacups so pretty? They match my Dullah set that I got from Aura!

4 black tea bags
4 cups water
1 bunch of habek mint, cleaned or 2 teaspoons dried
sugar to taste

1. Pour cold water in a tea kettle on high heat cook until boiling. Place habek and tea bags into water and steep for 5 minutes.

Yields: 4-6 cups

*updated from 9/14/10

I’m Alive!


Hey everyone I swear I am alive and not forgotten about Ya Salam Cooking. I actually have a lot of recipes and ideas to share with you all but I have just not have the time to actually get them posted but inshAllah soon. Here are a few pictures from my Instagram over the past week. I think I have developed a thing for taking pictures of what I eat, don’t you? Yea, I like fruit and coffee as you see. The reason I have been MIA is because I was developing a new pre-made collection for both WordPress and Blogger over at my design shop. And thankfully I was able to launch it last night after months of extreme work. If you do not follow my personal blog here, well you should. I hope everything is good in your part of the world today!

Homemade Pickles


I always make sure that I have a jar of homemade pickles in the refrigerator. The homemade version is much more crisp plus just knowing what goes into my food gives me a great piece of mind. You can cut the cucumbers very thin and they will be ready in a day or two or rather thick like I do then leave them for about a week to sit and marinate. If you have a few large jars around the house then its best to use those. I actually just use my old pickle jars since they are the perfect size.

1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
5 cup cucumber slices
4 teaspoons dill seeds (or fresh dill)
1 cup sweet onion, sliced

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes.

2. Place the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Transfer to sterile containers and store in the refrigerator.

Yields: 8 cups

Little Chocolate Cake


I have a small family of three so I have to get creative with recipes and make the correct sizes that I know will actually get eaten. The chocolate cake is probably one of my favorite desserts to have so I shrunk my recipe down to make the perfect 8×8 cake also known as my little chocolate cake. The frosting recipe is absolutely perfect giving the correct amount you will need to frost it so you do not have to worry about too much or too little (something that always seems to be a problem for me). I add a bit of hot espresso since the flavor really brings out the chocolate but you can substitute that for hot water if you would like.

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons hot espresso or water (or half of each)
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used Laban)
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Dash of salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and hot water or espresso, mix until well combined. Add 1 cup of sugar and egg, with a hand mixer beat until combined. Add 5 tablespoons of butter, buttermilk, vanilla, salt, baking powder and soda, mix well. Add flour, mix.

2. Grease an 8×8 pan (I use silicone). Carefully pour batter into pan and place into the oven baking for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to thoroughly cool.

3. After cake has cooled get a mixing bowl add powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of butter. With a hand mixer blend well. Add vanilla and enough milk until you get the consistency you want. Frost cake.

Yields: 1 8×8 cake