Layali Lebnan


I really enjoyed this Lebanese dessert. The lightly flavored semolina cake was perfect with the rich topping of bananas and cream. I used redi-whip in a can to decorate the topping then sprinkled almonds that I coarsely ground on top. If you use that then you want to wait until serving to add your topping but everything else will be okay placed in the refrigerator until needed.

3 cups milk
1/2 cup fine semolina
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground mastic
1 tablespoon rose water
2 bananas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups clotted cream, qashta or whipped cream
Honey, for servings
Course almonds, for garnish

1. In a saucepan on medium heat add milk, semolina, sugar and mastic. Stir well and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.

2. Remove pan from heat. Add rose water and spread mixture into a 9-10 inch round pan (I used a glass pie dish). Cover the top with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

3. The next day slice the bananas and place in a bowl with lemon juice. Place the slices on top of the semolina cake to cover top. Spoon the cream into a pastry bag with a star tip and cover bananas with cream.

4. Garnish the top with almonds and honey if desired.

Yields: 8 servings

adapted from sweets of arabia


Fried Dill Pickles

fried-dill-pickles fried-pickles

In the South we always have a jar of dill pickles in our fridge, it’s a necessity and of course we fry everything so fried pickles are just a perfect combination. I am not tooting my own horn or anything (okay maybe a little) but my recipe here is the best I have had. One problem I have always noticed when eating other peoples is that they are not crisp enough and the batter is not holding. So my solution was to double batter and it has always worked like a charm.

You need to make sure your oil is hot (325F using a candy thermometer). I use a small saucepan and that way you do not have to waste a lot of oil or make a big mess. These babies are always served with ranch dressing on the side and I add a few drops of Tabasco sauce in mine to give it a little tang. I also use my hands for this entire process (keep some napkins handy). Now come on you all you gotta try them at least once!

4 dill pickles, sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (I use laban)
Sunflower oil
Tabasco sauce
Ranch dressing

1. On medium heat add about 1 inch of oil into a small saucepan. Allow to reach 325F.

2. In a small bowl add eggs, a few drops of Tabasco sauce and buttermilk, mix.

3. In another small bowl add flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic, mix well.

4. Coat pickles in milk mixture, flour mixture, milk mixture an then again in flour mixture. Carefully place into hot oil and repeat. Fry until golden then remove with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain.

5. In a small bowl add ranch dressing and Tabasco sauce, mix.

Yields: 4 servings


BenihanaWaiting area (man’s side)

segregation-walls-in-SaudiSegregation walls around each family’s table

japanese-saladJapanese salad and maki

japanese-onion-soupOnion Soup

TalalTalal loved that they did this

japanese-food-riyadhTeriyaki Chicken and Shrimp with fried rice and Habatchi Veggies

japanese-green-teaGreen Tea

The weather has been amazing in Riyadh this past week and I wanted to take advantage of it so we were going to go out for some fresh air and then my husband suggested we go eat at Benihana an American Japanese restaurant we have here and one of my long time favorite places. Back home my family and friends would eat there quite a bit and I could just never see myself tiring of the Japanese Fusion dishes they have.

We had never been to the Riyadh location because most things here are just not up to par as in they usually do not even taste or have anything on the menu the same. I am so impressed tonight and was mad at myself for not trying it out earlier. The place is super clean and the staff is really awesome. Every family gets a private room with a chef that comes in and prepares the meal for you. On our way Talal was crying because he did not want to eat there but I just knew he would love it once we got there and he saw what all they did. He ended up loving it like I knew he would and he adored the show and even ended up ordered filet mignon and rice. We all had such a great time and the chef (Steven) was great at his job. The food was really good but so much luckily I I will be able to have a nice lunch tomorrow.

Saudi Shakshuka


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, diced (or half some baby tomatoes about 5)
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
4 eggs

1. In a 9-inch non-stick skillet on medium heat, add olive oil, onions and garlic. Heat until onions are tender. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin. Mix well, cook until thickens about 1 minute. Break 4 eggs over the mixture, cover and let cook on medium heat until eggs are cooked, about 5 minutes. Gently, slide shakshuka onto a plate or mix up with a spatula.

2. Serve with warm pita bread.

Yields: 2 servings

*updated from 12/21/08