If you would have told me ten years ago one of my favorite dishes would be mashed beans I would have said you were crazy. Fast forward to know and I absolutely love foul the Saudi way. You can buy the delicious mixture everywhere and for just a few riyals, but it’s so simple to make at home so why not? I have learned the more you add on the top the better it is. You can soak the beans overnight, especially if you live in the west and cannot buy the canned style that we have in the Middle East, but if you do live in the Middle East you can buy canned foul if you would like.

Foul is served at any hour of the day and sometimes eaten for dinner instead of something heavy. It is always served with mint tea here in Riyadh. Some Arab countries serve the foul with whole beans, but the Gulf version is mixed which I like better since all the flavors are able to blend together.

1 (400 gram can) peeled foul or 1 cup dried fava beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste (for dried bean version only)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small tomato, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of plain yogurt

1. If you’re using dried beans then soak them in a bowl full of water overnight and with a tablespoon of baking soda. The next day wash the beans, add to a saucepan making sure to cover with water, bring to a full boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 1 hour. Add more water if needed.

If using the canned version add the contents to a saucepan on medium heat with garlic and cumin, mix well and allow to thoroughly heat.

2. After the dried beans version has cooked, drain water. In a saute pan, add beans with tomato paste carefully smashing beans with fork. Add cumin and garlic, mix well.

3. Add the beans (both versions) to a bowl, then puree with an electric hand mixer. On the top add lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, tomatoes, yogurt and cilantro. Serve with fresh pita or tamees bread.

Al Nafoura


My favorite place to go during Ramadan and have iftar is Al Nafoura. We have been visiting during Ramadan every year since I first moved to Riyadh. I love the decorations they always have, they have great service and the food, ahh the food it’s just amazing. When you come in they offer you coffee from the dullah and then it’s up the stairs where you’re seated in a private room with a fish tank. You can just go around the huge buffet and get all your favorite foods and eat in privacy and then later on they bring tea around.

Birds Tongue Soup


Birds Tongue soup is another Ramadan favorite in Saudi and this year is the first time I made it. It is pretty much exactly like chicken noodle soup and I am sure you can see from the picture why they call it birds tongue. In the Middle East every soup and stew is served with fresh lemon and bread and I have grown accustomed to it as well. I have been making a new soup every night for us to break our fast with. Of course I scale my recipes down so my fridge is not overloaded. So far so good.

4 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups water and 2 chicken bullion cubes)
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In an 8-quart saucepan on medium heat, add butter and onion, cook until onion is tender. Add pasta and carrots, mix and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add chicken, cardamom, bay leaf, cilantro, salt and pepper, mix. Then carefully add broth. Bring to a full boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Yields: 4 servings