Khabees Al Nikhi


Khabees is a traditional sweet found throughout the Gulf that is made from flour and oil. It is usually made from brown flour, semolina or chickpea flour like in this version. It can be sweetened with sugar or date syrup and things such as rose water, cardamom, saffron and nuts are usually added. The mixture is then served on a plate decorated in a pile, in a ring or balls.

2 cups chickpea flour (Al Nikhi)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup rose water
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds

1. In a saucepan on medium heat, add chickpea flour. Leave on heat mixing every once in awhile until a nutty aroma is obtained about 15 minutes.

2. In another small saucepan, add sugar and water. Bring to a full boil, then turn heat off. Add melted butter, cardamom, and rose water to flour mixture, mix well. Add enough sugar water until a soft dough has formed. Fold in dates. Turn oven to 150F and place covered pan on a baking sheet and steam for 15 minutes in oven.

3. Roll dough into balls the size of marbles, then roll in sesame seeds. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes in a 350F oven.

Yields: 3 dozen

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Arabic Chai Concentrate


I was in the kitchen making myself some of my favorite coffee syrup and thought hey why not some tea syrup too. Here in Riyadh tea with milk is not common, but in the UAE and Yemen it is the drink of choice. All the sudden I thought some sort of tea concentrate (you know, like the cold brew coffee) would be an awesome idea.

I added a pinch of baking soda to the mixture just like I do for my southern sweet tea which helps with the bitterness. I also started saving and cleaning my empty olive oil bottles to store all my syrups which looks so much prettier than an empty Prego jar. You really have a lot of choices when it comes to this mix and can add it to ice or hot drinks as well as coffee. Several years ago when we lived in Northern Virginia the Somalian women made this spiced coffee that I loved so much every Ramadan and this reminds me it. Plus, if you’re having guest over this really makes your job so much easier.

3 cups water
2 tablespoons loose black tea
Dash of baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons sugar

1. In a saucepan, add on medium heat, add water, sugar, tea, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and baking soda. Mix and bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

2. Allow to cool, then carefully strain mixture into a jar.

Yields: 3 cups

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Yogurt Barley Soup


This Armenian soup is perfect for iftar and can be served warm or cold. If you have any leftovers be sure to heat on low so that the yogurt does not end up curdling. The topping is not only pretty, but it really brings the taste of the soup out. Soaking barley (jareesh) for as long as you can is always best since the barley soaks up water. I like to leave mine overnight and until I use it adding more water if needed. Even when you soak it and go to cook it will still end up taking all the broth so add more as needed. You will want a bit of broth and not too thick.

1 cup barley (soaked for 6 hours and drained)
3 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube (I used Maggi)
1/4 cup diced white onions
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons dried mint

Sweet Paprika
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. In a saucepan on medium heat, add barley, water and bouillon cube. Cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until barley is tender. Set aside!

2. In a small pan, add butter and onion, cook until tender then add mint. Remove from heat.

3. On low heat, add the onion mixture into the barley, then yogurt, whisk until well combined. In a small bowl, add remaining butter and mint, mix. Ladle soup into bowls, then swirl butter and mint mixture on top then sprinkle paprika.

Yields: 6 servings

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