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Saudi Arabia Food & Drink

  • Arabic Coffee is the first beverage offered to any Saudi guest
  • Hunaini is a traditional Saudi Arabian sweet made of dates and saj bread
  • Almost one-third of the cultivated land of Saudi Arabia is planted with date palms

Saudi cuisine reflects its Arab heritage, as well as its position on the crossroads between Asia, Europe, and Africa. It’s likely you’ll recognize many of its staple dishes from the cuisines of neighbouring nations, but the exact style of each dish is specific to Saudi Arabia.

Like most countries, Saudi cuisine is centred on three meals per day. Breakfast is usually a mix of flatbreads, cheeses, fruits, dates, and jams. Breakfast is usually light and accompanied by coffee or tea and juices. Lunch is typically the heaviest meal of the day. Rice and chicken are the staples, with spiced chicken dishes such as kabsa (the national dish), machboos, and shawarma the most common. Dinners are usually lighter and consist of soups, stews, salads, and meat platters, including barbeque. After dinner, it’s typical to enjoy some desserts, including umm ali, a pastry with honey, nuts, cinnamon, and milk. Adhering to Islamic dietary laws, all meat in Saudi is halal and pork is not available.

Coffee occupies a significant role within Saudi culture. It’s hard to go anywhere without being offered a cup of qahwa (Arabian coffee) as a show of hospitality. Qawha is typically rich and spicy, with a more pronounced flavour than many visitors might be used to. Juices such as mango, lemon, or even mint are also common throughout the nation. Per Islamic law, alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but mocktails abound. For instance, it’s common to toast the end of the day with a Saudi cooler, also known as Saudi champagne, which is a blend of apple juice, sparkling water, and slices of orange and lemon. Blackberry cordial is also popular during the Ramadan months.

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