The people of Al Baha are well known for their authentic Arab generosity, which is evident in their feasts. The latter represents the pride of the region, exemplified in the way each dish is prepared and presented.
Al Baha is distinguished by a multiplicity of popular plates, a result of the cultural diversity in the region, from Sarat, Tihama, and the Badia. Despite the emergence of modern food options and international cuisine in its cities, Al Baha’s traditional dishes are still preferred even among the younger generation.
In Al Baha, it’s part of the culture to have family members visit each other without prior notice. This has come to influence the spreads of households, and Al Bahans are always ready to host. As such, they’ve developed dishes that show generosity and hospitality but are simple enough to be prepared quickly. Expect to be welcomed into homes with local renditions of canapes, aside from platters of sweets, fruits, coffee, dates, and mint tea.
Here are some of the main dishes you may come across when you visit Al Baha:
It is considered to be one of the most important and famous southern offerings, especially in the Ghamid and Zahran regions. Daghabees is a filling dish that provides the body with energy, so it is often eaten in the winter. It is made of dough disks that are cooked in meat or chicken broth, and it can be substituted with chicken; vegetables can also be added as desired.
A well-known dish in most regions of the Kingdom and the Arab world, it is similar to porridge and has maintained its place as a main dish on the southern table. Asidah is made from corn or wheat flour and served with broth and meat. Milk or water is placed in a saucepan over a fire, and flour is gradually added to it and stirred with a wooden spoon called al-Muswat. This process is called al-Asad, which is where the name Asidah came from.
It is a type of bread that the people of the region are proud of and is distinguishable for its large size that symbolizes generosity. It may take up to five hours to prepare depending on its size. Magnah is prepared by kneading flour with water, then the dough is placed on a hot rock called Masalah (or Almalah) and covered with branches of local plants called Tabag or Shath. It is left on the rock to cook and then served to guests with honey and ghee.
One of the most popular and light dishes in the region, Fatteh is made by cutting the bread into small pieces and mixing it with either milk, or dates or honey and ghee.
Hardly any house in the Al Baha region doesn't make Alkhoot because of its health benefits and good taste. Alkhoot is made by boiling garden cress with other herbs such as dill, chard, spinach, parsley, fennel, and other local plants. While bringing the ingredients to tenderness, a dough made with cornflour is added in. The stew-like dish is cooked in low heat for about half an hour.