Jazan traditional dishes

Saudi Southern Goodness

A Taste of Jazan

Jazan owes its rich culinary cuisine to its eclectic geographical resources. Acres of arable land, agreeable climate, and topographical diversity make it a pivotal agricultural heartland where a myriad of vegetables and tropical fruits are harvested. This coastal city also boasts a wealth of seafood. A festival is held annually in early spring where local fishermen go out and trawl the abundant Parrot Fish in the adjacent Red Sea. Gaming and beekeeping industries have also left defining imprints on the hearty Southern cuisine of Jazan.

Several dishes are named after stone or clay pots used in their preparation. Traditionally, the cookware was crafted from scratch by family matriarchs. Nowadays, they can be purchased from various artisanal markets across the country. Maghsh, for example, is a hallmark dish: beef stew with vegetables such as potatoes, okra, tomatoes, and zucchini. But Maghsh is also the name of the stone pot used for cooking the dish, which is somewhat similar to Korean dolsot. Used to prepare almost all of the enticing dishes, the presence of a special tannour oven called Mifa is commonplace in Jazani households.

Heading straight to mains, here’s a selection of delectable entrées, passed down from one generation and on to the next:

  • Samak Mkashan: Hamour fish seasoned with spices alongside vegetables and grilled on an ember fire.
  • Mahshoosh: Particularly consumed during Eid Al-Adha, this dish is made of lamb cutlets pan-fried in fat and seasoned with cinnamon and salt.
  • Mafalet (Thareed): There are two kinds of Mafalet: sweet and sour. The sweet kind is made with millet or corn paste, fresh cow’s milk, ghee, and sugar. The sour kind is made in the same way but fermented.

 

Khameer and Lahooh are Jazani staple sides. Both are types of sour bread made of ground wholewheat or corn that’s left to ferment for several days, giving it a distinct tangy taste. Lahooh is flatter, almost as thin as crepe. They are usually enjoyed fresh out of the oven, dunked in stews or yoghurt, or covered in butter, ghee or honey.

Ending on a sweet note, the most famous Jazani dessert is called Marsah. It’s a hefty mix of bread and banana chunks, topped off with honey and ghee. Southern Arabic coffee, Gahwa Gishr, which is typically made by brewing coffee bean husks with cardamom and ginger, perfectly concludes meals meant for indulgence.

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