Najdi cuisine encompasses the traditions and recipes associated with the country and has distinctive attributes of its own. Influenced by the region’s topography and desert climates—Najd dishes are hearty and wholesome, the food is dominated by rich stews, wheat, and rice dishes paired with fragrant spices.
The heirloom recipes differ from family to family and have been passed down the generations. The traditional cooking in the Najd is known for lengthy preparation, however, this labor of love is certainly worth the wait.
Jareesh is a humble and hearty porridge dish made with coarsely ground wheat, choice of meat, tomatoes (or without depending on one’s choice), cooked together and topped with a heap of caramelized onions. Mataziz and Marquq are another savory duo: pasta-like dishes featuring chunks of meat teamed with a handful of nutritious vegetables and wheat or rye flour dough discs, cooked in smooth tomato sauce. The only difference between the two is that Marquq discs are larger and soupier.
Another savory dish, Ghorsan features a classic meat gravy filled with vegetables, spices, and dried thin sheets of bread. The sheets of bread are placed on top of the meat and vegetables until it soaks up all the flavorful juices of the nourishing broth. Ghorsan is a classic at the tables of the Qassim region. To feast like a king, Kabsa is a national staple dish with flavorful rice and meat that is served in almost all homes and eateries in the Najd region. For sides, the Cooked Salad, a Najdi salsa cooked with onion, tomato and hot chilli, served along with grills and Kabsa adds an amazing fresh flavor and zing to the dishes.
Talking about traditional sweets of the Najd, Hinaini is a specialty during winters. Made by mixing roasted wheat bread with de-pitted soft dates and melted butter, it’s usually eaten as a dessert—or can be a meal on its own as well.
Kleija is a stuffed biscuit dough shaped like a patterned disk with a special wooden mold. These biscuits hail from the date-rich province of Qassim and are filled with a variety of fillings including a smooth date paste or nut-sugar filling paired perfectly with a hot finjan of gahwa.
Masabeeb, dubbed as the Saudi pancakes, are popular little pancake bites made with whole-wheat batter fried and doused in honey or date syrup. Similarly, Luqaimat are deep-fried pastry balls dunked into hot oil until crisp and golden brown, and then dusted with confectioners' sugar or drizzled with honey. They are most commonly eaten as a snack or a filling dessert. Luqaimat are a favorite among locals and can often be found at street stalls throughout the region.