Winter Comfort: Local Seasonal Dishes to Try

Winter Comfort: Local Seasonal Dishes to Try

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Najdi comfort food

Must try soul-satisfying dishes

Bakeela

One of the most comforting dishes you could wish for, Bakeela is made by kneading dates and mixing it in the powder of a Samah plant that grows in the country's north. The dish is popular in the Al Jouf region, where the temperatures are among the country's lowest.

 

Saleeg

Popular in the Hijaz, this time-tested wintry favorite is what the locals bank on when the mercury starts to dip. Rice is cooked in chicken broth and milk. The result is a risotto type of creamy rice accompanied by succulent chicken and dollops of butter.

 

Hinaini

Though easy to make, Hinaini packs a nutritional punch. You need three essential ingredients—dates, brown flour, and ghee. The trio pair so well in this dish that can double as a meal on its own. Top it with a scoop of fresh cream if you'd like.

 

Desert Truffles

About a week after the first winter rains, truffle hunters head to the deserts in the eastern part of the country in search of the transient desert truffles. They follow trails, looking for signs in their quest like they've learned from their forefathers. There are many types of desert truffles that grow in these deserts with the most prized being the Zubedi. You can make a soup of it or even add it to your Kabsa—it is bound to elevate any dining experience.

 

Matazeez

The hearty stew is made of bite-sized dough pieces cooked in a pot of meat, vegetables, and spices. The dough soaks up all the delectable flavors of the casserole, and you'll find yourself hard-pressed to stop once you start.

 

Abu Farwa (Chestnuts)

Harvested in early winter, chestnuts are roasted and then served with honey or ghee—a winter picnic and keshta must-have.

 

Hijazi Almond Coffee

There's nothing like a piping hot cup of coffee on a cold wintry day. But this isn't just your regular cup of coffee—it’s got coffee in its name but not in the actual drink itself. Nonetheless, coffee lovers may just love this Instagram-friendly drink for its use of milk that’s infused with Middle Eastern spices, blanch almonds and rice flour.

 

Jareesh

A recipe worthy of being passed down multiple generations, Jareesh is a porridge-like dish that makes a hearty meal, especially in winter. Made using ground wheat, rice, and meat or chicken and topped with plenty of caramelized onions, it ticks all the boxes.

A classic jareesh is essential in any cook's repertoire, it's a perfect finale to a Saudi-style meal to warm you on a chilly evening. 

 

Aseedah

As you travel around the country you’ll notice that many of the local delicacies vary by region; one of the very few traditional dishes that remains popular across the board is the Aseedah. Crafted primarily from wholewheat, Aseedah is deceptive in its simplicity. Cooks often make an indentation on it that's later filled with ghee or honey.

 

Oats Soup

Among the smorgasbord of delectable soups that one finds in Saudi Arabia, the chicken oats shorba stands out. A steaming bowl of this comforting soup is sure to be your companion every winter.

 

Karak Tea

Karak Tea packs a punch of flavor thanks to its generous use of spices. It’s so popular nowadays that you’ll find it in almost every drive through café. This tea is generally credited to the country’s large South Asian expat community.

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