Mayrig: Where authentic Armenian flavors meet family recipes

Updated 30 May 2012
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Mayrig: Where authentic Armenian flavors meet family recipes

It all started in the town of Jabal Moussa, Armenia, when Manouchag, an Armenian grandmother, who though was not rich or famous, had one particular talent that set her aside from any other grandmother in the town; Manouchag was a fantastic cook.
Manouchag, Armenian for violet eyes, was a little girl when a big war broke out in her native country forcing her to set sail to Cyprus. She grew up in a children’s home, where she stayed until she graduated from high school. She then moved to Lebanon where she met her future husband. They both lived in a beautiful mansion overlooking the sea in Ayn Mreisseh, where she raised her six children.
Manouchag used her cooking skills to quiet down her grandchildren, asking them to help her in the kitchen; her mission was to create wonderful Armenian dishes for her family. She was extra careful in guarding her secret recipes. However, she made one important exception: her children and grandchildren.
Manouchag inspired her grandchildren to start a business to celebrate her talent. They opened a restaurant that serves traditional Armenian cuisine and named it Mayrig. The restaurant was born in Beirut with an army of professional mothers working as chefs and using only Manouchag’s ancient recipes.
In February 2011, Mayrig opened its second branch in Jeddah. The restaurant is located in a small villa overlooking King Road and the Andalus Street. The exterior of the villa is done in Armenian style — with wood, stones and marble. Inside is a two-story restaurant: The ground floor serves only men while the second floor is for families. The interior of the restaurant is colorful with walls made of beige rocks and wood and Syrian-designed marble floors. Mayrig can seat 250 diners at once and 50 diners in the terrace area.
The menu comprises a range of authentic Armenian dishes. Among their fresh salads is Itch, an Armenian tabouleh made with buckwheat, onion, tomatoes and parsley. The dish is eaten with cabbage leaves as serving spoons. Sempougov salad is a cold eggplant salad with onion, tomatoes, parsley and lemon and olive oil dressing. Vospi salad is a lentil salad with chopped onions, tomatoes and pomegranate vinegar sauce, eaten with crispy bread, and it is highly recommended here.
For cold entrees, Derevov Sarma is a dish made with zesty vine leaves wrapped around juicy rice mix. The Mayrig Selection is highly recommended, which is a dish of kebbe with lentils served with chopped white onion and olive oil. Kebbe with potatoes is served with chopped tomatoes, onion and parsley while the raw meat kebbe is served with minced meat, onions and pine nuts.
In the category of hot entrees, on offer are different appetizing dishes such as Gdzou Patates, consisting of diced, spicy fried potatoes. Sou Beureg is a layered pastry made with three kinds of cheeses. Soujok Fekhara that is made with Armenian beef sausage with tomato sauce is cooked and served in pottery.
As for the main course, Mayrig serves authentic Armenian dishes cooked with Armenian spices and baked in pottery. Mante is a minced meat dumpling cooked in a stone oven. Tomato sauce and yogurt is added when serving the dish. Fishnah Kebab is another popular dish here and consists of a grilled kebab dish topped with wild sour cherries and french bread.
Tika Kebab is a diced beef grilled in skewers and served with diced fried potatoes and salad. Missov Frikeh is another recommended dish made with Frikeh pilaf, beef and topped with wild sour cherries.
Every good meal has to have a sweet ending. For dessert, diners should try the Armenian style walnut pakhlava or Achtalieh, which is a milk pudding topped with pistachios and served in a pottery jar. Anouch ser, a sweet rolled pastry filled with cream, is a smart choice too.
The restaurant offers Shisha indoors and outdoors for its diners.
Expect to pay: SR150 to SR200 per person.
Opening hours: From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends
and from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekdays.


Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

Nada Kutbi started baking from home for family and friends before setting up her Sucre De Nada pastry shop to expand her home business. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

  • Thanks to social media, business is booming for Jeddah’s cake and pastry makers

JEDDAH: Enterprising Saudi home-bakers have been turning to social media to help cook up some sweet business success.
The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, and none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.
Her Sucre De Nada pastry shop in Jeddah has become one of the go-to places for homemade desserts and cakes, and the online side of her business is also booming.
Kutbi’s daughter, Nassiba Khashoggi, told Arab News: “She has basically been baking all her life, especially after having children. She used to make cookies for us and whenever she tried a dessert somewhere else, she would recreate it.
“In restaurants or gatherings, she would always analyze sweets and make them at home for her family. That was how she started baking.
“I don’t think she ever thought she could pursue it as a career, but everyone loved her baking and one of her closest friends encouraged her to start her business when she was a stay-at-home mom.
“It was in 2011-2012, and her friend basically forced her to start by telling her, ‘yallah! make a cake and I will buy it from you now.’”
Khashoggi added: “In the beginning we just went by word of mouth, but when Instagram came along, we made an account and started posting pictures and the customers loved her creativity and uniqueness. I don’t think many people knew what banoffee was before my mom promoted it.”
Although Kutbi’s unique takes and touches went down a treat with customers, it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.
But stepping up from running a home business presented new challenges. “When you are running a home business there are few staff and it is easy to control,” said Khashoggi. But expanding requires you to put more trust in other people and that was difficult for my mom. Also, when we increased the number of our products it became harder to maintain the quality of goods.”
Kutbi aims to avoid storing, pre-baking or freezing her products and is not a fan of mass production and blast freezing, according to her daughter. “In short, she is against commercial baking,” said Khashoggi. “What is unique about my mom is that everything she makes is made the same day from scratch. It makes it harder for her to redo everything but that’s what makes her special.”

HIGHLIGHtS

• The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.

• Kutbi’s unique takes and touches have been a hit with customer, but it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.

Sometimes customers even send pictures or pieces of dessert to Kutbi asking her to recreate their favorite foods.
Another Jeddah-based bakery thriving on the internet is Ganache. Run by Anas Khashoggi, 58, and Jamila Ali Islam, 48, the pastry business has been operating for almost 20 years.
Khashoggi supported his wife after spotting her talent for baking and took a leap of faith by giving up his job and starting an online bakery.
“At that time, there was no social media, but we made an introductory website, which helped us gain popularity,” he said. That was in 1996, and the couple’s first store opened later the same year.
“Ganache has its own unique spirit as a family business, and it is run by Saudi youth who are managing the bakery and understand the Saudi market. The family committee is the one that approves the products,” added Khashoggi.