Saleeg — a Saudi dish that won’t let you down

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Updated 02 October 2013
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Saleeg — a Saudi dish that won’t let you down

Saleeg is a white-rice dish, cooked in broth. Some people say it resembles Italian risotto or Indonesian bubur but it is different as it is made with milk. Arabs would call saleeg a “face-whitening” dish, meaning it won’t let you down in front of your guests. Saleeg is easy to make and consists of simple ingredients. This way, even unexpected guests can take a seat at the dinner table, and most will find it delicious. It takes an hour to prepare even a large amount of this dish.
Saleeg is popular in the Hijaz region. It is tasty, rich in nutritional value, easily digestible and kids love it even when they don’t like milk. Saleeg can be made with chicken or meat and people love it in winter.
Serve it with duggus (a chili tomato sauce), pickled lemons or a green salad made of cucumber, parsley, tomato, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
To make chicken saleeg for four people, you need:
3 pods of cardamom
1 chicken
1/2 lemon
4 small mastic tear (optional)
1 tbsp ghee (samin) or butter
1 cup rice
1/2 liter milk
2 liter boiled water to make chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper

First, clean the rice then soak it in a bowl of fresh water.
Cut the chicken to quarters or eighths. Clean the pieces, rub them with salt and vinegar, then rinse with water.
To make a chicken broth, bring two liter of water to a boil in a pot. Add the chicken, cardamom pods and a teaspoon of white pepper. You can add two mastic tears to the broth.
Keep removing fat foam.
Wait until the chicken is cooked under a medium flame. Keep the pot semi-covered.
Put the chicken aside and spice it with lemon juice, half a teaspoon of salt and black pepper.
Brown the spiced chicken in a preheated oven (200 degrees Celsius) to give it a crispy touch
Strain the broth, removing the cardamom, and add the uncooked rice. Cook the rice as you normally would on a medium-low flame until the rice is done. Strain the rice, keeping the broth, as you may need to add a little to the rice and stir it occasionally.
Add milk to the rice and stir the saleeg until it blends on a low heat. Add salt to taste.
Heat ghee or butter in a frying pan until it melts (you can add mastic) then pour it on the saleeg before serving it straight from the stove while it is still hot.
Top the saleeg with roasted chicken or serve the chicken on the side.
To make meat saleeg is similar to making chicken saleeg. Prepare the broth with pieces of meat and cardamom, salt and pepper in boiled water. Some people add a peeled onion, or a clove of garlic. Strain the broth before using it to cook the rice. Proceed as with chicken saleeg.

Duggus sauce is an important sauce with Saudi meals, such as saleeg. It is served cold and adds a nice cool taste to the food. It is easy to make, using:
2 tomatoes
4 leaves of parsley or coriander
1 clove garlics
1/4 lemon
salt
1 red hot pepper (or a chili pepper)

Cut the tomatoes, parsley, garlic and hot pepper into small pieces, mix together and then add a squeeze of lemon and salt.

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WaCafe an example of how Saudi Arabia’s coffee culture is evolving

Updated 22 July 2019
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WaCafe an example of how Saudi Arabia’s coffee culture is evolving

  • WaCafe’s menu includes beans from around the world

JEDDAH: Nowadays, in Saudi Arabia, almost every neighborhood has dozens of coffee shops to choose from, each offering something different — whether a specialty blend of espresso, or a unique setting. 

Coffee shops have turned into a social hub in the Kingdom, where people gather to share ideas and stories. They have become part of many people’s daily routine, and residents of the Kingdom are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of social interaction and exchange in such places — which offer space for dialogue, art and culture.

A good example is WaCafe in Al-Ahsa. Founded by Eissa Althaqib and Hamad Almaglouth, WaCafe is firmly in touch with the city’s roots, something that is evident not only in the shop’s authentic interior, but also in its coffee, and its activities.

WaCafe’s menu includes beans from around the world, but one special drink stands out: The Wacafe latte. It’s a signature drink with a twist. It has dates in it, incorporating a Hasawi staple into your brew.

The owners are committed to encouraging people to share their experience and knowledge, and host regular weekend coffee hours where a guest speaker — perhaps an artist or writer — will talk about their experience and answer questions from the audience. There are also free weekly workshops on painting and coffee brewing.

Althaqib and Almaglouth are also keen to ensure that their coffee shop is environmentally-friendly. The coffee cups are made from recycled remains of coffee beans and plants. For its founders, WaCafe is more than just a place to buy coffee: It is a reflection of its location, a place that encourages discussion between friends and strangers, a place for artists and thinkers to meet. It is an example of how the Kingdom's coffee-shop culture is evolving.