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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Ramadan offers ‘golden opportunity’ to get in shape, say Saudi fitness experts

The holy month of Ramadan is the perfect time to get into shape. Photos show clockwise from top: Sohaib Mubarak, Rayan Bashawri, Mashael Fagerah and Reham Kamal. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 21 May 2019
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Ramadan offers ‘golden opportunity’ to get in shape, say Saudi fitness experts

  • Many Muslims take advantage of the holy month of fasting to keep fit
  • For fat burning, it is better to work out an hour before breaking fast, since the insulin level is low, but for building lean, toned muscles, it is better to work out two hours after breaking fast because the insulin level is high

JEDDAH: Saudi fitness experts have urged Muslims to use Ramadan as a “golden opportunity” to start a new healthy lifestyle.
The holy month of fasting is the perfect time to get into shape, say some of the Kingdom’s top trainers.
With regular exercise, Ramadan can offer a new start for many worshippers both spiritually and physically. RK Fit gym owner, Reham Kamal, told Arab News that working out while fasting was healthy because the body used stored fat as energy, resulting in more fat burning.
The 32-year-old Saudi coach recommended low- to medium-impact workouts while fasting to avoid dehydration and advised trying calisthenics, a form of exercise consisting of a variety of movements which work large muscle groups, such as running, standing, grasping and pushing.
Kamal said: “Ramadan is a great opportunity to lose weight. We shouldn’t eat too much when breaking our fast. Sadly, in our culture, people take this month as an opportunity to fill the table.
“They aren’t seeing the golden opportunity to get into shape, because fasting has numerous health benefits, not only weight loss. It promotes blood-sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, increases growth hormone secretion, which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength, and aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism.
“For fat burning, it is better to work out an hour before breaking your fast, since the insulin level is low, but for building lean, toned muscles, it is better to work out two hours after breaking fast because the insulin level is high,” she added.

HIGHLIGHTS

The holy month of Ramadan is a new start for many, both spiritually and physically.

Exercising while fasting has benefits: It promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, increases growth hormone secretion which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength, and aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism.

Mashael Fagerah, 35, owner of House of Agility, a studio offering high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and circuit training, said: “You can do everything you normally do during fasting especially if you are used to working out. But if you are a beginner, I would recommend starting carefully with low-impact training.”
She told Arab News that many Muslims took advantage of Ramadan to keep fit.
“Whether before iftar, before sahoor or between them, if you have the time for a workout just do it,” added Fagerah. “At the end of the day, it is better than doing nothing.”
Saudi personal trainer and co-founder of Swish bootcamp, Sohaib Mubarak, 29, said it was important to choose the right kind of fitness regime. “When you haven’t had anything to drink or eat your body is low in fuel and dehydrated. Therefore, performing high-intensity training would harm your body and your health.
“Also, studies show that the difference in results is insignificant between exercising in a fasted or a fed state,” he added. 
Mubarak recommended low-intensity cardio for a short period of time. “That is 60 percent to 70 percent of maximum heart rate. By doing that you won’t sweat much and get dehydrated.”
He said people often wrongly related not eating to weight loss, when infact they should focus more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than watching the weighing scales.
“In my opinion Ramadan is like any other month, because losing weight and having a good shape is about changing your eating habits and lifestyle for life not only for one month. One month is not enough to create a tremendous transformation. It’s all about consistency,” Mubarak told Arab News.
Saudi fitness trainer and owner of B. Bros gym, Rayan Bashawri, 27, stressed the importance of listening to the body’s needs and capabilities.
“So many studies have been done about fasted training or training on an empty stomach, and it shows different thoughts depending on what kind of athlete you are or what kind of sport you are doing.
“But my opinion is to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. It’s not healthier to do fasted training but it’s not bad for you either. You can reach your goal either way,” he told Arab News.
The number of people taking out gym subscriptions often shoots up during Ramadan.
Bashawri said: “Right after Ramadan is the time when people travel, and it’s a beach season as well, so obviously everyone wants to look good. The ages of those hitting the gym at this time of the year are from 18-30.”
Fasting was a great opportunity to lose weight, but Bashawri noted that staying up late and sleeping during the day was not ideal. He also warned people not to over-exert themselves if exercising during fasting as it could cause injury and dehydration.