Throwing a dinner party? Wow guests with these expert hospitality tips

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The pre-dinner portion of the evening includes beverages and light snacks. (Photos supplied)
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Food styling and presentation makes all the difference.
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Your table, if styled well, will prove to be a talking point among guests.
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Rose gelato, a dessert that your guests will appreciate.
Updated 06 January 2018
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Throwing a dinner party? Wow guests with these expert hospitality tips

DHAHRAN: Saudi Arabia has a thriving and long-established culture of hospitality, but Jeddah-based stylist and entrepreneur Nouf Masoud is working hard to bring industry-standard hospitality into homes across the country.
Having worked in the catering industry for four years, Masoud was looking to upgrade her skills by undertaking hospitality courses in the region. Her search proved futile, but highlighted a need in the market. Now she owns her own catering company, Debyazah, and also imparts her skills and experience through hospitality workshops to a clientele that ranges from homemakers to event management companies.
“Hospitality starts from the heart and extends to the dinner table,” Masoud told Arab News.
Social activities and large gatherings are an important part of Middle Eastern culture and Masoud hopes to teach people how to deliver them with élan.
When hosting family and friends in a formal setting, Masoud explained, there are three parts to the evening: Pre-dinner, dinner and post-dinner.
“Although the pre-dinner culture is slightly different the world over, here it usually consists of beverages and light or heavy snacks, depending on the time before dinner.”
Dinner consists of salads, appetizers and the main course, while the post-dinner segment is dessert and beverages, set up as a station or as a pass-around service.
In an interview with Arab News, Masoud shared her top tips to ensure that you host an evening that your guests will always remember.
Hospitality should start from the heart: “It is important to host with passion, as this attitude really reflects on the quality of the evening,” Masoud said. Put in a little bit of extra effort to welcome, appreciate and honor your guests. If you are hosting a small, intimate dinner, break the ice — get everyone involved in the conversation.
Pre-planning is the key to everything: From creating invitations, shopping for the evening, cooking for your guests and setting up the table, pre-planning goes a long way to ensure that you are stress-free on the day of the event. Imagine being halfway through cooking your main course before you realize that you are out of an important ingredient — the key is to avoid such potential disasters.
Consult your guest list: When planning for the event, consult your guest list. Take into consideration the personal, cultural and religious preferences of your guests. For example, if you are putting together a sushi night menu, do plan something for guests who are averse or allergic to seafood.
Host like a pro, enjoy like a guest: Planning and preparing in advance will help you enjoy the evening as member of the party and not the host. No one wants to be at a party where the host is constantly running to and from the kitchen or prepping for different segments of the evening.
Go the extra mile: Through her workshops, Masoud tries to instill an appreciation for this type of lifestyle. She encourages hosts to go the extra mile in entertaining guests. If an individual prefers post-dinner tea instead of the usual coffee, go the extra mile and prepare a cup of tea for your guest — a little act of hospitality goes a long way.


Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

Ta’ateemah includes a variety of dishes such as dibyazah, red mish, chicken and lamb stew and bread. File/Getty Images
Updated 19 June 2018
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Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

  • Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread
  • The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it

JEDDAH: Ta’ateemah is the name of the breakfast feast Hijazis enjoy on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. It is derived from the Arabic word, itmah, or darkness, because the dishes served are light, just like midnight snacks.

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Fitr to feast after fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. But it is called Al-Fitr from iftar, or breakfast when translated to English, which is a meal Muslims do not get to experience during that month.
The first day of Eid is a day where they finally can, and they greet the day with joy by heading to Eid prayers and then enjoying this traditional meal.
Amal Turkistani, mother of five from Makkah who now lives in Jeddah, told Arab News all about a special Eid dish.
“The most famous dish is the dibyaza, and making a dish of it is a work of art that I can proudly say I excel at. Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread.”
She revealed that dibyaza is not a quick meal — it is usually prepared a day or two before Eid with the ingredients simmered to reach the correct liquid thickness.
No one can trace the origins of dibyaza — it remains a mystery. Some people claim it originated in Turkey, while others attribute it to the Indians.
A number of women who are famous for their dibyaza agreed that it is a Makkawi dish. This marmalade dish was developed and improved, with tiny details to distinguish it.
The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it.
Turkistani said sweet shops sell 1 kg of dibyaza for SR50 ($13), competing with housewives who make their own.

 

“I think it is always tastier when it’s homemade because of all the love that goes into making it. It’s also a wonderful way to greet your family and neighbors with this special dish that you only enjoy once a year.”
Her younger sister, Fatin, said: “My siblings always have Eid breakfast at my place, so it’s up to me to prepare the feast. My sister spares me the exhausting dibyaza-making, so I prepare two main dishes: Minazalla, which is a stew of lamb chops with tahini and a tomato chicken stew.
“She also serves what we call nawashif, or dry food, like different types of cheese and olives, pickled lemon, labneh, red mish — a mixture of white cheese, yogurt and chili pepper and halwa tahini,” Amal said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, from Makkah, told Arab News: “It always feels unique to have minazalla and nawashif during Eid, and not just because it is followed by the Eidiyah.”

Decoder

What is Eidiyah?

It is money elders in the family give to the youth to celebrate Eid and to congratulate them on completing Ramadan fasting.