Giving the art of chocolate a Saudi touch

Saudi chocolatier Roaa Saud Saber’s team has now 15 full-time members and she has ambitious expansion plans to expand in the Kingdom and the GCC region. (AN photo)
Updated 07 June 2018
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Giving the art of chocolate a Saudi touch

  • Roaa Saud Saber, CEO and founder of Miss Feionkah Chocolate, got some training from Bart Van Cauwenberghe, the Belgian Chocolate Ambassador and one of the chefs for the Belgian royal family.
  • Miss Feionkah is currently in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and soon will be expanding in other main cities of the Kingdom with plans to expand in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. 

DAMMAM: Dream big, work hard and count on Allah. These are the key ingredients for success according to Roaa Saud Saber, CEO and founder of Miss Feionkah Chocolate.

Her success recipe has been tried and tested. Saber loved eating and making chocolate, but she lacked the skills and experience needed to make the decadent treat professionally. 

But here her mother stepped in, donning her chef’s apron. “She is a very good chef in general, not just in terms of making chocolate, and she trained me in chocolate making. At the end of 2008, I said to myself, let me start selling and I did. Of course, I started with my relatives. They were very supportive and they bought chocolate from me in good quantities (at least, in good quantities for me at that time).” 

Then she branched out beyond her family and close circle of friends. Now, 10 years later, she is selling her brand of chocolate even outside Saudi Arabia.

Saber was fortunate to have some training from Bart Van Cauwenberghe, the Belgian Chocolate Ambassador and one of the chefs for the Belgian royal family.

Her training with the master chocolatier occurred when she toured Europe to train, stopping in culinary hotspots like France and Belgium. “It was a life-changing experience. I had hands-on training on new types of chocolates, new recipes, and new manufacturing techniques. As well as technical training and support, Bart gave me moral support by praising the quality and taste of the chocolate I made.” 

On the trip, she learned more about the craft from fellow chocolatiers from South America, the US, Europe and Asia. 

Saber noted it was a big task to turn her chocolate-making hobby into her profession. “Turning a passion into a business requires a whole different set of skills. When you start up or run a business you will be spending more than half the time on tasks that you are not necessarily passionate about. You will be running after government officers, putting together a marketing plan, managing a full team. You will no longer just make chocolate,” she said.

As her team grew, early team members took on the role of training junior members of staff in the art of making chocolate the Miss Feionkah way and she started holding sessions to train the newcomers in chocolate making. 

Now, the first wave of team members is taking care of the training for those who joined at a later stage. Her approach was to institutionalize the science and art of chocolate making. Training her staff does not depend only on her alone any more and her pupils pass the knowledge they gained from her to other newcomers.

Her team now has 15 full-time members, as well as some part-time staff.

Miss Feionkah is currently in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and soon will be expanding in other main cities of the Kingdom with plans to expand in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. 


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.