Saudi chefs share Ramadan food favorites, iftar essentials

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For some chefs, iftar is ‘incomplete’ without a pot of Arabic coffee. (Shutterstock)
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Saudi chef Abdulaziz Alhumedan, a pastry chef and competitor on Season Four of MBC's Top Chef. (Photo: Instagram)
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Saudi chef Khulood Olaqi, the first Saudi woman to own and prepare food in her own restaurant, a certified sushi chef. (Photo: Instagram)
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Sambousa, fried pockets of dough filled with mincemeat or cheese "exist in every culture for a reason" says chef Faisal Abdulrahman. (Shutterstock)
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Knafeh, also known as kunafa, knafe, and various other spellings, is delicious no matter what combination of letters you use to write it. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 14 May 2020

Saudi chefs share Ramadan food favorites, iftar essentials

  • With this (COVID-19) pandemic going on, not only is it hard to get groceries and especially those high in demand, it’s also a fantastic time to pick up a new skill

RIYADH: As Muslims around the world mark the holy month of Ramadan with fasting, prayer, and reflection, they are also celebrating it with cooking, feasting and constant snacking between sunset and sunrise.
Arab News asked Saudi chefs to share their favorite Ramadan dishes, as well as tips on how to prepare them.
Khulood Olaqi, Saudi chef and entrepreneur and owner of Oishii Sushi, said no Ramadan spread was complete without shorbat habb, a traditional Saudi soup made with boiled grain and chunks of lamb meat in a red broth.
“To me, the quintessential Ramadan dish is shorbat habb, especially on the first day. I don’t think I ever get tired of it. It has been a symbol of Ramadan for me ever since I was a child,” she said.
Saudi pastry chef and “Top Chef” competitor Abdul Aziz Al-Humedan said his post-fasting essential was a pot of Arabic coffee before anything else, accompanied by dessert. “I have to finish the whole dallah (traditional Arabic coffee pot) myself, along with dates and a traditional Ramadan dessert,” he added.
He takes his coffee with knafeh, aish as-saraya (a Levantine dessert of breadcrumbs soaked in simple syrup and topped with cream and ground pistachio), or luqaimat (small balls of fried dough traditionally soaked in syrup). “My table and my breaking fast are not complete without at least one of those,” he said.
Faisal Abdul Rahman, an aspiring Saudi chef and passionate home cook, told Arab News that his idea of the perfect Ramadan food was sambousa. Also known as sambousak, and similar to the Indian samosa, it is made of fried pockets of dough filled with ground beef or cheese and is a staple in Saudi cuisine.
“What’s better than meat-filled fried dough? It exists in every culture for a reason. And during Ramadan, after a long day of fasting, I like to say that while we will be rewarded for our efforts in the afterlife, biting into the crisp exterior of a sambousa is our reward in this life,” Abdul Rahman said.
He pointed out that making sambousa dough was not as hard as people might think. “It’s flour, water, oil and salt. With this (COVID-19) pandemic going on, not only is it hard to get groceries and especially those high in demand, it’s also a fantastic time to pick up a new skill. Go on YouTube, find your favorite recipe and get into it,” he added.
Those looking to familiarize themselves with old favorites, or even learn new recipes, can follow Olaqi on Snapchat or Instagram at @khuloodolaqi, or Al-Humedan at @azizusa.
For Saudi recipes, look for Eman Gazzaz on YouTube, whose bilingual Saudi cooking channel “Saudi Food With Eman” has more than 129,000 subscribers.


Ministry aims to attract investors for special education schools in Saudi Arabia

Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh. (SPA)
Updated 20 min 11 sec ago

Ministry aims to attract investors for special education schools in Saudi Arabia

  • Al-Asheikh underscored the importance of the long-term relations between the ministry and representatives of private and nonprofit sectors and investors

RIYADH: Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh on Monday said his ministry is working on plans to attract investors to operate special education and boarding schools in the Kingdom.

Setting up the General Department for International and Foreign Schools within the organizational structure of the Private Education Agency aims to support investors in the sector, and develop and organize governance, including working procedures, he added.

The Education Ministry, he said, is the sole authority for issuing licenses and providing consultations regarding foreign education.

Al-Asheikh underscored the importance of the long-term relations between the ministry and representatives of private and nonprofit sectors and investors.

He said the ministry will provide all kinds of support to enhance investment in the education sector, and increase the number of international schools and academies “in a way that enhances our educational outcomes.”

The ministry, he added, will reconsider the criteria and requirements for founding governmental and private educational institutions according to factors such as cities, villages and human density.