Pita Pack is a Saudi sandwich shop with a diverse international menu. From traditional proteins to fresh salads, Pita Pack offers the experience of a quick bite that is both wholesome and familiar, which you can enjoy alone or with friends.
The recipes are inspired by a fusion of western culture and Arabian flavors.
The shop has a lively approach to naming its orders — deploying pop-culture puns, energetic language and casual vocabulary.
The sandwiches are made with fresh, light, medium-size pita buns, tortillas and brioche bread.
In addition to the more than 30 options on the menu, including vegan, seafood, beef and chicken, their tender American Philly cheesesteak sandwich is one of the best.
If you were thinking of offering your friends in the office or your family a brunch or dinner on the go, the shop offers "Pita box," a family-size option that includes an array of 20 different sandwiches of your choice.
Each order has its special sauce to complement the ingredients used. The restaurant also offers a selection of internationally inspired appetizers and salads.
It is located in Jeddah, Hilmi Kutbi Street, Al-Zahra district.
For more information visit Instagram @pitapackksa.
Burj Al-Arab’s SAL: Come for the views, stay for the food at this Dubai hotspot
Updated 10 May 2021
DUBAI: First things first: If you’re familiar with the Instagram account @influencersinthewild, then chances are you’ll spot similar examples of the content it posts at Burj Al-Arab’s SAL. Because for every few individuals who are at the venue for the resplendent views and excellent hospitality, there’s that one “influencer” at work, taking part in an impromptu photo shoot. It would be extreme to claim that they’re ruining the experience for everyone else, but you’ll probably pause and have a chuckle or two at the confidence of it all.
That being said, to reduce SAL to a social media “hotspot of the moment” would be doing it a disservice because judging by our own experience, there’s so much more to it than a backdrop for Insta-models. Jumeirah Group describes SAL, which opened in the second half of last year, as a “chic lifestyle experience at Burj Al Arab where barefoot luxury at an iconic pool and beach destination meets culinary excellence in a striking new dining venue.” With hues of blue forming the picture-perfect landscape, the restaurant overlooks the main star of the venue, the 100-meter infinity pool.
However, we’re here to dine, not dip (into the pool), and our entire meal was a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Headed by Culinary Director Marco Garfagnini, SAL’s menu “pays homage to the sea,” with the majority of the dishes made for sharing.
Greeted by a very welcoming and friendly team of hosts, we were guided to our seats before being offered a detailed run-through of the menu.
To start, my dining partner and I opted for the heirloom tomato carpaccio, feta cheese and black olives, and the tuna tartare with caviar. As we waited, we were served water from freshly cut coconuts.
Once our appetizers arrived, it became clear that our phone photography would be reserved for the dishes and not only for the view. The carpaccio was delicately laid out on a platter in a pretty pattern, while the tartare was served in a perfect circle with a dash of gold dusting on top.
The tartare was divine. Its citrus-based Ponzu sauce marinade offered the perfect balance, “cooking” the fish to eliminate any offending aftertaste sometimes experienced with tartare. In fact, it was one of the best tartare dishes I have ever sampled.
The main course certainly had a lot to live up to, bringing us to the first — the recommended Portuguese dourada, a gilt-head sea bream fish common in the Mediterranean. At SAL, it’s served baked with tomatoes and potatoes. Again, absolutely flawless. Its cod-like meatiness paired with a spinach-infused sauce made for a moreish main that was delightful on the palette.
Another fish dish we were recommended was the sea-salt-crusted seabass for two, but since my guest isn’t the biggest fan of seafood, we opted to try the third recommendation — the stone-oven-baked lemon chicken empanada, with French fries and baby spinach salad. Now, SAL likes to entertain guests, so similarly to the seabass, this one is carved and served right in front of you. Given the show, we were expecting something big, but if there was one dish that was more “meh” than “marvelous,” it was this one. It was underwhelming after it was cut open and presented, looking more like some lemon chicken in pita bread rather than a baked turnover. It still tasted delightful, but we both agreed that if we could, we would advise the restaurant to serve it as is, as it looked much more appealing at the start.
It was nearly time to wrap up, and as much as we wanted to go for something sweet, we were simply running on full. One lovely staff member did try to tempt us with the dessert trolley offering a selection from the restaurant’s master pastry chefs, but we stayed strong. In the end, we were presented with a cute little meringue-based dessert topped with fresh berries — just the right amount of sugar to conclude our visit with.
Needless to say, this Burj Al-Arab beach restaurant is definitely one to add to your must-visits. As someone who has been based in this region for many years, this was easily one of the best meals I have had in a long time.
Maamoul: Why the storied sweet is so important during Eid in Palestine
Prepared in circles, the Eid cakes are stuffed with dates, while maamoul are stuffed with dates or walnuts, pistachios and nuts, and the outer layer is sprinkled with crushed white sugar
Updated 10 May 2021
GAZA CITY: In the last week of Ramadan, the smell of maamoul and cakes wafts from Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. Maamoul, also popular in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, is a traditional shortbread cookie popular in the region, and one of the main sweet items prepared for Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.
Samira Al-Burai, 54, is enjoys preparing maamoul with her sons and daughters.
“We bring basic ingredients a few days before making maamoul. All the family members, including my sons, will participate in making it.
“I learned (how to) make cakes and maamoul from my mother, then I taught it to my daughters so that this tradition may continue during the last days of Ramadan. My children are accustomed to the smell of cakes at this time of every year.”
Maamoul and cakes are one of the most prominent pieces of celebration associated with Eid Al-Fitr, despite the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians.
Prepared in circles, the Eid cakes are stuffed with dates, while maamoul are stuffed with dates or walnuts, pistachios and nuts, and the outer layer is sprinkled with crushed white sugar.
Some women earn money during Ramadan by making and selling maamoul to others.
Salwa Kabariti, 57, used to make them for her family. With the passage of time and after they fell on hard times, she began to produce larger quantities and started selling to neighbors, friends and even to some shops.
Maamoul and cakes are one of the most prominent pieces of celebration associated with Eid Al-Fitr, despite the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians. Some women earn money during Ramadan by making and selling maamoul to others.
“Due to our poor economic condition, I began searching for a source of income. This work offered a good source. It helped me and my family to overcome our economic crises,” Kabariti said.
“There is no Eid without maamoul. I love (it) and will continue making it every Ramadan as long as I have the ability to do so,” she added.
Despite the large number of bakeries that sell maamoul in the Gaza Strip, many women prefer making theirs at home to preserve the festive atmosphere in their households.
Lubna Al-Sumairi, 40, said: “I like preparing it in my house with my husband and other family members. Making maamoul is one of the most important customs that we enjoy during the
last days of Ramadan; its preparation, delicious taste, and the pleasant atmosphere gives us a happy feeling.”
Ramadan recipes: This freekeh-stuffed chicken is comfort food for the soul
Updated 09 May 2021
DUBAI: Jordanian Chef Hassan Al-Naami shares his delectable recipe for fragrant freekeh-stuffed chicken, a dish that is wildly popular at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, where he brings his culinary vision to life at the hotel’s Middle Eastern restaurant, Amaseena.
As Ramadan draws to a close, give this dish a go for a special iftar this week.
Whole baby chicken
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/3 tbsp 7 spice
½ tbsp coriander powder
2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1 handful of almonds
1 handful of pine nuts
5 cups freekeh
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup onion (chopped)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp 7-spice
1 ½ tbsp cumin powder
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Wash and drain freekeh until clean. In a hot pan combine olive oil and spices, toss for a few minutes till fragrant. Add the freekeh then sauté for another 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes on a low heat. The freekeh should be cooked but still have a chewy texture.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl, mix all the spices and rub chicken with spices all over and inside, including under the skin. Take the cooked freekeh and stuff the chicken with it, cross the legs and tie with twine. Place the chicken in a roasting tray, cover with foil and roast for 60-80 minutes. Allow the chicken rest before serving (keeping it covered).
3. Serve stuffed chicken on over leftover cooked freekeh. Decorate with roasted nuts and serve with minted yogurt on the side.
All menu items are served with rice, homemade peanut sauce and sambal on the side
Updated 08 May 2021
BoBoKo is an authentic Indonesian restaurant located in Jeddah’s North Obhur area and serves traditional items such as rice noodles, curry, satay, spicy sambal and more. Recipes are spiced up with Asian flavors and ingredients including ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, and chili pepper.
Boboko is a rice basket made from bamboo and the restaurant’s dishes are presented on a freshly cut banana leaf, complementing the restaurant’s Indonesian vibes.
The dishes are inspired by names of Indonesian cities and what each of them is known for, such as Jakarta (chicken and meat), Puncak (meat only), Bandung (chicken only), Bali (not spicy), and BoBoKo Surabaya (vegetarian).
All menu items are served with rice, homemade peanut sauce and sambal on the side.
For vegetarians, the menu offers vegan options using plant-based foods such as silky soft tofu and bean sprouts.
One of the most popular appetizers is crispy krupuk, or shrimp crackers, a snack close to the hearts of older Saudis.
BoBoKo is open from Thursday to Saturday. For more information visit the Instagram account @bobokoindo.
Ramadan recipes: These glorious stuffed peppers are a feast for the eyes and appetite
Updated 02 May 2021
DUBAI: Stuffing vegetables is an art relished by many in the Middle East. Peppers are easy to fill while others, like cucumbers, carrots and turnips, can be a bit more challenging. Humble vegetables are elevated to another level once stuffed and served with a tantalizing sauce. I love making stuffed peppers since their shape acts as the perfect vessel for any filling. Try a colorful yellow and red pepper combination for a dish that is a treat for the eyes and the appetite.
24 mini bell peppers
1 cup short-grain rice (presoaked, rinsed and drained)
4 tsp clarified butter (or butter)
300g finely diced lamb or beef
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp all-spice
Salt and pepepr
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dried mint
12 cloves garlic
4 cups (1 L) pureed tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 lemon zest (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (or almonds), parsley or mint.
Serve with labneh or a mixture of 1/2 cup yoghurt and 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream.
1. Preheat oven to 190˚C then place the rice, butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice, minced garlic, 2 tbs dried mint, and salt and pepper in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the minced lamb and mix it into the rice with clean hands.
2. Fill the hollow peppers about three quarters full and place 1 tomato slice on top. Repeat for all peppers. Place the filled peppers in a deep baking dish.
3. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and sautée the sliced garlic for one minute before pouring in the puréed tomatoes. Add in the water, tomato paste, 1 tbs dry mint, fresh mint, parsley, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp allspice, salt and pepper.
4. Pour the tomato sauce all around the peppers. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes until rice is cooked. Serve hot with any extra tomato sauce and a sprinkle of your chosen garnish.