If you are looking for a healthy and delicious breakfast or brunch option in Riyadh, then you should try the newly opened OVVO.
OVVO offers fresh and creative vegan delicacies inspired by Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine and mainly based around creamy avocado. The restaurant offers an interesting array of platters with a Middle Eastern twist, perfect for a green healthy light breakfast for two.
Our platter consisted of beetroot and sweet potato crisps, two halves of avocado stuffed with thyme, and sundried tomato-flavored hummus for dipping.
For a Mexican-inspired dish, try the beautifully presented signature OVVO corn, based on a Mexican street salad that is similar to guacamole — smashed avocado topped with crunchy, dried seasoned corn creating a perfect balance between spicy and sweet flavors.
OVVO also offers trendy Mexican mini tacos with falafel filling, for a unique Arabian wrap.
For more information visit Instagram @ovvo.sa.
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.
“Watch me have the elegance of a walrus as I jump into happiness on Instagram Live,” wrote British-Pakistani-Indian Jameel ahead of the session.
All that's needed to attend the virtual workout class was a delicious snack and a comfortable outfit. “Bring a delicious snack, baggy clothes and leave your eating disorder fears at the door because this can be a safe space away from the noise of toxic diet culture,” she wrote to her followers.
Jamil, who became a household name with her activism and role as Tahani Al-Jamil on NBC’s “The Good Place,” routinely takes to her social media platforms to encourage people to respect and love their bodies.
She often gets candid about her struggles with eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
“It’s taken me 20 years to get back into even light exercise because I’ve been so traumatized by my eating disorder history and how our society has weaponized exercise into being a tool of diet culture rather than something we do for our mental health,” wrote Jamil on Instagram.
“The bralette tops and tight leggings and rooms full of mirrors and focus on definition, shape and size is just too much for me. It triggers old thoughts and habits. So, I do it in baggy clothes with light snacks (as in nothing that would make me throw up when I’m jumping up and down) and none of the emphasis is on my body, ONLY my mind. Doing this has revolutionized my relationship with exercise, my body, and my mind (sic),” she wrote.
“It is disgusting that vanity has taken over exercise and that you’re made to feel like to even be able to exercise you have to show up thin and toned in revealing clothes. We need to TAKE EXERCISE BACK (sic),” she added.
Grandma’s Jar is a homemade Saudi brand that offers authentic jam recipes for sweet-toothed connoisseurs that will make you reminisce over your tasty childhood recipes.
The home business was inspired by a grandmother who used to offer freshly made jam for every family breakfast during Eid, which everyone was eager to enjoy.
The fresh fruits are the main components of the heavenly jars. The healthy, natural jars are filled with just three ingredients: Cane sugar, fruits and lemon, without any pectin or gelatin.
They are available in eight different flavors: Strawberry and rosemary, mixed berry, mango, apricot, orange, cherry, quince, and the brand’s signature fig jam mix with nuts, sesame and black seeds.
Fruits used in Grandma’s Jar jam are taken from the business owner’s backyard. Seasonally produced, their fresh and cold mango jam marks the arrival of summer.
Their jams can be used in plenty of dishes, such as desserts, sandwiches and cheesecakes.
If you were thinking of Eid Al-Fitr’s surprise or gifting to family and friends, the brand offers three choices of smartly packed boxes, ranging from two to six flavors of your choice.
They offer shipment around the Kingdom too. For more information visit their Instagram @grandmasjar or their website: https://salla.sa/grandmasjar
London’s renowned Greek favorite Meraki offers Riyadh a taste of Greece
Meraki opens its doors in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 April 2021
RIYADH: Ask anyone in London where to find great Greek food and their list will surely include Meraki. The restaurant opened in the UK capital in 2017 and recently launched in Saudi Arabia.
“From the very first day we received an extraordinary welcome from our customers in Riyadh. Given that many people from the Kingdom have visited us at Meraki in London, we felt that they were looking forward to welcoming us in Riyadh too,” Meraki’s chef Athinagoras Kostakos told Arab News.
Meraki’s bright interior calls to mind the warmth and relaxation of the Mediterranean shores and has quickly become a social hub for the city by night — particularly in the lounge area and bar seating where guests can enjoy a mocktail after their meals.
We’d recommend reserving a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows to enjoy the great views of the Faisaliah tower and the the city lights. They are the most popular seats, and tend to fill up very quickly.
So Meraki has the ambience and views covered, for sure. But the real question for any Greek restaurant is: How authentic is the food?
Meraki’s seafood is extremely fresh, which is always a good start. The excellent salt-crusted sea bass is a perfect example of the level of quality you can expect. The restaurant only orders around 30 fish each night, so if you’re a seafood lover reserve an early slot, because the limited supply sells out quickly.
We begin our meal with a mocktail from the Meraki bar — famed for its unique blended concoctions. For those with a sweet tooth, we’d recommend the Anixi — a blood-orange and grapefruit base with butterfly-pea flower tea and peach shrub, topped with roses. The Heraklion is a refreshing, more-tangy option, with a mixed-berry base, oranges, peaches, and soda. Both drinks are not only delicious but definitely Insta-worthy.
Meraki offers hot and cold appetizers. Two highlights for us were the Meraki Tzatziki and the flatbread with tarama and zaatar. Order the pair and dip the extra flatbread in the fresh creamy homemade tzatziki sauce — you won't regret it. The tzatziki — mint, dill, and courgette mixed into fresh greek yogurt — makes the perfect companion to the soft-but-crisp bread.
As mentioned, if you’re opting for seafood for your main course, then the salt-crusted sea bass — which arrives at your table quite literally in flames for another great photo opp before being taken back to the kitchen for plating — is a great choice, not least because the delicious crisp fish, served with lemon-herb dressing and kale, can easily be shared between two or three people. But be warned: It sells out quick.
We also tried the juicy Garides tiger prawns, which are served with a tomato mayo and herb lemon oil. They were not bad, but nowhere near as good as the bass.
If you’re too late for the fish dishes — or if you’re not a fan of seafood — then you can’t go wrong with the the chargrilled lamb chops served with aromatic quinoa and fresh fennel. Ours were perfectly cooked, the buttery juices flowing out as we cut into the chops. The rib-eye steak is so tender it just melts in your mouth, and the accompanying chimichurri oregano and cherry tomatoes make for a surprising blend of flavors.
For dessert, we selected the warm cardamom-infused soft-baked cinnamon cookie, served with date ice-cream, the cold sweetness of which is the ideal blend with the chewy warmth of the cookie dough. It was the highlight of our meal.
Throughout the evening, the service was prompt and efficient, even though the restaurant was extremely busy, we were not kept waiting between courses and the staff were knowledgable and welcoming.
Kostakos told us that “each and every one of our team puts their soul, love and creativity” into their work. After eating at Meraki, we believe him.
Ramadan recipes give a taste of Tabuk’s incredible heritage
Updated 29 April 2021
JEDDAH: A history of civilizations stretching back thousands of years, along with a distinctive landscape and terrain, have left the Tabuk region in Saudi Arabia’s northwest with a host of popular dishes that are central to its everyday culture.
But during the holy month many dishes take on a special significance as residents of Tabuk, its governorates and centers prepare the Ramadan table with iftar and suhoor meals, such as mjallah or khamiaa, a saj dough made from wheat.
The dough is cut once ready and has ghee or olive oil, milk and honey added.
Maqtouta is another dish also known as mouqalqal or hamis, while mansaf are dishes made of meat or chicken with rice and bread, and served for sahoor.
The Ramadan table in Tabuk also contains a grain soup. Wheat is soaked overnight, then water is added, along with meat and onions. Special spices or herbs, such is black pepper and Artemisia argentea, can be added, then water is gradually added while constantly stirring. When the grain is cooked, some families add milk to increase the soup’s nutritional value. The mix is then stirred and served.
Lentil soup, another favorite, is prepared by pouring water over the lentils with vegetables added to taste, until they are cooked. The ingredients are then mashed and served as soup.
Freekeh soup is also made with wheat. Green ears of wheat are picked around six weeks before harvest, then grilled to separate the grains from the peel. Afterward, the grains are ground with millstones and cooked with water along with meat, salt and black pepper.
Some cities on the region’s coasts are known for mutabbaq, a dough cut into rectangles and stuffed with chopped leek, eggs, tomatoes, black pepper and salt. The sides are then well-folded before they are cooked on saj (a convex metal griddle) and flipped until golden.
The Tabuk table is also famous for feteer, which is made from wheat flour, water and salt, and then cooked on saj, with some ghee added when served.
Desserts are also part of the variety of dishes adorning Ramadan tables, most notably luqaimat, a dough kneaded by hand until it becomes consistent and soft.
The dough is put in a hot place for some time, then small pieces are shaped into balls, fried in hot oil and constantly flipped until they become golden. Some people add to them sesame and honey.
Kunafa, a well-known dessert in the Arab world, is made of two layers of equally small vermicelli with cream/cheese in between. It is decorated with pistachios and cooked in the oven with sugar syrup on top once served.