Experience popular iftar staples from around the world this Ramadan

People purchase food and sweets to break their fast during Ramadan in Jakarta. (AFP)
People purchase food and sweets to break their fast during Ramadan in Jakarta. (AFP)
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Updated 09 April 2022

Experience popular iftar staples from around the world this Ramadan

People purchase food and sweets to break their fast during Ramadan in Jakarta. (AFP)
  • Deep-fried fritter from the Indian subcontinent or zigni from Eritrea, people enjoy breaking their fast with quintessential dishes

JEDDAH: Each country has a particular delicacy or a traditional staple Ramadan favorite food and beverage that is relished during iftar. After long hours of fasting and worshipping during the day, Muslims look forward to enjoying a hearty meal.

From fresh salads to nourishing soups, samosas to vegetable rolls, pastries to fatayer, there are many Ramadan delicacies to savor, which are an important part of a place and culture. For example, it’s not Ramadan in Palestine if fatoush salad and freekeh soup is not served during iftar.

Although most people enjoy binging on their Ramadan favorites, below are popular iftar dishes from around the world that are readily available in the Kingdom.

Haleem originates from an ancient Arabic dish known as harees and is said to have come to India via Afghanistan and Iran. It is a nutritious and popular dish among Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. It comprises meat, soaked grains such as wheat and lentils, and it is cooked with spices for a few hours until it takes on a paste-like texture. The dish is smeared in butter and topped with ginger juliennes, fried onion, coriander and mint leaves, mint leaves, and a dash of lemon juice.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Indonesia has diverse ethnic groups and cultural influences contributing to its cuisine. One of the most popular dishes during Ramadan is kolak. It is a brew of coconut milk mixed with palm sugar, pandanus leave and filled with slices of banana and sweet potatoes. The dish is very sweet — and a popular starter on Indonesian iftar tables.

● Malaysians prefer a plate of fragrant nasi lemak — fluffy white rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves paired with a delicious batch of ayam goreng berempah, a crispy, spicy fried chicken — to break their fast.

During Ramadan, many Indian and Pakistani restaurants sell haleem with different variations of spice and consistency, with the taste varying from one place to another. If you are looking for the best place to have Hyderabadi haleem in Jeddah, try Shadab restaurant, Khana Khazana and Kings Palace — all located in Aziziyah district. In Riyadh, Shalimar restaurant and Charminar Hyderabadi restaurant are well-known for serving delicious haleem.

Another famous dish that people from the Indian subcontinent look forward to during Ramadan is pakoras or fritters. Pakoras are made from gram or chickpea flour batter spiced with Asian spices that can be used to coat anything from vegetables to chicken or meat and deep-fried till golden; they are best consumed hot with chutney and tomato sauce. Almost all the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants serve this every day during Ramadan.

Another popular and common dish from the Indian subcontinent in Ramadan is dahi vada or dahi bhalla. The deep-fried fritters, made from gram or chickpea flour, are dunked into sweet and sour yoghurt and garnished with mint and tamarind sauces.  

Rice is a central part of any meal in Indonesia and an iftar favorite during Ramadan. A rice-based meal comprises fried chicken, vegetable or meat curry or grilled fish.

Indonesia has diverse ethnic groups and cultural influences contributing to its cuisine. One of the most popular dishes during Ramadan is kolak. It is a brew of coconut milk mixed with palm sugar, pandanus leave and filled with slices of banana and sweet potatoes. The dish is very sweet — and a popular starter on Indonesian iftar tables.

In Indonesia, people love to break their fast with a sweet drink or food that is light on the stomach. Es Buah, a drink made of mixed fruits, ice cubes and syrup, is a popular choice to drink at iftar in Ramadan. Try traditional and authentic Indonesian cuisine at BoBoKo in north Obhur; Dendeng in Al-Naseem district, Jeddah; and Keraton restaurant in Riyadh’s Al-Fayha’a district.

Eritrean meals are classic and most of the dishes have dishes within them. Zigni is a traditional must-have during Ramadan. The zigni is a meat stew mixed with hot peppers, onion, garlic and oil and usually served with injera, which is a soft round pancake; some Eritreans prefer to eat zigni with rice. In Jeddah, Addis Ababa restaurant in Ar Rabwah district and Family restaurant in Al-Safa district serves the best zigni. In Riyadh, Musa restaurant in Sharafiyah offers flavorful Eritrean dishes.

For Malaysians, Ramadan is a month where they like to rekindle their gastronomical passion with loved ones. Quintessentially, Malaysians prefer a plate of fragrant nasi lemak — fluffy white rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves paired with a delicious batch of ayam goreng berempah, a crispy, spicy fried chicken — to break their fast.

Other favorite Malay Ramadan dishes are roti john, an omelet sandwich filled with minced meat, green onion, egg, and tomato-chilli sauce usually prepared using a long loaf; and murtabak, which is spiced and stuffed with minced meat and vegetables in pan-friend bread with egg, and usually served with lentil curry and syrup-pickled onions.

The best place to taste Malaysian delicacies is D’Saji restaurant in Al-Rawdah district, Jeddah; Mutiara Malaysian Restaurant in Al-Muraba district, Riyadh; and Meezan restaurant in Al-Shamalia district, Alkhobar.

A hearty broth containing an assortment of local ingredients such as Japanese udon noodles, napa cabbage, negi (long green onion), Japanese tofu and thinly sliced beef is the most heart-warming Japanese dish to have during Ramadan.

Muslims in Japan prefer to eat healthy meals to celebrate nature’s feasts and end their meal by saying the word “gochisoosama,” which means honoring nature’s blessings.

Another signature Japanese dish is chicken katsu curry, a wholesome comfort food and a popular main dish. The katsu sauce is rich and creamy as it is slow cooked with herbs, spices, potatoes, carrots and broccoli and then laid on top of a bed of perfectly cooked Jasmine rice. The dish is finished with a generous portion of katsu-style fried chicken fillet.

This Ramadan, break your fast at the latest Japanese dining destination to eat the best authentic and traditional chicken katsu curry or the best wagyu beef dishes at Akiba Dori located in Ar Rawdah district, Jeddah, as well as at Riyadh Boulevard. Desert-lovers will have a hard time choosing between the taiyaki, matcha molten cake or hakata cheesecake. Japanese dishes have become popular and are increasingly finding their way to the iftar table of many.

 


History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up
Updated 15 sec ago

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up

History, mystery and magic as first Ancient Saudi Arabia’s Festival wraps up
  • Festival gave ancient landscapes a new lease of life

KHAYBAR: Past, present and future came together as the inaugural Ancient Kingdoms Festival drew to a close with a series of dramatic events showcasing three historic oases of the northwest — AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma — for a modern audience.

The festival, launched on Nov. 11, was the first of its kind to focus entirely on the sites, which were at the crossroads of culture in ancient times, and also centers of influence and wealth.

By focusing on a range of events, including cultural performances, workshops and sightseeing opportunities, the festival gave these ancient landscapes a new lease of life, with many of the activities expected to continue after the festival’s close.

A spectacular show lit up the night sky as 1,450 drones formed shapes while an orchestra played music by UK composer Matt Faddy. The show will continue until Dec. 15, 2023.

FASTFACT

A spectacular show lit up the night sky as 1,450 drones formed shapes while an orchestra played music by UK composer Matt Faddy. The show will continue until Dec. 15, 2023.

Visitors to Khaybar can still explore the mysterious prehistoric stone structures on foot, or by car or a 20-minute helicopter excursion, hovering over the old and new.

“We made this festival to reflect the stories behind all the ancient civilizations that lived around or in these three places,” Abdulrazzag Alanzi, a local storyteller and tour guide, told Arab News.

Alanzi used to visit his cousins in Khaybar as a child and still recalls hearing stories about the region going back centuries.

“I used to love reading a lot of fictional stories and also a lot of old stories, and when I heard about something that happened in this area many years ago, it always fascinated me. This is what pushed me into this line of work, tourism,” he said.

“AlUla, Khaybar and Tayma have a lot of historical stories and a lot of information that we need to show the world.”

Fahad Aljuhani, a storyteller who describes the area as the “greatest living museum,” also came to the area as a child to connect with his cousins — and to discover hidden treasures.

“I’m a ‘Rawi’ and ‘Rawi’ in English means a storyteller. Now we are on an island that floats on a sea of rock which is Khaybar. I used to come to Khaybar and visit my relatives, and they would tell us a story about the tombs and the oasis, and I didn’t have the chance to visit them until now,” he told Arab News.

Aljuhani said that 5 million years ago, hundreds of volcanic eruptions occurred simultaneously in the area.

“If you feel the rocks, they seem to generate heat from within, similar to those who choose to watch over the land today and tell its many-layered stories,” he said.

Tour guide Enass Al-Sherrif told Arab News that she is excited to see people, including those from around the Kingdom, taking the time to learn about their past.

Al-Sherrif describes her job as the best she could ever have.

“I am really proud and honored. And I want to show you and make you feel the experience, how we transformed this place into an amazing destination for others to come and visit us,” she said.

The festival and its extended program aims to shed light on the legends and legacies of ancient times in the Kingdom’s northwest region, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the “largest living museum in the world.”

It is two years since AlUla began reopening heritage sites to domestic and international tourists with its pioneering Winter at Tantora program, which lasts until March.

While the Ancient Kingdoms Festival wrapped up on a chilly day on Nov. 27, many of the visitor experiences will continue well beyond the festival period, with some available year-round.

“The northwest Arabian Peninsula is the jewel in the heritage crown of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a source of fascination for a global community of archaeologists and researchers. Their discoveries shed new light on the societies that endowed the region with such relics of the ancients, preserved in wonders of prehistoric geology, art, and historical architecture that reveal important truths,” the Royal Commission for AlUla, which hosted the event, said in a statement.

The commission plans to host the Ancient Kingdoms Festival annually. Further details are available on its website.

 


UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism

UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism
Updated 26 November 2022

UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism

UNWTO passes Saudi resolution to transform global tourism
  • Passing of resolution is first major step by Kingdom in its new position as Executive Council chair
  • Saudi-Spain-UNWTO working group to oversee significant changes to tourism industry in wake of pandemic

MARRAKECH: The 177th Executive Council of the UN World Trade Organization has passed a Saudi resolution to “redesign tourism” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As newly elected chair of the council, the Kingdom successfully lobbied for the creation of a Saudi-Spain-UNWTO working group to oversee and direct significant changes to the global tourism industry.  

The proposal had been promoted by the Kingdom since December 2021, with a Saudi host delegation reiterating its support for the creation of the working group during the Kingdom’s hosting of the 116th Executive Council in Jeddah earlier this year.

This week’s three-day event in Marrakech, attended by Arab News, saw the passing of a resolution to push forward with the creation of the working group, which has been supported from the outset by Spain.

The working group, which will comprise eight members of the organization according to the resolution, is slated to launch in spring next year, but will still require the formal endorsement of the UNWTO chief.

The eight members will work alongside the three working group co-chairs — Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the UNWTO — to move forward with the vision to transform global tourism.

Of the council’s 36 member countries present at the event, 31 approved the resolution. The working group aims to represent every region of the world, and will include two member states for Africa and America, as well as single states to promote the tourism aspirations of Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Pacific, and South Asia.

Once established, the working group will meet at least biannually and will run on a budget allocated voluntarily by member states of the Executive Council.

The move is expected to lead to a significant shake-up within the world’s premier tourism body, with the Kingdom calling to “revitalize” the UNWTO and “improve its operating methods.”

It comes on the back of enhanced Saudi-Spanish ties in investment and tourism, and is the result of months of work by the two countries to gather support for the proposal among council members.

The working group aims to make the UNWTO “more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable than ever,” said Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb.

The passing of the resolution was the first major step by the Kingdom in its position as council chair.

Al-Khateeb oversaw the handover from previous chair Cote D’Ivoire in Marrakech on Friday.

Trade between Saudi Arabia and Spain totals $3.5 billion annually. The two countries have made significant steps toward boosting economic ties throughout the year, with the Saudi-Spanish Investment Forum in June ahead of the Jeddah UNWTO event leading to a number of high-profile agreements.

The meeting in Marrakech also saw the admittance of several Saudi and Spanish affiliate members, including the Jeddah Central Development Co. and Spain’s Innovaris SL and Eturia CLM.


Saudi aid agency supports Chad to address malaria epidemic

Saudi aid agency supports Chad to address malaria epidemic
Updated 26 November 2022

Saudi aid agency supports Chad to address malaria epidemic

Saudi aid agency supports Chad to address malaria epidemic

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has delivered support to the Ministry of Public Health and National Solidarity in Chad to prevent and respond to the malaria epidemic, Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

The support was delivered in the presence of the Chadian Minister of Public Health and National Solidarity, Dr. Abdelmadjid Abderahim, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Chad, Amer bin Ali Al-Shehri, the KSrelief representative in the capital, N’Djamena, and a number of officials.

Abderahim expressed his thanks and gratitude for the support, which comes within the framework of the aid provided by the Kingdom through KSrelief for many relief projects, according to the humanitarian needs in all countries around the world and according to the highest standards.


Saudi rapper creates hip hop podcast in Arabic

 Saudi rapper creates hip hop podcast in Arabic
Updated 25 November 2022

Saudi rapper creates hip hop podcast in Arabic

 Saudi rapper creates hip hop podcast in Arabic
  • Al-Fahad told Arab News: 'I am a big supporter of the hip hop culture in Saudi Arabia'

RIYADH: Saudi music producer, rapper, and composer Bander Al-Fahad has started a podcast in Arabic to provide the latest updates on the Kingdom’s hip hop scene.

In his first podcast “Pure Hip Hop,” released on YouTube in August, other Saudi and Arab rappers shed light on the hip hop culture in the country, its relationship with Saudi society, and the history of the music genre.

Al-Fahad told Arab News: “I am a big supporter of the hip hop culture in the Kingdom. I wish to have a unique style. I am keen for hip hop to appear with Saudi rhythms that distinguish it as Saudi music.”

He first discovered his passion for music while pursuing an undergraduate degree in media communication and revealed that he would soon be dropping two more episodes.

SPEEDREAD

• Bander Al-Fahad first discovered his passion for music while pursuing an undergraduate degree in media communication and revealed that he would soon be dropping two more episodes.

• He collaborates with other Saudi YouTubers such as Ibrahim Basha, Dyler, Faisal Tiger, and Fahad Al- Dokhei to create music and jingles for local organizations. And he also aims to create a go-to platform for the genre.

“Podcasting is the way that I think is best to deliver my message. I had many questions about hip hop, and that’s when I decided to deliver information on it to a Saudi audience,” he said.

Al-Fahad collaborates with other Saudi YouTubers such as Ibrahim Basha, Dyler, Faisal Tiger, and Fahad Al-Dokhei to create music and jingles for local organizations. And he also aims to create a go-to platform for the genre.

“When I receive a campaign, I use their idea and begin creating the music and beats. If they don’t have a specific idea, we begin the creative process, and I initially draw the idea on a piano keyboard before transferring it to the studio, where we can use live instruments and musicians,” he added.

The musician said he was thankful that the Kingdom was placing increased focus on the music industry, especially via the recently established Music Commission.

“With the help of education services in the field of music, the young generation can now turn their passion for music into a career. Musicians can now learn, produce, and have people hear their voice,” he added.

Al-Fahad, who at first could only perform for friends and family, would like to have a lasting impact on the Kingdom’s music scene.

“My future projects include working on my company about content and music production. I’m also working on three singles and a mini album.”

He is also among the cast of “Rise of the Witches,” a Saudi fantasy series being filmed in AlUla.

 


Saudi energy minister receives Iraqi counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi energy minister receives Iraqi counterpart in Riyadh
Updated 26 November 2022

Saudi energy minister receives Iraqi counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi energy minister receives Iraqi counterpart in Riyadh
  • The two sides discussed matters of common interest in the field of energy and agreed to continue to carry out important projects in gas, petrochemicals, electricity and renewables

RIYADH: Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Minister of Oil Hayan Abdul Ghani Al-Swad visited the Kingdom after receiving an invitation from Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed matters of common interest in the field of energy and agreed to continue to carry out important projects in gas, petrochemicals, electricity and renewables. They also reviewed ways to enhance communication between Riyadh and Baghdad to further explore shared opportunities in these fields and transform them into tangible partnerships.