Ramadan Recipes: Pistachio Baklava

Ramadan Recipes: Pistachio Baklava
Short Url
Updated 28 April 2022

Ramadan Recipes: Pistachio Baklava

Ramadan Recipes: Pistachio Baklava

Sweet, crunchy and soft, baklava is a Middle Eastern dessert often found at social gatherings, celebrations and iftar during Ramadan. 

Baklava is delicately made and stuffed with nuts, like roasted almonds, walnuts, or pistachios, and sometimes topped with pistachios as well, and sweetened with syrup. Many countries claim the dessert as their own, including Greece, Turkey and Syria.

But the history of baklava goes back to the eighth century B.C. during the Assyrian era. Assyrians used layers of unleavened flatbread and spread chopped nuts in between, drenching it with honey and then baking the final product in a primitive wood-burning oven.

Modern-day baklava, or baklawa as Middle Easterners say, has gone through many transitions in the production process.

All the lands that once were under the Ottoman Empire, including the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans and Caucasia, claim baklava as their national dessert.

It is most probable that the sweet pastry was perfected during the Ottoman reign from the 15th century until its downfall at the beginning of the 20th century, as the oldest record about baklava is present in the kitchen notebook of Topkapı Palace, where the first Ottoman sultans lived and worked.

Baklava was considered a luxurious dessert in Turkey in the 19th century that only the rich could afford. There is a saying that Turkish people use to this day when describing their financial status: “I’m not rich enough to eat baklava every day.”

To make baklava, you will need 400g of phyllo pastry, 200g of butter, and 200g of chopped pistachio. For the syrup, prepare 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 2⁄3 cup honey, ½ tsp orange blossom or rose water, and 1 tbsp lemon juice.

Starting with the syrup, add all the ingredients in one pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved and thickened a little, then set it aside to cool down.

On a clean surface, lay one sheet of phyllo pastry, brush it with butter, add another layer, butter it again, sprinkle the chopped pistachio evenly, horizontally place two skewers at both ends and on the edge of the sheets, roll tightly before scrunching the roll to the middle, then place in a buttered tray and pull the skewers from the roll.

Repeat the process and line the rolls next to each other on the tray, and butter them before baking them in the preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for up to 1.5 hours. Immediately pour the syrup on the baklava once it is out of the oven.

Set aside until it is at room temperature, cut it into squares, place it on a plate and serve.

Where We Are Going Today: Level 23 dinner club

Updated 27 November 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Level 23 dinner club


The Level 23 dinner club is a recently launched fine dining experience located on the 23rd floor of the King Abdullah Financial District complex in Riyadh.

Every Friday, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., a chef from a Michelin-starred eating establishment serves up a diverse selection of dishes.

Chef Jesse Blake’s offering consisted of five courses starting with a leaf wrap, stuffed local chicken wing, black cod, curry leaf bearnaise, semi-dried tomato, and beef ribs.

The next course consisted of a buttermilk flatbread with cheese curds and rinds with white truffle.

His third dish was a local spotted grouper served with cucumber vinegar and cultured cream.

This was followed by ox cheek and loin with date molasses and burnt eggplant, served with fried garlic grains and greens with a hot bone marrow vinaigrette.

For dessert, Blake, who runs the Lowe restaurant in Dubai, provided local fig leaf with burnt rice and pressed coconut milk.

Dining outdoors, customers can walk pathways overlooking the city of Riyadh and can interact with the chefs working in an open kitchen space.

Tickets cost SR1,000 ($266) per person and must be purchased in advance.


Top chefs dish up Italian-Saudi fare at AlUla culinary event

Top chefs dish up Italian-Saudi fare at AlUla culinary event
Staged by the Italian embassy, the culinary gathering was organized with the Royal Commission for AlUla. (Supplied)
Updated 27 November 2022

Top chefs dish up Italian-Saudi fare at AlUla culinary event

Top chefs dish up Italian-Saudi fare at AlUla culinary event

ROME: Traditional Saudi dishes took pride of place on a menu alongside food from Italy and Sicily at the closing event of the seventh edition of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, held in AlUla.

Staged by the Italian embassy, the recent culinary gathering was organized in cooperation with the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Italian Trade Agency office in Riyadh, and Slow Food, an organization based in Italy that aims to protect gastronomic, cultural, and biological diversity.

Italian chef Pino Maggiore, a member of Slow Food’s cooks’ alliance and owner of the Cantina Siciliana restaurant in Trapani, Italy, travelled to AlUla to work on the menu with chef Osama Ahmed Alswayah of AlUla’s Suhail Restaurant.

The pair tapped into the heritage of Sicily, Maggiore’s homeland island, which for historical reasons is heavily influenced by Arab culture.

They used Saudi ingredients from the “Ark of Taste” catalogue of endangered heritage foods, produced by the Slow Food organization.

Members of the Italian business community in the Kingdom, Saudi officials, and representatives of AlUla’s hospitality sector were welcomed to the event by the Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone.

This year, Slow Food and the RCU formed a strategic partnership focused on building local capacity, promoting AlUla as a destination for food lovers, and exchanging the philosophy of Slow Food with the traditions of AlUla to raise awareness and preserve the national intangible heritage of the region’s cuisine and agricultural practices.

Cantone said: “The project opens a new chapter in the history of Italian-Saudi cooperation in the cultural field and the relevance of Slow Food’s philosophy to the Kingdom’s efforts to preserve its cultural heritage.”

Along with enjoying the culinary experience offered by Maggiore, guests were able to tour a “Food Heroes” photo exhibition showcasing the excellence of four Italian artisans; a beekeeper, shepherd, mussel farmer, and restaurateur.

Jointly produced by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Slow Food, the exhibition was designed to highlight the importance of the intertwined values of tradition and innovation at the heart of Slow Food’s philosophy.

Where We Are Going Today: Jeddah’s 'It. Caffe'

Updated 25 November 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Jeddah’s 'It. Caffe'


For a sweet and memorable breakfast or dessert, Jeddah’s “It. Caffe” has it all, and something new to offer too.

I always look for something unique when I visit a place, and this cafe and restaurant satisfied my curiosity. It has all the regular great foods, but also boasts the “croffle”, a mix between a croissant and waffle, and a circular croissant known as a “croll”.

I visited the caffe with my family and ordered different things to try together.

First was the Croque Madame: Sourdough bread, bechamel sauce, Gruyere cheese, smoked turkey, whole grain mustard, side salad, chili oil, and fried egg.

The It. Special French Toast was is a custard stuffed brioche served with custard dip, cream, blueberries, raspberries, corn crumble and creme anglaise sauce.

Honey, poached pears, berry coulis, and cinnamon powder took the cafe’s porridge to another level.

There are many items I was curious to try just for their name and look, such as Barbie’s choice, a chocolate sponge cake with ruby chocolate and Feuilletine mix) and a summer jam bubble waffle made with strawberry ice cream, berry compote, strawberries and white chocolate.

It. Caffe’s interior is mainly white and blue, with a giant glass window wall, allowing the sunbeams to light up the entire place.

If you like your food to look as gorgeous as it tastes, this is the place to visit. Dishes are always prepared and displayed in the most sophisticated manner.

Friendly staff with big smiles, who attended to all our needs, were the icing on the cake.



RECIPES FOR SUCCESS: Chef ArChan Chan offers advice and a delicious chicken wings recipe

RECIPES FOR SUCCESS: Chef ArChan Chan offers advice and a delicious chicken wings recipe
Updated 24 November 2022

RECIPES FOR SUCCESS: Chef ArChan Chan offers advice and a delicious chicken wings recipe

RECIPES FOR SUCCESS: Chef ArChan Chan offers advice and a delicious chicken wings recipe
  • The executive chef of Hong Kong’s Ho Lee Fook was in Riyadh earlier this month, where her restaurant has launched a pop-up eatery in Riyadh Season’s Al-Murabaa food zone

RIYADH:Chef ArChan Chan’s story is one that could inspire many an aspiring cook. By her own admission, Chan had “no idea about cooking,” when she started her career, but she is now executive chef of the Cantonese restaurant Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong.  

“In many Asian countries, like Hong Kong — where I grew up, cooking is not really (considered) a profession. I was a foodie who loves eating and I knew that I wanted to do something I was passionate about,” Chan told Arab News. “So, when I went to university, I asked my lecturer if there were any food-related subjects I could take. He told me the university offered a catering course, so that’s how I first got into the industry, but also through tourism and hotels. That’s how I began working in kitchens.” 


A post shared by ho lee fook (@holeefookhk)

Earlier this month, Chan was in Riyadh, where her restaurant has launched a pop-up eatery in Riyadh Season’s Al-Murabaa food zone. Here, she discusses the versatility of spring onions and avoiding a ‘military-like’ kitchen atmosphere, and provides a recipe for chicken wings. 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

If you’re planning to cook meat — any meat — soak it in four percent brine. It adds a lot of flavor and tenderness. You can do that before any method of cooking; it’s a very simple way to make things tasty. 

What’s the one ingredient you believe can improve any dish? 

I love spring onion or scallion. It’s an ingredient that works with a lot of dishes. It adds texture and flavor to something as simple as steamed fish. You pour hot oil on and some spring onion on it. It just releases those flavors, especially if you add a bit of soya sauce and a bit of salt and sugar. It’s delicious. You can even add it to instant noodles. 


A post shared by ho lee fook (@holeefookhk)

What customer request most annoys you?  

It doesn’t necessarily annoy me, but it can be difficult when someone asks to modify a dish. We understand that people have different needs, of course; sometimes there is a dietary requirement. But it’s definitely challenging to deal with people who don’t want garlic, or spring onion, or some other ingredient that we use a lot. We can accommodate those requests, but we know the dish will taste different.  

What’s your favorite dish to cook? 

I love anything that’s cooked in a wok. It’s just really, really satisfying — the fire and the smell of the smoke. It's always sizzling. So, anything that I can cook with a wok, especially wok fry, is great. 


A post shared by ho lee fook (@holeefookhk)

As a head chef, are you quite calm and laidback? Or are you a strict disciplinarian? 

I spent some time in old-school kitchens, where the head chef would be, like, yelling — very military-like. But I’ve also spent some time in kitchens where it was a little bit more like: You can’t yell at someone; you can't use fear. Personally, I like to guide (my staff). My rules are things like: I need honesty. I need care. I need respect. These are things that people working together need to agree on. That’s a very basic thing to do as a human being. And once you agree, there's a lot of opportunity. 

It's OK to make mistakes. But I urge them to ask questions. So, there's a lot of guidance, and then a lot of challenging, like, “Why have you done this? What goes through your mind when choosing this method?” 

Chef ArChan’s Chongqing chicken wings. (Supplied)

RECIPE: Chef ArChan’s Chongqing chicken wings 


1kg chicken wings 

1 packet potato starch 

2 tbsp chopped garlic 

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns 

1 stalk spring onion, cut into 4cm lengths 

50g dried chilli 

1L water 

40g salt 

1 tbsp of ground spices (cumin, five spice, or spice mix) 


1. Add the salt to the water and stir until salt is dissolved, giving you a 4% salt solution. 

2. Lightly coat chicken wings in potato starch. 

3. Deep fry chicken wings at 180C for six minutes, or pan fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. 

4. Season the wings with some salt and your favorite ground spices. 

5. Sauté the garlic, Sichuan peppercorns and spring onion in a pan on high heat. 

6. Add a tablespoon of water and the dried chilli. Sauté until fragrant. 

7. Add the fried chicken wings to the pan. Toss for 15 seconds to absorb all the flavors. Serve. 

Where We Are Going Today: 'Wicht' fast-food restaurant in Jeddah

Updated 23 November 2022

Where We Are Going Today: 'Wicht' fast-food restaurant in Jeddah

  • The name of the sandwich shop is derived from “Sandwicht,” a Saudi colloquial word for a sandwich that was popular among children during the 80s and 90s

Two slices of bread and a slice of your favorite ingredient or spread is a quick and easy way to solve your hunger. Yes, sandwiches are always welcome in all forms and fillings.

Wicht, a Saudi fast-food restaurant in the Al-Salamah district of Jeddah, offers a yummy array of sandwiches with different fillings inspired by Saudi and Mideastern cuisine that will take you back to the 80s and 90s.

The name of the sandwich shop is derived from “Sandwicht,” a Saudi colloquial word for a sandwich that was popular among children during the 80s and 90s.

The signature filling is shish tawook and kebab, two well-liked Mideastern grill dishes that are usually served in an ordinary way in most restaurants, but at Wicht are offered with sriracha, pesto and truffle sauce.

Since the restaurant concept taps into local nostalgia, the sandwiches are topped with two of the oldest crisps, farico hot or salted potato sticks and cheetos, one of the most admired midday snacks of the old generation.

Side dishes and starters at Wicht include normal or spiced fries and jalapeno poppers, filled with extra creamy cheese.

And because no other nation took to the sandwich the way America did, the restaurant decided to offer a New York hotdog, using hotdog buns and interesting toppings.

For more details and information, visit the Wicht Instagram page @wicht.sa.