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12 Traditional Saudi Arabian Dishes

If you make a trip to Saudi Arabia, you are bound to see a few familiar places, particularly when it comes to food.  They have McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, TGI Fridays, and even Fuddruckers.  You can find Italian restaurants or Indian restaurants if you are into international food.  However, what you are going to want to try, even though it’s a little harder to find, is the traditional Saudi Arabian food.

The best place to try these traditional foods is obviously at someone’s house.  The Saudis cook well, and everything just tastes better when it’s homemade anyway.  Also, Saudi Arabians treat guests extremely well, especially since being a good host in the Saudi Arabian culture is crucial.  However, if you don’t end up receiving that coveted dinner invitation, there are also traditional Saudi Arabian restaurants you can eat at as well.


Kabsa is the number one dish in Saudi Arabia.  Whenever you talk to any Saudi, a lot of them will tell you that their favorite food is Kabsa.  Kabsa is made of rice, vegetables, and meat.  The Saudis usually eat it during lunch and some even eat Kabsa every day.


Margoog is a liquid sauce that contains meat, vegetables, and a type of flour paste.


Jereesh is made of groats (type of grain) that may be accompanied with onions, chicken, red pepper, and tomatoes.  Jereesh is not the main dish for the meal like Kabsa or Margoog.  It is more of a side dish.


Gursan is a special flour is baked and made with meat and vegetables.


Arekah is a really heavy breakfast food that was eaten a lot in the past and was used to help the Saudis work hard through their tough days.  This food comes from the southern part of Saudi Arabia and seems to be delicious based on what I have heard about it.


Mathlotha is a cuisine that is more prominent in the south of Saudi Arabia.  It is a dish mixed with Kabsa, Jereesh, and Gursan.  


Mande is a type of Kabsa where the meat is cooked a little differently.  In order to make Mande, you must first dig a hole in the ground where the meat will be cooked.  After the hole is dug, place charcoal inside of the hole along with the meat, cover it, and then cook it for a few hours. You will later add rice and other vegetables to the dish.  All of the Saudi Arabians I have spoken with say that Mande is delicious.


Mofatah is like a big Kabsa that is eaten on special occasions in Saudi Arabia. Typically if a guest comes to visit or there is a wedding, the hosts kill a sheep and use it to make Mofatah.  Killing sheep for guests has been a Saudi Arabian tradition for years, although now it is more rare to find the Saudis actually making this dish at home.  Most people now will bring a sheep to the restaurant where the restaurant chefs can prepare the big Mofatah dish for them.


Matazeez is a plate that is very similar to Margoog.  The big difference is that it does not have this liquid sauce like Margoog does.


Hainini is a sweet Saudi Arabian cuisine that you can eat during the winter.


You will be able to try Ferek only in the winter in Saudi Arabia.  It is a brown paste made with onion that is not sweet like Hainini.


Saleek is a lighter Saudi Arabian dish that is comparable with Risotto.  It is also one of the more healthy plates you can find in Saudi Arabia.

Natalie Bio Pic

Natalie is the creator of this website, Tourist 2 Local, and has a huge passion for traveling and learning about other cultures.  She enjoys diving deeper into the places she visits and is curious about the various foods people eat, languages they speak, and the different traditions and customs people partake in around the world.  Apart from traveling, Natalie is a fierce board game player, an English teacher, and someone who is interested in just about every sport and activity.

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