The best of Saudi cuisine: 5 dishes to try this Ramadan


Karim Mansour

Saudi cuisine collage

Photos courtesy of Ya Salam Cooking

Even though we live in the region, Saudi cuisine is somewhat of a mystery to those who have never visited the country or haven’t had the chance to dine at a Saudi friend’s home. There aren’t many Saudi cuisine restaurants around either!

To learn more, we turned to one of the most popular Saudi cooking bloggers, Noor Janow from

“I’ve lived in Riyadh for the past 10 years and really immersed myself in the culture and traditions,” she said. “Ramadan has always fascinated me, because no matter where you go, all Saudis like to have the same things on their table come iftar. I always wonder, ‘Where did these little things come from, and who came up with them?’ It’s really interesting!”

“After breaking fast with an even amount of dates, laban or water, most [Saudis] usually then have something like soup and samboosas; then, after the Maghrib prayer, they have a main course, which is always a meat and rice dish, salads and something super sweet for dessert with Saudi qahwa [coffee].”

So if you fancy giving Saudi cuisine a try this Ramadan, here are Noor’s top five dishes to prepare:


Saudi cuisine_Samboosa

Photo: Samboosas / Courtesy of Ya Salam Cooking

“Samboosas are a Saudi favourite that you will find on almost every table, especially during the holy month of Ramadan,” Noor said. “Chicken and lamb are the preferred choice of Saudis, myself included.”

Click here for the recipe


Saudi cuisine_Chicken and Oats Shorba Quaker Soup

Photo: Chicken and Oats Shorba or Quaker Soup / Courtesy of Ya Salam Cooking

“Quaker soup is the most popular soup in Saudi during Ramadan,” she continued. “This soup is made with both chicken and lamb, so you can use whatever you may like. Anytime I’ve ever had the lamb version, the meat has always been cut into small pieces with the bone. The reason the bones are used is because they give it much more flavour.”

Click here for the recipe


Saudi cuisine_Ramadan Vimto

Photo: Ramadan Vimto / Courtesy of Ya Salam Cooking

Granted, this is not a dish per se, but Noor lists the popular drink as a must-have for a Saudi iftar table.

“Every Arab household has Vimto and dates sitting on the table, and usually laban and water too. I’ve never once been to an iftar that doesn’t have it. Here’s my recipe; adjust accordingly to your own pitcher size.”

Here’s how to make Vimto “like a Saudi”


Saudi cuisine_Chicken Kabsa

Photo: Chicken Kabsa / Courtesy of Ya Salam Cooking

According to Noor, it was chicken kabsa that initially got her interested in starting a food blog.

“I’ve cooked kabsa more times than I can count over the years and have come up with a new way to make it taste better each time. Kabsa is just pretty much meat and rice with a tomato finish.”

Click here for the recipe


Saudi cuisine_Chocolate biscuit dessert

Photo: Chocolate Biscuit Dessert / Courtesy of Ya Salam Cooking

And finally, something sweet. This dish is so simple you can whip it up in minutes.

“I first had this dessert at my mother-in-law’s, and I have to admit that when I first saw it, I did not think I would like it,” she recalled. “[However], my son and I ended up eating the entire pan, no joke! […] The tea biscuits and the chocolate combine so well overnight.”

Click here for the recipe

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