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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Middle East & North Africa / Let's travel around the North African/Middle Eastern Region!
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    Let's travel around the North African/Middle Eastern Region!

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    Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:00 pm
    Forum Host
    I hope everybody has had their fill in Morrocco, because next week we travel to OMAN!!
    Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:50 pm
    Forum Host
    My favorite country should not fall into Madness month. *sigh*
    Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:16 pm
    Forum Host
    Annacia wrote:
    My favorite country should not fall into Madness month. *sigh*

    Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:45 pm
    Forum Host
    Morocco and December. rotfl.gif rotfl.gif
    Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:46 pm
    Forum Host
    Annacia wrote:
    Morocco and December. rotfl.gif rotfl.gif

    ahem. we had TWO months in Morocco.... icon_wink.gif There is NOTHING that says you can't continue making Moroccan recipes!
    Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:50 pm
    Forum Host
    Elmotoo wrote:
    Annacia wrote:
    Morocco and December. rotfl.gif rotfl.gif

    ahem. we had TWO months in Morocco.... icon_wink.gif There is NOTHING that says you can't continue making Moroccan recipes!

    True, true and true. Whoot!
    Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:51 am
    Forum Host


    History of Oman

    Oman's history tells stories of heroism, courage, wisdom, patriotism, love and devotion to homeland. This brings us closer to understanding the richness of the Omani cultural experience which has contributed to the building of modern Oman.


    Oman’s strategic location has played a major role in many campaigns and regional conflicts in this region. Oman overlooks the Arabian Sea, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf. It also controls the Strait of Hormuz, which is one of the most important facilities in the region, linking the Sea of Oman with the Arabian Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is a gateway to all ships coming from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

    Al Wattih in Muscat Governorate is one of the first inhabited cities. Modern archaeological discoveries suggest that humans settled in it during the Stone Age, i.e. more than 10,000 years ago.

    The Babylonians and the Assyrians settled in Oman because they wanted to control the trade route that linked Asia to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

    With the spread of Islam, and Mazin Bin Gadhubah joining Islam as the first person in Oman and his emigration to Medina to meet the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, the first mosque was built in Oman. This is Al Midhmar Mosque that still stands to this day in Wilayt Samail . These events paved the way for the two kings of Oman at that time, Jua’fer and Abd Ibni Al Jalandi, to enter Islam wholeheartedly and with utter conviction after receiving a letter from the Prophet, Peace be upon Him. A Hadith mentions that the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, said “God’s mercy be on the people of Al Ghubaira” (i.e. the people of Oman). “They have believed in me although they had not seen me”. Also stated in the sermon our Master Abu Bakr Al-Sidiq, the caliph of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, to the people of Oman: “People of Oman you, you have entered Islam voluntarily although the Prophet has not come to your land on foot or on horse. You have not opposed him as other Arabs opposed him, and you have not called for separation or dispersion. May God unite you in benevolence.”

    With the election of Ibn Masood, the first imam, in 751 AD, the Imamate era began in Oman and lasted four centuries until 1154. Several attempts were made to restore the rule of the Imamate in Oman in the mid-fifteenth century, but did not succeed.

    During the period 1498-1507 AD, the Portuguese tried to control Oman. Omani history tells the story of the Omani people who expelled the Portuguese with their struggle and heroism. Nasser bin Murshid was elected Imam in 1624.

    Because of the coastal location of Oman, the Omani navy occupied a leading position regionally. This sparked the ire of the Portuguese, who did not forget their devastating defeat. Fierce battles erupted between the Portuguese Navy (which had made India its base after the liberation of Oman) and the strong Omani navy. After a fierce battle, the Omani fleet was able to defeat the Portuguese fleet.

    In 1698, the Omani Empire then expanded to include the cities of the African east coast, stretching from Mombasa to Kila, Zanzibar, Pemba and Bata. Mozambique remained under Portuguese rule until the twentieth century.


    Oman had been the target of a number of attempts by the Persians to invade its territory, but the steadfastness and heroism of the Omanis were successfully combined to defeat the occupier. The invaders were defeated, underscoring the exploits of Omani heroes in defending their lands. This great victory was achieved at the hands of Imam Ahmed bin Saeed Al Busaidi, who defeated the Persians and was elected imam.


    courtesy of 'Sultanate of Oman' travel website.

    Oman has a very rich history. doesn't have many Omani recipes(currently 5). This month we will focus on learning about the country while submitting Omani recipes! Each week, I will present a focus of discussion. I would like everyone to post a little something over the course of the week related to the discussion. We will NOT be discussing religion or politics. Capisce?

    week 1 - family life
    week 2 - holidays/festivals
    week 3 - tourism
    week 4 - food!

    Throughout the month, please scour your cookbooks, magazines & the internet for recipes! Submit them to Food & post links as they're approved. A bonus here, you're NA/ME cookbook will be beefed up for the next ZWT that we visit NA/ME...


    January 2013 ~ NA/ME Explores OMAN!

    Last edited by Elmotoo on Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total
    Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:23 pm
    Forum Host
    Palestine is next!
    Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:33 am Groupie
    Elmotoo wrote:
    Palestine is next!

    Wow, that's good icon_biggrin.gif I have loved Palestinian recipes I've tried.
    Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:25 pm
    Forum Host

    Palestine is a conventional name, among others, for the geographic region in Western Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands. (Wikipedia)

    Palestinian cuisine consists of foods from or commonly eaten by Palestinians — which includes those living in the Palestinian territories, Israel, Jordan, refugee camps in nearby countries as well as by the Palestinian diaspora. The cuisine is a diffusion of the cultures of civilizations that settled in the historic region of Palestine, particularly during and after the Islamic era beginning with the Arab Ummayad conquest, then the eventual Persian-influenced Abbasids and ending with the strong influences of Turkish cuisine, resulting from the coming of the Ottoman Turks. It is similar to other Levantine cuisines, including Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian.
    Palestinians eat several times during the day, with lunch being the largest meal. Cooking styles vary by region and each type of cooking style and the ingredients used are generally based on the climate and location of the particular region and on traditions. Rice and variations of kibbee are common in the Galilee, the West Bank engages primarily in heavier meals involving the use of taboon bread, rice and meat and coastal plain inhabitants frequent fish, other seafood, and lentils, Gaza's inhabitants heavily consume chili peppers too. Meals are usually eaten in the household but dining out has become prominent particularly during parties where light meals like salads, bread dips and skewered meats are served.
    The area is also home to many desserts, ranging from those made regularly and those that are commonly reserved for the holidays. Most Palestinian sweets are pastries filled with either sweetened cheeses, dates or various nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios. Beverages could also depend on holidays such as during Ramadan, where carob, tamarind and apricot juices are consumed at sunset. Coffee is consumed throughout the day and liquor is not very prevalent amongst the population, however, some alcoholic beverages such as arak or beer are consumed by Christians and less conservative Muslims.


    OUR COOKBOOK: Let's Go to Palestine! #647592


    Welcome to Palestine, the cradle of civilization, where West meets East, North meets South, and where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam took form. We welcome you in Palestine and hope that you enjoy our cultural richness, deeply compelling history, and legendary hospitality. Over the centuries millions of people have come to visit this beautiful Holy Land and we are glad to welcome you among them!


    Live the Dead Sea

    At a maximum depth of 400 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is by far the lowest spot on the surface of the earth. Its high salt content of about 25 percent above that of an average sea makes it impossible for any form of life to live in its waters. However, it makes swimming an extraordinary experience, as it is impossible to sink. The mud and minerals of the Dead Sea are natural healers of skin diseases and invigorate healthy skin.


    Palestine’s unique geographic diversity makes the country ideal for outdoor activities!

    Walking is great way to discover Palestine‘s diverse landscape and indigenous flora and fauna. Treks range from historical and biblical paths to strenuous and challenging hikes through mountains and valleys.

    What makes Palestine especially well-suited for trekking, however, is the numerous Wadis – a dry riverbed that contains intermittent streams, which discharge into the Jordan valley and the dead Sea. These Wadis used to shape up routes coming into Palestine from neighboring countries, and today their picturesque pathways are perfect for seasoned hikers and holidaymakers who prefer a gentle stroll with a local guide. In addition some of these Wadis were active with the monastic lives, where many monasteries were built.

    Trails range form long-distance to short walks, from gentle afternoon strolls to challenging desert scrambles.

    Dining Out

    As with most other Mediterranean countries, Palestinian cuisine has been heavily influenced by a history of tradesmen and foreign visitors over the centuries.

    If you are a first-time visitor, there are several traditional Palestinian delicacies you must try. Kanafé, a mouth-watering combination of honey, melted cheese, and a shredded wheat topping, is the pride of Nablus; and mutabak, a square dough with cheese covered in syrup and powdered with sugar, is the pride of Jerusalem.

    Another delicacy in which Palestinian restaurants compete is the maza—an offering of many small salads of fresh aubergine, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, chickpeas, and other vegetables. Maza can be found in most traditional Arabic restaurants.

    In Palestine, there is restaurant food and traditional home-cooked food. Restaurants serve simple cuisine. A Palestinian breakfast is usually eggs, labaneh (yogurt-based spread), cheese, falafel (fried chickpea/garbanzo), ka’k (bread with sesame seeds) with thyme, hummus (garbanzo dip), and foul (beans). Lunch begins with the maza, a collection of varied small dishes that includes: hummus, tahini, salad (sesame paste and lemon), tabbouleh (wheat and parsley salad), fatoush (bread salad), and tomato salad. For soups, when available, you may be served your choice of tomato, onion, chicken, or mushroom soup. The main lunch course will include your choice of such dishes as shish Kebab (grilled lamb cubes), shish taouk (grilled chicken cubes), steak, fish, or chicken. Such dishes are the backbone of the standard tourist menu. Some restaurants specialize in exotic dishes, such as the mansaf (chops of lamb and rice with hot yogurt sauce made of dried laban topped with browned almonds) or the musakhan (chicken with onion bread). Palestinian food is mainly rice with portions of saucy vegetables cooked with meat and eaten with bread.

    If you want to eat real Palestinian food, you have to get a Palestinian to invite you home. There you will be served an array of dishes such as kusa mahshi (stuffed squash), malfuf (stuffed cabbage), warak enab (stuffed grape leaves), maqluba (rice, lamb, and eggplant), fasoulia khadra (rice, lamb, and green beans with tomato sauce), and dajaj mahshi (stuffed roast chicken with rice). Lunch is usually followed with sweets (baklawa, muhalabiah) and seasonal fruits. The evening meal is usually something light. Specialty Palestinian dishes, such as stuffed lamp with spicy seasoning, are served at home on festive occasions. This festive food is hard to find on menus because it takes a long time to prepare.

    We invite you to explore our country and our cuisine. We hope that your dining experience in Palestine will be enjoyable and will add to your memorable stay in this hospitable country. And as we say in Arabic—Sahtain! Enjoy!

    Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:11 pm Groupie
    I think since you mention Israel as a country inhabited by Palestinians this must be mentioned, "Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 131 (67.9%) have recognised the State of Palestine as of November 2012. Their total population is over 5.5 billion people, equalling 80 percent of the world's population." Wikipiedia
    Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:24 pm Groupie
    Also have to say I love dead sea bath salts! And somewhere I have some authentic gazan recipes from an old Saudi Aramco World magazine saved just for the purpose.
    Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:34 pm
    Forum Host
    Thank you, UmmBinat!
    Fri May 31, 2013 4:26 pm
    Forum Host


    Is a sovereign Arab state, located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A strait in the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island state of Bahrain.

    Human habitation of the Qatar Peninsula dates as far back as 50,000 years when small groups of inhabitants built coastal encampments, settlements, and sites for working flint that were dated to be from the Neolithic era, according to archaeological evidence.

    Traditional Qatari Cuisine
    Find out about traditional Qatari specialities such as machbous and hummus, as well as the influence of immigration on Qatari cuisine. Also details on mealtimes...

    Qatar's traditional cuisine has been strongly influenced by migrants from Iran and India, and more recently North Africa. The number of foreigners working in the country has led to modern Qatari eating habits being influenced by food from around the world. Many of the country's traditional dishes are based around seafood especially lobster, crab, tuna, red snapper and shrimp and the many different kinds of dates native to the region. All meat is halal, which is prepared in accordance with Muslim laws.

    Many locally grown foods, such as dates, sour apples and fresh almonds are considered delicacies. One of Qatar's most important traditional dishes is machbous which is a stew of richly spiced rice with either seafood, meat or both. Traditionally, it is served in a large communal platter.

    Another favourite is lamb or mutton served with yogurt made from cow's or goat's milk.

    Other important Qatari specialties include:

    Hummus, a dip made from chickpeas and tahini, a sesame seed paste
    Waraq enab, rice stuffed vine leaves
    Taboulleh, a cracked wheat, or bulgur dish flavoured with parsley and mint
    Koussa mahshi, or stuffed courgettes
    Biriani, a spiced rice dish which is mixed with chicken or lamb
    Motabel, a paste made from lightly cooked aubergine mixed with garlic and tahini
    Ghuzi, a whole roast lamb on a bed of rice and nuts.

    The region also has some delicious traditional desserts, including mehalabiya, a rose water and pistachio pudding, umm ali, a bread pudding with nuts and white raisins, and esh asaraya a cheesecake topped with cream.

    Breakfast is usually a light meal, which is eaten early and includes yogurt, cheese and olives eaten with coffee. A main midday meal is usually heavy, beginning with an appetiser, or mezze, served with flat Arabic bread followed by a stew of lamb or fish with cooked vegetables and salad. Many people do not use cutlery and scoop their food using bread. The evening meal is typically a light snack, except during Ramadan and on special occasions.

    Coffee is extremely important in Qatari culture. Arabian coffee is of a very high quality and made from a lightly roasted bean spiced with cardamom and either sweetened or served with dates. It is drunk in small, thimble-like cups in homes and offices.

    Thickly brewed Turkish coffee is also very popular. It is common for people to have jugs of tea and coffee ready for visitors. On special occasions a sweet coffee known as qahwa helw is served. It is a bright orange infusion of saffron, cardamom and sugar.

    Fresh fruit and herb cocktails are very popular and sold by street vendors throughout the country. Popular local choices are a mint and lemon cocktail or an avocado smoothie. Mains supplied water in Qatar is safe to drink, although bottled water is preferred by many.

    The ONLY 3 Qatari recipes on Fooddotcom:
    Qatar! #671235
    Al Harees - a Family Recipe! Traditional Qatari, Iraqi #352229
    Cinnamon Buttered Dates, Al Rangina from Qutar #499606
    Cumin Seed Potatoes, Batata B’kamun from Qutar #499605

    Read more:
    Fri May 31, 2013 4:27 pm
    Forum Host

    The history of Saudi Arabia, as a state, begins with its foundation in 1932 by Abdul Aziz Al Saud, although the history of what was to become Saudi Arabia goes back to the beginnings of human habitation in Arabia up to 20,000 years ago. The region has twice in world history had a global impact. The first was in the 7th century when it became the cradle of Islam. The second was from the mid-20th century when the discovery of vast oil deposits propelled it into a key economic and geo-political role. At other times, the region existed in relative obscurity and isolation, although from the 7th century the cities of Mecca and Medina had the highest spiritual significance for the Islamic world, Mecca being the destination for the Hajj annual pilgrimage.


    Loyalty to custom and tradition is the virtue of all Middle East cooking, and many of the finest dishes of the Arabs' heritage are centuries old. Some are mentioned in pre-Islamic Arabic literature. Arab poets of the Middle Ages celebrate others—many of them relished today—in detailing the lavish banquets of the caliphs at Baghdad. Both peasant food and court cuisine spread with the marching armies of Islam, presumably adopting a herb or two along the way, and by now paternity claims are hard to prove. A dish one authority claims the Syrians took from Egypt, another is convinced the Greeks took from the Turks. Part of the table of present-day Saudi Arabia comes from this common culinary pool; part developed from the eastern, western, and inland traditions of the Peninsular Arabs themselves.

    Nomads all over the Arab world speak proudly of their ancestors, the dignified old tribes of central Arabia renowned for their strength, courtesy and the selfless hospitality they introduced into a way of life otherwise austere. For centuries they clung to the food of the desert and the oasis: milk and meat, dates and imported rice.

    A Bedouin always had milk — milk from his camels, drunk fresh, or milk from his goats, made into buttermilk and curds. He always had dates, abundant and easily transported. If he was well-to-do he had rice, some flour, even coffee. And should a visitor of some standing arrive, the Bedouin host was obliged to slaughter a sheep and honor his guest with the classic Arab feast: trays heaped high with rice, succulent mutton, and flat rounds of unleavened bread. Sometimes there would be extra bowls for dates and for butter to dip them in, and little murmurs of satisfaction would greet this added richness. But in general the meal would be taken in silence, a sign of politeness to the host's food.


    In the home of a settled town Najdi, the feast would likely be the more luxurious kharuf mahshi: baby lamb stuffed with rice, nuts and raisins, rubbed outside with a paste of onion crushed with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and browned all over in bubbling sawn, clarified cow or goat butter, before roasting. Rice might be the expensive 'ambar variety, prized for the fragrance it exuded when aboil. All around the great center tray would be small plates of tomato, cucumber, cooked pumpkin, apricots and cuts of melon. At the end would come the coffee and the incense.

    Foremost of the obligations of hospitality in Arabia is the preparation and serving of qahwah 'Arabiyah, Arab coffee, unsweetened but flavored with cardamom. Today the process is relegated to the kitchen, but in the old tradition it was man's work and something of a ceremony whether conducted over Bedouin campfire or town hearth. For each occasion a handful of beans was roasted fresh, and the ring of the brass mortar and pestle with which they were pounded to powder was music to the ears of expectant guests. Pots of several sizes stood ready. Into one went the remainder of yesterdays batch, fresh water and, when that reached a boil, the fresh coffee. Lifting the pot from the fire just as it threatened to froth over, the host dropped a few crushed cardamom seeds into the brew to make it digestible, then quickly poured it into a smaller, polished pot where a piece of palm fiber stuffed into the spout served as strainer. The tiny, handleless Arab coffee cup is smaller than the Chinese teacup, and is only partly filled with a few steaming sips. Good manners prevent the guest from taking more than three servings. He signals when finished by shaking the empty cup with rapid little movements of the wrist, and he knows it is time to go when the host passes the mabkhar, or hand censer, trailing the filmy smoke of frankincense or scented wood.


    The Bedouins have a saying that translates to ... "he makes coffee from morn till night." It is a way of describing a generous man, and no greater praise can be given.

    The date is the Arabs' universal staple. Nutritious and high in caloric value, it was the very means of survival for nomadic tribes when times were lean, and it is still the food with which the Bedouin or townsman is likely to begin and end his day. Dates and coffee are the traditional offering to a caller; dates stuffed with almonds are a popular confection.

    Hunayni, a date concoction prepared especially for wintertime breakfasts, is a classic dish of Najd. Pitted, ground dates are mixed over the fire with great quantities of butter; the mixture is thickened with flour of semolina, seasoned with cardamom, simmered and stirred until nearly stiff. The result is a rich dish sure to suffice until suppertime and prescribed for pale children and pregnant women.


    Habb, the Arabs' wheat, grows in the central highlands and the oases areas of Saudi Arabia. Just as the Lebanese and Turks have their burghul, the Saudi Arabs have jarish: wheat kernels, soaked, dried and crushed—much favored in Najd and the al-Hasa oasis of the Eastern Province as a rice substitute. Jarish may-be simply boiled and served with a topping of chopped hot pepper and onion, or it may be browned in butter or oil and then cooked into a sort of pilaf with chunks of meat, chopped onion and tomato for the richly flavored dish called mufallaq.

    The common denominator of the country's bread basket is the flat, round, barely leavened khubz 'Arabi, much the same whether a product of commercial bakers or the domed, charcoal-fired village ovens: hollow, with an inner pocket good for stuffing, and soft and chewy, good for absorbing sauces.


    The Arabian Gulf swarms with food fish. The Gulf yields a skinny but succulent crab, qubqub, small catches of a variety of lobster locally called 'urn ar-rubiyan, "mother of the shrimp," and huge nets full of the fat, pink rubiyan, among the best shrimp in the world.

    Other regional favorites are kubbat maraq: balls of rice spiced with turmeric, pepper, cumin and dried lime are shaped around a center of fried ground meat, onion and parsley and set to simmer in a sauce flavored with tomato; and fi qa'atah: a three-layered dish served as rice on the bottom, meat in the middle and almonds on top.

    Saliq, a simple, bland dish, is the best known of all the rice dishes of Saudi Arabia. It's almost like a hot rice pudding, the rice first half-cooked in meat or chicken broth and then with milk, stirred and simmered for about an hour until soft. It must be flavored with cardamom and absolutely must be scented with a hint of mustaka (gum arabic), the aromatic resin of the mastic tree. Mustaka is more expensive and far more delicate than luban, frankincense, but like it recalls the days of the incense trade. Saliq is most typically served with meat or fowl and the universal Arab salad: parsley, onion, hot green pepper—all finely chopped, lemon juiced and salted.


    Our cookbook - NA/ME GOES TO SAUDI ARABIA

    Courtesy of Wikipedia, Saudi Aramco World Magazine, Google & probably more...
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