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Saudi Foods: 12 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Foods: 12 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, located in the heart of Western Asia, is the largest country of the Middle East and one of the most influential in the region. The country has huge economic importance due to being the world’s leading oil exporter. It is also well-known for being the ancestral home to the second largest religion of the world, Islam.

Tourism is an important sector that contributes to Saudi economy and was recently listed among top 20 most visited countries of the world. Most of the visitors are Muslims that perform pilgrimage every year whereas non-religious visitors also account for a growing proportion. 

Most Popular Saudi Dishes

Owing its influence in the Middle East and across the globe, Saudi cuisine has grown in popularity and influenced the cuisines of other countries in turn.

Typical Saudi food is the blend of Persian, Turkish, African and Indian cuisine. Therefore, we bring here some delicious cuisines of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that definitely deserve your attention, if you are planning to visit this dynamic state.



Mutabbaq is a spicy folded omelette stuffed with ground vegetables and meat. The ingredients vary from region to region but the most common involve beaten eggs, chives, minced meat and green onions.

Mutabbaq is thought to have originated from Yemen but is now equally famous across many Arab countries and even throughout Southeast Asia. It has different varieties that can be both savory and sweet. In Brunei, mutabbaq appears like Indian paratha and is mostly not stuffed whereas in Malaysia and Singapore it is stuffed with meat and served with ketchup and curry sauce. 

In the sweet mutabbaq, the pancake is spread with margarine/butter, crushed peanuts, sugar, cheese, chocolate sprinkles or some other toppings.



Shawarma is a type of wrap made by placing marinated meat on a motorized spit which slowly turns in front of a heat source to cook. The meat is then cut off into chunks, added to a pita bread and topped with salad, tomatoes, pickles and sauce.

Shawarma originated from Levantine Arab and has since became a hugely popular dish around the world. Different varieties of meat including chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, mutton and veal can be used and spiced with cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, paprika and turmeric.



Kabsa is a rice platter dish that is considered to be the national dish of various Arab countries including Oman, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Kabsa consists of a mixture of meat (camel, chicken, shrimp, goat, fish, lamb or beef), rice and spices, and has a high nutritional value. Commonly used spices include; clove, cinnamon, black pepper, saffron and black lime.

The name kabsa is derived from the Arabic word “kbs” which means squeeze or press because it involves the pressing of ingredients in a single pot during cooking which imparts the flavor.


Jalamah is a traditional stew dish of the Asir region of Saudi Arabia, consisting of lamb meat cooked with onion, fat and traditional spices such as cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper. It is typically served with a flatbread or rice to soak up the broth.

Jalamah is also known as a festival food as it is mostly made on the holy occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.



The term ka’ak is broadly used for the variety of biscuits or baked items in Saudi Arabia. But the most common form is a hard, dry, ringed-shaped biscuit. It can be baked with sesame seeds and fermented with chickpeas.

Ka’ak is commonly found as a street food throughout the bustling streets of Addis Ababa, where it tends to be eaten for breakfast. Many will fill the ring shaped biscuits with ground walnuts, dates and pistachios. Ka’ak can be eaten alone or served alongside falafel and baked eggs. 



Saleeg is basically a rice dish that is cooked with milk, olive oil, butter, meat broth and variety of spices. It is usually served in a large traditional plate, known as tabasi.

The taste is similar to Italian risotto and is usually presented at special occasions and festivals. The literal meaning of the saleeg is “to boil” because all the ingredients are boiled during cooking.



Jallab is a fruit syrup drink made from dates, grenadine syrup, carob, raisin, grape molasses and rose water, known for its soothing flavor. In order to enhance its aroma, it is often further smoked with Arabic incense and sprinkled with raisins, pine nuts and crushed ice. 



Muhallebi is essentially a milk pudding prepared from sugar, semolina, rice flour, milk and rice. Ground sugar is sprinkled upon cooling and jasmine or rose extract occasionally added.

Camel Burgers

Camel burger

Camel burgers are, quite simply, burgers made from camel meat – most popular in countries where there is a large population of camels.

The meat from the hump is considered to be the most delicious but all of the meat is quite lean, rich in protein and contains less cholesterol than other red meats. The taste is comparable to beef with a slightly more sweet aftertaste.


Yellow amba sauce in small dish

Amba is a fermented mango condiment made from firm unripe mangoes, spices and peppers placed in a jar. A salty brine is poured over the ingredients and the jar is sealed and set aside to ferment for over a week. Once it has fermented sufficiently, the amba is pureed to the desired level of chunkiness. It has a spicy, fermented, sour flavor.



Qatayef is a kind of sweet dumpling that is stuffed with cream or nuts (typically a mixture of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and raisins). Other ingredients include unsalted cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon.

This Arab delicacy is typically consumed during the month of Ramadan. Some people also define it as a folded pancake. It is usually accompanied by a hot, sweet syrup or, occasionally, honey.



Burēk covers a range of pastry dishes made by layering thin phyllo dough, with fillings such as cheese, minced meat, spinach and seasonings, along with a creamy egg yogurt mixture which is baked into a crispy and flaky pie-like dish.

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