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Food Tradition in Makkah and Madinah

Sambousek (fried stuffed pastry)

By Sultan Ibn Abdullah / 27 June 2013


Because of the hot dry climate, the indigenous peoples of Makkah had limited varieties of food. That gradually changed when pilgrims coming from different countries around the world, each with their own traditional dishes, introduced a wide variety of cuisines to the people of Makkah.

Today, as many nationalities, especially those from Africa and Asia, reside and work in Makkah, many restaurants and food stalls have spread all around the city catering to the different tastes.

Most of the dishes contain meat, rice, wheat, vegetables, and spices that give these recipes a special flavor.

Sambousek (fried stuffed pastry), Al-Mandi (barbecued lamb), Shawarma, and Soubiya (a drink of grain mixed with sugar, milk, and cinnamon) are some of the favorites.

Serving Gahwah (Arabian coffee) is another custom in almost all Makkah's houses.The host roasts, cools, and grinds the coffee beans; adds boiling water to it; and then serves the guest along with fresh dates.

It is worth to mention here that men and women sit separately during large get-togethers.


Thanks to its abundant date groves and vegetable gardens, Madinah had abundant food stock in ancient times.

This made Madinah a unique city among others of Al-Hejaz region whose residents suffered many droughts. The abundance of dates formed a trade for the inhabitants of Madinah at that time.

They sold dates to the passing caravans coming in along the commercial routes from the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Today, around 120 different types of dates are cultivated in Madinah. `Ajwa is one of the most popular varieties. Dates are a major ingredient in many desserts.

One of such desserts that are well known in Madinah is a baked cookie called Souiyka which is made using `ajwa dates and grain flour.



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