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Arabian Peninsula - The Gulf States




Part I



Rich with history and beauty, from 5000 year old temples and tombs to the most varied of landscapes, from lush forests to mountain treks, dominated by massive desserts and blessed with oil are the countries that form the Arab Gulf States.


The Arab Gulf States have similar food patterns that are served as staple food in many traditional dishes. Food is at the centre of family life where hospitality is an essential part of their culture. Family and guests sits together on the carpet which set with a selection of different dishes.

A meal is eaten with the right hand or with cutlery or with both. It is impolite to use the left hand for eating or for giving or receiving things. When eating by hand, one should use the fingers of the hand to form balls of rice mixed with tender pieces of meat or to dip the bread into the wonderful sauces. 


For any party involving guests who are not family, men and women are segregated, in effect two identical parties are held alongside one another with children running between one group and another.

Guests will always be pressed to take more food and to taste all the different dishes offered. And a good guest will taste as many things as he can. Food that is left over is rarely wasted and is shared or given to anyone in need.

For wedding feasts, religious festivals and personal celebrations, food is cooked in a lavish style with a wide variety of dishes laid out from meat, poultry and salads to pastries and fruit. Traditionally, an evening feast is held late at night. The food is served at the end of the evening, rather than in the middle, and when dinner is over everyone leaves. 


Arabic cuisine was born in the tents of nomads who came up with delicious dishes that were simple to prepare yet pleasing to the palate.

Dates and camel milk are the main ingredients of most of the Arabic dishes. The Gulf Arabs played a key role in establishing the ancient trade routes that introduced spices from the East to Europe, and spices remain an important ingredient in their cuisine today. 








The United Arab Emirates has coasts along the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, hence, fishing has been an important part of their lives.  Hard to believe, but there are about 300 varieties of fish in the waters of the United Arab Emirates, and fish is a staple food along the coast, where inland, camel and goat meat are the staple food.


Among the fish varieties one can find barracuda, tuna, kingfish, prawns and other kinds of seafood. Fish is usually cooked on grills and seasoned with spices such as cardamon, coriander, cumin and turmeric.




Baked Fish


1 large fish 
1/4 C corn oil
1/4 C lemon juice
2 large onions sliced

4 cloves garlic crushed
1 bunch fresh coriander

Wash fish, remove scales. Slit on both sides salt including the stomach cavity. Combine garlic, coriander and onions, mix well.

Stuff the stomach with half the mixture, spread the remainder over the fish. Cover with oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place on an ovenproof dish and bake at 325*F for 35 minutes. Open foil, brush with a little oil and put back in the oven until brown. Serve hot.




Saudi Arabia occupies 4/5 of the Arabian Peninsula. Jordan, Iraq, KuwaitQatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen border it. To the west lies the Red Sea
Food is spicy. The staple diet is pita bread which accompanies every dish.

Rice, lentils, chick peas and cracked wheat are also common. The most common meats are lamb and chicken. The main meat meal of the day is at lunch time, either meat on skewers or kebabs served with soup and vegetables. Arabic cakes, cream desserts and rice pudding also feature in the diet. Mezze, may include up to 40 dishes. 



Rice with Shrimps

2 lbs. shrimps
2 onions
1 1/2 C tomato juice
4 C rice
1 teas each: cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper
1/4 C oil

Clean shrimps thoroughly, removing the black thread along the back, rub with salt and flour. Clean the rice and cook it in a pot with the tomato juice, spices, salt and sufficient water.

Chop the onions and fry in oil until golden brown. Add shrimps to the onions and brown. Add the cooked rice to the shrimp and simmer. Serve hot.





Part II



Recipe Index