|Several Saudi dishes served at Saudi Arabia's Social and Cultural Transformation Event in Hanoi on November 14, 2022 (Photo credit: Embassy of the Kingdom Saudi Arabia)
Bao Tram: Welcome to VOV24/7’s Cultural Rendezvous. Thank you for joining us today at this gathering in Hanoi.
Madam Hiba Mahros: Hi VOV’s listeners. Very glad to participate in the interview.
Bao Tram: Cuisine is a good way to discover the culture of a nation. I know that many traditional dishes of Saudi Arabia are similar to the Middle Eastern cuisine found in Egypt, Oman, or the UAE. What is the typical flavor of Saudi cuisine?
Madam Hiba Mahros: I think it is the main spices we use in Saudi cuisine - cardamom, cinnamon, and black lime. These are the three common spices we use every day.
Bao Tram: What is the strongest influence on Saudi cuisine – or should I say cuisines – since any country’s cuisine differs from region to region?
Madam Hiba Mahros: I totally agree with you. Because we have 5 different regions in Saudi Arabia. All of these regions’ food is influenced according to the surrounding environment, according to their borders with other countries. They import recipes, for example, in the north from Jordan, because Jordan is near to the northern region. In the eastern region, they import lots of recipes from the world….because they receive all the Hajad???Hajjis. Because they have Mecca and Medina…..All Muslims come there and all Muslims there share food and cuisine, like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. They share with this eastern region a lot of diversity in the food.
Bao Tram: What is the most typical dish of Saudi Arabia apart from Kabsa?
Madam Hiba Mahros: Because I’m from the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, I know a lot of dishes coming from Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and India because we have Mecca and Medina. I’m originally from the holy city of Medina. Guests come to visit Medina from all over the world. I know a variety of dishes, not just Kabsa.
|Lamb Kabsa (Photo credit: Embassy of the Kingdom Saudi Arabia)
Bao Tram: Kabsa, I know, is considered the national dish of Saudi Arabia. Tell us briefly what it is and its importance to the Saudi people.
Madam Hiba Mahros: It’s chicken on rice, or a type of meat on rice, like beef or lamb on rice. But we have a lot of types of dishes related to Kabsa, like Buk Khadi or Kabli, or like rice with peas. We use a lot of things to make Kabsa. It’s not one taste. We have Kabli and make it with orange juice …we make the rice with orange juice. We also have another type of Kabsa that is Buk Khari, with carrots. We cook the rice and chicken, or another type of meat, with carrots and onions. It gives the dish a special taste. We eat Kabsa daily, as Vietnamese people eat rice every day. We use the different categories of Kabsa, Bukhari or Mandi, like you use different kinds of rice, and you add some spices to make the rice in a different way to create different tastes. It’s our daily meal. The main dish of our meal is Kabsa, or anything related to Kabsa. That’s why Kabsa is considered the national dish.
Bao Tram: If you had to choose just one, which dish do you like most?
Madam Hiba Mahros: In my personal opinion, I like Kabli. Kabli is a type of Kabsa but it is cooked by hajazue. Kabli is made with beef or chicken. It is cooked with lemon and orange juice. I like it because I like the sweetness in the food.
|Dr. Hiba Mostafa S. Mahros, the wife of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Vietnam (Photo credit: Embassy of the Kingdom Saudi Arabia)
Bao Tram: If I come to visit Saudi Arabia, what dishes do you recommend that I try?
Madam Hiba Mahros: I recommend first, of course, Kabsa. Second, I recommend that you try Sambusa. Sambusa is pastry that we fill with beef and some cheese. It is a signature dish. I would like to recommend that you also try tamis. This is a special dish for breakfast. And also our date cakes, cakes made from dates. Sayadiyah rice is brown rice that we always serve with fish, fried fish.
Bao Tram: Of the dishes you just recommended, which does your family prefer?
Madam Hiba Mahros: Preferred in my family is Sambusa because it’s a small pie and you can fry it…Anything fried will become delicious and they eat it quickly.
Bao Tram: That’s so nice. At your cultural introduction event, I tried Kabsa with lamb. It was delicious. And with what you have shared with us, I really want to try other varieties of Kabsa dishes. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
Madam Hiba Mahros: Thank you for inviting me to this interview to introduce the culture of Saudi Arabia.