Saudi Arabia Food and Drink
Saudi Arabia has a rich and ancient food culture where meals – often big communal platters of rice topped with roast meat – are joyously shared with visitors since the times when nomadic tribes and trade caravans roamed the Arabian Peninsula. These days, the hospitable Saudis still prefer to nurture friendships over meals and many cups of qahwa (roasted coffee ground with cardamom and flavoured with saffron).
Breakfast is a simple affair; dates with qahwa or flatbread with cheese and date jam are often served. Lunch is the main meal of the day and Kabsa, the national dish of Saudi Arabia, is a must-try.
• Kabsa: rice topped with meat and vegetables, often flavoured with cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, nutmeg and loomi (sun-dried black limes).
• Matabaq: stuffed and fried roti.
• Shakshuka: rich and spicy tomato sauce topped with poached eggs.
• Jareesh or Harees: boiled crushed wheat with rice and meat, along with plenty of spices. Highly popular during the month of Ramadan.
• Thareed or Tharid: stewed meat and vegetables served with rice or on a thin piece of bread
• Umm Ali: a type of bread pudding filled with nuts, honey, milk and spices.
• Ma'amoul: cookies stuffed with nuts and dates.
Things to know
During the fasting hours of Ramadan, restaurants are shut and visitors cannot eat or drink in public.
If a service charge is not included, tipping 10%-15% is recommended.
Arabic coffee and fruit drinks are popular alternatives to alcohol.
Alcohol-free beers and cocktails are served in hotel bars.