Posts in Food and beverage

Grain to grain, pogacha bread

“Not everything can be Turkish, ha!” My triumphant exclamation followed an exchange of messages with Tamer as he shared with me what he would be creating in our kitchen this time.

“Poğaça,” he wrote.
“You mean ‘pogača’? But that’s Slovenian! ”

After all, we have the pogacha bread deeply woven in our language from old fairy tales and, last but not least, in the famous proverb: “Grain to grain, pogacha ….” Slovenian, Slavic, it definitely cannot be of Turkish origin.

Of course, I went on an etymological treasure hunt and found in Slovene digitized dictionaries the information that ‘pogacha’ comes from our western border neighbors from the Italian word ‘focaccia’. It is funny that the Turkish etymology claims the same, only that (at least after the first impression searching the web) for some reason they skipped a step with the Slavic Balkan ‘pogača’, even though the Turkish notation is damn closer to it, only their pronunciation ‘g’ is silent.

So pogacha (based on an online Turkish recipe) was on the menu that afternoon. Tamer kneaded the dough, followed the recipe carefully and let it rise. Then I chopped some garlic, parsley and red pepper for the filling, all mixed with fresh local soft cheese (labnah). The head chef skillfully shaped the balls of dough and filled them with the mixture, then coated them with whisked eggs and sprinkled sesame and black cumin seeds on top.

He took a few pieces of pogacha to the office to share with his co-workers’ (from Turkey) the next day, but we kept most of it for ourselves. It was just too good!

Slovene fritters

Yes. Seriously.

And no, it wasn’t Tamer!

On Tuesday, two of his colleagues came to visit us, both Sudanese. It was a very short notice by the way.

When they arrived, the fritters were already frying, and our home was filled with their scent, which not even bakhúr could overshadow.

“Wow, zalabya,” they guessed in surprise …

No, no. This time it was our kind of fritters, not Sudanese. Zalabya ​​is made of a heavier, more compact mix.

When they left, I was the one surprised. Dumbfounded, better said. The bowl in which the fritters were served, contained a significant pile of crispy roasted ends. And believe me when I say, they weren’t burned!

“How can anyone not eat that? Don’t they know the crispy ends are exactly the part of fritters’ charm,” I went with full force at Tamer, who was happy to eat the crunchy tails of his fritters, defending our visitors that they might have a different preference, but then added that Sudanese zalabya ​​has no crispy ends.

“They must not know what’s good then,” I replied with my chin raised. Typical Slovene.

Slovene fritters — miške (eng. mice), traditionally fried on Fat Tuesday.

Sudanese Menu

Sudanese Menu

Breakfast food

FUL

Ful is a dish, that will never be missing from a Sudanese breakfast. Made from cooked fava beans (sometimes completely mashed, other times in clumps); there is only salt and sprinkled fennel over it.

TAMÍA

Similar to falafel, main ingredient is chick peas, which are cooked and then minced with added variety of herbs and watered bread. Different shapes (from round to sticks) are sometimes coated with sesame seeds. Deep fried. I was told they on occasion substitute chick peas with fava beans.

BREAD

Sudanese do not play around when it comes to bread. It goes with every meal and there’s always plenty of it.

Sudanese Menu
Bread with breakfast dishes. The host or hostess always offer more when your hands appear to be empty.

MADÍDA

Sudanese style porridge: main ingredients are flour, milk and sugar, fenugreek seeds give it a special taste. This dish is usually served warm, early in the morning during winter.

Sudanese food
Madida — porridge with fenugreek seeds.

Main dishes

RÍJLA

Tasty savoury dish of cooked purslane with red lentil. One of my favorites.

Rijla - Sudanese food
One of my favorites: rijla.

FÁTA

It’s a combination of rice and bread; once they pour soup over it — it becomes a whole new, yummy mushy dish. Soup can be from lentil, or just plain chicken/beef stock.

Fata - Sudanese Food
Soup soaking the rice with bread: fata.

DÀMA

Simply put: it’s a one pot stew, made from meat and veggies. Lots of fried onions to start with, then added beef and veggies, that you have on hand. Usually potatoes, carrots and zucchini, sometimes string beans … Yum.

Yummy one pot stew — dama.

ASÍDA

Famous in other regions as well, but Sudanese take their pride in their very own asida, which is not made every day, rather on special occasions like Eid, or when your daughter in law, who by chance loves it, comes to visit. Rye flour and yeast are to be cooked and mixed in salted water. Once thick, the mixture is poured into a bowl to cool down. It is served outside of that shaping dish, always with the side of either okra sauce, minced meat or yoghurt.

عصيدة - asida
Asida in a pool of okra sauce.

KHOODRA MAFROOKA

Green sticky dish made of cooked jute/mulukiyah; spinach can serve as substitute. Usually served with kisra.

Very messy dish: khoodra mafrooka.

KÍSRA

Thinly fried batter of wheat and rye flour, mixed with water; depending on the ratio between flours, it can be very sour in taste.

Sour kisra.

RIVER NILE FISH

Tasty by itself, simple frying of the fish coated in flour; squeezed lime over it upon serving.

Fried fish.

SHÀTA

Very spicey condiment: peanut butter with chopped chilli pepper. Goes with anything and is served on regular bases.

It may look like only peanut butter, but it hides a lot of spice.

BREAD

Goes with every lunch too. There isn’t a single meal without bread, since it is customary to eat with one’s hand and reach for food with a piece of bread.

Family eating together, sharing with bread.

Salads

SALAD ÁSWAD

Fried or cooked eggplants dressed with peanut butter, lime, pepper and salt.

Made by Tamer back in Saudi, because I didn’t manage to take a picture of this delicious eggplant salad in Sudan.

TOMATO SALAD

Upon asking Tamer and his family, how they differentiate between salads — I did not receive a definitive answer. This one for example can just be called a salad, but it presents such an interesting twist! It was my first time tasting peanut butter with fresh tomatoes and onions, and I must say … I loved it!

Another one of my favorites: peanut butter gives it such an interesting twist, amazing taste!

MIXED SALAD

Simple mix of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions; dressing of salt and lime.

Always with a simple dressing of just salt and lime or lemon.

ROCKET LEAVES SALAD

Sometimes combined with mixed salad; salt and lime for dressing.

Rocket leaves on top of tomatoes, cucumber and onion.

Sweet dishes

SHA’ARÍA

A single dish, that is not considered a dessert. Pasta nests which get fried and cooked, coated with sugar in the end. Served for breakfast and sometimes dinner.

Sha’aria. Not my favorite.

ZALÁBYA

Simply put, these are Sudanese fritters, made out of yeasted dough, fried and then coated with sugar. Sometimes they add some spice or ginger in the dough mix for a special twist. Zalabya is usually served with milk tea in the morning, but can be a delicious snack in any other time of the day.

Delicious zalabya with morning milk tea.

Dinners

Last meal of the day usually consists of similar dishes that were served in the household for breakfast or simply put: anything storred in the kitchen fridge.

Dinner food is similar to breakfast.

Festive food

After Ramadan (Eid Al Fitr) and for Eid Al Adha there are more meaty dishes than usual. It is also customary to share all the rich foods with the less fortunate. There is more mutton and beef on the menu, unlike the rest of the year when chicken is more common.

Rich serving of meaty dishes in time of celebrating Eid Al Adha (2019).

Disclaimer:

Since I am not an enthusiastic carnivore, I paid more attention to vegetarian dishes and lucky for me – there are plenty. Because of my taste in veggies, my family in law served more salads and rice, but in the first days of my stay I noticed, that is not something usual and it was very different from habits of my own family back home, since we eat A LOT of salads every lunch. I try not to eat large quantities of bread myself, so Sudanese meals presented another different challenge for me.

French salad

“Do you think there might be too many pickles,” I ask my mom over the phone.
“Do it by the color. You remember. We always prepared it according to color.”

“French” salad. In the New Year’s time, the national Slovenian side dish. Not from France at all, but by a Belgian chef in Russia. The original recipe must have seen a number of updates, I am convinced that in Slovenia alone there are a few dozen versions and each family claims that their “French” salad is (of course) the best. I caught myself in several heated debates about what is a must and which ingredient simply doesn’t belong in the French salad. At home, we always stick to a simple formula “by color” and we absolutely do not skimp on mayonnaise.

This year for the second winter in a row, I prepared it myself in Saudi Arabia. A sizeable bowl, so one can enjoy it little by little in the last days of December. It’s so good that, I admit, I “steal” it with a spoon as well.

“Why do you call it a French salad, if no one else calls it that? I’ll call it a Slovenian salad,” said Tamer the other day and he agrees that (of course) mine is the best.

Regular customers

“What do you wanna eat today?”

In the last month, it keeps happening that on the one hand we have no ideas, and on the other we both silently hope that one of us will propose Gad (Jadh).

We were happy to discover it has become our favorite restaurant. After our last visit, however, we realized that our frequent visits did not go unnoticed.

As we entered and went up to the 1st floor, which is reserved for families, I headed to wash my hands in the restroom. During this time, Tamer was already at the reception desk, giving out our order, which remains more or less the same on every occasion.

The waiter wrote the number 5 next to the order on his own and said that the food would be brought to our usual booth.

On my way back from the restroom, I stepped into our usual booth, which was to our delight vacant at the time, and Tamer was already waiting for me at the table. With a smile on his face, he told me about the short exchange with the waiter. We both thought how nice the whole situation turned out to be, so we were looking forward to our lunch even more.

Another surprise followed, when they brought us an extra salad! I probably don’t need to point out further that “our” restaurant is now surely winning first place by far as a favorite location to enjoy specialties of the Arabian Peninsula.

Such little things can really brighten one’s day, not much is necessary sometimes. Don’t you think so?

letters_from_jeddah*English ends here.* On my way back from the restroom, I stepped into our usual booth, which was to our delight vacant at the time, and Tamer was already waiting for me at the table. With a smile on his face, he told me about the short exchange with the waiter. We both thought how nice the whole situation turned out to be, so we were looking forward to our lunch even more. Another surprise followed, when they brought us an extra salad! I probably don’t need to point out further that “our” restaurant is now surely winning first place by far as a favorite location to enjoy specialties of the Arabian Peninsula. Such little things can really brighten one’s day, not much is necessary sometimes. Don’t you think so?

Kunafa

Kunafa.
Today I ate the best one so far. With this divine dessert, my Egyptian friend Samah and I topped off a simply perfect Thursday, when we finally managed to meet again.

Samah and I

Do you know this famous sweet creation of the Arabian Peninsula?

They prepare it in different ways, depending on the region. In some places it is made from semolina flour (wheat flour), in other places from special noodles out of filo pastry, and there is also a version which is a combination of both. I like it best with a soft creamy core and a sprinkle of pistachios. Today we got a surprise at a Turkish restaurant – we got one scoop of ice cream on top, which provided a heavenly combination with the warm kunafa.

Tea

Tea. And more tea. Different varieties. With mint. With milk.

In large heavy teapots at a roadside stall. Visibly fuming steam is like a beautiful detail from a scene with a sunset.

How lucky are we that we emptied our thermos during our trip – now they can fill it up to go for the price of 5 or 6 cups.

We were returning home from Taif to Jeddah and along the way we drank some really good black tea with mint. With just the right amount of sugar, and per our request the seller added some milk.

This is how we now prepare it in our own kitchen. We add fresh mint leaves to the traditional Sudanese “milk tea”.

Such little things brighten up everyday life and bring back fond memories of his family home as well as our anniversary when we went for a short getaway from the city to the mountains. ❤️