Cuisines of Arabia: Delicacies From Maqsorah

Since coming to Riyadh, I have been to a Saudi restaurant only three times. Due to the vast availability of Western fast food restaurants here in Riyadh, eating Saudi food is sometimes a hassle. Fast food provides fast service and tastes great. Why waste time in a Saudi restaurant, right? But being in Saudi, it would be an insult if I didn’t eat at a Saudi restaurant. It would be like a foreigner visiting Malaysia and not eating Nasi Lemak, our traditional food.

Al-Maqsorah in Riyadh.

The entrance to the family section of Al-Maqsorah.

The restaurant that I went to is called Al-Maqsorah. Serving local Saudi food, this is one of the places that my family and I go to eat the delicacies of Saudi Arabia. Simply said, Saudi food is delicious. Most food is served with rice which is similar to Malaysia so it was not so awkward eating at the restaurant.

A hallway that contains stalls for families to eat in private.

A stall in Al-Maqsorah with carpeted floor.

That's me waiting for the food. That is the same position in which I will eat the food.

However, the major talking point is that for the family section of the restaurant (and single too if I am not mistaken), people sit down on the carpeted floors. Yes, you read right, we sit on the floor. Most cultures in the world are uncomfortable when it comes to eating on the floor but in Saudi, it is one of the traditions they hold to.

Before eating, a sheet of unused plastic is placed on the floor. This sheet of plastic will act as the ‘plate’ when eating food. It will also make cleaning the place much more easier afterwards. If you are truly hungry, you can eat a plate by your own but trust me, it will be hard. From what I hear, Saudis are big eaters and as such, their restaurants have adapted to their eating habits. For one plate, I could share with my brother and I still won’t be able to finish it.

Kabsa with chicken. This is Saudi food, rice with raisins and chicken. The lemon is sprayed on the rice to make the taste better and the chilli is eaten with the rice to make it more spicy.

Shawarma, an Arabian 'taco'. At a Saudi restaurant, you prepare your own Shawarma. At a Shawarma restaurant, they do it for you.

Kunafa is one of the proud desserts of modern Arab. I'm not quite sure of its ingredients but it has a sweet taste and a creamy filling. It's an Arab pie!

An eaten kunafa. It consists of two layers and the middle has a sort of cream, perhaps coconut cream.

Back to the plastic sheet, another uncommon thing is that it acts as a plate. When sharing the food, you can literally just take a portion and place it on the sheet of plastic. Then you eat it. Some will be grossed out by that but it’s actually not that gross. The plastic is meant for a one time use so don’t worry about the plastic being dirty. It isn’t.

Eating on the plastic sheet is alien to some but culture to others.

If you're truly hungry, just eat it on the plate. But beware, you may not finish it. The plate looks small but it has a deep bottom.

What I appreciate about Saudi food is perhaps the price. I could go to a Western or Thai restaurant and eat till I’m full and it would cost about SR200 per family. In a Saudi restaurant,I could eat till I am totally full (emphasis on totally) and the price would only be SR65 per family. Saudi food is cheap and delicious. What more can you ask?

Looks like a little but in truth, this is plenty. For SR65, this is a bargain.


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2 responses to “Cuisines of Arabia: Delicacies From Maqsorah”

  1. Lauren says :

    Very cool! I love learning about other cultures, especially when it comes to food. Good stuff.

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