13th January, Riyadh – The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission has announced the ‘National & Regional Dishes Narratives’ initiative – a national initiative that seeks to identify and celebrate iconic local dishes in Saudi culture across various regions in the Kingdom. In addition to identifying a national dish, the initiative will also include a study of the dishes that best represent each region of the kingdom to be selected and announced later this year.
As part of the announcement, the commission has chosen ‘Jareesh’ as the national dish of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and ‘Maqshush’ as the Saudi national dessert, in honor and celebration of these meals that are intrinsic to Saudi households and exemplify the originality and uniqueness of Saudi cuisine.
The initiative is a part of the collective effort of the Culinary Arts Commission and the Saudi Ministry of Culture to shine a light on the Kingdom’s cultural gems for local and international audiences. By investing in the symbolic value of the selected Saudi dishes, the Culinary Arts Commission aims to celebrate them regionally and internationally, document their recipes for posterity, and highlight them through competitive programs and incentives to raise awareness about the key ingredients of each dish.
The selection of Jareesh as the National dish reflects its beloved place in Saudi society, and its popularity throughout the Kingdom since ancient times. References to the dish’s history can be found in various Arab heritage books, which document the process followed by women in the Arabian Peninsula to grind wheat by hand using a coarse mill.
Maqshush is another staple dish widely known across parts of the Kingdom. It has historically been known as a traditional and cherished food in the Arabian Peninsula. The dish comprises small loaves of wheat flour before ghee is added with honey, molasses, or sugar. While it is typically served as breakfast, it is also often indulged in as an ideal treat during cold weather and rain.
The selection of Jareesh and Maqshush followed a meticulous study of a plethora of Saudi dishes, keeping in mind precise criteria that include the significance of the dish in Saudi heritage and culture, its local character, exclusivity, ingredients used, and ease of preparation, in addition to its wide geographical spread and popularity amongst Saudis. While variations of these two dishes have evolved in different provinces around the Kingdom over generations, they have retained their essence and connection with communities.