Arab Foods and Hot Drinks That Will Keep You Warm this Winter!
By: Noor Almohsin/Arab America Contributing Writer
In winter, people try to stay warm in every possible way. Wearing warm clothes, layering, or simply staying in a heated place can help them keep warm. However, most Arab elders strongly believe that food is what really keeps the body warm, from the inside out. Therefore, most Arab winter dishes that make them feel warm are made of sweet, fat, protein, and carbs. The combination of these components makes high-calorie foods that produce energy.
The body generates heat when it digests certain foods. This list of foods, from different Arab countries, can help make Arab Americans and others feel warm.
Aseeda (عصيدة )
Aseeda is a popular dish most common in Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, and parts of the Mediterranean. Although its recipe may change from one place to another, it looks like a lump made of wheat flour or a mixture of flours such as corn, millet. Aseeda is served with ghee (سمن) on top and eaten either sweet with honey or savory with meat broth.
Not very different from Aseeda, Harees is also made of wheat, ghee (سمن). However, many recipes use whole or crushed wheat grain and cook it well with meat while whipping until both melts together. Some cook it with vegetables, such as tomatoes and serve it garnished with parsley. Others just sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon and serve it with sweetened ghee(سمن). Harees is very common in the Levant, Gulf states, and countries of the Near East, especially during Ramadan.
Hininy is a sweet dish which is very popular in Saudi Arabia. It’s made of dates, wheat flour, ghee, and flavored with saffron and cardamom. Some people serve it hot, others serve it at room temperature alone or with cream (قشطة). This type of dessert is usually associated with engagements, weddings, and other happy events where people make giveaways. Many like it at breakfast because it is rich and keeps you full for a long time.
Karakeesh (قراقيش )
These sweet sesame crackers are originally from Palestine. People use to eat them in wintertime to keep them warm. Karakeesh’s recipe is made of wheat, salt, sugar, sesame, anise kneaded together with water for a medium consistency, then mixed with olive oil. Historically, people used to bake it in a stone oven, and now it can be done on a regular one. This video in Arabic shows how Palestinians used to make it on the Taboon. It is perfect served warm with hot tea or coffee.
Masoub is a favorite dish of many people. It is made of shredded whole wheat bread, banana, ghee (سمن), cream (قشطة), and honey. Some people skip the cream to reduce calories but in winter, the more calories the better. Masoub is usually served warm and garnished with nuts, black seeds or sesame. It is very popular in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Sahlab/ Haita-liyyeh (سحلب/هيطليّه)
Sahlab is very popular in Lebanon and the entire Levante area. It is traditionally served in the winter. Salep flour is a starchy substance combined with hot beverages and sweets; it comes from orchid genus tubers. Sahlab is made of milk, sugar, Salep flour, rose water, and mastic. It is usually served with crushed almonds, coconut, or pistachio and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, and in some areas served with a little home-made syrup.
Tahiniyah (Tahini Halvah/ حلاوة طحينية)
Tahiniyah is a sesame halwa chewy dough that is popular in the Middle East and Arab countries. In some places, people call it halawa/eh, tahini halawa, or tahiniyah. Tahiniyah’s basic recipe is made of tahini (sesame seed paste), sugar, and powdered milk. It comes with nuts or flavored with chocolate, cardamom, or pistachio. Arabs like to eat it alone or in a pita bread sandwich. In Iraq, people eat it with date molasses.
Ginger Milk (حليب زنجبيل)
Ginger is one of the hot herbs and spices with a strong aroma. In many Arab countries, people believe that hot ginger milk is a natural antibiotic which is healthy for the bone and the immunity system, but most drink it in winter because it helps the body generate heat. Ginger milk is usually made with milk and fresh shredded ginger. Some people like to add spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, or cloves to enhance the flavor. Some others make it with turmeric to foster the benefits. Ginger milk must be served hot and can be sweetened with honey.
(شوربة العدس) Lentil Soup
Lentil is one of the nutritionist foods that Arabs depend on. Especially in the Levant area, people make crushed lentil soup to stay warm during winter time. Basically, lentil soup is made with onion, garlic and flavored with cumin. The recipe is very flexible because some people make harira, which is made with tomatoes and other beans and popular in Morocco.
Roselle (hibiscus/ كركديه)
Karkdeh or Roselle is a red drink is known to be served cold in happy events in Arab countries. Some people like to mix it with fruits such as lemon, pomegranate or strawberries. However, this citric drink is also served warm to combat cold shivers. It can be sweetened with honey or sugar and flavored with rose water and other herbs such as cardamom or cinnamon. In Iraq, it is called Kajart (كجرات), and it is effective in reducing high blood pressure.