Winter is coming and that means it’s time to snuggle up next to the fire with warm and comforting food and drinks. Contrary to common perception, most of the Arab world goes through a cold (and sometimes snowy) winter, and actually has some of the best warming dishes and drinks to keep away the chill. Here are 11 of the best for a cold winter’s night.
It might not have the prettiest of presentations, but there’s a reason why this warm fava bean and lemon dish is a favorite! Cooked until the soup is at a thick consistency, this simple dish of fava beans, parsley, onion, and lemon is a perfect comfort dish to fill you up on a cold winter’s night; and is made even more delicious when paired with soft bread for dipping!
Rose and Cardamom Milk
Boiled until the milk is a beautiful color of dark pink from the rose extract, this drink is usually served with cardamom for extra flavor and is a favorite from the young to the old. Red roses are paired so eloquently with the white snow of winter, and this warm drink is the perfect way to remind yourself of the simple beauty of winter.
The national dish of Jordan, mansaf is jokingly known as the dish that will put anyone who eats it to sleep—because of the warm flavors and the somewhat heavy nature of its ingredients. Made of succulent lamb cooked in milk and yogurt and then poured while still hot over warm bread or flavorful rice, this dish is without doubt the king of all winter dishes in the Arab world.
Spiced Umm Ali
Egypt’s equivalent to bread pudding, this dessert is best served warm with cinnamon, dried fruits, or nuts sprinkled on top. The warmth of the bread, the sweet dessert aroma, and the addictive texture of the pudding are only a few of the resons why this dessert will always remain a popular way to end a long day in winter.
Red Lentil Soup
For something a little simpler, try cozying up next to the fire with the Arabic red lentil soup, best served with a squeeze of fresh lemon for extra zing. Any soup during the long winter months deserves a warm welcome, and this one won’t disappoint you with the fullness of lentils and light flavors to compliment the harshness of winter weather.
Cardamom Chicken Soup
Soups really are just better in the winter, and this Arabic cardamom chicken soup is one of the best. With the warm flavors of chicken soup paired with the spice of cardamom, you’ll keep coming back to this dish every night to stop the chills of winter.
Although this dessert is served all year long because of its popularity, kunafa is really best in the winter served hot with fresh pistachios on top. With its flaky crust, warm melted sweet cheese in the middle and fragrant syrup poured on top, we’ve all been guilty of having seconds (or thirds)!
Another rose dish for the winter, this dessert is best served piping hot. Basically a plate of fried donuts, lugaimat can be flavored with enticing rose syrup to make this snack the best way to warm up with something deep fried to satisfy your late night cravings.
Spiced Ginger Coffee
A specialty of Yemen, this spiced coffee is perfect to keep you warm in the bitter winter mornings or comfort you during the long winter nights. Ginger, with all of its health benefits, will not only protect you from getting a cold during the winter but will help keep you warm and cozy with your hot cup of coffee.
Cinnamon is just one of those spices that compliments winter so well, and paired with the Arabic dessert of basbousa this will satisfy even the most skeptic of this dessert. A cooked semolina cake soaked in simple syrup, this bright dessert has both the texture and the flavors to make it the perfect way to unwind on a dreary winter’s night.
Green Tea with Mint
Originally from North Africa but loved by Arabs all over, this simple tea is both light and fragrant, with the perfect match of green tea, fresh mint, and sugar to awaken your senses. What better way to snuggle up by the fire than with the fresh scent of mint and the comfort of tea?