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International Cuisines IHM Notes

International Cuisines IHM Notes


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Published by: ihmmumbai on Apr 22, 2012
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Arab cuisine is defined as the various regional cuisines spanning the Arab World, from Morocco and
Tunisia to Saudi Arabia, and incorporating Levantine, Egyptian.


Saudi Arabian Cuisine is the most traditional one that can be found globally. You can immediately taste
the difference between Saudi Arabian Cuisine’s and the other cuisines. There have been three chief
influences that have moulded the Saudi Arabian cuisine along side their cultural norms and values
depicted in the Saudi Arabian Cooking today. Firstly the nomadic Bedouin influence, secondly the food
constraints given in the Holy Book of Quran, and lastly the ancient Arabian Dominance of the spice

The Saudi Arabians have inherited their cultural norms and values from the nomadic Bedouin, who had
cherished hospitality, generosity, strength, chivalry and last but not the least, honour. This is still
prevalent in Saudi Arabia today. A continuous flow of foreigners that came with the Arab dominance of
spice trade centuries ago, also brought along with them some of their own cultural values that then
were embedded into the Arab values as well.

Till this day, the Saudi Arabian hospitality remains unmarred. Their old tradition of being courteous to
their guests still exits. In Saudi Arabia it is a common custom to allow for an extra portion of a cooking
meal, in order to be prepared for an un-called for guest. They also make sure that some part of the food
is left over; otherwise they believe that one might think that the guest was not fully satisfied. For the
Arabs it is a joyous entertainment to serve to their guests and they consider it as an honour.

The Saudi Arabian cuisine is also influenced by their Holy book, The Quran. The Quran strictly states that
Pork meat is impure, halal food is only allowed and alcohol is also strictly forbidden. The Arabic coffee
and other fruit drinks are very popular. The Bedouin coffee which is served without any preservatives or
sweeteners is a beverage of honour that is served to the guests. The custom of serving coffee is
generally known as ‘gawah’, which is bound by certain rules of etiquette.

Genuine Saudi Arabian food is not commonly found in restaurants. The Saudi Arabian food is cooked
and eaten at home, as cooking and eating are some of the intense social activities in Arabia.

Regional Cuisines of Arab

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known for its abundant traditional cuisines, which mirror the mixture of
the regions and the customs of the people there. Many dishes that you will find in Saudi Arabia are
made of meat, rice, Wheat, vegetables and spices. Al-Kabsa is one of the most popular cuisines that you
will find in Saudi Arabia. It is cooked with red or white meat or Chicken in a pot. rice is also included in
the cuisine. A huge range of spices as well as salads can be added to the cuisine. It is thought to be a
staple dish all through the Kingdom.

The Saudi Arabian Cuisine is very varied, but is rich and more cosmopolitan in the Peninsula than in the
western province of Hijaz. With the surfacing of Islam in the seventh century, many people travelled
from parts of the country to Mecca and Madinah for Hajj, from greater distances and in greater
numbers. All these immigrants left a huge impact on the customs of Hijaz, and that led into the Hijaz
cuisine becoming rich. Now in the modern times, with the increasing mobility within Saudi Arabia, the
influence of the Hijaz has reached all parts of the regions of the Kingdom.

Egypt - Egyptian cuisine is a very rich cuisine that has many unique customs. These customs may also
vary with in Egypt itself, for example, in the coastal areas like the coast of the Mediterranean and canal
the diet of the people relies heavily on fish. In the more agriculture areas, the reliance on farm products
is much heavier. Ducks, geese, chickens, and river fish are the main animal protein sources. Unlike the
surrounding Arab cuisines, which place heavy emphasis on meat, Egyptian cuisine is rich in vegetarian
dishes; both of the national dishes of Egypt, Ful Medames, Ta'amia (also known in other countries as
Falel) and kushari, are generally vegetarian. Fruits are also greatly appreciated in Egypt: mango, grapes,
bananas, apples, sycamore, guava and peach are very popular, especially because they are all
domestically produced therefore are available in relatively low prices.

Maghreb - pices are used extensively in western Arab food. Contrary to the rest of the Arab world, the
most common red meat is beef. However, lamb is still the meat of choice, only avoided due to its higher
cost. Dairy products are used less extensively than in other countries in the Arab world. Among the most
famous Tunisian , Moroccan and Algerian dishes are couscous, pastilla (also spelled bsteeya or bastilla),
tajine, tanjia and harira. Although the latter is a soup, it is considered as a dish in itself and is served
alone or with dates, especially during the month of Ramadan. The most popular drink is green tea with
mint. Traditionally, making good mint tea in Morocco and Algeria is considered an art form; the drinking
of it with friends and family members is one of the important rituals of the day. The technique of
pouring the tea is as crucial as its quality. The tea is accompanied with hard sugar cones or lumps.

Somalia - Somali cuisine varies from region to region and consists of an exotic mixture of native Somali,
Ethiopian, Yemeni, Persian, Turkish, Indian and Italian culinary influences. It is the product of Somalia's
rich tradition of trade and commerce. Among the favorite Somali dishes are: Xalwo (halva), a sweet
hardened jelly; Soor, a soft cornmeal mashed with fresh milk, butter and sugar, and served with maraq
(stew); and Sambuusa, a small fried pasty with meat and vegetable filling.

Sudan - In comparison to its North African and Levantine neighbors, the cuisine of Sudan tends to be
generous with spices. The Sudanese cuisine has a rich variety in ingredients and creativity. Simple
everyday vegetables are used to create stews and omelettes that are healthy yet nutritious, and full of
energy and flare. These stews are called in general "Mullah". So one could have a zucchini mullah,
spinach "Riglah" mullah, etc. Sudanese food inspired the origins of Egyptian cuisine and Ethiopian
cuisine, both of which are very popular in the Western world. Popular dishes include: Shahan ful, ful
medames, hummus, Gurasa and different types of sweets. Generally, the cuisine of Sudan in the
northern half of the country tends to be superior and more flavoured than the cuisine of Egypt.

Yemeni cuisine - The cuisine of Yemen is rather distinct from other Arab cuisines. Like most other Arab
cuisines, chicken and lamb are eaten more often than beef. Fish is eaten mostly in coastal areas.
However, unlike most Arab countries, cheese, butter and other dairy products are less common,
especially in the cities and other urban areas. As with other Arab cuisines, the most widespread
beverages are tea and coffee; tea usually being with cardamom or mint, and coffee with cardamom.
Karakaden, Naqe'e Al Zabib and Diba’a are the most widespread cold beverages.

Equipment for Saudi Arabian Cooking

There is no as such special equipment that you need for Saudi Arabian Cooking. Nevertheless, oven for
baking the traditional Arab bread is always useful. In the past, when their was a custom to having
extended families, usually the women in the family used to take turns in pounding wheat which was a
long, arduous and an arm-tiring job. Nowadays, haris is often ground in food processors, but many
women still prefer to do it in the traditional way, as they believe that the desired reliability can only be
achieved by hand. Other than those common cooking equipments like a stove, grills and bean
processors for the traditional coffee that they serve is needed. Although making Saudi Arabian Cuisines
are highly time consuming, yet no special equipment is need. Even normal non-stick pots and pans are
good enough to make your cooking easier

Oriental Cuisine

Oriental cuisine can actually refer to very different styles of Asian cooking depending on the
nation or area. The Oriental section of Asia covers a huge chunk of eastern Asia known as the
Far East, and thus encompasses a wide range of culinary traditions. What might be called
Oriental cooking in one nation might be considered something else in another nation.


o The geography of the area that makes up "the Orient" stretches from east Siberia
south all the way to Indonesia and includes Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam,
Thailand and most of China. Oriental cuisine almost always refers to some type of
Asian cooking from the Far East region, eliminating most dishes from Siberia and

Chinese Cuisine

o There are many types of Chinese cuisine, because different areas of China can
have distinctly different styles of cooking. Many times when someone in Europe
or America thinks of Oriental food, Chinese food comes to mind, with its use of
chicken, rice, vegetables, sauces and exotic ingredients. Chinese food qualifies as
a type of Oriental cuisine.

Japanese Cuisine

o Japanese cuisine also is a type of Oriental cuisine. Japanese culinary tradition
makes heavy use of fish, as well as sushi and other seafood. This cooking has a
very distinct taste and style compared to many other types of Asian cooking from
the Far East area, because there is less frying and more careful preparation of
steamed or even raw foods.

Korean Cuisine

o Korean cuisine is another form of Asian cooking that can fall under the umbrella
term of Oriental cuisine. Kimchi, a very popular dish, involves putting rotting
vegetables in a stew and burying the stew pot to make it ferment. Rice, noodles,
seaweed and snails are also used in Korean cuisine, and Koreans' spicy barbecue
is beginning to catch on.

Southeast Asian Cuisine

o Cuisine from Southeast Asia also qualifies as Oriental food, with Thai and
Vietnamese being the two that are most well known in Western nations. Various
noodles, curries and hot spices help distinguish Southeast Asian cooking from that
of some of the other Oriental nations that make up the Far East.

Location Matters

o While Oriental cuisine is a broad term that can cover many styles of cooking,
what exactly falls under "Oriental" can also depend on the location. In many parts
of Asia, there are still advertisements for "Asian food," but in China this might
mean Korean or Japanese food, while in Vietnam it might mean Chinese or
Japanese food, and in Japan it could mean Thai or Mongolian. From that
standpoint, what exactly counts as "Oriental" in Asia varies by country.

The Three Oriental Cuisine Areas

1. The South West - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma
2. The North East - China, Korea, Japan
3. The South East - Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia ,Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei

Curries are very important to the cuisines of the South East and South West, less so in the cuisine of the
North East. South Western curries are generally based on yogurt, whereas the curries of the South East
and North East are generally based on coconut milk.

Rice is a staple starch in all three cuisines areas. In addition to rice, South Western cuisines include a
variety of leavened and unleavened breads and South East and North East cuisines include rice and egg

In the South West, the major oil used in frying is ghee, or clarified butter. In the South East and North
East, the major oils are vegetable oils.

Garlic and ginger are used in all three cuisine areas, as are chili peppers, although chilies are much more
common in the South West and South East. The North Eastern cuisines use soy sauce in nearly
everything; the South East substitutes fish sauce; there is no equivalent in South Western cooking. In the
South East, there are two additional flavorings that are not used in the other cuisines - galangal and
lemon grass.

Cuisines of the South East

The original cuisine of the South East is probably the peasant cuisine of Thailand. Archaeology has
recently discovered that the metal working cultures of the central plain of Thailand date back to at least
3000 BC, easily in the same class as the ancient cultures of China and India. The peasant cuisine
associated with these early metal workers spread east across the mountains into Laos, Cambodia and
Vietnam, and south down the Malayan peninsula and the island arc of Indonesia.

This cuisine did not develop in isolation, of course. As it spread, it was influenced by ideas coming from
the North East and South West, and influenced them in return. Most recently, of course, the cuisines of
Europe have influenced the native ones. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were French colonies, Malaysia
was a British Colony, Indonesia was a Dutch colony. Thailand was a rarity in that it successfully resisted
European colonisation.

Rice is the staple grain of the North East and South East and is only slightly less important in the South
West. It is the original crop that caused the conversion from hunter-gatherer to subsistence farmer in
this area; as such it spread across the region before regional cuisines began to evolve. Some Italians may
object if you claim that Marco Polo brought spaghetti back from China, but there is little doubt that
noodles came to this region from China.

Curries are a very common across the region, but less common in Vietnam where the Chinese influence
is strong. The concept probably came from India and spread east, but the people of the South East
modified the original by substituting coconut milk for yogurt as the basis for the sauce.

The cooking utensil called the wok, and the stir fry technique using vegetable oils came to the area from
the China.

Garlic and ginger are common all across Eurasia and probably arrived in the area at almost the same
time as rice.

The arrival of chili peppers in the area can be placed with relative accuracy. Chili peppers, indeed all
peppers, are native to the Americas and arrived in the region with European explorers/exploiters. This
means they could not have arrived before about 1520, and were widespread by 1600.

Fish sauce is probably a local invention, but the Romans had a similar concoction (liquamen), so it is
possible the idea was imported. (Maybe that's where the lost legion ended up)

There are many spices used in the region; cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka, cardamom and cumin from
India, coriander and star anise from China, cloves, nutmeg and mace are native.

Several herbs are common in the region, Thai basil, sweet basil and mint being the commonest. These
herbs grow almost everywhere across tropical and subtropical Eurasia, so, while the idea of using them
in cooking may have been imported, the actual herbs used are native varieties. This is especially true of
Thai basil, with its purple stems and licorice flavor.

Citrus flavors are important to the region's cuisines, especially lime, which is native to the islands of
Indonesia and Malaysia. Not just the juice and pulp are used, but also the zest and leaves.

Last, but certainly not least, are lemon grass and galangal. These two flavors are the flavors which make
the cuisines of the region unique. They are undoubtedly of local origin, for they are used nowhere else
in the world. They are the two flavors which I have chosen to define the scope of this page.

Special Equipment to Cook Oriental Cuisine

The Wok -The wok is the most important piece of cooking equipment in Southeast Asia and China. If you
plan to do much of this region's cooking you should invest in a good wok. A cast iron fry pan will serve in
a pinch, but the rounded bottom of the wok provides a range of cooking temperatures in one pan,
which can be important in stir frying.

There are many type of woks available - round- bottomed and flat-bottomed, on- handled and two-
handled, mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and Teflon coated. The most traditional is hand beaten of
mild steel with a round bottom and two handles. Mild steel is preferred for its heat transfer properties;
thin stamped stainless steel or aluminum just don't hold enough heat, and cast aluminum takes to long
to heat up and cool down. The traditional round bottom is designed to sit in the round hole of a charcoal
burner. In a modern kitchen equipped with agas stove, the round bottomed wok might fit the burners,
depending on the design of the stove. If the wok does not fit the burners, it may be placed on a wok
ring. In an electric kitchen, a flat bottomed wok is best, both for stability and for heat transfer. A
properly conditioned iron wok is at least as non-stick as any Teflon coating ever made.

A new wok must be seasoned before use. Scrub it well with soap and water to remove any coating
applied to protect it during shipping, rinse well, and dry. Place the wok over low heat, wipe lightly with
vegetable oil and let stand on the heat for 10 minutes. Cool and wipe with paper towels to remove the
dark film. Repeat the oiling, heating, cooling and wiping procedure until the paper towels come away
clean. Once a wok has been seasoned, it should be cleaned with plain water only using a wok brush,
never with soap or abrasive cleaners, then dried and oiled before storing. If the metal ever rusts, clean
with steel wool or fine sand paper and re-season.

Wok Tools

The most important wok tool is the long handled shovel-shaved scoop used to stir fry. Other wok tools
include; a ladle, used to transfer liquids to and from the wok; a strainer with a brass or steel basket to
remove foods from hot oil; a strainer with a bamboo basket fo rremoving foods from boiling water or
stock; a bamboo whisk brush for cleaning; a rack which sits on the side of the wok for draining fried

Steamers - Large dedicated steamers with multiple stacking are available instainless steel or aluminum,
but more common are the stackable bamboo steamers. These are designed to be used in a wok over
boiling water, and are often used as serving dishes.

Clay Pot - Clay pots - "hot pots", glazed on the inside but unglazed on the outside are used for baking or
stewing. They are available in a range of sizes,and like woks, with either one handle or two.

Cleavers -The oriental cleaver is a very verstile instrument - it performs all the functions of the various
knives of western kitchens. Light cleavers are used for general chopping, slicing and carving; heavier,
thicker cleavers are used for chopping bones. A good set of kitchen knives can be substituted.

Rice Cooker -If you are cooking rice often, a rice cooker is worth the investment . Place rice and water in
the cooker, plug it in and press the button. Perfect rice very time.

Hand Held Blender or Small Food Processor

Most South East Asian dishes require considerable fine chopping - a hand held blender with a
mincer/chopper attachment or a small food processor will cut your preparation time in half.

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