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Cuisine of Kuwait and Their Culture

Updated on December 4, 2012

Kuwaiti Towers

Kuwaiti Map

Kuwaiti Facts

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy situated in the northeast section of the Arabian Peninsula.. The population is approximately 4 million and they are 99% Muslim. Kuwait is a prosperous nation, due to the oil, with an unemployment rate being only 2.2%.

Kuwait is a member of OPEC, as oil was discovered in the 1930’s and Kuwait has 9% of the world’s oil reserves.producing over 2.8 million barrels a day. The sheik back in the 1950s, starting devoting much of the wealth to education, welfare and modernization of his kingdom.

The Kuwait population are descendants of several nomadic tribes and clans from the 1800's as they settled along the coast to move away from the desert drought.

Kuwait Coastline

source tourpp
source tourpp

Women Wearing the Darrah

source islamtribune
source islamtribune

Women in Hiiab Dress

source earabgirls
source earabgirls

Women's Role in Kuwait

In 1999, the emir gave woman the right to vote but Parliament defeated the emir’s decree. Then in May 2005, Kuwait abandoned its 1999, ban on woman's suffrage, and in June a woman was appointed to the cabinet. In April 2006, women voted for the first time. Women are quite often employed as teachers.

There are basically three types of dress in Kuwait: Western styles, traditional dress and Islamic dress. The traditional dress is called the darrah or the hiiab (which is the traditional with a scarf on the head leaving the face unveiled, however, currently some women are wearing western clothing, unlike other middle eastern Muslim countries.

Kuwaiti Men Enjoying Music

source flickr
source flickr

Kuwaiti Food

source picturescolourlibrary
source picturescolourlibrary

Kuwait Traditional Food

Food plays a large part in the Kuwaiti culture. The Kuwaiti diet is rich in calories which has led to a rise in childhood obesity. It is extremely common to have guests over to share meals. It is very important to them to provide generous servings to their guests.

Their cuisine is an infusion of Indian, Persian, Mediterranean, and Najdi cuisine. The shift from a nomadic life to one that is sedentary, plus the industrialization of the country has contributed to a sedentary lifestyle. The average Kuwaiti eats 3 meals a day and most of them include meat and cheese. Meat was always a part of a nomadic diet,.


Photo Courtesy of Travel Kuwait
Photo Courtesy of Travel Kuwait

Cardomon Pod Open

source worldofstock
source worldofstock

Black Lime (loomi)

source recipemantra
source recipemantra

Chicken Mechboos


  • 1 whole fryer
  • Salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 or 3 whole cloves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • Flour
  • 3 cups Basmati rice (or other short-grained rice)

Onion-spice topping (hashu):

  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in water
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. dried black lime (loomi), or 1/2 tsp. lime zest**
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar

Tomato sauce (duqqus):

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste


Rinse chicken inside and out.

Place in a stockpot with enough water to cover.

Add cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and peppercorns.

Bring to a boil, and continue to boil uncovered over medium heat until chicken is done (approximately 40 minutes).

Remove and drain the chicken, reserving broth.

Drain fat off the top of the broth and strain broth to remove spices.

Prepare three cups of Basmati rice according to package directions, using broth from chicken instead of water. Add salt if necessary.

While rice is cooking, cook onions in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until clear.

Sprinkle with a little water and stir quickly until onions are brown and the water has evaporated.

Stir in oil, drained raisins, and spices. Cook for one minute.

Remove mixture from skillet and set aside.

Lightly dust the boiled, drained chicken with flour. In a clean skillet over medium-high heat, brown the chicken, turning frequently, until the outside is brown and crispy.

For the tomato sauce, add water, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, and tomato paste in a small skillet or saucepan, and sauté until tomatoes are soft and the sauce well blended.

When the rice is done, spread it on a serving platter.

Sprinkle the onion-spice mixture over the rice, and place the chicken on top.

Pass the tomato sauce to spoon onto individual plates.

*Chickens in Kuwait are much smaller than in the United States; two Cornish hens can be substituted for the fryer for a more “authentic” appearance.

*Loomi, which is dried and blackened lime is generally unavailable in the United States. Grated lime peel can be used as a substitute for loomi..


Photo Courtesy of Kuwait Travel
Photo Courtesy of Kuwait Travel


source flickr
source flickr

Ground Corriander

source commons wickimedia
source commons wickimedia

Grated Fresh Ginger

source commons wickimedia
source commons wickimedia

A favorite Kuwaiti Dish- Murabyan


  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed with
    - 1 tsp. ground coriander
    - 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 lbs. peeled shrimp (medium size)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, halved and cut into thick slices
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups water, approx.
  • 1 cup grits, soaked in water
  • 4 ½ cup basmati rice (or other short-grained rice)


  • 1 lb. peeled shrimp
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • Grated peel of one lime*
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed together with
    1 tsp. ground coriander
    1/2 tbsp. black pepper


Heat oil over medium heat.

Add sliced onions and sauté until golden.

Stir in garlic/spice mixture and pepper.

Stir in shrimp.

Add tomato slices, and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.

Add water and salt.

Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Add rice, stirring to mix evenly.

Reduce heat and simmer until all the water is absorbed.

Remove from heat.

Add the spices, chopped coriander, grated lime peel, and garlic/spice mixture, stirring to mix well.

Add shrimp, and sauté until cooked through (about three minutes).

Spoon shrimp/rice mixture onto a platter, arrange shrimp topping on top.

Pickled Turnips

source fiveprime
source fiveprime

Pickled Turnips


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 C pickling salt
  • 2 lbs. white turnips
  • 1 Beet
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 C white vinegar


Bring water and salt to a boil, stirring to make sure all the salt is dissolved.

Remove from heat and cool.

Peel turnips.

Cut small turnips into sixths; larger turnips can be cut thick strips (about the size of a large French fry).

Peel beet and cut into thick strips.

Peel garlic cloves and cut each one into quarters.

Layer turnips in a large sterilized glass jar, interspersing them with the beet strips and garlic.

Combine the cooled salt solution with the vinegar, and pour over the turnips.

Make sure no large air bubbles remain.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the opening, and put the lid on the jar.

Store pickles in a cool place for at least three weeks.

The turnips will turn bright pink. Refrigerate after opening.


Photo Courtesy of Ifood
Photo Courtesy of Ifood

Make Your Own Falafel

Falafel is currently sold on street corners in Kuwait.  You can make falafel in your own kitchen. It's very easy to do.


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 16 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Oil for frying


Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. Omit this step if using canned beans.

Drain chickpeas and place in pan with fresh water. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer on low for about an hour.

Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add baking powder.

Mash chickpeas and other ingredients together into a thick paste. You can use a food process Tabouleh Recipe for for this.

Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a ping-pong ball. Slightly flatten.

Fry in 2 inches of oil until golden brown (5-7 minutes).

Tabouleh Recipe Salad



  • 2/3 cup  bulgur wheat\
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  •  Pinch of salt


Soak bulgur wheat in cold water for 2 hours (or as directed
on package).

Drain well, squeezing out any excess water. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Cover and chill.

Serve tabouleh mounded on a bed of lettuce, accompanied
by extra lettuce leaves, lemon wedges and warm pita bread.

Spounge Cake with Sesame Seeds

Photo Courtesy of wiki
Photo Courtesy of wiki

Ground Cardamom

source common wickimedia
source common wickimedia

Ground Saffron

source common wickimedia
source common wickimedia

Spounge Cake


  • · 2 eggs
  • · 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • · 3/4 cup flour
  • · 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • · 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • · Pinch saffron
  • · A little shortening or butter for greasing the pan
  • ·1 tsp. sesame seeds


Beat eggs well in a mixing bowl.

Gradually beat in sugar.

Sift flour and baking powder together and mix well.

Combine flour mixture with eggs and sugar.

Add cardamom and saffron.

Pour mixture into a greased 8" baking pan.

Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes.

Cuts best with a serrated knife.

To Conclude

Kuwait is a very interesting Middle Eastern country, uniquely different from the other Muslim countries.  Women vote, get a good education, serve in parliament and hold other jobs of choice.  The people are very family and friend oriented and frequent food is the center of much of their social life.  The vast oil income has been used so that people don't live in such poverty and many decisions are made to improve the quality of the individual.  The food looks nutritious and interesting.

The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


Submit a Comment

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    OmNaser, I did a lot of research so I could learn about your homeland. I saw a very good interview on TV of a woman from Kuwait and your country sounds very interesting. Thank you for your comment.

  • OmNaser profile image

    OmNaser 7 years ago from kuwait

    That's interesting that your writing about my own homeland and its cuisine. Im surprised you know so much about Kuwait . Have a nice day :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Nancy, Thank you so much for your comments. Maybe you can try one of the recipes for something different.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

    Great hub! Thanks you for sharing all these interesting recipes and information.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Support Med, Thanks for the comment.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

    The sponge cake looks pretty good. Interesting. Voted-up/rated!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Billy, I'm glad you found the recipe. Thanks for your comments.

  • billyaustindillon profile image

    billyaustindillon 7 years ago

    I was wondering what recipe would be from kuwait. I fresh Tabouleh is prefect with lamb in particular. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    recrayne, Thank you for the comments. I am not familiar with icll koffte as I have never traveled to that part of the world. It could be just little ingredient is different being in a different country

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Chickens were skinny and small in Turkey too. It's no wonder I didn't see a lot of dishes with chicken there. I agree with Loren that the falafel looks a lot like Icli kofte.

    Great pictures and beautifully constructed hub.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Loren's gem Thank your so much for your comments. I am glad you enjoyed the hub.

  • Loren's Gem profile image

    Loren's Gem 7 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

    Hi Pam! That "murabyan" looks appealing to me while the "flalfel" almost resembles the Turkish "içli kofte" - and its one of my favorites, too. This is such a great hub about Kuwait's culture and cuisine and I just learned something from it! :-)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Darlene, I am glad you enjoyed the hub. i know you are a vegetarian but I have to portray the country accurately. I appreciate your comments.

    Roberta, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comments.

  • Roberta99 profile image

    Roberta99 7 years ago

    Great article on Kuwait. The food looks different but very good, Would love to try the turnip and beet pickles.

  • Darlene Sabella profile image

    Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    What an excellent hub my dear Pamela, your writing and style is brilliant and your hubs are so organized and clean. I love the pictures and hub, but I could do without the meat. your fan darski

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Judy, Thank you for your comment.

    Audry, I appreciate the compliment and your comments.

    Ken, Thanks so much for your comments.

  • Ken R. Abell profile image

    Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

    Very informative & mouth watering Hub. Thank you.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

    Great job, Pamela - congrats on making it through unlike folding like me! Audrey

  • judydianne profile image

    judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

    Wonderful recipes. My favorite is the tabouleh.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Love to Read, I hope the recipe turns out well for you. Thank you for your prayers for my mother. I appreciate your comments.

  • Loves To Read profile image

    Loves To Read 7 years ago

    A very good hub Pamela, i love trying different styles of cooking. My daughter went to India last year with a friend and since they have returned we have sampled a number of different dishes. I really like Falafels so i will give your recipe a try.

    I will remember your mum in my prayers.

    God bless.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Haveem Thanks for your comments.

    Carolina, Thank you for stopping by.

    Miata, My mom is improving and thank you so much for your comment.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

    Hi Pamela, I read in one of the hub I am commenting that your mom is sick, I hope she is ok now Pam, and this is a great hub, HUGS, Maita

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    mmmmm... sponge cake!!!

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    What an interesting topic! Great job!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Hello, Thanks you so much.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    I am so glad to hear that. Wish you both all the best.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Tom Let me know how they turn out. Thanks for your comment.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Hello, My mother came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon but she is very weak. I think she will get a little stronger each day now that she can eat something. Thank you so much for asking. That was very thoughtful. And, I appreciate your comment.

    Rev Lady, I thought they looked better than I expected as I haven't tried most of them. Thanks your for your comments.

    Sheila, I can't promise it will work but it sounds easy. Thank you for your comment.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    Once again the food looks great. I have to try and make my own Falafel. The recipe looks yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • sheila b. profile image

    sheila b. 7 years ago

    My one try at making falafel was not successful. I'm tempted to try again with your recipe.

  • RevLady profile image

    RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

    Great hub. Though I do not think I have had any middle-eastern food, I would certainly not decline an invitation to taste it. It looks inviting.


    Forever His,

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for these great looking dishes. But I am concerned how your mother is?

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Hypnosis, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • profile image

    Hypnosis-books 7 years ago

    That is a great article! I should definitely try this out. :)

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Diamond, I thought the food looked very good. Thanks for your comment.

    4Foodsafety, Thank you so much for the compliment and I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

  • 4FoodSafety profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI

    Terrific Hub! I love hearing about food I haven't tried. Great article! And ever green with all the right ingredients for a 5 star Hub - rated it up!

  • DiamondRN profile image

    Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

    I like middle-eastern food because I grew up eating a lot of Greek cooking. It is heart-healthy for the most part.