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Cuisine of Kuwait and Culture
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.
Women Wearing the Darrah
Women in Hiiab Dress
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 covering the head leaving the face unveiled, however, currently some women are wearing western clothing, unlike other middle eastern Muslim countries.
Kuwaiti Men Enjoying Music
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.
- 1 whole fryer
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 or 3 whole cloves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 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.
Grated Fresh Ginger
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.
- 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.
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 directedon 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
- · 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.
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, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.