Iranian Bread & Zubaidi Fish

 

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Warm & delicious Iranian Bread

If there’s anything that is a MUST in every Kuwaiti household for a weekly groceries,that is a bunch of Iranian Bread and Zubaidi fish (or Silver Pomfret).

While in Western culture ,the  bread ( loaf or any other type )  is the queen of every table and for Asians, it is rice, then here in Kuwait, this is every family’s staple. For  Kuwaitis, Iranian bread is as  almost as important as oil. They have eaten Iranian bread since they were born and start solids. Their grandfathers also did the same. Every morning after prayers, people dash to the Iranian bakeries and queue to get their stock. Since Kuwait became richer, maids and drivers now queue up instead, but still there are a lot of people waiting. They eat it with almost anything. With grilled fish, kebabs, chicken, hummus, tahini or just as it is. Its simply delicious.

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An Expat’s  favorite meal : Kebabs, shish tawook, Hummus, fries & Iranian Bread

The Kuwaiti nation eats also rice, and other things but you cannot compensate them with something else. I love Arabic bread (smaller pita bread or Kubz) that you can usually find in packs at the co-op). It’s very nice, but it cannot replace warm Iranian bread. Sometimes when I go to buy the bread, I eat one on the way back because it’s so warm and fresh and tasty, especially if you pay a bit extra like 5 fils and get sesame seeds on them. As an Expat, I have grown fond of eating this especially when its fresh and I used it to make home made shawerma. My Dutch husband taught me an very awesome trick to preserve breads, and that is putting it in the fridge and just take it out to defrost when I would like to eat it. It tastes as fresh as it was & surely, we don’t have stale & wasted bread anymore! This is how I preserve Iranian bread & Kubz.

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Local sightings : Local bakers using old-fashioned oven in making Iranian bread.

When I visit the Mubarakiya, I still see locals who make Iranian bread in a very old fashioned stone ovens. Normally you can find these small bakeries tucked in any governorate but mostly in nearby Co-op. One place I visited before was the one in Shamiya where I really love the taste of it. The smell and the sight of it is very interesting and every Expat should try this. Whenever you eat out in a restaurant ( or locally called as Matam ) they normally served hot & freshly baked Iranian bread along with any meal, while in any other fancy restaurant they also served different types of bread like the one we have tried in Leila’s ( a Lebanese restaurant ) which is more of hot  buns. I could finish the bread while waiting for our orders!

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Leila’s hot delicious hot buns
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A sumptous Zubaidi meal with rice

Although Kuwait is  abundant in all types of food, having a home cooked meal of Zubaidi & rice is always special. This very tasty fish with rice is often served in homes in the Arabian Gulf.  Zubaidi (Silver Pomfret) fish is Kuwait’s national fish that is local but can be found in the frozen section of many Middle Eastern or Asian shops. (You may have to degut them yourself). While some prefer to eat them with rice alone, others  make Kuwaiti Tomato Sauce (Dukkous Al-Tamat) to serve as an accompaniment.

Have you tried any Arabic  dish with Zubaidi or the Iranian Bread? How was your experience?

Read more on my Expat guides & tips in my Life as an Expat in Kuwait section and learn to embrace the Arabic culture to beat your culture shock.

Diwaniyas: Kuwait’s own culture

If there’s anything that stands out from Kuwaiti culture up to these modern times, Its their DIWANIYA. When I first came to here, I was keen on observing Kuwaiti lifestyle and habits and especially the local lingo of many things. Diwaniya   is  also one of the first  Arabic words I have learned.

Right in the street of where I used to lived, I often see Kuwaiti men gathering together in their Diwaniya area, an extension from their Villa’s front yard. It becomes a common sight so I start to wonder what is  this type of gathering  and what’s the use of it. I have never seen this habit in Holland or in local areas in Philippines.

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Kuwaiti Diwaniyas evolved from traditional tents with seating pillows or cushions.

What is exactly a Diwaniya?

Diwaniya is a traditional culture of Kuwaitis that literally means “To gather together , or a place of assembly , parlour, Hall or lounge “. It originates from Arabic word “Diwan “ which means the place where the Amir meets his subjects and listens to their concerns. Now every household in Kuwait has its separate hall that serve as the Diwaniya where the Kuwaiti men receives his male guests. Kuwaiti Diwaniyas evolved from the traditional tents with seating pillows, into solid building with modern interiors. Nowadays, sophisticated Diwaniyas emerges with modern facilities which normally the setting for gatherings, public functions or political agendas.

The diwaniya include a main sitting place, called “Diwan”. Doors of the diwan overlook the internal hall that is comfortably furnished for guests. There are many cushions arranged in a specific way to be used as seats and armrests. The floor is covered with woven Persian carpets. The diwaniya, also, contains utensils for preparing coffee, which is redolent with cardamom. Using a special brazier, this coffee is prepared either on the far side of the diwan or in a small annexed room. Coffee preparing utensils consist of graduated sizes of brass coffeepots with lids and long beaked spouts called “Dallal”. Coffee is served in small cups made of pottery. Either the owner  prepares the coffee himself for guests or he hires a servant to do this job for him. This is why a Teaboy is an in-demand job in Kuwait.

Diwaniya in Kuwait has preserved its importance in the social, political and economic life. Today, diwaniya is considered of the important social institutes that play influential role in the democratic and parliamentary life. It became a referential indicator and place where many decisions were made. The number of the Diwaniyas increased to the extent that one Diwaniya or more can be found in every street. Some of them receive guests daily, others receive guests for only one or two days per week, and others receive guests only on special occasions.But definitely this is a daily part of Kuwaiti culture that has been passed from generations to generations. For well-off Kuwaiti families, a Diwaniya hall is a luxurious setting, and to be invited into it is quite an experience.

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Typical scene of Kuwaiti gathering together in Outdoor lounges,parlours or simply referred to as “Diwaniyas “.

The general atmosphere of diwaniyas became similar to that of social clubs, cultural and literary forums and political salons. Some of these modern diwaniyas are equipped with television sets, radios, satellite dishes, computers and phones. Other diwaniyas set themselves goals to achieve, like sports, economic, political. In the past , Diwaniyas plays an integral part of the candidate or politician running in election in Kuwait ministry. This is the hub for all opinions & informal discussions.They plan schedules and set dates to reach their goals. Others declare topics for discussion days before receiving guests.The public Diwaniyas are open for Expatriates,usually men gather together to chat any topic under the sun during their leisure times.

Historically, Diwaniya is exclusively for men only, but nowadays, a mixed gender Diwaniya are quite a norm or even the Women only Diwaniya. An example is the “Al Duaij Diwaniya of Qadsiya “ which welcomed a mixed gender audience of Westerners, US soldiers,  & Embassy staffs  that are based in Kuwait gather together to share views about Arab & Western culture.

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Typically Kuwaiti  : men in Dishdashas  in their Diwaniya

So if you’re in Kuwait and you heard the term Diwaniya, then you know that its simply means “Let’s get together & have a drink “!

What particular culture you appreciate in the country  you’re living in right now?

House of Mirrors

“You know a creative art when you see it. It doesn’t matter what is its form but you know the genuine talent that comes with it. One thing for sure , a masterpiece always come with hardwork..lots of it.” [ Personal Quote ]

I found a gem in Kuwait which i wanna share with you. It’s called the “House of Mirrors”. It is a MUST-SEE for someone who’s in K-town or a visiting tourist. Meeting the Artist itself is a thrilling experience.

Up Close & Personal : Meet the Artist

Lidia Al-Qattan is one of a kind. Like a rose in a desert. She is an Artist , Sculpture , Painter , Jewelry -Maker , Writer  & Author , Baker , An Art Enthusiast , and a Mother. She makes the most amazing orange/honey/ginger /cinnamon juice mix to die for . Until now i couldn’t forget  the scent , taste & warmth as she opened the glass-adorned doors that allows us to enter her world. She is full of energy and very enthusiastic vibe. You wouldn’t even believe that she’s in her 70’s already. She is a great Host.

Ms.Lidia Al Qattan is  an Italian living in Kuwait  and widowed since 2003. She’s warm , Lovely ,talented , Outspoken & wonderful person. As soon as she opened the doors of her house , you will be transported into a different realm , into a world of magical House of Mirrors. A myriad of beautifully designed house of small pieces of broken glass panels. Her house and her work is an opt of physical metaphor of her own life and her new found home , Kuwait.

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The Living Room..where the magic begins.
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A patchwork with Lidia’s name

Bad things that turned into something Great 

Because of the attack of Termites  in her house in Qadsiya, Lidia transformed her house into a Mirror House. ALL BY HERSELF . She showed us her photos in overalls , doing the work. At first it was to repair an ugly scribbling on the wall made by her daughter. She repaired it by covering it with broken pieces of glass panels .But soon termites infest through the walls. It started in her living room , then off to another until the whole household was transformed. She sticked small panels of mirror forming a creative patch over the walls. She incorporate a unique mosaic ,inscriptions and patterns to her work .

Creating with a Vision

Lidia creates  with a vision in her mind. Using glass & its reflective properties , she created a reflection of what is close to her heart. She is passionate about what she do. Every patchwork has a story , a significance , a theme , a symbolic image of her life and her interests . The walls  are adorned with intricate Arabic writings . She have made one room with Astronomical images and being in that room is so dreamy that I could stay there for hours.In the bathroom is another amazing experience .I did not go there to pee , i just stared at the beauty of it for quite sometime.

 

Diversity at Large

As she ushered us from one room to another ,we are brought into somewhat different dimension. This house is full of insane creativity , uniqueness & wisdom . She has one room full of her artwork as a painter . She has a gallery of her  finest paintings and craft things. In another room is an interactive room  she called “Art Theraphy “. I remember the magical chants she played in the “Nucleus of the Galaxy ” and the surreal feeling of the whole experience while we watch the lights  images shown in the ceiling. It was awesome.

 

There’s so much more to say about this lady  but my words will not do her justice because she is just a legend &  i consider her one of the greatest artist I have ever met in my life. If you want to visit the House of Mirrors , you need to set up an appointment first .

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Exquisite Beauty inside the House of Mirrors

Travel Tips !

Try to go with a bunch of friends to ‘House of Mirrors’ since it’s an experience that should be shared. The more the merrier .There is a small fee for this tour ,It costs  3 KD  on weekends and 2 KD  per person on weekdays.There is a  fine gallery of Mrs. Lidia art on sale, and those who are impressed by her work are free to make a purchase, towards the end of the tour.Try to be game & join her game for you might win one of her beautiful crafts.

I love everything about this place. I highly recommend it !

Thank you for reading !

 

 

Oh God, My Husband is Dutch !

This is not a romantic love story post, Nope, On serious note , I found myself to be lucky to find &  marry a wonderful Dutch guy, & here I share with you my impressions and things I found to be special and so typically Dutch .

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Beautiful canals in Amsterdam.

When you are in an interracial marriage, habits and your partner’s interests are the top things you notice. Either it’s totally  crazy, out of this world , weird, or annoying but then it shows a lot of their personality.

Tell you frankly, I haven’t got any clue about anything Dutch. We were completely from different cultures. I wouldn’t ever know that Hagelslag ( or Sprinkles)  could taste so good on toast after I met my ex-boyfriend , now my husband who is Dutch. Hagelslag is chocolate sprinkles that Dutch spread on their toast.It’s quite a moment to watch how they do it. It’s like a magic routine every time we seat together during breakfast .They spread it on a plain bread with  butter or margarine.  Their love for Hagelslag can never be taken away from them wherever they are right now. We were living in Kuwait but we have Hagelslag during breakfast, And Yes, I gave my In-Laws a big Thank you for bringing it over here during their visits. It’s totally a Dutch thing. This is a staple on every  household and kids form some sort of attachment to it because they love it until they become adults. So Yes, I became a convert on this one and I’m sure my daughter will love it too.

When we had our daughter , we had  Beschuit met Muisjes It’s a tradition  in  the Netherlands once a baby is born. It’s a crispy biscuit with sugar-coated Anise seeds  shared with guests. They come in pink & white for girls  & blue & white for boys .I love the uniqueness & everything about it. We never have something like this in Philippines or even in Kuwait.

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Typically Dutch threat when a baby is born -Beschuit-met-Muisjes

Who loves potatoes the most?

Dutch people are top-notch on this one. They adore  potatoes. It’s like rice for Filipinos. They mashed it, fry it, steam, boiled ,baked it but their favorite is the Patat Friet. Patat Friet is  a well-known snack , they are usually served in a paper cone, topped with mayonnaise. Different types of toppings are usually available including knoflook (garlic) sauce, tomato ketchup , frietsaus (a less fattier version of mayo) or the peanut sauce. My husband enjoys this on all occasions.

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So typical Dutch , Hagelslag on toast !
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 Windmills, a typical scenery in Dutch countryside.

Dutch people have a serious love affair with their bikes (Fietsen)  before they were even engaged or got married. Sounds crazy right?  but really, I was dumbfounded when i saw how many bicycles in The Netherlands , let alone Amsterdam itself. It’s HUMONGOUS!

The bicycle culture  makes Dutch people stand out. I mean,they don’t just bike to kill time, their lives revolves through it. They have one of the best Public transport system and yet people opt to cycle as their #1 preference of transport.You see mothers with their 3 kids on it with their famous  Bakfiets  (or cargo bikes) plus bags of groceries, cycling to work, exploring the countryside riding their bikes , and many tourists discover Amsterdam and all through out Holland by bikes. The Netherlands is the most-Bicycle friendly country with about 17 million in population and 20 million bikes! Picture that !

An average Dutch rides his bike 2.5km per day. I have cycled with my husband for 25km in one day and it was great. Another thing that I find so interesting is that they have a very active lifestyle with it. I have seen even older people riding their bikes. A typical household owns 3 bikes and children learn to cycle at an early age. I find it really inspiring when I see my in-Laws (already in their 70’s)  riding their bikes together for errands or so.

In Netherlands, multi-level parking areas for bicycles is normal sight. It is Huuuggeee. You can see tons of bikes parked in the train station and its amazing how people find their bikes with ease.

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Multi-level parking area for Bicycles in Amsterdam.

My husband loves to makes Lists , schedules and has the most organized Calendar. He really does it especially during grocery shopping. Dutch people are really living by the Diary. Birthdays and other important occasions are carefully noted in their calendars. They even have a Birthday calendar.

YES! you read that right, a calendar for Birthdays. They normally hung it in their guest bathroom. It’s totally Dutch thing. Imagine that you are a guest and while you do your business in the loo, you can be amused by  the thoughts and sometimes it even comes with photos in  it. Sure thing, they have no excuse to forget birthdays !

One important  character of Dutch people  is punctuality. This is as per my observation from them. They are also very straightforward and direct. They don’t beat around the bush.Some may even misinterpret this as rudeness,but actually, they are just so direct in speaking their opinions.

Have you heard about Papadag? Dutch men are very involved on parenting. I love the fact that my husband has high standards for family time. Dutch people have high priority on family and quality time spent with it is important more than any leisure activities. In Netherlands, fathers have a certain half-day off during the week to take care of the kids. Isn’t is amazing? In an interracial marriage, it’s very important to have compatible values, especially on family. I’m so happy that my daughter has the privilege of being raised with Dutch values to ensure overall well-being as a child. The Netherlands holds the spot of only country ranked among the top five countries in all dimensions of child well-being . You can see the full report Here. It is very heartwarming that Dutch kids stands as  the happiest kids on the world. They have wonderful childhoods.

Prior to the negative implication of the term “Going Dutch “,which is economical,thrifty Dutch way of thinking, I don’t see my husband as cheap, being prudent is not bad, He spends money wisely. Dutch people are very helpful & charitable and this is regarded  as great national value. The Netherlands ranked #14 in Top 23 Richest countries around the world based on GDP per capita and its amazing how Dutch people  are so involved in helping others, either national and international, who lag behind economically. There is a general kind of sense that “everyone should have the same”; equality in the economic sense is almost a value. During the typhoon Haiyan tragedy in The Philippines, Netherlands donated EUR 36 million as aid to the victims.My parents-in laws are living example, they have been helping a poor Polish family .

Lastly , with Dutch , there is always a feeling of Gezelligheid . Don’t ask me to define this in literal meaning because I can’t. Just picture this : Lovely ,beautiful gardens on each houses, with curtain-less wide windows adorned with most simple ornaments that looks directly to sidewalks , people having picnics & strolls in the park, Saturday morning frenzy at the city centre ‘s wet market,gobbling on delicious  Dutch treats such as Stroopwafels , those tiny houseboats along the canals in Amsterdam , people walking and talking about the weather ,  sitting in benches reading the news , and so on. There is total way of cozy conviviality around.

A fun, comfortable way of everything. For foreigners,it could be perceived as slacking off, but really, they just enjoy and take life in a normal way.

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I was grabbed at first sight on the experience of all of these. There is this unfamiliar taste that surrounds everywhere. No wonder tourists come back after visits to the Netherlands. They are really more than the windmills,tulips & clogs. There is so much more to learn and to explore with their culture. I have come to embrace Dutch culture, not only because I married one, but because of  Dutch’s unique approach in everything . But I excuse myself on liking the Drop & Haring!

At the end of my day, I still groaned and remind myself, “Oh God,my Husband is Dutch !”

Have you’ve had any encounter with Dutch people? or the Netherlands ?Do you have any fascinating impressions about them?

Please feel free to share your views . I would love to hear it.

Thank you for  stopping by & reading this…and Doei!