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Goto or arroz caldo is like on top of my head as a weekend breakfast after a jog, paired with tokwa (tofu) and pork in a tangy soy-vinegar concoction. Unfortunately, they aren't readily available in the Middle East and will have to be prepared on your own.

Thankfully, there are some foods that are somewhat close to the taste of what we have back home. Not McDonald's (although it is an option after a run). I'm talking about real freshly cooked, protein-heavy dishes.

Similar to how eateries (karindirya) where goto is available are easy to find in the Philippines, boofiyah(s) or small cafés and restaurants that are open early in the morning are ubiquitous in Saudi Arabia.


    I learned about shukshuka about 7 years ago when I first tried it at a boofiyah. Shukshuka could translate to "shake it" or "mixture", pertaining to how it is prepared. It is a dish made of eggs and some spices. It is like scrambled eggs. Typically, here in Saudi Arabia, shukshuka is made of beaten eggs cooked with onions and tomatoes. Google it and you will see other varieties where the egg is poached and not scrambled.

    Eat it without bread and you have yourself a delicious low-carb, high-protein breakfast. But for sure, I'd be hungry in an hour if I did that.

    Obviously a "mixture" of  various ingredients.

    Shukshuka with Cheese (Shukshuka bial Jabn)

    A slightly more expensive variation, and definitely more delicious, is shukshuka with cheese. The Yemeni guy in the store calls this "lahsh" (لحسه), pronounced as "lahsah", but is only known or called as such in Yemen.

    A cheesy shukshuka. Though a little burnt.


    Another favorite is the kebdah. You'd think the name is fancy but is just the Arabic for "liver". As per the recipe I found on one blog, one of the ingredients is vinegar. The taste is somewhat between adobo, but without the distinct saltiness of soy sauce, and menudo since it has tomato. Another high-protein and iron-rich breakfast! Watch out if you have gout!

    This kebdah is prepared with 'strips' of potatoes, tomatoes, and coriander.

    Khubuz and Cheese Khubuz

    Cheese is common in the Middle East and they add it to almost anything. Have you tried Nutella+cream cheese? Try it and thank me later! Khubuz (also spelled as khabaz and colloquially pronounced as kubus) is an Arabic flatbread that is usually cooked in a tandoori oven. Cheese khubuz is perfect on its own but also goes well, surprisingly, with shukshuka.

    You've got your protein and fat, but go easy with the carbs!

    Khubus with black seeds (not black sesame nor cumin).

    Here's a tumblr post from 7 years ago showing the tandoori oven.


    Sandwich versus Plate

    Shukshuka and kebdah can be served in a sandwich or on a plate. Most boofiyahs serve them as sandwich and is pretty convenient during rush hours. Restaurants on the other hand serve them on small plates, freshly cooked, together with khubuz.

    Note that utensils are not commonly given and used in restaurants here and that's another reason why it's suit to have on a relaxed weekend (usually Friday), with bare hands and without rush.

    Also, don't forget the chai halib (milk tea) that goes perfectly with these dishes.

    Chai-halib (lit. tea-milk). The lemon just happened to be there.

    Now, it's time for a nap.

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