The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission announced on Wednesday that it has chosen jareesh as the national dish of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and maqshush as the country's national dessert, "in honour and celebration" of these dishes that are intrinsic to Saudi households and paying ode to authentic Saudi cuisine.
The selection of jareesh reflects its popularity since ancient times, the ministry said, as references to the dish have been made in Arabic heritage books over centuries. The process of making jareesh traditionally involves grinding wheat by hand, using a coarse mill.
Maqshush is a dessert typically served for breakfast in Saudi households, and comprises wheat flour, ghee and honey or sugar.
In addition to their popularity, authenticity of flavours and significance in Saudi culture, jareesh and maqshush were chosen for their ease of preparation and widespread availability of ingredients.
The announcement is part of the continuing National & Regional Dishes Narratives initiative, which seeks to identify and celebrate popular local dishes in Saudi culture.
The drive, which is part of the collective effort of the Culinary Arts Commission and the Saudi Ministry of Culture to showcase the country's culture, will continue to research and identify the dishes that best represent the 13 regions of the kingdom. The additional dishes will be announced later this year.
The Culinary Arts Commission aims to "celebrate the dishes regionally and internationally, document their recipes for posterity, and highlight them through competitive programmes and incentives to raise awareness around key ingredients of each dish".
Saudi and other Arab chefs often add their own twists to the dishes, which are popular in both homes and restaurants across the kingdom and the region at large. For instance, Douha Al Otaishan, Saudi Arabia's first female head chef, makes jareesh with red crushed wheat and says it's a dish most popular among her patrons.
She even cooked jareesh in the style of Saudi Arabia's Najd region for more than 500 delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018, under the theme "Saudi voyage".
Meanwhile, experimental Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi serves a shrimp jareesh with orange butter sauce at Fusions by Tala in Manama.