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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gergean: Ramadan’s special treat for children JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR


arab news staff

ergean, which means the beating sound of an iron pot, is a traditional Ramadan game enjoyed by children across the Gulf countries. Children sing Gergean songs, which slightly vary with regions but are similar in content. They also carry iron pots and beat them like drums to announce their arrival. This game is usually played between Ramadan 13-15, when children and young adults usually dress up in traditional clothes and walk around the neighborhood in groups with small bags as they knock on their neighbors’ doors asking for candy. It is an opportunity for parents to show how proud they are of their fasting children during the holy month of Ramadan. It is said that the days for Gergean were chosen back in the era of the Abbasi empire in Iraq, when the rich used to distribute Zakat only when the moon was full and the poor used to gather around the castles holding their bags to collect candy and money. Children also used to look forward to that occasion to collect sweets, toys and candy.  Gergean is a tradition that has traveled all the way from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi citizen Ruqayya Abdul-Majeed. “My great grandfather went to Kuwait many years ago to do business and he married a Kuwaiti woman there and brought her back to Dhahran. When she moved to Saudi, she started the Gergean tradition, which eventually spread to her family, neighbors and friends,” she said. “Now we are celebrating it every Ramadan and my grandchildren are teaching it to their

kids. I hope they hold on to this tradition for life and keep it alive.” Fifty years ago, Gergean was a festive occasion when people used to live in peaceful suburbs and villages, according to local resident Um Sarah. “I remember gathering together with all the children in the neighborhood in a location next to the mosque and singing out loud with each other; it was peaceful and people would open their doors and welcome us in and let us sing for them with joy,” she said. “Now most people live in cities and it’s dangerous to walk around, some would let housemaids accompany the children and some people don’t even open the door for the children to come in,” she added. Many parents don’t allow their children to go out and celebrate Gergean considering it to be similar to Halloween, a popular festival in the West. They say it’s bad for children to celebrate a non-Islamic occasion. “I totally disagree with those people because we were introduced to Gergean before we even knew Halloween existed,” said Lamia Hussain, a stay at home mother. “My only reason why I wouldn’t let my children go around for candy is for safety reasons and the fact that I don’t know all my neighbors, but I always take them to my family and cousins to celebrate Gergean,” she added.  Gergean is a celebration for children and a way to teach them how to fast in Ramadan at an early age, according to Usama Siraj, father of two. “I remember when I was younger, my father would promise me a gift and a bag of candy if I could fast the whole month,” he said. “I would fast the first half and get the candy bag during Gergean and for the other half I would get money and a toy as rewards,” he added. 

“Now I am doing the same with my children; I teach them with the same approach as I thought it was fun, rewarding and memorable,” said Siraj. For years, this festival was mainly celebrated in the Eastern Province, but now more Saudis from the West are embracing Gergean. “When I got married I moved from Jeddah to Dammam. I was introduced to the Gergean tradition by the neighbors there and I loved it. I then decided to get my family and friends from Jeddah involved and start this tradition in the West,” said Sara Abdoun, a local resident. “My friends and family in Jeddah have been celebrating Gergean for seven years now and I believe it’s gaining popularity,” she said. "Holding on to old traditions is what makes Ramadan special for most people."  "Ramadan will never be the same without having a jug of Vimto on the table. Although we can buy it from every supermarket all year round, I never do it. I only buy and drink it during Ramadan,” said Saudi citizen Nada Al-Shareef. “Gergean is the same, it has become a special occasion that defines Ramadan for many of us. We grew up celebrating it and now we are teaching it to our children and passing it on to the next generation.

New variety of washes and styles dominate Giordano’s Denim look JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS


enim is back at Giordano, with shirts and jackets in a variety of washes and styles dominating the look. “The Denim is Back collection is part of our consistent focus to offer casual quality clothing that people want to wear,” said Ishwar Chugani, executive director of Giordano Middle East, India and Africa. “Denim never gets old and can be worn by anybody in any season for almost any occasion,” he added. The Giordano Denim collection comes in a variety of finishes, washes and silhouettes and includes denim slim shirts and jackets in the men’s collection. While the women›s line features denim shirts, long tunics and jackets. All items are available in two hues, dark and light washed blue. To complete the look, pair Denim is Back shirts and jackets with Giordano Essential pants, available in tapered, straight and lowrise fits for men and women. In addition to the latest denim range, the women›s Summer 2012 collection also includes 100 percent cotton tops in on-trend oversized and asymmetrical cuts, alive with vibrant colors or graphic prints. Pair with any Giordano jeans or leggings for a fashionable look with the minimum of fuss. It›s all made easy at Giordano. The Giordano Denim 2012 collection is now available in all Giordano stores across the Middle East. Giordano International, founded in Hong Kong in 1981, is now one of the world›s leading international retailers of apparel and accessories for men, women and children. Giordano›s success is deeply rooted in its five corporate business values of quality, knowledge, innovation, service and simplicity (QKISS). Today, the Giordano group operates over 2,600 stores in more than 40 countries across Asia, Australia, Africa, Canada, Central America, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East and plans to explore many more untapped markets across the world. Giordano›s philosophy of “World Without Strangers” transcends its origins and develops enduring trust and strong relationships with consumers across all borders and cultures. Giordano, one of the world›s leading international apparel retailers, celebrates the arrival of the last of its Summer Season 2012 collections in all 226 of its stores in the Middle East, India and Africa. The new line — Denim is Back — is available from August 1st and features denim shirts and jackets, with a range of cool and casual clothing options for men and women.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ramadan food and drink habits JEDDAH: Selma Roth

1 gauze bag with mixed spices for soups, found in supermarkets and bazars 20 g butter (optional) salt and pepper to taste lemon quarters, to serve

arab news staff


very day before the sun sets, the sons and daughter of Nada Al-Attas in addition to their wives and children gather at her apartment to break the fast together. Al-Attas, a mother of six who hails from Makkah, cooks the bulk of the food, but her daughters-in-law help her, preparing one or two dishes at home. “I started making arrangements for Ramadan about a month ago,” she said, “preparing the sambusa dough and filling and shaping it into crescents, after which I kept the sambusas in the freezer.” Apart from this fried or baked pastry stuffed with minced meat and onions, cheese, or vegetables, popular dishes at their iftar table are ful, mashed fava beans; kunafa, a cheese pastry soaked in syrup; and “Quaker”, the oat soup with chicken traditionally eaten here during Ramadan. Ramadan customs vary greatly not only throughout the Muslim world; even in Saudi Arabia they differ from one family to another. The vast majority breaks their fast with dates and water, as was recommended by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Some, like Al-Attas and her children, follow this by eating other dishes, whereas other families pray first and then sit down for their main meal. One of them is Umm Muhammad from Jeddah. “My sisters and brothers, daughters, sons, their spouses and children come to my home for iftar during the whole month of Ramadan. Every woman prepares one dish,” she said. Some of them stay at her place for the entire period of 30 days. Umm Muhammad and her family break their fast with dates, yogurt, and water. They then wait until the men come back from the mosque to have their main meal. “We eat cheese, meet, or vegetable sambusas, pearl barley or vegetable soup,

Method: Blend the onion, tomato, and garlic cloves in a food processor, but not until smooth – leave some chunks in there. Pour this in a pot with approximately 2 liter of water with salt to taste and bring to a boil. After 5 minutes, add the chicken to the pot. Boil for 15 minutes. Strain and keep the chicken stock. Shred the chicken into small pieces and add to the stock again. Mix the oats in a glass of cold water, then add to the chicken stock. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes. After that, lower the fire and simmer the soup for approximately 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add hot water if the soup is getting too thick. Season to taste and add the butter if you wish. Remove from fire and serve hot with lemon quarters.

and ful.” She added that soup and sambusa are her specialties. Umm Muhammad’s family indulges in sweets like baklava, ghorbalia, basbousa and kunafa after the Taraweeh prayers. For Umm Marwan, Ramadan starts quietly, with only her husband, daughter and sons joining her for iftar. As the moon grows, her sister with her children joins them. They eat a small iftar of soup, sambusa, nadi lahma — Arabic for fried meat — and custard right after sunset. A bigger meal is eaten after the Taraweeh prayers. A popular custom in many families is to watch TV series together. A must-see, though controversial, serial this year is “Omar”, a 31-part historic drama that depicts the life of Omar ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam and a close com-

panion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For cooking aficionados, Ramadan is the perfect time to try new recipes and excel in them. Umm Noor, mother of two, has iftar every day at her mother-in-law’s. She usually prepares several dishes that vary from day to day but often include kunafa, as she has become an expert in making this sweet and creamy pastry. The fasting month also sees the consumption of popular drinks; some of them are only drunk during this time of the year. On every breakfast table in Saudi Arabia you will find water and qahwa, an Arabic coffee made from lightly roasted coffee beans and cardamom. Other popular Ramadan drinks are toot, a concentrated raspberry drink, and soubia, basi-

Al Hakawati or the story-teller sees revival in Ramadan RIYADH: Walaa Hawari arab news staff

In the early the 19th century, Al Hakawati or the storyteller, was a character that appeared in Arabic folklore as an entertainment tool equivalent to TV, radio and the Internet nowadays. People used to gather around Al Hakawati in small tea or coffee houses around the neighborhood to listen to his stories, which he animated with different voices and gestures to attract attention and interaction. To revive this tradition, McDonald's Saudi Arabia, has set a Ramadan tent inside a number of shopping centers in Riyadh area and the Eastern Province, where children gather around Al Hakawati and get to live a unique and fun interactive experience. Children meet with Al Hakawati every weekend during the holy month of Ramadan, to listen to entertaining stories, adventures and tales filled with moral lessons, while also enjoying arts and crafts activities such as designing Ramadan lanterns, Eid greeting cards, face drawings and making gifts. Director of Public Relations at Riyadh International Catering Company, Waddah Omran said “we are delighted to see the fun and harmonious interaction between the excited

Children are entralled listening to an Al Hakawati telling entertaining stories. children and Al Hakawati , who is a listen to Al Hakawati and asked quescharacter from the past.” Omran also tions about the stories’ heroes. “This is pointed out the importance of enter- the first time I hear stories from sometainment as an essential tool in the life one, I usually watch TV or YouTube, of children to stimulate creativity. but he is live and the way he is telling “Therefore, we were keen on searching the story is funny and nice.” Faisal is for activities that are harmonious with one of the children from INSAN, the this holy month which heightens Philanthropic Society for Orphans, Islamic values through carefully cho- which Saudi MacDonald’s had dedisen tales that also entertain the chil- cated a special day to, so that they dren, address their minds and imagi- could listen to Al Hakawati, have their faces painted, play with cartoon charnations.” said Omran. 8-year-old Faisal was so excited to acters, receive gifts and take photos.

NCB & I.ZONE offer 0% financing Jeddah: Arab News

The National Commercial Bank (NCB) and I.ZONE, Saudi Arabia's largest Apple Premium Reseller and member of Alireza Holding Co., announced this week that they will be offering its customers using NCB credit cards 0% financing on all purchases exceeding SAR 1,500. NCB has partnered with I.ZONE to offer a 6 & 12 months Installment Option “Alaa Dofaat” plan for the price of cash. Starting this week, customers can select from a wide variety of products ranging from all Apple laptops to iPads

to leading accessory brands like Beats by Dre to Jawbone or Mophie. I.ZONE has recently renovated and expanded its Prince Sultan branch and launched the largest Apple Service Center in Jeddah as well as expanding its Red Sea Mall location. I.ZONE continues to be at the forefront of the latest technologies and services in the Kingdom to meet growing demand for its services. “Partnering with NCB was an easy decision for us. As the largest bank in Saudi Arabia with over 2.8 million customers and a strong Cards & Acquiring Division as well as a strong focus on

customer service, we expect our customers to enjoy this partnership immediately,” said Mishaal Alireza, VP marketing, Alireza Holding Co. Highlighting this partnership and its added value, Zahid Hummusani, Executive Vice President and Sector Head of Consumer Finance sector at the National Commercial Bank said: “Launching such benefits to our credit card customers come as a compliment to our advanced services provided to our customers. NCB has been the pioneer bank in providing innovative Islamic products which meet customers’ financial needs,” he added.

cally made of barley, brown bread, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and water. Some families also serve qamrideen, a drink made of dried apricot paste. The sheets of dried apricot paste are boiled in water with some sugar and a little rose or orange blossom water. Tamarind, a legume that comes from a tree native to tropical Africa, is during the holy month often blended into a refreshing juice by soaking it in cold water. Nada Al-Attas’ oat soup recipe: Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 tomato 3 to 4 cloves of garlic 1 chicken 5 to 6 tbsp quick cooking oats, such as Quaker

Umm Muhammad’s cheese sambusa recipe: Ingredients: 2 cups of plain all-purpose flour, or a combination of plain and whole-wheat flour 3 tbsp of oil pinch of salt white cow cheese sumac powder parsley or cilantro, finely chopped (optional) 1 liter of oil for frying, or 1 tbsp of oil or baking parchment, 1 egg and some milk for baking Method: In a medium bowl, mix flour, oil and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in water, using the amount necessary to make a smooth dough. Pat into a ball. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Mix the white cheese with sumac and the finely chopped parsley or cilantro according to taste. Divide the dough into small balls.

On a work surface with a thin layer of flour, roll each ball out and into a circle. Place a small amount of the cheese mixture in the center of each piece and seal the edges with a little bit of water and flour. Traditionally, sambusas are fried. In that case, deep-fry sambusas in small portions in very hot oil until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve warm. If you bake them, place the sambusas on a baking tray that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg in a bowl, add some milk to it, and lightly brush over each piece. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown. Umm Noor’s kunafa recipe: Ingredients: 1 can of qashta or thick cream 3 tbsp of milk powder 1 tsp ground cardamom 1 bag of kunafa threads, found in supermarkets and bazars 40 g butter 3 cups of sugar 4 cups of water Method: Mix the qashta, milk powder and ½ tsp ground cardamom. Melt the butter in a pan. Shred the kunafa threads with your hands until large clumps are removed. Pour the hot butter on the kunafa and mix well until the kunafa absorbs all the butter. Place a quarter of the buttered kunafa in a baking pan and press down firmly by hand. Spread the cream mix over the kunafa, then top with the remainder of kunafa. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes or until golden and crispy. While baking, make the syrup by mixing the sugar, water and ½ tsp ground cardamom over medium heat in a saucepan. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Boil it for 5 to 10 minutes and leave it to cool. Remove the kunafa from the oven and pour sugar syrup on the surface. Set aside for 10 minutes to completely absorb the syrup. Serve the kunafa warm.

Ramadan Special Supplement  

This was published as a supplement in Arab News on August 12, 2012 on the occasion of Ramadan

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