Funny Names of Arabic Dishes

What’s in a name? Well, with all due respect for Mr. Shakespeare: So much. At least that what the Arabic cuisine has to say, with the wide variety of dishes that hold some of the weirdest names ever. I wonder why is that! Maybe women used to invent things, and since they didn’t look so appealing and the ingredients were somehow irrelevant so they just preferred not to call them the conventional way, like “Marinated Chicken with Rosemary and Mushroom sauce” or some such name like those we read in the menus of Italian and Chinese restaurants.

One of the most popular Levantine dishes is 7orra2 isba3o, the literal translation of which would be Burner of his own finger. It’s very famous that the name seems to have grown on people, but looking at the translation now, you might start to think it’s quite ridiculous, especially that we don’t know the real reason behind such a name.  This dish is made up primarily of lentils and dough. It may look like a mashed mess of vaguely related ingredients, but it’s really good. I didn’t find anything on the origin of the name though.

Another one I haven’t heard of until recently is Yahoodi Msafer (Traveling Jew). I don’t know what it’s made of exactly but I understood it consists of grain, zucchini and egg plants. I’m not sure of the origin, but the only thing I found is that (Arab) Jews used to make this dish and they called it “Traveling Muslim” So Arab/Muslims changed the name to “Traveling Jew”.

If you like beans, then you might want to try 3aisheh Khanom (Madam Aisha). Large white beans in tomato sauce, couldn’t find anything on the origin of the name, it could be the lady who invented it.

I guess all of us have at some point tried Jaz Maz (Untranslatable), Also know as “2allayet bandore ma3 baid” (Fried eggs with tomato) a very popular dish, delicious, cheap and easy to prepare. But I can’t help but wonder who would give it such a name, and why!

Perhaps it’s time for dessert. Qudret Qader (Might of the Mighty) is a maliciously delicious treat that consists of a layer of cream caramel on top of a thin sponge coffee cake. Supposedly called that because it’s so easy to make; for they say however you put the ingredients together, the result is the same.

If you’re into more Oriental kind of treats, the answer to your cravings is kol weshkor (Eat and be thankful). Another rich sweet dessert, which is more widely known as Baklawa (From Turkish Baklava). It’s made of layers of dough filled with nuts and soaked with sugar syrup. I don’t know why it’s called thus, but I imagine that if we had an Arabic version of Thanksgiving, then kol weshkor will be the parallel of stuffed roast turkey.

The rich Arabic cuisine never ceases to provide us with good dishes and weird names, and if you dig more deeply, you’ll probably find dozens of those. But again, I think Shakespeare was right. For to hear the other half of the (adapted) quote: What’s in a name? That which we call “Msalwa3a”, by any other name would taste as good!

Originally Posted on Thursday, November 01, 2007 on

Stupidity Kills

I don’t know why most of my funny stories have to do with a situation were I or one of my brothers did something brainless. Looking back at one of those mishaps, it hit me immediately that, sometimes, we choose to be stupid. We simply enjoy it.

Case in point is the less than curious incident that took place few years ago. Doesn’t really matter how many years, it might only make it more embarrassing.

It was such a perfect summer evening, so serene, so fresh, and above all, so boring. I couldn’t sleep, or just didn’t feel like it. My brother too, apparently, wasn’t particularly drowsy. We sat in the guest room, which is technically the living room (I don’t know why I keep mentioning this) gibbering about this and that. There was nothing unusual. And you know how when there’s nothing unusual you go out of your way to take the most trivial, constantly recurring, usual, boring, dull of things, and turn it into a premeditated crime.

So as we chatted the dull minutes away, something creepy that way came. Or did it? We heard the clacking sound of keys coming from outside, and more precisely, from our neighbors’ porch, which was right beneath our window.

A robber? That was very likely to think, if our neighbor wasn’t a doctor accustomed to working late. Yet, we chose to brush our senses aside for the moment.  The next thing we knew, we were staring dubiously at each other, wondering who the late night visitor might be. As I look back now, I have the feeling that we both knew in some lower layer of our conscious mind that it was our doctor neighbor. Everything in the universe supported that fact. Yet, we didn’t need to be sure. A little suspense wouldn’t harm, or would it? Well, maybe when combined with some self-inflicted brainlessness.

As I mentioned, the porch was directly beneath our window, in a way that doesn’t allow you to see the door unless you bend out like 180 degree. But make no mistake; we were willing to quench our curiosity whatever it took.

We headed to the window, my brother got on the sofa, opened the window and leaned outside to see what was going on, still he couldn’t see anything. In a desperate effort to see who was standing at the front door, he leaned out of the window more so almost the entire upper half of his body was hanging in the air, and then it happened. As he was standing on the sofa, with most of his body weight enjoying the fresh air, and even it wasn’t that much of weight, the sofa lost its balance, and in a fraction of a second the biggest part of his body was hanging loose in the air. It all happened in a flicker of a moment, his hands were waving in the air, the hard stone porch gazing at him from beneath, and as I learned few years later, even though it was less than second or too, but he managed to think. Well, I said he managed to think, what he thought about was a different story.

Since his thinking system was already shut down in order to put him in that situation, the only thing he could think of was this: “There’s nothing I can do, I’ll only succumb to gravity and wait till my feet reach the edge of the window, maybe they will hook to it and I’ll be spared.”

I’m serious.

Then, seeing that my brain too was hibernating, my survival instincts kicked in, and I grabbed him by the ankle, fixing him on the sofa just like the twins will fix the flag on Everest (in sha’a Allah!) so the sofa retained its balance, and he went back in, incredulous and gasping for air.

Now, if you still can’t see how stupid this was, let me give you the picture perfect.

1- As mentioned above, our neighbor was a doctor. He worked late and took on night shifts frequently.

2- What thief in his right mind would try to break into a house that overlooks the street in a relatively friendly neighborhood from the front door, let alone using keys and making all that noise.

Now, that was a lesson to learn, and, elhamdu lellah, we were spared the consequences this time, and as you may know, unfinished tragedies turn instantly into farces. As we reminisced this, we imagined how it would’ve been if he actually fell down the window onto the porch. And how our neighbor, who was peacefully coming home from work would feel when he turns around to see someone with a broken neck at his front door. We imagined that inspector gadget (that being my brother) would get up to his feet, shake dust of his shoulders and say: “What a lovely night!”

Moral of the story: If you enjoy insanity, don’t live in the same building as a doctor.


Originally posted on Monday, October 29, 2007 on

Stupid Bush… a hit out of the park!

So I made this video of Bush sometime ago and posted it on YouTube. I got email notification from time to time telling me that someone has commented on “Stupid Bush” (That being the video title) I usually didn’t check the comments and by now I figured there was 30 something comment on it, didn’t really keep count…

So, today I decided to check up on it, and I was surprised to see that the video achieved an average rating of 4/5 (87 ratings), was viewed 32,833 times, favorited 200 times, and provoked more than 145 comments…   I don’t know how much those numbers are considered impressive relatively, since I’m not a YouTube savvy and I haven’t created too many videos of my own (public ones that is), besides that this one is not original (a montage of different videos for Bush with some comments and some sound effects)… but I liked what I saw anyawys! So I thought it’s worth sharing once again… enjoy!

One funny comment reads: That man could make more money doing his own TV show than as President. Though my favourite Bushism (except perhaps the fish one) is: “If we don’t succeed we run the risk of failure.”

Originally Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 on


مبروك الشارع

Leaving the parking at Mecca all, my mom is driving; it’s crazy out there with everyone going out for shopping before Eid. From the opposite direction comes a woman in a car who was signaling with her hands as if she was trying to say something or complain about something. As we passed side by side with our car, my mother, thinking the woman was up to no good, snapped as her with one bold “AIIISH?” I, in my turn, thinking the woman was challenging my mother to let her pass through, was about to shout out “Mabrook el sahre3!”, but fortunately enough the window was closed. In stead, I tried to give her a grave sideway look to convey that message. The woman looked back at me in a way I wouldn’t take as offensive.

Then my brother had this epiphany…

“Mom, she’s trying to tell you to turn on the front lights”


Originally Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 on

A Very Timely Question

Yesterday as I was genuinely and completely indulged in a book I was reading, my train of thought was disrupted by my little brother Abdullah, with his unique way in calling my name “3Ala” (that’s how he pronounces it, the “O” becomes a strange vowel somewhere resembling “a”, coming from the back of his tongue)
I had no idea what he was about to say, but I decided I would remind him of what I once told him about not talking to me when I’m reading. But to tell you the truth, I don’t think he could’ve asked a more timely question. Here’s what he said:
“why should libraries always have pin-drop silence??”
Well, I suppose you can easily guess what I answered him 😀

Irony Strikes Again

So this morning I was sitting in my room staring at the stack of remote controls piled on my nightstand, and I thought to myself: “Wow! We have too many of these!” I thought of it as a blog material but then I dismissed the idea (Although I have much to say about those devices)…

Anyway, I grabbed the kids joke book that lay next to them, and opened it to a random page, in the center of which lay this joke that is supposed to be funny (I don’t blame them it’s a kids book after all). But I really found it funny for a completely different reason. It said:

كيف تعذب الكسول؟

قم بإخفاء الريموت كنترول عنه

(How can you torture a lazy person? Hide the remote control)

I was like: interesting! I’m so blogging this!! I might as well have thought of it as a sign, you never know…

Originally Posted on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 on


The other day I went to see Die Hard 4 with a friend. I’m not big on action movies, but my friend was in the mood for something where cars crashed and people beat the crap out of each other. As it turned out, she hadn’t seen any of the previous parts of Die Hard, so she was actually afraid Bruce Willis would die by the end of the movie. I was like: Relax! He won’t die, that’s the point! It’s “HARD”

The movie wasn’t bad for an action movie raging with violence and negative energy. Yet, I thought there was something different in this one; because it reminded me of an Indian movie I saw some while ago…

To begin with, I don’t think that anything you’d ever seen was something like the Great Adventures of Shunker. Yes, that was the name of our protagonist, Shunker. I didn’t know how to start telling this timeless legend, so I thought the best way is to introduce it the way another legend was introduced, and say…

In a certain corner of India, the name of which I don’t choose to remember, there lately lived a deaf-mute handsome young man, who bore the name of Shunker.

Shunker was no Don Quixote, no Samson, no William Wallas, but he possessed certain bravery and nobility of heart as no man in his village ever had. One day, Shunker’s heart started to beat with an unfamiliar feeling, his forehead began to sweat, and his eyes twinkled like two stars in a cloudless night. He was falling in love.

But of course, love doesn’t come for free, there’s always a price tag attached, and for Shunker, there was the Devil to pay. He decided to stand up for the Girl he loved, whose name doesn’t matter;for she was the love object of Shunker, who decided to fight the evil forces, incarnated in the form of horrible men trying to steal his beloved one. You know those well, they are present in every Indian movie, err, in every timeless legend.

The evil men wouldn’t leave the love birds alone, they insisted on taking Shunker’s sweetheart and put her in a whorehouse (Don’t ask me why). But it was against the will of Shunker they did of course, for if it was in his power, he would never let them do it. So, as what happens every time a hero stands up for his honor, a melee ensued. They all ended up on the top of a mountain, the name of which also doesn’t matter; for above that very mountain stood Shunker, fighting the forces of evil, trying to save his love.

Then, there on that very mountain, happened what no one had expected (Or had they?) Shunker was held by the arms, and then one of the horrible men, who was probably a pimp, came forward and slashed his throat [gasp] then threw him over the edge of the mountain, into a deep abyss…

Now, what do you think would happen to an average human being if his throat was cut and then he was thrown from above a mountain? Most probably, he would die at once. But no, we’re not talking about an average human being here, we’re talking about Shunker!

Down at the lower edge of the mountain, there was passing a shepherd, whose name doesn’t matter, and as he was passing, he saw trickles of blood dripping form above. When he looked upward, he saw something he wasn’t expecting to see. It was Shunker dangling from a tree branch, and to his surprise, he was still alive.

The good shepherd took Shunker home and took good care of him. He didn’t only treat his wounds, but also operated on him. Yes, our shepherd was not only a shepherd. He was a surgeon too! He opened Shunker’s voice box and tampered with his vocal cords, so when Shunker woke up, he was not only safe and sound, he could talk as well!

Then, one night when Shunker was lying in bed, his wounds still fresh, the shephered, who was also a singer, was playing some music and singing his heart-felt songs. In the same time, Shunker’s woman was trapped in a room in the whorehouse miles away,  panicked and lonely. She let out a cry: Shunkaaaaaaar! And, to everyone’s surprise, Shunker rose from his sleep, and I can’t tell if he felt his sweetheart was in danger or that he actually heard it, since the surgical operation probably improved his hearing to a great extent. He got up from his bed, with his fresh wounds, and ran, yes, he didn’t ride, he ran all the way to the cathouse where his beloved was, and beat the crap out of everyone who was there to be beaten, and saved his sugar muffin, who was dumbfounded as he not only came back to her alive, but also able to talk, to tell her what he always wanted to say.

This, my friends, is the story of Shunker. Moral of the story:

1- Indian movies suck even worse than Arabic ones

2- Hollywood movies can be so Bollywood sometimes

3- Love triumphs over evil

Have I ever mentioned I love Finding Nemo?

Originally posted on Thursday, July 19, 2007 on

La Tour Eiffel, now in Amman


This evening I went for a walk with my sister and brother, not quite a healthy place to walk, but hey! You can do some weird site seeing there… Case in point, I never knew that Eiffel Tour was moved to Jordan! Amman! Marj Elhamam! LOL!! Mind you, thisis a plce especialized in wedding decorations, so this is supposed to be set up in a weding or something…


Originally posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 on