Because of the importance of privacy in the Arabian society, houses are built with big solid walls that maintain privacy from street traffic and the neighbours. One of the most important considerations in building a house is the guarantee that the residents of the house cannot see their neighbours from any part of the house, thus insuring the privacy of the neighbours. In every Arabian house, there is a room called "dewaniah" or "majlis" for guests' gatherings. Most of these dewaniahs are for male visitors only. Women guests gather in a room inside the house and sometimes get to their gathering room from an outside entrance specifically assigned for female visitors. Some dewaniahs open on a daily basis and others once weekly. This regular gathering is a chance for relatives, friends, and invited guests to check on each other and converse in many subjects. It is a form of socializing where people communicate the latest news about other relatives, economy, business, sports, politics, etc. Tea, coffee, and sometimes a light snack are served.
The majority of Arabian women dress conservatively. Some women dress in clothes that do not cover their faces or hair, while others cover them. For example, a very conservative woman might wear a long black garment called "abayah" that covers her body from the shoulders down to her feet. Under this cover she could be wearing a traditional Arabian dress in full body length with long sleeves or she could be wearing the latest style from an internationally known designer. In addition to the abayah, a very conservative woman would also wear a face and head cover while some others would not.
The majority of men wear a long sleeved one-piece dress that covers the whole body, called a "dishdashah" or "thoub". During summer, the dishdashah is usually made of white cotton to reflect sunlight. In winter, the dishdashah is made from heavier fabric such as wool and comes in darker colours. With the dishdashah men also wear a 3-piece head cover. The bottom piece of this head covering is a white cap that is sometimes filled with holes. This cap, called "thagiyah", is used to hold the hair in place. On top of the thagiyah is a scarf-like head cover that comes in two types: a light, white head cover called "gutrah" which is worn in summer, and a heavy red and white checked head cover called "shumag" which is worn during winter. These head covers protect the head from direct sunlight and can be used to cover the mouth and the nose during sand storms or cold weather. On top of the thagiyah and the gutrah is the "ogal", which is a black band surrounding the top of the head to hold everything else in place. When male children reach puberty they are taught to wear the head covering as a sign for entering manhood.
Muhammed Mahdi Al-Jawahiri,
The Arabs like to spread their bread with olive oil, or with soft white cheese, or to dip it in the delicious oily purees which they make from chick peas, broiled eggplant or parsley flavored with pungent sesame seed oil.
Recipe :Yaprakh (Iraqi Rice)
-3 large tomatoes
-50 pechay leaves
-8 sweet peppers
-1/12 kg large onion
-4 c oil
-4 c glutinous rice
-1/2 c tomato paste
||-1 head celery leaves, chopped
-2 tsp white cumin seeds
-1/2 kg ground beef
-1/2 gr butter
-Salt to taste
-1/4 tsp chili powder
-1/2 kg small round eggplants
Wash all vegetables. Slice round the top of tomatoes and set aside; scoop out all pulp and put in a bowl. Do the same with eggplant and sweet pepper. Reserve tops as cover.
Sprinkle some water inside tomatoes and eggplants. Peel onions and cut lengthwize on one side (not at center). Press each onion between the palms of hands to separate layers. The smaller inner layers can be chopped.
Heat 1/2 of oil, saute eggplant pulp and chopped onion until slightly tender, but not brown.Wash rice and add to onion and eggplant mixture. Add tomato paste, vegetable pulp, chopped onion, chopped celery, and cumin seeds. In another skillet, heat remaining oil; add beef and fry till cooked. Add beef mixture to rice mixure. Add butter, salt, and chili powder. Mix very well. Fill onions, eggplants, tomatoes, and sweet peppers with mixture and cover them with vegetable tops tightly; set aside.
Spread some pechay leaves in a large and wide pan. Arrange first layer of stuffed onions, individually wrapped in pechay leaves tightly. Arrange tomato layer on top of onions; repeat, using sweet pepper and eggplant. Cover vegetables with a very heavy plate and place another heavy weight on top of the plate. Pour 3 cups water into the pan and cook on medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Leave on very low heat for some time until done.
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