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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 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)
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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