I was asked by Fadil Al Nassar from Middle East Franchising to try out a new concept, traditional Arab food as a fast food chain. Being a person who loves food, I could not turn him down. The place is called Falafoul and it revolves around the traditional Arab dish falafel which is fried patties of fava beans and chickpeas. If you’ve never tried falafel, trust me you are missing out. So off I went to the first restaurant of which four more are planned to be opened this year all across Riyadh.
I liked the place and my falafel sandwich was seriously tasty and had just the right amount of salad and tahina. I especially liked the fact that it was closer to a Saudi shawerma rather than those overwhelming big and overstuffed falafel sandwiches you get at other places. The menu is a vegetarian’s paradise, so many yummy options based on meat-less and yet meat-like Arab dishes. The place itself, as in furnishing and more importantly cleanliness, I would rate as high standards. If you would like to try it out, it’s located at the intersection of King Abdullah Street and Inkas.
My main issue with the place is that it does not have a family section i.e. women are not allowed inside. However Mr. Al Nassar informed me that two out of the five planned for Riyadh will accommodate women customers who want to have their meal on location instead of take-out.
35 responses to “Falafoul”
Sounds like a nice place! Haven’t eaten falafel for close to 2 years!!!
Oh Saudi for God’s sake. What sounds like a pleasant new take-away with good food and woman may not enter….
Yummy! Yala get him to invite me now 🙂 I wanna try … Glad you enjoyed it hon! And I am usually NOT a fan of falafal for the reason you mentioned.. to big and chunky.. but if its made more like a shawarma.. I am already drooling 😀
I’m reading a seemingly light talk of a new idea for a yummy food.
Casually at the end you move to your “main issue”, family space and then suddenly you explain…”i.e. that women are not allowed inside.
I’m sorry but everything I read lately leads to the further psychological disempowerment of women in your country.
I’ve read people say that Saudi women need to step up for themselves. Well maybe but such treatment…clearly stating woman to be a owned, a lesser species… only disempowers.
It’s hard to stand up when someone’s standing on your head.
Do Saudi women realise they are so much more than they are being allowed to be?
you seem disappointed that this isn’t a saudi bashing post, so you’re trying to stir up controversy when this post is about food.
This is absolutely not true. It was my true gut response.
I live in Australia and I just did not know certain things about the treatment of women in Saudi until I heard the author on ABC radio and started to read this blog. I wanted to know more than what the Western media feeds us.
I dont mean to offend anyone, and I certainly don’t want to create controversy. All I knew of Saudi before this was it was Muslim and very rich.
And I don’t know what the authors intent was here; only she can speak to that.
But when one finishes reading a review about food with the fact that one half of the human race isn’t allowed in there…well, at least for me, it’s no longer an article about food.
With all respect for all opinions…Leesa
no family section .. :S
As a vegetarian… I am literally BEGGING for a fast food falafel chain here in the US. The Arab restaurants are hard to come by and hard to just grab something light, tasty and meatless and quick to eat… someone… anyone come and make some money off of me!!! 🙂
we have a plan to expand internationally. UK and US are on the target list to expand there. the concept has been done to be franchised once we settle the operation.
we have an aggressive plan to expand world wide and the feedback that we are receiving is great!
fadil, you are going to miss the opportunity to get at Jenna’s money, because she is a woman. If you want to ”expand aggressively”, you should not miss the opportunity of getting at 50% of the population’s money.
btw, I too love falafel, and I am also a woman!
But you are a woman , so not allowed inside.
So no quick vegetarian food for you, bad luck. 😦
But your own fault of course for not having been born with a penis 😉
Dya know… I love going to a fantastic English restaurant and watching gorgeous groups of women enjoying mouth watering food, a good bottle of wine, good conversation, people watching… and may quite possible send a bottle over to them if I take the fancy and hopefully enjoy an evening together with them and maybe even one in particular… Isnt life just fantastic to have that freedom, to approach someone of the opposite sex and hopefully enjoy each others company…
It saddens my heart so much I want to scream out when I see such vile hateful acts still suppressing you good girls… Its sick and the men need serious help and I am quite willing to start a charity for a Hospital over in KSA to cope with them all… what dya say? 😉
Yum. happy ramadan!
If women weren’t allowed in there, how did you go there?
lot of ladies are getting inside and place their order so it is not that ladies are not allowed to get in but i am afraid there is no seating for family section so ladies can order takeaway only. come and try yourself, the varieties there are delicious!
I tried falafel years back and … well, it didn’t do much for me. I figure it’s an acquired taste (kind of like how I enjoy Guinness).
I do like baklava though. 🙂
Finally, something positive about KSA—the (fattening) food. :-b
Oh, the irony of it all!
Half of the species, those who carry and bear children, feed them with their own bodies, those usually responsible for putting food on the table are not allowed to eat in a restaurant. This is the thanks that Saudi males give to those who bore and nurtured them.
(As a bābā ġanūj person, I have yet to meet a falafel that didn’t look and taste like a hockey puck. Anyone have an edible recipe?)
Eman, did you disguise yourself as a male to get into the place?
Marcus, you can come and join us at our table anytime—if you bring a big bottle of red. 😉
A’ida, you do need to get falafel at a good Arabic restaurant. That is a different experience altogether! My favorite Arab cookbook is Dutch, so I can’t share it with you, but you will find good recipes in Arab cookbooks, and on the internet, and also for things like hummus etc. I love good hummus. but not from shops, except a Moroccan shop here, not everybody can make it.
Marcus, I love going out to dinner with friends, but would not invite a total stranger! So maybe you should introduce yourself first, let me get to know you, and then we can go out to dinner together!
There are some very nice restaurants here 😀
Aafke says: ”My favorite Arab cookbook is Dutch, so I can’t share it with you,”
I do not think that I would have a problem with a Dutch cookbook, Aafke. What is the name of the book?
I’ve decided that I need to make my own falafel, since they are no great shakes here. I’ve eaten them in a lot of great ME restaurants across the country from Washington D. C. to L. A. as well a number of foreign countries, at least a dozen times. They were always dry, hard, greasy, indigestible and just plain unappetizing looking. I’ll try the recipes with just favas and chickpeas as well. Perhaps if I can control how they are made. . .
We cook a lot of ME foods. I make great hummus. We love favas and make them often, especially in the summer as a salad with tons of sweet onions, parsley, olive oil and lemon. That’s always a big hit at a party. Sometimes we grow them in the garden. The huge favas are great as appetizers with garlic and olive oil. So meaty! Ah, brings back memories of a superb ME restaurant in Provence during a freezing Mistral.
So, does anyone have some superb Saudi recipes?
Eman is one of the those women who don’t look at the bright side of Saudi Arabia. She is a negative thinker. Why she doesn’t tell that single men are not allowed in malls? She is one of those who want to attract attention, to be the talk-of-the-town. No matter even if it makes you say rubbish things about your very OWN country. She is not even loyal to her own country, her own soil, then how can she be loyal to the public?
If she’s so crazy about women taking off abaya and driving so why the hell is she livin’ here? Why doesn’t she moves to the countries which allow women everything? Sayin’ so much against Saudi Arabia and still stayin here,huh.
And just to give a boost to your knowledge, it is clear stated in the Holy Quran [Chp: 11, Wa qarna fee buyutikun] that women shouldn’t go out unless necessary. When this verse is right there in Holy Quran, how do you even dare to write such filthy articles? What kind of Muslim are yewh, young lady?
Lady says: ”Eman is one of the those women who don’t look at the bright side of Saudi Arabia. She is a negative thinker. “
Many have observed the negative thinking. She could turn that around into positive action.
”Why she doesn’t tell that single men are not allowed in malls?”
What is positive about a segregated society? It creates abnormal thinking and a pathology. The other 5.5 billion people in the world, the majority of humanity, even many Islamic states, are not gender segregated. Their societies seem to work much better than that of KSA.
Most people couldn’t imagine a world without seeing, men, women, young and old out together in every facet of life. Why do others peoples worldwide not have problems with gender integration?
”She is one of those who want to attract attention, to be the talk-of-the-town. No matter even if it makes you say rubbish things about your very OWN country. “
It appears that Eman tells the truth about KSA? Is she supposed to lie like the politicians?
Lady, do you like it that KSA is a pariah in the world; a literal laughing stock because of its unnatural, religious laws about men and women?
”Why doesn’t she moves to the countries which allow women everything?”
Eman has every right to live in KSA since she is a Saudi. I would guess that she stays because, she wants to make it a better country, but she doesn’t know how to go about doing that.
”it is clear stated in the Holy Quran [Chp: 11, Wa qarna fee buyutikun] that women shouldn’t go out unless necessary. When this verse is right there in Holy Quran, how do you even dare to write such filthy articles? What kind of Muslim are yewh, young lady?”
What is “filthy” about wanting women to have equality with the other half of humanity? Why do only men have rights in KSA while women are rendered children their whole lives?
Lady, can you cite the particular verse because, in every Qur’an that I have read Chapter 11 (revealed in Mecca) is all about old Bible stories of Noah, Abraham, Lot, Moses, etc. that Muhammad gleaned from the Jews and the Christians. Yes, like most of the Qur’an that chapter is very negative, filled with punishment, fire and brimstone. However as far as I know, purdah was invented by Muhammad after his favorite wife Aisha was compromised. Very few Muslim nations use purdah in the modern world. Those that do, have some serious problems in their societies. The divorce rate in KSA is 60%, which is about double what it is in the “decadent” U. S.
So, Lady, do you believe that women should be prisoners of men in their own homes? That they should be covered in a walking-prison, hidden from the sun, so that their bones get soft from osteomalacia? That may be your choice, but why should other women have to do that? Scholars repeatedly state that the veil is not mandatory in the Qur’an. Men and women are “supposed” to be equal, they claim—yet, they are not in society.
What exactly do you do all day if you stay in your home—sit and watch television and play on the internet and eat? (Both western inventions, btw) Do you go out and work in your garden at least? Are you in any way productive?
Could it be that such misogynistic thinking is why KSA and much of the Islamic world is still in the dark ages, dependent on the hated west for virtually everything that they need for modern life? Denying equality and therewith productivity to half of humanity keeps the religious poor, ignorant and very much behind the rest of the world.
ehem, ehem, here,
وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَى وَأَقِمْنَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتِينَ الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِعْنَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا
“And abide quietly in your homes, and do not flaunt your charms as they used to flaunt them in the old days of pagan ignorance; and be constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto Allah and His Messenger: for Allah only wants to remove from you all that might be loathsome, O you members of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you to utmost purity.” [33:33]
According to Tafsir ibn Kathir, ”And stay in your houses” means “stay in your houses and do not come out except for a purpose.
Now, don’t boast when you don’t have much knowledge about Quran. And you’re not allowed to say anything against our religion in anyway because this is racism. I’m not attackin’ your religion so back off.
You said that Eman is tellin’ the truth about KSA. It’s not about KSA, it’s about our religion. Many Muslim countries do not fully follow Islam and KSA is the only country closely following the true religion. And there’s nothing wrong in it. Women SHOULD stay at home. What did western women achieve by going out? What is the value of women in western part? For men in west, woman is like a flower, get pleasure from the fragrance and then throw it away. And you said that divorce rate is higher here in Saudi than in West. You know why? coz most of the men in west don’t marry, they get hundreds of women without marrying. This the western culture,huh. You really make me laugh, sweetie pie.
I didn’t say that Eman doesn’t have the right to stay here. She has got every right to stay here. Now, this is lame that she’s stayin’ coz she wanna make it a better country [btw, KSA is already the best and peaceful place], she can update her blog from anywhere. She shouldn’t live here when she doesn’t likes the environment. Go, Eman, take breathe in the air of west if you are suffocatin’ here.
Now come to this equality thing. Women were not, can not be, will never be equal to men coz Quran says that mens’ got a degree higher than woman. And that is because, lemme give u a example. Every company has one owner, one general manager. No company can run successfully if there are two bosses. Because there can be many things on which one agrees and the other doesn’t. So that is why Allah made men a degree higher so that life could be smooth. But Allah and his Prophet also warned men not to do injustice with women or they’ll be questioned in the hereafter. As for men allowed to marry four women; Allah warned men to do total justice with all four wives[which I think men nowadays can never do] and Allah also said that if you can’t do justice then do no marry more than one woman. Our scholars nowadays are totally against keeping more than one wife coz they say that men cannot do justice nowadays. And the only thing I don’t like about Saudi men is marrying more than once. Back in my country[which is Pakistan], I’ve hardly seen men keeping more than one wife.
As for the purdah, as you say was invented by Prophet Muhammad [S.A.W], is totally wrong. Prophet [peace be upon him] never invented anything, he did what Allah commanded him to do. So, keep this big lie to yourself, Liliana. And I really love my face veil cos it protects me from filthy eyes. I feel secure. What are you goin’ to do if some man keeps looking at your way in some ‘other’ sense? What if he keeps scanning your body? I’m safe from this kinda stuff. Our religion is a safe religion. Neither man is allowed to look at the opposite sex [except some close relatives with whom you can’t marry] nor woman. What can the woman in west do if her husband falls for some other woman, and what can a man do if his wife falls for other man? This is not possible in our religion coz women are covered and man aren’t allowed to look at some other woman. I’m not talking about the Muslims who do not follow Islam. Quotin’ you ‘So, Lady, do you believe that women should be prisoners of men in their own homes?That they should be covered in a walking-prison, hidden from the sun, so that their bones get soft from osteomalacia?’. hahahaha!!! Our Abayas are not sun-proof. hahahaha!! You mean a person shouldn’t even wear clothes or should they go out nude? LOL. You really really make me laugh.haha! We are not prisoners of our men. We enjoy our lives to the fullest with them. We’re satisfied, totally satisfied. They do the work outside our home and we just relax in our homes. We’ve got the maids to do the work inside our homes. We go out with them [sometimes without them], do shopping, have dinner and do everything a person can do outside to enjoy.
Now again quotin’ you’ What exactly do you do all day if you stay in your home—sit and watch television and play on the internet and eat? (Both western inventions, btw) Do you go out and work in your garden at least?’ We don’t need to do gardening, we’ve got a Gardner for that. We’re not like western women who cut the grass, do all the work themselves, even washing their cars in the coldest season. We just enjoy in our garden, we smell the fragrance of flowers, watch the green grass and feel the cool breeze. We can do gardening if we want to but we’ve left this work for the Gardner. And yeah thanks,west, for the inventions. We really enjoy them[ I don’t like TV, though]. Look, you guys have invented such a good thing, internet. We do’t even have to leave the comfort of our home, we get everything right at our homes. Thanks again.
Lastly, would you like to tell me in which way we’re very much behind the rest of the world? Our commoners have got the car which America’s president has got. Now temme are we behind you guys? HAHAHA!
“Every company has one owner, one general manager. No company can run successfully if there are two bosses. Because there can be many things on which one agrees and the other doesn’t. So that is why Allah made men a degree higher so that life could be smooth.”
The Quran says no such thing. It says men have a degree over women because they are stronger (which may or may not be an accurate translation, but it seems reasonably true) and they provide for women out of their labor. One reasonable interpretation of this is that men have an ability to abuse women through force (which they are instructed not to do) and that most women profit through the labor of men and thus are instructed to be grateful and helpful for that. This is not unreasonable in light of the verses that say you may not marry women against their will; the assumption being that women are married to a husband of their choice, so help him out and don’t unjustly complain and treat him as if he were just a money tree for you! But with machinery the labor of modern society has changed. Why shouldn’t social relations change? The Quran also says that if the oceans were ink there would not be enough to write out the words of our Lord. The Quran is a guide but it itself claims not to be the entire word of God and it exhorts us to use our reason.
As for going out with a purpose, surely getting food or going to work is a reasonable purpose to go out. Certainly voting, or going to school or visiting the sick is a reasonable purpose for going out. Why should that verse not be understood as directed at behaviour like unnecessary hanging out? I believe there is a hadith that states men are not to hang out on the road for no purpose. Often the problem with islamic law is not the law itself but the unequal application of it that results in the mistreatment of women. When the law supports women being married against their will, their marriage contracts not being upheld (or even being given the facts about what they may put in their contracts in the first place), men not living up to their obligations to support them, permitting spousal abuse of women, it is unjust to yell about what Islam requires of women! The real failure of western feminism is that men refused to be held to the same standards as women so women fought to be held to the same standards as men; God help us all. By the way, some of the first American feminists were part of the anti-slavery movement and began the feminist crusade because they were shocked that they were told to go home because women had neither the reasoning ability nor the moral authority to argue slavery was against God, Christianity and thus wrong. (The Grimke sisters are a nice example.)
And while I’m on my soapbox, this is a general comment to anyone telling Saudiwoman she should leave her country because she disagrees with some of it’s law is being as ridiculous. I can only use my own country as an example, but were all the black people supposed to leave because they didn’t like being discriminated against? Were all the women supposed to leave because they didn’t have the right to vote? Are all the muslims supposed to leave because this is “a Christian nation” and we don’t believe in hijab and praying 5 times a day? She is politely speaking up and asking people to discuss and reconsider their ideas about social relations. No one has to participate! She’s not on anyone’s doorstep or t.v. telling people what to think! People have to come FIND her and tell her to leave so their minds won’t be confronted by ideas they don’t like???? What dangerous nonsense.
Lady from Pakistan admits to loving just “relaxing” in her home, sitting on her big butt and doing nothing while the men and the servants do all the work.
Such amazing statements are good for a book. The title of which might be: “Why Wealthy Muslim Women Are So Lazy”
I know you’re outta words. HAHAHA!
Lame, so lame
Just to be clear, though I quoted you, and I don’t think the example you gave is the right one in the Islamic theology (works in the Christian one), I am not otherwise responding to everything you say. I’m sure you will notice that it relates a little but not completely. I didn’t want you to think I was trying to deliberately misunderstand or misrepresent your views. But because I am a big-mouth : } (InshAllah, 9 more days and the baby will be born and you won’t hear another peep out of me for several years! But I do love your blog!) Lady, you seem really happy living your life with servants. A. Why should every woman have to live that way and B. many women don’t have servants, being a muslim or a Saudi doesn’t make you rich. You ask what western women have gotten by “going out”? I think we have gotten a lot. We had to go out to fight for our right to own property. We have the right to divorce and keep our children. We have the right to serve the poor and act on our conscience to try to improve our communities. If our family will not protect us we have the right to seek protection elsewhere whether it is the courts or charity groups. We have the right to petition the government for causes we think are important like ending slavery, like banning alcohol (even if it didn’t last), getting equal treatment in medical care, having children educated and fed. We have the right to marry whom we choose, to direct our lives and suffer the consequences for the choices we make. Imagine that your gardener only planted things you didn’t like, or worse, you were allergic too and then told you you can’t change it! Would you enjoy your garden then? What if your maid was always breaking your favorite things and ruining your clothes but you can’t fire her? What if your driver refused to take you where you wanted to go and instead took you only where he thought it best for you to go? There is something to be said for one’s mistakes in life being her own. It makes one responsible for one’s thoughts and actions which is what God intended. In the end, God will ask me what I did with my life and I can’t say I was just doing what other’s told me. I hope I have a good enough resume to present .
Why would I not be able to fire my maid? lol, funny. She works under me and she’ll leave the moment I tell her to do so. Why will the Gardner refuse to change something? He works under me. He’ll do what I’ve told him to do. Why on earth will my driver refuse to take me where I wanna go? He works under me. He’ll never make excuse. You need to knock some sense in yourself, Alicia.
Like you say and I quote you’ We had to go out to fight for our right to own property. We have the right to divorce and keep our children’. Well, we don’t need to go out and fight, we get our own properties without fightin’. As for this divorce thing, We’ve got the right to divorce and it’s called ‘Khula’ and there’s no rule that a woman can’t keep her children. And yeah, our families are always there to protect us, so we don’t have to seek protection anywhere else.
And who said that women don’t have the right to choose whom they wanna marry? This is not true. My grandma married the man of her choice. It was a love marriage. No one is against her, and people even appreciate her coz there’s nothing wrong in marrying someone you like. My grandmother gave full right to my mom at the time of marriage and my mom chose my father. My two elder sister were given the same right as well. They married whom they accepted with full heart. My parents never forced my sisters in any matter. In my family, we’ve got as much right as the men in our family. But there are some families who follow the old barbarian rule of marrying their girls off in young age to some old man and I’m totally against it. Once a girl came to Prophet Muhammad[peace be upon him] and said that my father is forcing me to marry some guy and I don’t wanna marry. Prophet Muhammad[peace be upon him] warned her father not force her and thus she didn’t marry that guy.
There are some Muslims who do not follow Islam and are a shame for the Muslim community. They still act like the Arabs of the old and dark age. They still don’t give woman her full rights. And these people are usually the one who live in villages and they are barbarians. Most of them are Bedouin. But they’re in minority. Majority of the Muslims are not like this. So just don’t say that the whole Muslim community is lie this.
Best luck for the baby
lady, with all respect to your obviously comfortable place of elevation, the notion that you can call people commoners…that if people dont do what you want you can just sack them…
Is it possible you are unaware of your fellow humans suffering? I am led to think of Buddha gaining awareness that the world of luxury inside his fathers walls was not the world at all.
Though he could have stayed in it…he didn’t…he knew his fellow man was suffering.
Thanks for the good wishes! I am glad that things have worked out well for you and for your family. But my point is that for some the system allows for too much brutality. Sorry I didn’t make my analogy clear enough. Not being able to Fire your guardian is like not being able to fire your staff. For some women being under the rule of a family or husband that they cannot fire and does not take care of them is a problem. It was the same here in America. Many women were fine without legal rights because they had a good family. But woe to those who had a bad family or a bad husband. I don’t regard this as a muslim problem, it happens everywhere and under many different systems. Of course, we in America had/and still have a different system of laws and history to deal with. I was wondering today who it is that is setting us all against each other making us afraid that we will have to live like the “other”. It’s silly. Each of us has our own set of concerns we need to deal with based on the society and history we come from. I hope we can learn from each other rather than fight each other.
The question is what is Islam’s position about women working.Personally ,I had a opinion yeah woman can work …Now no.I think they should stay at home.Why.?Then the children would get good upbringing.I Have wondered why we Asian/Muslim/Arab society blame woman more even when same punishment to men.Lets say,Adultery,Prostitution,Stealing,Murder.
I think answer is Women are building block of society and if that block trembles we humanity are big trouble.If a man is bad/lewd etc society does not place so much mental pressure on that person.
But when a woman does same thing,life becomes hell.Islamic ally,it shouldn’t be ,she is human.
But the thing is she much greater than a man and responsibility towards society is much greater.
Surely men are vital to society! I can’t imagine life without my father’s love and teachings, even though he died when I was very young. Being female doesn’t mean you have it all together or that you have some special gift with children, it just means you get to birth the baby (and not all women have children, and there are times in our lives when we don’t have babies who need us 24/7). But, how can women function with bad men around?? you can’t raise children with an alcoholic, drug using man taking the food from their mouths, teaching them bad habits, undermining everything you do, beating you and the children down etc.! If men are not good, what is the point in being a good woman? and if the women are no good, what is the point of being a good man? And isn’t this at least part of the point in the Quran when we are told that pure men and women are for each other and impure men and women are for each other?
ohh. I promised I wouldn’t open my mouth today. I almost made it. I’ll try harder tomorrow!
Same goes here. LOL! XD
Not to mention…a mother being forced to raise her baby girls in a culture in which she has to constantly explain to them…sorry honey…your a girl…you cant do that.
Ive never told my girls they couldnt do something , even if that resulted in an argument with my ex…sometimes he won sometimes I won…but I made it clear to them it was the messed up culture trying to stop them…not God…and they grew up in Bahrain…but no fear…there were plenty of complete strangers willing and fully capable of telling them on my behalf that “as girls” not only were they NOT allowed to be doing “that” (something as benign as giggling in the street on the way to school) but how DARE they do that and call attention to themselves.
It seems the ONLY attention they garnered by just being girls…was that of old pervy men who seemed to make it a point to go find girls that were behaving “haram!”