Don’t Know What to Cook? How About Dhub – Traditional Saudi Beudion Dish

The Dhub is a spiny tailed lizard which lives in the deserts of Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere in the region). What some may think is a snake hole burrowed in to the sand might also be the home of a dhub.

According to the dhub are characterized by an elaborate suit of armour, consisting of a tail adorned with dagger-sharp spines and a head that would not look out of place on the end of a medieval battering ram. They are usually only spotted at a distance through the shimming Arabian heat-haze, which is a pity, for there are relatively few people who have had the chance to study the amazing mechanics and colours of the dhub from close up.

Despite their rather fearsome appearance, dhubs would not willingly harm anybody. They might snack on the odd insect as babies, but as adults they are strictly vegetarian with few exceptions, confining their diet to the meager pickings offered by desert plants. They have a very low metabolism that allows them to not only make the most of a low calorie diet, but to also go several weeks on end without eating anything. Dhubs will usually go through their entire lives without drinking a single drop of water; most of their moisture requirements being met by the rather dry and often salty plants which they feed upon. Dew, condensed in the entrances of their burrows, will also be utilised if it hasn’t already evaporated before the dhub wakes up (they are not early risers and most dhubs consider 8 a.m. to be the middle of the night).

Although dhubs are fairly low on the food chain, they are by no means an easy meal and it is a specialist predator that is capable of outwitting this spiky adversary. Not only are they difficult (and painful) to hold on to, but they are also fast and alert and will scramble to the safety of the burrow at the slightest hint of danger. Their biggest threat would come from above, with many eagles and hawks being more than willing to have a go at them. Foxes too, would take advantage of a dhub that had wandered too far away from its hole. The most specialized dhub killer is probably the black desert cobra (Walterinnesia aegyptica). These stealthy snakes are able to follow the lizard straight down into the burrow, where the dhub will be engulfed after a brief struggle against a powerful neurotoxin, a venom capable of killing a human. Monitor lizards (Varanus griseus ssp) will eat the baby dhubs. In fact these hardy reptiles will eat anything that moves and are not adverse to eating things that have long since stopped moving, even if that was days ago!

But what about normal people….or beudions of the desert? What is there view on dhubs? Well, if you get the opportunity to chat or better yet sit down at a fire with a true Saudi beudion, you just might find yourself getting served dhub! web site provided this interesting narrative on eating dhub: “Dhub is a delicacy among the Arabian bedawins in the peninsula, I was offered a chance to eat it and to tell you the truth, it tasted kind of like chicken. It has white meat. Is it healthy eating lizards I hear you yell? Based on Islamic teachings: “thou shall not eat flesh eating animals, thou shall eat grass eating animals.” Based on this alone, bedawins justify that eating dhubs isn’t such a bad thing. You can either boil it or roast it, I never tried frying it with oil. Most of the meat can be found in its armored tail.

One of the most popular ways to catch Dhubs these days is by hooking one end of the hose to the car’s exhaust pipe and hook the other end to the Dhub’s lair, and simply fill its lair with smoke, this causes Dhubs to exit their holes. It was proven to be the fastest and effecient way to catch Dhubs that hide inside holes, diging its hole is both time consuming and exhausting.”

Bon Appetite!


23 Responses

  1. Dhubs can ‘inflate’ their tails, making them even more difficult to pull from their holes.

    And you’re right… they do taste like chicken! I’ve had them stewed and grilled. I suspect any chicken recipe would work.

    But they’re kind of cute, in a bulldog sort of way…

  2. Thanks for your comment, John. Yes; I would be more likely to take one in as a pet rather than try and sizzle it on the grill!

    But please, tell us more about how exactly you got to taste cooked dhub? Was this on a desert excursion or what?

  3. Carol, if presented with a dhub on a dish, plea the Sunnah!
    ‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas reported: I and Khalid b. Walid went to the apartment of Maimuna along with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), and there was presented to him a roasted lizard. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stretched his hand towards It, whereupon some of the women who had been in the house of Maimuna said: Inform Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) what he intends to eat. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) lifted his hand. I said: Messenger of Allah, Is it forbidden? He said: No. It is not found in the land of my people, and I feel that I have no liking for it. Khalid said: I then chewed and ate it, while, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) was looking (at me).

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this creature. He is pretty cool-looking, though I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to eat him.

    Speaking of things to eat, I suppose there’s no good way of translating “Green Eggs and Ham” into Arabic. They’d have to even change the pictures. :]

  5. I’m sleep deprived and found the end of the hadith hilarious! I’m picturing this great mujahid, Khalid ibn Waleed just chewing away and thinking “well as long as it aint haram”…lol

  6. Mrs C – I guess in Arabic we’d have to rewrite it as “Green Eggs and Lamb!” But that would be fun to do, wouldn’t it…

    Umm Adam – It does paint a humorous thought!

    Now I want those like John who have had dhub to come forward and tell us about it! I’ve not been offered it….yet.

  7. I think they look cute and I don’t want to eat them!
    UmmAdam, that was a lovely hadith! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    I think the new method of catching them is evil. It should be difficult to catch them!

    Why is everybody, but everybody, posting on food???????
    I have the idea hat ever since the start of ramadan, the recipes are flooding blogsphere!

  8. Hi Aafke, I agree with you; I’d rather have one in my garden as a pet!

    Yeah…something about fasting all day makes one think of recipes and cooking… this afternoon I decided to make some old fashioned Divinity (a very sweet and light candy) to take to a friend’s home after iftar!

  9. Aafke, if we are posting from the comfort of our home on our high speed dsl, than we have truely not been deprived and all the praise is due to Allah for that!

    Now for those of you who want to see this caught, cooked, and cuisined, check it

    I’m following my Prophet’s sunnah on this one!

  10. and for those who have not heard of Divinity but curious, the recipe can be found here:

    It takes only a few ingredients but just be sure to have the sugar/caro/water mix reach 260 AND to beat the egg whites until peaks form!

  11. “I’m picturing this great mujahid, Khalid ibn Waleed just chewing away and thinking “well as long as it aint haram”…lol”

    Khalid bin Waleed is the furthest thing, IMHO, from a “great mujahid”.

  12. Haha, it looks so cute I wanna hug it.

    I think I’m warped!

  13. Maya – you’re not warped…or if you are, you are not alone! (LOL)

  14. You might like this.

    Has the hadiths, recipes, everything!

  15. Abid, only Imam-e-Zamana in his cave is brave … right?

  16. I understood it as we arent allowed to eat something with claws…and lizards definitely have claws…so how did Muslims get around that one? Just wondering…

    on another note….ewwww!

  17. I think that I too would have stuck to the answer that the Prophet (pbuh) gave!!! Yuck! ; )

  18. ohhhh….. thanks. My husband was telling me all about how his mom makes it. Now i am throughly not looking forward to this! GULP. that doesnt even look good.

  19. TPG – you must share wtih us though on how your mother-in-law prepares it….and….who gets it for her?

    Thanks for sharing – Carol

  20. Funny how I always think of a lizard as something small.

  21. Welcome Snarla and thanks for your comment!

  22. Cook recipe for sunday:


    Perfect food!

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