Atmospheric scents-of Oud chips, Bokhoor and incense

There is nothing more beautiful than coming into your home and finding the atmosphere laced with the rich scents of rose, oud, amber, frankincense and other equally delicious fragrances… Its so warm and inviting and the scent lingers in your furniture, your clothing, your hair. Its delightful.

In Saudi my family came to really love burning oud chips and bokhoor to scent our villa and clothing. Although i had always loved burning incense, my husband could not stand it and would complain so I basically stopped and put up with spritzing Fabreeze to make wherever we lived smell good. But when we moved to Saudi we were surrounded by the inviting scents of bokhoor and ouds burning everywhere we went…if you walk through the mall there is bokhoor burning everywhere, if you go to someones home they are usually burning it and my husband came to really appreciate the delights of burning oud, bokhoor and even incense as most of his colleagues were Saudi and all of his students were Saudi so he (or we) were often invited to their homes for lunch, dinner, socializing and we both learned about Oud, the differences between them, where they came from, how to burn them and ditto for bukhoor. We also loved going to the many attar and oud shops which every mall and suq has in adbundance and smelling attars, bukhoors and buying small sample pieces of oud to take home and burn. My husband became quite the connoisseur. LOL

Although we brought quite a selection of ouds and bokhoors back to the US with us, we found we went through them pretty fast because we loved burning them and giving our home a wonderful atmosphere.

Which leads me to the main part of this post…

Ive been on the look out for someplace in the US that sells the real oud, attars and bokhoors from the Gulf. I found that Swiss Arabian has an online presence here in the USA called Mukhalat. Did you know that? I didnt…but then I found them. LOL. They ship from Massachussets and are extremely speedy. I ordered a post of “Bokhoor Bayt al-Arab” from them and I got it literally 2 days later.

This bokhoor is pretty nice, it has a rose top note which mellows to a amber-y, oud-y scent. The first 2 times I burnt it, I wasnt really that fond of it, thinking it was too florally and feminine…but then after the scent mellowed and the amber/oud scents came out I really liked it.

In Saudi I tended to shop at Syed Junaid or Arabian oud but I did stop into Swiss Arabian a few times to smell their stuff and found it quite agreeable.

There are also several other online shops based out of USA, Canada and the UK that sells the real Gulf oud, bukhoor and attars…only problem I found with them is that some inflate their prices to the extreme, which is a turn -off and another is some only do business on Ebay and accept payment via Paypal, or they charge an arm-and-a leg for shipping.There are other shops based in the Gulf but none are very dependable or they inflate the prices triple or more what their actual price is.

Of course buying bokhoor online, regardless is a gamble anyway because you can never be quite sure how it will smell once you get it and burn it…verses in the Gulf, you can request the sales clerk to burn a sample of the oud or bokhoor for you to smell so you get kind of an idea of how it will smell at home.

I will never forget this one bokhoor-related moment when my husband, son and I were invited by the father of one of his students to their house for Friday lunch. They were slightly well-off (thought through the fathers lifelong hardwork) and their home was massive. I had no idea what was in store for us…little did I know that Friday lunch entailed lunch with the *entire* family and they had like 12 grown children with children of their own and an entourage of Indonesian maids (who seemed quite happy and bubbly and probably looked forward to fridays as they all sat in the kitchen socializing while the family socialized)…but before the entire clan showed up, I had some alone time with the mom. She was older and very traditionally Saudi-like she didnt know any English, was from the older times…like illiterate and just, I donno…kind of “rough”…but she was extremely jubilant and sort of goofey. So her husband brought in some “mens” bukhoor from the mens Majlis  for me to smell and she jumped up, told her husband off for bringing those manly scents into womans space and got some “ladies” bukhoor that she makes-yes she makes her own bukhoor (I learnt via her daughter that traditionally the women of the family makes the families bukhoor using a vairety of oud, resins and attars- because you couldnt always buy it!) so she came in, shut the door – her youngest daughter was there by then so she helped translate for me…and the mom literally got the bukhoor bhurning and then put it on the ground and proceeded to straddle it  with her voluminous floral Jalabeeya around it and shake her hips around…at this point I turned red and was giggling from embarrassment, her daughter she telling her mom…NO! NO and then she grabbed me  (wow, she was strong for being so tiny!) and made me do the same with my abaya..although I really couldnt because I was laughing so hard and well, hello, decorum!… The “fun” ended when some more of her daughters and grandchildren came into the womans majlis. Ofcourse the mom told them all what she had done and made me do and they all got a good laugh at it. I was later told by another daughter that, thats a very very old fashioned thing to do with ones bokhoor, nowadays people just use attar sprinkled on their clothing. LOL

Ah, I’m blushing just recalling… yup…may I add that the food she cooked was seriously the *best* food we had eaten the entire time we were in Saudi. It was traditional Qatifi style fare and the family was extremely warm and inviting and they could not believe I was really from the US because I could sit on the floor and eat with my hands (and my son could too)…LOL…hey, what can ya say.

Which leads me to incense…since Ive decided I wont burn the bokhoor and oud that we still have as much as I used too, Ive turned back to incense. Here, incense is pretty abundant. I was in this Afro/Muslim shop in the city a few days ago…they have a huge incense collection and I stood there picking scents to try at home. I decided on a few packs from House of Mohan, mostly because they were $1.00 per pack of 10 and I figured, why pay more if I wont be sure we’ll like the scent.

I have come to really love their Frankincense and Myrrh scent…its absolutely fantastic and I am itching to buy a bag of frankincense and myrrh bits to burn on charcoal at home.


I also got some Somali Rose incense and a few others like Nag Champa and Sandalwood…sofar they seem to smell quite nice and are a decent substitute for burning bokhoor or oud (atleast for everyday use)…although the scent isnt quite *as* nice and there is something very soothing about burning bokhoor or oud chips in a beautiful mabkhoor…because we have so many wonderful (and OK, some not so wonderful) memories that go along with it that it remains something special.

3 thoughts on “Atmospheric scents-of Oud chips, Bokhoor and incense

  1. Salamoualeikoum,
    is Arabian Oud expensive? I think yes because there is one on Champs Elysées in Paris but i just want to know the prices before done a little trip to the place, BarakAllahoufiki!

    • Not any more expensive than any other Gulf Attar shop…it depends…Ive heard their branches in Europe are insanely expensive and the selection isnt very good mostly because its geared towards wealthy Khaleeji tourists and residents verses the everyday person. But like in Saudi…the price range is pretty wide and their selection is pretty huge, you can get some decent oud chips or attar for a good price-not expensive but not dirt cheap (usually the dirt cheap stuff is kr@p and not even real!)…or if its expensive its decent priced in the 1/3rd tola size…really it depends. You also have to take into consideration the quality, a lot of the cheapo attar and bokhoor isnt even real…its all synthetic and uses chemicals whereas the real Gulf shops use real, pure essences and oils…no chemicals or synthetics…

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