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DUBAI’S BEST SELECTION OF FOOD AND DINING NEWS IN A BIMONTHLY E-MAGAZINE ISSUE 2, APRIL 2014

Spring...

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Anjana Chaturvedi www.maayeka.blogspot.ae Anja Schwerin www.anjasfood4thought.com Arva Ahmed www.iliveinafryingpan.com Arwa A Lootah www.lamereculinaire.com Assia Othman www.assiakitchen.com Debbie Rogers www.coffeecakesandrunning.me Debbie Steedman www.therealgeordiearmani.com Dima Sharif www.dimasharif.com Dinusha Jayatillake www.thestoveandi.com Farwin Simaak www.loveandotherspices.com Francine Spiering www.foodlanerecipes.blogspot.ae Ishita B Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com Jasmine Perrera www.peartreediaries.com Karen McLean www.secretsquirrelfood.com Nabeela Ismail www.beelabakes.blogspot.ae

All articles have been published with the consent of our contributors. They are a particularly talented bunch - not only have they designed the recipes and/ or written the stories you read, they have also taken some incredible photos, which are all by the author of the article unless marked otherwise. If you are a passionate blogger based in Dubai and blog on food and culinary travels, we are looking for you. For advertorial and sponsorship enquiries, please shoot us an email at editor@foodemagdxb.com.

Nick Rego www.outinmyhead.com

Please visit our website and feel welcome to provide feedback:

Neil Walton www.nwpstudio.com

www.foodemagdxb.com

Neenu Sajin www.foodkissed.com

Noreen Wasti www.thevanillabeandream.wordpress.com Prachi Grover www.orangekitchens.blogspot.ae Priya Srinvasan www.enveetukitchen.com Radia Siyoucef www.radotouille.com Rana Yassine www.zaatarandquinoa.com Reem Alshamshi www.foodiva.net Ritu Chaturvedi www.fussfreecookingblog.wordpress.com Rubeen Rashik www.stopdietin.wordpress.com Saba Wahid www.culinarydelightsbysabawahid.blogspot.ae Sally Prosser www.mycustardpie.com Samantha Wood www.foodiva.net Sandy Dang www.gingerandscotch.com Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com Shaikha Al Ali www.whenshaikhacooks.com Shaima Al Tamimi www.potsandpatterns.com Stacy Rushton www.foodlustpeoplelove.com Sukaina Rajabali www.sipsandspoonfuls.com Swati Bansalrao www.swatibansalrao.com Tala Samman www.myfashdiary.com Tala Soubra www.forkitoverdubai.com

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Our wonder ful contributors

A delicious hello, once again. We are happy that although we are just one issue old, we have had an overwhelming response. Comments have poured in from readers telling us that the launch issue had been ‘Beautiful, creative and inspiring’. We would like to continue being so, at the same time be a meaningful and a practical magazine with an unique voice that connects to our readers, contributors and sponsors alike. This is our 2nd issue and life is not easy. After the initial excitement of the delivery comes in the actual realisation of the birth of the baby and the gradual expectations surrounding it. Is the kid developing fine? Interacting well? Smiling? Looking healthy? Well, that is exactly how we feel. Quite a few days of unabated attention and work gave birth to our first issue. And now, before we could even bat an eyelid or organize a launch party, it’s time to punch again on the keyboards. April. Fresh flowers and herbs, birds chirping, cool breeze – a lot of new buzz all around. Easter bunnies are strutting around the corner and so is happiness and good times spent with family and friends. The recipes in our April issue are brimming with seasonal freshness and joie de vivre. We have tried to inspire ourselves with stories from visits to organic farms, not only here in the UAE but also many miles away in India. While we talk about visiting farms, our authors take us through the markets of the world – France, Italy and the UK in our Culinary Travel section. Dubai is gradually waking up to distinct neighbourhoods, with each boasting of signature cafes and restaurants. Some of them do have unique concepts while others are treading beyond the ordinary to cater to new tastes. Like our first issue, we are happy to have the continued support of Roundmenu as our social dining partner, powering our restaurant reviews section. Just like the city we live in, we love festivals to brighten up our daily lives. A retrospective wrap-up of the month long Dubai Food Festival and the Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi prepare us to face a new school term, a new season and most importantly another new issue. Do bombard us with your love on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (you will find us as @foodemagdxb everywhere) and help us to trend a new hashtag... #foodemagdxb With love Sarah Walton and Ishita B Saha

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Recipes: Vegetables in season

Recipes: Spring Drinks

Recipes

Food Sourcing

Cooking with Kids

Food Events

Contents 6 12 14 17 19 23

Chef Interview

Foodpor n

Restaurant Reviews

Culinary Travel

Recipes:Herbs and Flowers

Recipes: Spring Lamb, Spring Chickens and Easter Eggs

This issue’s cover by Sheban from Airspective Media, taken at Greenheart Organic Farm . More on Page 14

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Food Events: A Couple of Dubai Food Festival Wrapups The six people you meet at Taste of Dubai Last week I popped down to Taste of Dubai with my sis, something that we’ve done each year as a kind of insane foodie tradition. While the festival has certainly grown over the past few years, we’ve noticed subtle changes in the variety of food on offer as well as the kind of people who show up to attend. Having attended two out of three days this year, I certainly ate quite a bit and observed my fair share of weird people (and cliques). We came up with a little list of the kind of people that you can meet at Taste of Dubai: The Honeymooners – what better way to spend the weekend with your significant other than at a food festival, curled up on the soft grass listening to a band on stage while you sip Tiger beer. And you don’t even need to be married to be in the Honeymooner category – basically feeding anyone a spoonful of soft-shell crab while having a When-Harry-Met-Sally moment will get you into this category.

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The Pram Pushers – hot on the heels of The Honeymooners come The Pram Pushers. These people think that it’s much more fun to bring their kids out as well, rather than having them at home with a sitter. And with small kids come prams that could pass as Transformers. It’s bad enough that the place is teeming with people, but let’s make things a bit more interesting by barreling down the pathway with this huge thing that looks like a wheelbarrow. Bonus points for carrying your two-year old baby and standing in front of a flaming BBQ pit to give your kid that extra-smoky,

Image credit: Sally Prosser

Nick Rego www.outinmyhead.com cancerous carbon smell. The Serial Clubber – on your way to a club? Why not detour and bingeeat on sushi, crab, chicken skewers, and drink wine from a plastic cup? These strange creatures come decked out in their best clubbing gear (including high heels – on grass), and are utterly confused when they realize they have to buy a ticket to get in. The Food Blogger – poised with diminutive notepad and DSLR/ smartphone, the Food Blogger hops from table to table while painstakingly framing their five-millionth Instagram photo of a fish biryani. They’re not afraid to storm the stage after a chef’s demo or to stop you halfway through your meal to snap a photo of ‘casual diner tucking into their latest food find’. #love #food #foodporn #tod #nom

The Social Drinker - a regular every year, the Social Drinker sees Taste of Dubai as just one big excuse to go out and get completely plastered. Whether they’re staggering into the MMI tent or staggering out of the MMI tent, the Social Drinker is far from social, opting either to lean on a fence for support or plonking themselves in the VIP lounge with fellow Drinkers. Strike up a conversation with them at your own peril. The Beachcomber - a new entry this year, the Beachcomber is exactly that – dressed for the beach, but attends a food festival. Tank top, shades on top of their head, flipflops, and shorts complete a chic beach look, except they stand out like a sore thumb amongst everyone else who’s dressed like regular human beings.

Several courses of the first Dubai Food Festival You could be forgiven for thinking that there is a year-long food festival in Dubai so much goes on in the culinary calendar. But a new initiative was launched this year to group some of the major events together under the title Dubai Food Festival, adding in some additional and quirky things to show off this city’s diverse food scene to the max. It all came about very quickly and some things worked better than others. But all in all it was a whirlwind month of food-centric fun with many highlights; it all started at the end of February with:

Dubai Food Carnival About: Aimed at a wider family audience, it had a mix of entertainment and low to mid range food stalls. I managed to say yes to being on a discussion panel and felt very exposed up on the big stage discussing the importance of service versus food in restaurants. Good things: Eating martabak telor fresh from the pan at Wok it, seeing the Weber barbecue challenge pitting teams against each other, a glimpse of John Torode, My Dad can cook (father and offspring cooking together), veg growing competitions in schools, Ghaf kitchen (Dubai’s first food truck) and Silvena Rowe‘s pop up using local, organic veg. Could do better: Could do with a few more unusual eating experiences (and less fast food style vendors); the family entertainment (apart from the sumo wrestling bizarrely) was a bit grating – but then again it wasn’t aimed at me.

Beach Canteen About: Pop up restaurants on three beaches, with a range of foods and live music. Good things: Kite beach location

was really chilled and lovely with some nice stalls and great music. It felt like you could be anywhere in the world, a great hub frequented by a range of nationalities and would be great on this beach as a permanent fixture.

Sally Prosser www.mycustardpie.com

Could do better: Last minute notice and very few people seemed aware of it – especially Russian beach and sunset beach canteens. The one on sunset beach was plonked in the middle – difficult for atmosphere. The mix of stands was a bit odd. And at all places the food was too expensive.

Greg Malouf media lunch at Nawwara Greg Malouf is famous in Australia and I had this impression that he was tricky by the revered whispers his name was breathed. So I was expecting something fancy for a media lunch at Nawwara in JW Marriot Marquis. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The interior of the restaurant was light-filled, elegant and modern with traditional touches such as the full length fountain trickling gently down the centre. When Greg spoke he was understated and self-effacing patently still much happier in the kitchen than in front of a crowd. His praise of Youssef Issa, the head chef of Nawwara and the other staff seemed warm and genuine. And the food…. you could have knocked me down with a feather. Nothing unusual, Lebanese staples such as hummus, tabbouleh, fatoush, muhammara and mutabal graced the table served traditionally but immaculately. Anyone who says you can make good hummus by whizzing up a tin of chickpeas in a blender hasn’t lived in the Middle East – the test of a good restaurant is its hummus. This was soft like butter, creamy, smooth, balanced,

Image credit: Debbie Rogers

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elegant and this immaculate execution of a simple dish was carried throughout. Two more salads followed, one from Greg’s grandmother’s recipe ‘Tata’s Salad’. A type of chard pie with chickpeas wooed us by its ‘hand of Fatima’ decoration and savoury leaves encased in crumbly crust. Up until now we’d eaten no meat at all but there were no complaints. Duck tagine accompanied with stuffed vegetables was the most homely but satisfyingly good and accompanied by the most delicious couscous I have ever eaten…ever. How can couscous be that note-worthy? Apparently the traditional (i.e. arduous and time-consuming) method of preparing couscous is very different to the instant packet stuff. Remembering it makes me want to eat it again right now. Greg provided the playful dessert of camel biscuits and Chef Youssef one made of frozen clotted cream, Ethiopian raw honey, berries and nuts; it was superb. An absolutely exquisite lunch and a very clever way to show that Dubai’s five stars aren’t just style over substance to the world’s media while firmly rooted in the Middle East.

Gourmet Trail Guide Six local food experts (i.e. eminent food bloggers) were asked to create a Dubai Food Festival Gourmet Trail Guide. They picked five foodie trails, to highlight the diverse selection of cuisine and dining experiences available throughout Dubai. • Ultimate Dining Experiences – gourmet or 5-star dining outlets • Best Kept Secrets – little known eateries and restaurants • Arabian Inspirations – the very best of Emirati, GCC and Levant cuisines • Around the world – the very best of cuisine from around the globe available in Dubai • Best Cheap Eats – the best dining or snacks for under 20 AED per person Even though I read all these blogs and know many of the bloggers 8

well, there were still lots of surprises among the trails. A great resource to dip into even after the festival is over.

Gulfood In previous years I’d avoided going to this huge trade show, which attracts exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. I was afraid that it would represent everything I stand against – industrialised, highly processed foods and fancy imported goods. This year I decided to go with an open mind and see if my preconceptions were right and in the main they were. It was absolutely overwhelming too – vast halls of stalls, the outside areas packed, mainly with men in suits dragging wheelie computer bags who were chain smoking. Good things: The country stalls give small producers the chance to reach a wider audience. Gulfood also demonstrated what an important business hub Dubai is not only in the region but also worldwide. As a place to network for the food industry, there must be few rivals. Could do better: Sad to see a country like Poland represented by a stand crammed full of highly pro-

cessed foods in boxes. Is this seen as progress from a land so rich with good ingredients and delicious cuisine? The numbering of the stands was completely baffling too; even though I downloaded the app it was hard to navigate your way round.

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature This wonderful annual event got scooped up under the Dubai Festival banner too and quite rightly so as there is always an excellent food contingent. I thought there were less demos this year (thoroughly enjoyed some in the past from Madhur Jaffrey, Ariana Bundy and Rachel Allen). I’ve met some of my absolute food heroes there in previous years too (Claudia Roden, Anissa Helou) and been entertained by stories from Ken Hom and Willie Harcourt-Cooze among others. There were so many wonderful sessions for non-foodie authors this year that I only managed to sit in on one session but it was one of the most interesting I attended. William Sitwell kept us all engaged and chuckling with his quick wit and The History of Food in 100 recipes is

compelling bedside reading. My main coup this year was to interview Prue Leith.

Taste of Dubai 2014 About: The most popular and well-known food event in Dubai’s calendar where you can eat small portions of signature dishes from a wide range of upper-end restaurants as well as food demos, cookery classes and competitions. Good things: As always the big draw is that you can eat a range of nice food and drink (alcohol) in the lovely Media City amphitheatre and listen to live music. The cookery competition run by Crate and Barrel and BBC Good Food Magazine was exceptional. Contestants were pitched one against the other for a cook off. These local amateur keen cooks were superb and created some amazing dishes from a given basket of ingredients against the clock. The set up was good – individual kitchens almost like Masterchef, the compère professional and credible panel of judges. Nice to see some smaller set ups there too like Boon Coffee and I tasted

finger limes for the first time at Lafayette Gourmet. The fun tasting at the MMI beverage theatre (a bit like call my bluff with wine) took an even funnier twist as the heavens opened and we all had to huddle in the pouring area. Good to see Le Clos there this year and to taste some wine fine too. Eric Lanlard had a few hearts fluttering this year although not when I visited. Could do better: Perhaps I’m becoming jaded with the event or maybe it’s reached its peak but I was slightly underwhelmed this year. I had hoped that Gary Rhodes wouldn’t be repeating his same menu including white tomato soup yet again, but was disappointed to see that none of the Starwood group restaurants (including Toro Toro, Rhodes Mezzanine and Indego by Vineet) were not there this year. Neither were the Atlantis restaurants (so no Nobu or Ronda Locatelli) or JW Marriot Marquise or Mango Tree or Carluccio’s. Given all the new openings this year, it was a shame that nothing really exciting replaced them either; I did sample some food from La Porte des Indes, one of few

new kids on the block, but the highlight was tucking into very good fish and chips from Rivington Grill – delicious but not pushing any culinary boundaries! Verdict on the Dubai Food Festival This festival is a sign of Dubai coming of age and a sign that the powers that be are waking up to the fact that people aren’t just interested in five star fine dining. Good things: Great to have a platform for the huge diversity of cultures and their cuisines on offer in Dubai. Could do better: Tenuous food entertainment such as dancing cutlery in malls. Forget it. More focus on the great ingredients available in Dubai and more authentic street food being given a platform (not just those who can afford to invest). It was all a bit last minute too so with a bit more planning could be something really special. Conclusion: Great imaginative initiative can’t wait to see what they do next year. 9

Food Events: Qasr Al Hosn, a pictorial retrospective Queens from the Emirati Heritage There is nothing quite like taking a trip down heritage lane. Qasr Al Hosn, in its second year, is a culmination of all historical things about the Emirati way of life. A 10-day educational event that always takes place at the first permanent stone watch tower that housed the royal family (in Arabic, Qasr means palace and Hosn means Fort). Whilst events like these are an interactive wealth of information to expats and tourists, the locals find it even more amusing because it takes them back in time to re-live stories that were told by their ancestors. A little educational note here – many neighbouring Gulf countries also shared many similar facets in their ways of life. Do notice the heavy usage of everything related to Palm trees from dates, to using the trunk to make wicker baskets, home accessories etc. I will leave you with a pictorial sneak peak into the lives of the women who perfected the term “Domestic Goddess� in all its glory. At times, I secretly wish if I could go back in time to experience the bygone era, first hand. Sigh!

Shaima Al Tamimi www.potsandpatterns.com

An Emirati cooking demonstration 10

Chbab ” Emirati Pancakes”

Dates in wicker baskets made from Palm tree

“Tally” Hand made Embroidery 11

Cooking with kids: Books for Cheflings Each night before Sara goes to sleep she gets to choose five books (I ask her to pick five and usually she picks up about eleven) to read with us. Post which she likes to “read” them by herself.

Prachi Grover orangekitchens.blogspot.ae

She is very particular that just like on her mum’s bedside table she too on hers has her mobile, a food magazine (the mag and Sara are of the same scale; It’s a tiny one that came with the newspaper) and a photoframe! This girl...I tell you! At four she already has her huge collection of books, and a lot of them are food related.

Let’s Eat by Beatrice Hollyer This book is Sara’s current favorite. It takes you to the homes of five kids who stay in different parts of the world (France, India, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand) and how each spends her day and during the course of the day what each one eats. Simply put the book talks about the cities/villages that they belong to, their eating habits on weekdays and over weekends and what they like and what they dislike. But underneath all this is what I like about the book more - the differences and the similarities between their lives and the child reading. It means we can both learn a lot.

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It shows how each child helps her parents during mealtimes, how there are certain foods that each one associates with celebrations at home ( we all do that, don’t we...irrespective of latitudes and longitudes), how its fun to go and shop for food and make the right and a healthy choice. And how food shared with family and friends always leaves with one with beautiful and lifelong memories.

The child begins to appreciate the differences as well. Not only the how each country has a different cuisine but also how life is different in the city and at the farm and the hardships that the less privileged ones have to face. The book is written from the child’s perspective and has real life pictures of her/his life, which my little girl loves. At the end of the book is a useful food glossary and also the favorite recipes from each of the kids. Sara says her favorite is AA from Thailand and she loves her recipe for the Thai fried egg. And each morning she cooks one for herself (without the fish sauce mostly) while

her mum is busy screaming “Sara we are getting late for school!” We love to point out each country on the globe too. She also says that the bit about Thembe makes her sad for the little girl has to work really hard each day. A forty page book can’t do justice to all the different food habits and living habits of each country. So rather than a detailed study on culture and food and certain classifications, this book effectively exposes children to something that is different than their own life. (But the one on India did disappoint me. I think it may not be a bad idea for Sara and me to rewrite that bit soon…)

A collage selection by Amy Wilson Sanger Amy Wilson Sanger is the creator of the Tricycle’s best selling World Snacks Series for toddlers and lives with her family in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Her books are uniquely aimed to cooking toddlers, and combine mixed media and cutouts to lure the young reader in, whilst exposing them to cuisines from all over the world. Other books by her: Let’s Nosh; Mangia Mangia; A little bit of soul food; Chaat and sweets. These books by Amy Wilson Sanger are a great read if like me you have a toddler at home who loves to “cook” in her “kitchen”. It’s an easy first introduction for the kids to cuisines of different countries. The storylines are simple, with rhyming text and lovely bright collages and illustrations. The books even have the correct meanings of all the unfamiliar words on its back cover and correct pronunciations too. Some of her favorite bits from the three books are: “A big burrito almost wider than my mouth”. This is where she opens her mouth as wide as she can. “Miso in my sippy cup,tofu in my bowl”. Both of us love singing this bit, I have no clue why. May be the idea of miso in her sippy cup is what I find amusing. •At last my tummy’s full from all these “little bits of heart” and this is where she likes to touch her tummy and fall on the bed as if she just finished eating a meal the size of an elephant. Of course, we also like to have the occasional dimsum, tortilla and some sushi while reading these.

Till next time, Adios my green amigo!

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Food Sourcing: Care for local, organic, farm-fresh? Then visit a farm. When someone brands their products as local, organic and farm-fresh, I do not question them. This arises out of my colossal ignorance of what questions to ask. I know it’s all ‘good for you’ and chemical-free, but that’s the end of a happy veggie story, which ends with a meal that I can Instagram to announce my support of the LOaF movement (Local, Organic and Farm-fresh. This is my precious contribution to the universe of gimmicky acronyms). It doesn’t take much for me to jump on the popular bandwagon, stuff my recyclable grocery bags silly and feel almighty because I made a healthier, more environmentally sound choice. In a weak moment of doubt, I might ask if chemicals have been used on the plant or if the hens are freerange, but you could offer me a bunch of rotten lies and I wouldn’t know the difference.

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Cut me some slack, I grew up in this desert city. Visiting a farm is a vague childhood memory, done once, maybe twice while I was on my grandfather’s land in India. Not twice in the year, but twice in my lifetime. Strawberries are year-round in the supermarket, and cherry tomatoes are those juicy red globes that stare back at me through their perforated plastic cradles. If you tell me that this fair purple-skinned eggplant is locally grown and that pile of shiny green capsicums is organic, I won’t bat an eyelid. As for striped Chioggia beetroot or lemon cucumbers, I wouldn’t ask questions at all because those didn’t exist in my life until last week. Ignorant I am, but I am not very different from many who have grown up in this desert city. I’d been buying local, organic veggies for the entire season without

Arva Ahmend www.iliveinafryingpan.com Photography credit: Sheban at Airspectiv Media

truly understanding what that implied. The ogre of my naivety yawned in my face with its obnoxious ignorant breath when I visited the Greenheart Organic farm last week, only to realize that I’d been buying local, organic veggies for the entire season without truly understanding what that implied. My broad vague notions of local and organic were challenged when I met the outrageously knowledgeable Elena Kinane, a Bavarian-born history major with a green thumb so large that it can convert desert into field. Literally. Elena is the lady behind the former Nazwa farms, which was unexpectedly shut down by its local owner in 2010, much to the shock and disappointment of her customers. In the words of Sally Prosser, one of my favourite food bloggers and a loyal customer of Nazwa at the time: This is a black day indeed… So it’s back to buying a patchy and often expensive array of imported organic fruit and veg. Despite the setbacks, Elena found her way to the end of that dark tunnel and is now the champion of Greenheart Organic Farms along with her partner and farm engineer Azam Mubarak. The biggest lesson that I have learned here: If you butter up to the LOaF movement, then your first order of business is to learn what questions to ask about the produce that you are buying. And to fully understand the answers given to your questions, you must attempt to visit a local organic farm. Spend time with a farmer, comb through the furry rows of fennel, pluck a bunch of ripe lipstick strawberries, inhale the enchanting citrus perfume of a beefsteak tomato plant, turn your phone off and immerse yourself in an experience that is critical to fully appreciating the effort it takes to grow organic produce in the middle of the desert. When you fully grasp the intense level of care and passion that a local organic farm invests in their produce, you are compelled to think about what you eat and where it came from. The baby portion of blue azure kohlrabi tossed with za’atar, toasted pine nuts, and whipped yoghurt-feta dressing that I had for lunch a day after the farm visit was shockingly filling. I am confident that my mind tricked my

body into believing it had eaten more than was actually in the bowl. Being on the farm, hearing Elena praise the kohlrabi as rich in antioxidants and nutrients, and watching Azam cut out the vibrant purple bulbs with leaves sprouting out of their eccentric Medusa-like heads – all of this made the vegetable so much more than just a vegetable. When you fully grasp the intense level of care and passion that a local organic farm invests in their produce, you are compelled to think about what you eat and where it came from. Blindly scarfing down

your veggies is simply not an option. There is an argument to be made about sitting at your computer with a cup of organic fair-trade coffee and researching LOaF online. The Internet is awash with valuable information, strong opinion pieces and not surprisingly, heavy piles of bull manure. While the intention to research online is noble, the concept of local, organic and farm-fresh will hide under the preservative-sprayed leaves of organic cabbage in your bag until you actually see, smell, touch and taste on a farm. 15

The person who first planted this desire to visit local farms in my head was Laura Allais-Maré, the founder of Dubai’s Slow Food chapter. I followed her like a wide-eyed puppy into a local farm in Fujairah back in December - and since then, I have been waiting for another farming expert to toss me a bone again. This is an important time in Dubai, a time when the leaders of the LOaF movement are not just advocating the usual buzzwords, but they are throwing open the gates of local farms as an education ground for knowledge-seeking customers. Being on a farm plants questions in your mind that rarely sprout up while you are bagging your beets at the market. It was not until our small group of writers tugged out heirloom golden beets from the earth that we knew to ask what pre-1950’s heirloom seeds are, and why they are different from hybrid seeds that currently rule the markets for their hefty volumes and consistent yields. This is a subject on which Elena can probably offer an entire semester-long course if you are a willing student, and if she ever did offer it, you can be assured that I would take the front seat in her class. Heirloom seeds are like senile grandparents – full of goodness and weathered by the test of time, yet erratic in ways that commercial producers would not tolerate. They are not programmed to sprout at the same time, a result that can be particularly unnerving for wholesalers who need to guarantee volumes and timing of supply. Especially when planted on foreign soil, heirloom seeds have a far lower yield in the short-run if you rely on nothing but nature and evolution to help you protect them in the new surroundings. Without any chemical intervention, heirlooms seeds gradually have to adapt to their environment and build natural immunity. Try explaining that to a supermarket chain buyer when you lose 60% of your capsicum crop to pesky grasshoppers. But Elena is clearly in the green game for the long-haul. Greenheart Organic Farms has chosen to let long-term evolution take priority 16

over short-term yield. As an entrepreneur myself, I cannot help but wonder whether this strategy will help pay the bills and keep them going. I hope it does, because if what Elena says is true – “it’s all in seed. You have to acclimatize them to these conditions.” – then the wait for more desert-hardy seeds will be worth it. Seeds are only one part of the equation. At multiple points through our farm tour, Elena stresses on the importance of “building soil.” Greenheart uses manure from the animals feeding on nutritious alfalfa on their own farm and does not rely on manure from third-party vendors for fear of what is being fed to the animals. Controlling what the animals eat translates into, simply put, organic poop, which then enables you to set up a 100% organic growth cycle on the farm. All this might sound a bit obsessive to the busy customer who just needs his swathe of lettuce for dinner tonight, but when you tour the farm with Elena, that obsession emerges as nothing short of common sense. Not building the soil will eventually leave the land barren and back to its bleak desert state – a case that Elena has seen in surrounding areas that were once farmed but now desolate. The topic of watering the plants causes another set of informational floodgates to burst open. As we peek over the high walls of the water tank, we learn about the differences between sweet water (or fresh water or water that is of drinking quality) and salty seawater. Red dragonflies, oblivious to Elena’s passionate water discourse, flit about the frothy sweet liquid as it gets pumped out of wells in the vicinity and gushes out into the tank. This water will be channeled through a drip-irrigation system into soil ‘built’ up with organic matter, soil that will effectively trap water rather than offering it up as vaporized bait for the sun. There is no doubt that this well water will be given the respect it deserves. As we settle down to a wholesome salad lunch in the shady farm tent, it hits me that it would be sinful to

waste anything on my plate. Greenheart does not only farm, but they mother the produce. They feed their sickly capsicum herbal remedies, shade their midget broccoli under umbrellas made of leaves, and expound on the personality of each crop as if it were their…children. It is a wise form of parenting, some would even call it ‘tough love.’ Greenheart lets the crops experience nature at its fullest without mollycoddling them with chemicals, yet creates a home with all the right elements so the plants are supported and grow up to be more resilient. And when the plants mature into strong sturdy adults, the farmers will not be shy about their pride in them. Elena literally skips with joy when she approaches a row of lemon cucumbers, caressing one of the strange prickly yellow globes in her hand with the joy that only a mother can show for her awkward freckle-covered child. “It’s a bit like recreating the cycle of life.” While Elena is not currently offering a farming course for ignoramuses like me, Greenheart is finally launching a regular program for farm visits during the cooler months. She is a fountain of knowledge, be it on building soil, conserving water, companion planting, planting for seeds rather than commercial sale, heirloom seeds – she will put questions in your head that never existed at all. You leave the farm with shoes caked in sand and brains caked in information. This is an incredible form of experiential learning, and I hope that every mother takes her child to the farm so they understand that strawberries do not grow in plastic cradles. We are nearing the tail end of this growing season and Greenheart’s farm visits are already over-subscribed, but I would urge you to get in line for a farm trip for the growing cycle next fall. I hate to sound selfish, but I am so painfully aware of my ignorance – and so enamoured by the ruby cherry tomatoes that burst into sweet citrus juice in my greedy mouth before they could make it to my basket – that I am already elbowing my way back into that line.

Recipes: the best from our blogs, a taste of Spring Image credit Sarah Walton

We threw up a theme of “Spring� to our favourite recipe bloggers, and as always, they have come through with some wonderful ideas. Some gave us wonderful seasonal recipes, others focussed on the festivals that occur at this time of year. Some considered what they love to eat and drink the most as the weather heats up in this part of the world, where Spring really compares to Summer, and Summer compares to no other season on the planet. Some gave us Spring colours, luscious greens, deep floral hues. Some cooked with flowers, providing a boquet of taste to match our blossoming gardens. Together they make a remarkable collection of dishes to keep you fresh and fullfilled until we bring you our Summer issue!

17

Recipes: The vital spring - drinks to quench the Dubai heat.

Spring in Dubai is something really wonderful. We are outside as much as we can be, grasping at the last of the sun’s rays before they become lethal. It’s hot, yes, but not prohibitively so. It’s party season! So this issue, we’ve included a few recipes for drinks something to make your al-fresco dining all the more pleasant.

18

Angoor ka Sharbat

Anjana Chaturvedi www.maayeka.blogspot.ae

Lime Mojito

Anjana Chaturvedi www.maayeka.blogspot.ae

A refreshing grape, lemon and mint drink.

An easy and refreshing mint and lime drink

Ingredients »» 1 cup of seedless purple grapes »» 12 fresh mint leaves »» 1/2 tsp ginger, chopped »» 1 tbsp sugar »» 1/3 black salt »» Roasted cumin-1/2 tsp »» 1 1/2 cans of aerated lemon drink

Ingredients »» 10 mint leaves »» 4 lime slices »» 3 tbsp brown sugar »» 1 cup of crushed ice »» 2 cups of lemonade or aerated lemon drink

Method 1. Wash the grapes and mint thoroughly. 2. Add all the ingredients in the blender (except the lemon drink). 3. Grind to make a smooth paste. 4. Sieve with a juice strainer. 5. Fill 1/3 of the serving glasses with the above syrup. 6. Add some crushed ice and then pour aerated lemon drink to fill the glass. 7. Garnish with mint leaves and serve chilled. Notes Grapes are not only delicious but also loaded with nutrients. They are a great source of anti oxidants and aid in digestion, cure constipation, good for people suffering from Anaemia or kidney disorders.

Method 1. Take the mint leaves and lime slices in a glass and muddle/crush with a muddler. 2. Add brown sugar and muddle again. 3. Rub the glass rim with lime slice and then dip it in castor sugar. 4. Fill half of the glass with crushed ice and pour the lime and mint mixture over it. 5. Fill the rest with lemonade or aerated lemon drink. 6. Garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices and serve. Notes With summers just around the corner, this easy, quick and refreshing classic drink requires only a few ingredients. I have used brown sugar but white sugar syrup or castor sugar can also be used.

Kiwi Mint Lemonade

Farwin Simaak www.loveandotherspices.com Ingredients »» 1/3 cup raw sugar (please increase/decrease according to your sweet preferences) »» 1 cup water »» ½ cup fresh mint leaves »» 4 golden kiwis »» 1 or 2 lemons, juiced »» sparkling water (or plain carbonated water) »» ice cubes Method 1. Boil the sugar in water until the sugar dissolves. Take off from the heat, add the mint leaves, cover it and let it steep for about 10 minutes. 2. Peel the kiwis and purée in a blender or a food processor. 3. Strain the mint syrup mixture; add the pureed kiwis and lemon juice. 4. Add the lemonade in individual glasses or a pitcher and fill with sparkling water. 5. Serve chilled with ice. Notes Kiwis are a rich source of antioxidants, fibres, Vitamin C (almost twice as much as an orange an three times more than a lemon) and Potassium (almost as much as a banana). The golden kiwis are a natural source of Vitamin E and folic acid too. 19

Pomegranate and Mint Orangeade Ingredients

Method

»» 12 oranges, juiced, or 500ml fresh bottled orange juice

1. Combine the water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Once the water starts to simmer stir well until the sugar has dissolved fully. Take off heat and leave to cool.

»»

3 lemons, juiced

»»

1 lemon, sliced

»»

1/2 cup water

»»

1/4 cup sugar

»» 1/2 cup pomegranate arils, or pomegranate ice cubes »» Large handful of mint leaves, or mint ice cubes.

2. In a jug, pour in the orange and lemon juices. Slowly add the sugar syrup and mix well. 3. Add the lemon slices. Add the pomegranate arils and mint leaves, and/or ice cubes. Notes

Nabeela Ismail www.beelabakes.blogspot.ae

If preferred the sugar syrup can be added to taste.

Jaggery Water or Panakkam/Panagam Ingredients

Priya Srinivasan www.enveetukitchen.com

»»

1/3 cup of powdered jaggery

»»

1.5 cups of water

»» ½ lemon, made into a juice (optional) »»

3 pods of cardamom, crushed

»» ½ tsp dry ginger powder or sukku podi Method 1. Add the jaggery, water, dry ginger powder, lemon juice in a bowl. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, until the jaggery dissolves completely in the water. 2. Using a Strainer, strain the jaggery water into another bowl, add the crushed cardamom and mix well. 3. Serve chilled. 20

Icy Citrusy Grapefruit Margarita

Ingredients »»

1 cup fresh grapefruit juice

»»

1/4 cup blood orange juice

»»

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

»»

1 cup tequila, silver 100% agave

»» 1/2 cup Cointreau/triple sec (you should not be trying to go upscale by using Grand Marnier (orangeinfused Cognac) because the flavor is too heavy for cocktails) »»

1 to 2 tsp agave (optional)

»»

Club soda (optional)

»»

Salt

»»

Lime wedges

»»

Ice-cubes

Method 1. Slice off a small piece of lime and run the wet edge of the slice along half of the rim of your glass. Dip the top of the glass into the salt at a 45-degree angle and roll it from side to side to catch the salt. Consider lining the rim of just half your glass with salt so you can control how much salt you taste with each sip. 2. Place glasses into freezer to chill. 3. Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Pour the tequila, grapefruit juice, blood orange juice, agave if using, lime juice and Cointreau. Put on the lid and shake for 30 seconds. I am adding blood orange for its sweetness and color but if your grapefruits are sweet and ruby red color, then you could skip the blood orange. 4. Remove glasses from freezer and strain the liquid into your glass over ice.

»»

5. Garnish with lime slices or grapefruit/blood orange slices.

»» Add soda water if you prefer some fizz. I love it.

Notes: Makes 4 x 6 ounce Margaritas

Swati Bansalrao swatibansalrao.com 21

Recipes: vegetables in season - spring

Some say that everything is always in season in Dubai, because we get all our produce shipped in. Others would say that nothing is ever in season for the same reason. To get here, produce must go through a set of procedures to make it fit to travel, and fit to sell once it arrives. For this reason, we must try even harder to ensure that we eat our fruit and vegetables at the best time. It’s not rocket science - if it’s already in season, it hasn’t needed to be preserved.... We hope. But the other side of the coin brings us in touch with the UAE’s local producers. Dubai’s farmers’ markets are becoming mainstream, and we are finding that there is far more local produce than we had ever thought possible. Seasons are a little different here in Dubai, and Spring will give us produce that is usually found later in Summer in other parts of the world. It’s a wonderful season, right here, right now. It’s definitely harvest time, and if you’ve planted some seeds late last year, you’ll be reaping in quite a bounty over the next two months. Here’s a few recipes to help you use the best of this season. 22

Image credit: Sally Prosser

Broccoli Pistachio Soup

In Season: Broccoli Imported: China, India, Spain

Ingredients »»

1 tablespoon coconut oil

»»

1 small onion, finely chopped

»»

3 cloves garlic, crushed

»» 4 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped »»

4 cups water

»»

1/2 tsp sea salt

»» 1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped »»

1/2 cup pistachios, shelled

»» 2/3 cup coconut milk (or more for drizzling)

Method 1. In a skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until onions have softened. Add broccoli florets, sea salt and water. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until broccoli is cooked, about 8-10 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, toast the pistachios in a dry pan over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Shake the pan a few times for even toasting and to avoid burning the nuts. Set aside. 3. Take off the heat. Stir in the spinach and let it wilt in the hot mixture. Add the toasted pistachios (keep 2-3 tablespoons aside) and the coconut milk to the broccoli spinach mixture. Then blend until smooth with a hand blender or a food processor. 4. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Chop up the remaining pistachios. Transfer the soup to serving bowls and garnish with chopped pistachios and a drizzle of coconut milk. Ready to serve.

Anja Schwerin www.anjasfood4thought.com 23

Grilled Pepper & Cherry tomato Quiche

Chickpea Tomato Soup

refrigerator for 45 minutes. For the filling 1. Preheat the oven to 200º C 2. Wash and slice the peppers in two, lengthwise, and place them in an oven tray.

Ingredients For the crust 300g flour

»»

150g soft butter

»»

1 pinch of salt

5. Remove from the oven and let them cool down.

»»

1 egg

6. Pre-bake the crust

»»

2 tbsp cold water

7. Roll out the dough and line a 25 cm quiche pan. Prick the rolled out dough using a fork, cover with parchment paper and add some baking weights (or dry chickpeas). Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and let it cool down slightly.

»»

For the filling:

»»

1 red pepper

»»

1 green pepper

»»

1 yellow pepper

»»

150g cherry tomatoes

Garnishing

»»

2 garlic cloves, crushed

»»

olive oil

»» Gently peel the grilled peppers and slice them.

»»

2 eggs

»»

100g grated cheese

»»

200ml milk

»»

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

»»

salt and pepper

Method For the crust »» Place the flour into a bowl, add the butter, salt, egg, cold water and olives. Mix quickly until the dough is soft. Do not knead the dough, and do not add any flour. Cover with cling wrap and let the dough sit in the

Rana Yassine http://zaatarandquinoa.com

4. Grill the peppers for 20 minutes or until black blisters appear on the surface.

»»

»» 2 tbsp unpitted olives, finely chopped

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3. Mix the olive oil with the crushed garlic and brush the peppers with it.

»» Sprinkle 50g of cheese in the pre-baked crust and top it with the sliced grilled peppers. »» In a bowl, beat the eggs and the milk very well. Add the chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste, then poor the mixture on top of the peppers. »» Garnish with the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with the rest of cheese. »» Bake for around 20 minutes and serve hot or cold.

Ingredients »»

1.5 cup cooked chickpeas

»»

5 tomatoes chopped

»»

1 tbsp coconut oil

»»

1 onion chopped

»»

2 garlic cloves crushed

»»

1 tsp paprika

»»

salt and pepper to taste

»»

1 cube vegetable stock

»»

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

»»

1 tsp dried zaatar (thyme)

»» 1 cup full fat coconut milk (organic if possible) »»

3 cups water

Method 1. Heat oil in a medium pot. Add onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add tomatoes, thyme leaves and stir. Now add the chickpeas, coconut milk and water. Cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes 2. Transfer to a blender and puree.

Radia SiYoucef www.radotouille.com

3. Put back on heat for another 10 minutes to let it settle, then serve hot.

In Season: Tomatoes Local, and Imported: Malaysia, Spain, Holland

Clams in Tomato Sauce Ingredients »»

2kg clams (with shells)

»»

2 tablespoons of olive oil

»»

2 onions

»»

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

»»

6 plum tomatoes, chopped

»» 2 tablespoons tomato paste »»

1 teaspoon sea salt

»» 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs »»

1/2 glass of white wine

»» 1/4 cup single cream or milk (optional)

Method 1. Keep the raw clams in cold water for a few hours or half a day to rinse out the sand. 2. Heat the oil in a pan. Cut the onions into fine rings and fry them until soft, about 5 minutes. Add crushed garlic and fry for another minute. Add chopped tomatoes to pan. Add tomato paste, salt, herbs and white wine and bring to boil. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes. 3. Stir in the washed clams and cook for another 10-15 minutes. This dish is better when made in advance and heated up. Just before serving, add the cream/milk to the dish to make the sauce smooth. Serve with fresh bread.

Anja Schwerin www.anjasfood4thought.com 25

In Season: Zucchini (Courgette) Local (couza), and Imported: Lebanon, France and Holland

Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta Ingredients »»

12 Zucchini flowers

»»

2 cups ricotta

»»

1 cup grated parmesan

»» 1/2 cup of chopped herbs (flat-leaf parsley and basil) »»

1 tsp grated lemon peel

»»

½ tsp chili flakes.

»» ground black pepper and coarse sea salt to taste »»

1 cup ice-cold water

»»

1 cup plain flour

»»

1 egg

Method 1. Combine ricotta, parmesan, herbs, lemon peel and chili flakes. Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and coarse sea salt 2. Shape the herbed ricotta into balls, the size roughly measured according to the base of your zucchini flower (for my zucchini flowers, a diameter of 2-3 cm (about one inch) was a good size). Chill until ready to use. 3. Rinse flowers and and dry well (but carefully, so as not to damage the flower). 4. Check the outside bottom of the flower: if there are little hook-like leaves (they are tiny), carefully snip them off. 5. Open up the flower and prepare it for stuffing: Hold the flower’s calyx in your cupped hand and fold the outer petals out over your hand to create a cup to fill. Carefully snip off the pistil. (Inside the calyx of the female flower you will find a yellow furry-looking little bulb. This is the 26

Zucchini Carpaccio Ingredients »»

1 large green zucchini

»» 200g smoked salmon packet (sliced) »»

1 baby fennel bulb

»»

1 tbsp. Vegetable oil

»»

1 tsp. balsamic glaze

6. To make the batter, beat the egg and add the ice-cold water. Mix in the flour carefully (do not over-mix). Use immediately.

»»

1/2 tsp. mayonnaise

»»

½ tsp. olive oil

»»

fresh ground black pepper

7. Dip the prepared and stuffed zucchini flowers in the batter. Deepfry in the hot oil until crisp. It takes a few minutes.

»»

finely sliced red chilli (optional)

»»

lime rind (optional)

pistil.) Place a ricotta ball inside the flower and fold the leaves over to close the cup.

Method

Francine Spiering foodlanerecipes.blogspot.ae

1. Mix the mayonnaise and olive oil well, and drip carefully around the outside of the plate. Do the same with the balsamic glaze. 2. Take a griddle pan and place on a high heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and use a brush to make sure it gets in all the gaps and ridges. 3. Using a mandolin or large potato peeler, slice your zucchini into thin discs. Place onto hot grill, and cook for approx. 2 minutes, or until lines start to appear on the uncooked side. Remove and arrange on a plate in a circular fan pattern. 4. Take your smoked salmon and arrange atop the zucchini. 5. Use the mandolin again to finely slice the fennel, and add this to the top of the salmon. 6. Grind black pepper over the entire plate, and add chilli and lime zest if desired.

Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com

Grilled Asparagus & Halloumi Parcels

In Season: Asparagus Imported: France, Germany, USA, Thailand

Karen McLean www.secretsquirrelfood.com Ingredients

Method

»» 36 small asparagus spears

1. Set a griddle pan over high heat and lightly spray with olive oil.

»» 1 block halloumi cheese »» 1 bunch chives »» 12 mint leaves »» 1 lime (cut into 12 wedges) »» Olive oil spray

2. Snap asparagus stalks to get rid of woody ends. 3. Add asparagus to the pan and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side, until nicely charred. Set aside. 4. Slice up halloumi cheese into small rectangle pieces.

5. Return the pan to medium heat and lightly spray with olive oil. 6. Add halloumi slices and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until lightly golden brown. 7. To assemble, add a mint leaf to each piece of halloumi, then place on top of 3 asparagus spears. Gently tie the parcels together with “ribbons” of chives. 8. Serve with a squeeze of lime. 27

In Season: Okra (Lady finger) Local and Imported: India, Oman, Egypt

Moroccan baby okra mash “Zaalouk elbamyeh” Ingredients »»

400g baby okra

»»

1 onion, finely diced

»»

4 garlic cloves, diced

»»

3 tbs tomato paste

»»

2 tomatoes, diced

»»

4 tbs coriander leaves, chopped

»»

4 tbs parsley leaves, chopped

»»

1/2 tsp cumin

»»

1/2 tsp paprika

»»

1/2 tsp ginger powder

»»

salt & pepper to taste

»»

1 chicken stock cube

»»

1/4 cup olive oil

Method 1. Cut the okra into small slices, and keep aside. 2. Heat the olive oil in a pan, and add in the onion. Stir for few minutes. 3. Add the garlic, tomato and tomato paste and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the sliced okra. 4. add the chicken stock cube, 2 cups of water and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. 5. Season with cumin, paprika, ginger and pepper. Adjust the salt, and add the chopped herbs. Cook for a further 10 minutes. 6. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon and stir through. Serve it immediately with some bread 28

Assia Othman assiakitchen.com

Gluten-free Fennel and Coconut Tart Ingredients Tart Case »»

65 gm rice flour

»» 45 gm almond flour or chestnut flour »» 2 tbsp potato flour or tapioca flour »»

1/2 tsp sea salt

»»

3 tbsp coconut oil or Ghee

»»

3 tbsp ice-cold water

In Season: Fennel Imported: France, India, China, Syria

dough flush with edge of the tin and prick the base with a fork to prevent the pastry from rising as it bakes. 4. Pour the coconut and egg mixture into the tart case then place the fennel slices on top. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 35 min or until the tart is golden and crispy. Once done, cool the tart and top it with your favorite salad leaves.

Swati Bansalrao swatibansalrao.com

Fennel Filling »»

120 ml coconut milk

»»

2 eggs beaten

»»

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

»» 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped »» sea salt and freshly ground pepper »»

1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

»»

Salad leaves to garnish

Method 1. To make the tart case, sift together the flours and salt in a bowl. Add the coconut milk and ice-cold water and use your hands to work the dry ingredients towards the centre until a dough forms. If it feels crumbly, add 1-2 tbsp more water. Gather into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 min in the fridge. 2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk the coconut milk, eggs, nutmeg, rosemary, salt and pepper together in a small bowl until combined. Preheat oven to 375F (190C) 3. Use your hands to press the dough evenly into the bottom and up to the sides of the tart tin. If making 4 small tarts, divide the dough into 4 equal parts before pressing into the tins. Trim the 29

Recipes: Spring Lamb, Spring Chickens, and Easter Eggs

Spring’s not all about fresh fruit and veggies - let’s have some protein! Spring Lamb is known for it’s sweetness and tendernes, and from May, you’ll start to get the best of it. “Spring Chicken” is actually Poussin, but we’ve just got a couple of lovely standard chicken dishes with zesty spring flavour. And Easter Eggs? Well, they’re not made of chocolate, but we enjoyed throwing in a couple of recipes for the most perfect symbol of the season.

30

In Season: Lamb Buy Welsh and Irish for tender Spring lamb (fast cooking cuts), Australia and New Zealand for fuller flavoured Autumn lamb (legs, shanks and shoulder for slow-cooking).

Moroccan Lamb Tagine Neenu Sajin www.foodkissed.com Ingredients »»

4 lamb shanks/legs

Method

»»

2 tbsp sunflower oil for frying

»»

2 onions, sliced

1. Fry the lamb shanks/legs in the oil, until golden.

»»

1 egg plant, sliced (round)

»»

2 pinch garlic cloves, crushed

»»

a pinch of saffron

»»

½ ginger, ground

»»

1 tsp cumin, ground

»»

1 bay leaf

»»

1 cinnamon stick

»» 400g canned cherry tomatoes / chopped red tomatoes »»

10 dates, deseeded and halved

»»

5 figs (optional)

»»

1 cube chicken stock

2. Drop a cube of chicken stock in 200 ml water and let it boil. Keep aside. 3. In a large casserole, put in the browned lamb shanks/legs, sliced onions, crushed garlic, ground ginger, saffron, cumin, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Saute the sliced eggplants in a few drops of oil and add it to the mix along with dates and tomatoes. Pour chicken stock over this until it covers the shanks. (If you need more to cover, just add some hot water.)

2- 2 ½ hours. Use a spoon to stir every 15 minutes so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the casserole. Once the meat is tender, spoon out the bay leaf and discard. 5. Serve with some crusty bread, couscous, or rice which will absorb the gravy perfectly.

4. Cover and simmer for about

How to cook your lamb: Our two recipes this month are slowcooked lamb dishes, but not all lamb has to be time consuming. If you buy young, tender cuts like cutlets, lamb loin and eye fillet, they should be cooked quickly, and served medium or mediumrare, to preserve the juices and keep the meat tender 31

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Olives, and Vegetables with Date Saba jus Ingredients

Method

For the leg of lamb

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

minutes.

»» 1 (4kg) whole leg of lamb with bone

2. Start by preparing the meat. Using a sharp small knife, make some incisions all over the meat. Alternately fill the incisions with garlic cloves and olives. Rub the meat with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and black pepper.

9. Place the roasted vegetables in a separate dish.

»»

1 head garlic, peeled

»» 100g black kalamata olives, pitted coarse »»

salt and black pepper to taste

»»

1 tbsp olive oil

For the Roasted Vegetables »»

2 celery stalks, roughly sliced

»» 3 medium red onions, peeled and quartered »» 1 large brown onion, roughly sliced »»

4 large carrots, roughly sliced

»» 150g black kalamata olives, pitted »» 4 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped »»

date saba mixture

For Date Saba Mixture »»

1/4 cup date saba

»»

1/4 cup olive oil

»»

salt and black pepper

»»

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

»»

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For Lamb Jus

32

»»

roasting pan drippings

»»

70g butter, cut into cubes

3. Heat your skillet, and brown the meat slightly on both sides. 4. Place the above in the centre of a baking tray and put it in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. 5. Boil your chopped potatoes for 5 minutes, just to get them ready for cooking. Drain and set aside on a large bowl 6. Meanwhile, place the date saba, brown sugar, salt and black pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. Drizzle the olive oil slowly while continuously whisking to achieve a thick paste consistency. 7. Mix the rest of the chopped vegetables, the remaining garlic cloves and olives with the prepared potatoes, add the date saba mixture and toss to coat. Remove the lamb from the oven and add all the coated vegetables, to the sides of the lamb and return to the oven. Roast for 2 and 1/4 hours (or until the temperature registers 140ºF for medium-rare or 155ºF for medium). Turn the vegetables 3 times throughout. 8. Remove from the oven, place the leg of lamb in a side dish, cover with foil and leave to rest for 15

10. Finish the lamb Jus: Pour the roasting juices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the jus reduces a little bit. Add the butter gradually, whisking it every time you add it. Serve the jus in a pouring jug with the lamb and roasted vegetables.

Dima Sharif www.dimasharif.com

Chicken Lemon Tagine (Meslala) Ingredients »» 2 chicken , 1200g each, cut into 8 parts »» 1/2 cup parsley leaves, finelly chopped »» 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finelly chopped »»

6 garlic cloves, diced

»»

1 tsp ginger ground , powdered

»»

1 tsp turmeric

In Season: Chicken and Eggs Chicken is always in season as eggs hatch year-round, but we just love these fresh flavoured dishes.

6. Add the chopped onion and stir. lets cook for 6 to 8 minutes. 7. Cover the skillet and let the chicken cook on very low heat for 45 minutes. 8. Add the olives, lemon slices and maybe some water if needed to the pan . Cover and let cook for additional 10 minutes. 9. Serve it with hot bread.

Assia Othman assiakitchen.com

»» 1/2 tsp Moroccan Mroozya spices »»

1.2 tsp pepper ground

»»

1 tsp salt

»»

1g saffron

»»

4 tbs lemon juice

»»

1/4 cup olive oil

»»

1 pickled lemon, sliced

»»

1/2 pickled lemon, chopped

»»

1/2 cup green olives

»»

3 onions, chopped

Method 1. Start by marinating chickens: 2. In a deep bowl, mix the parsley, coriander, garlic , lemon juice , chopped pickled lemons and olive oil together. 3. Sprinkle with ginger, turmeric, saffron , black pepper and salt. Mix well until obtaining a smooth mixture. 4. Rub the chicken parts with this mixture, cover and let’s marinate for at least 2 hours ( the long time it will stay in the marinade, the best taste you will get ). 5. Heat some oil in a large skillet, Add in the chicken parts and cook from both sides until golden brown. 33

Za’atar Chicken with Tomato and Cucumber Salad Ingredients

»»

For the chicken:

»» 1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked

»»

Olive oil

»» 1 large chicken (approx. 4 1/2-5 1/2 lbs or 2-2.5kg), cut into 8 pieces »»

4-6 tablespoons dried za’atar mix

»»

Maldon sea salt

For the salad: »»

1/2 English cucumber

»»

4 Roma tomatoes

1 bunch spring onions

»»

1 clove garlic, minced

»»

Good handful black olives

»» 5 1/4 oz or 150g crumbled feta cheese »»

Sprinkle of dried za’atar mix

»»

Juice 1/2 lemon

»»

Extra virgin olive oil

»»

2 pita breads

Method 1. Pour a good couple of glugs of olive oil into the roasting pan and put the chicken pieces skin side up in the oil. Turn the chicken pieces over and sprinkle the za’atar liberally over them. 2. Sprinkle with sea salt. Turn them skin side up and sprinkle liberally again with za’atar and a little salt. Leave to marinate for an hour or so, or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator if you have the time. 3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C. 4. Roast the chicken for about 45-60 minutes, or until it is golden and cooked through. 5. Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes and cucumbers and pile them into a big salad bowl. Mince the garlic and chop the spring onions and mint and add them in. 6. Halve the olives and add them into the salad with the crumbled feta. Sprinkle lightly with za’atar. 7. When the chicken is cooked, remove the roasting pan from the oven and set aside, covered with foil. 8. Cut the pita breads open lengthways so that you have four very thin halves then toast them in the oven until golden and crunchy. Take them out and let them cool. 9. Squeeze the lemon over the salad and give it a generous drizzle of olive oil. Toss lightly. 10. Break the toasted pita breads into pieces and add to the salad. Toss again lightly. 11. Serve alongside some tasty za’atar chicken.

Stacy Rushton www.foodlustpeoplelove.com 34

Indian Roast Chicken Ingredients »»

125 ml yoghurt, whisked

»»

1 inch ginger, grated

»»

4 cloves garlic, minced

»»

1 tsp cumin powder

»»

1 tsp coriander powder

»»

1/2 tsp chili powder

»»

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

»»

1/2 tsp garam masala

»»

2 tbsp tomato paste

»»

zest of 1 lemon

»»

juice of 1 lemon

»»

60 ml sunflower oil

»»

1.3 kg whole chicken

»»

2 handfuls curry leaves

»»

2 cucumbers

»»

1 packet wild rucola

»»

2 tbsp olive oil

Sukaina Rajabali sipsandspoonfuls.com

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. 2. Mix the first 12 ingredients in a bowl and coat the chicken thoroughly. Stuff the cavity with curry leaves and tie the legs with bakers twine. 3. Place on a baking tray and roast for 30 mins. 4. Add 250 ml water to they tray, mixing all the juices in the tray and baste the chicken. Roast for a further 90 minutes (or until thigh juices run clear when tested with a skewer), basting every half hour. You can add more water if there is no basting sauce left in the meanwhile. Remove the chicken and play on a clean tray, covering with foil, and leave to rest. 5. Prepare the salad by shaving the cucumber with a peeler lengthways using a vegetable peeler. Place in a bowl of cold water and ice for 10 minutes to allow it to crisp up. Drain and toss it with the rucola and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with the chicken. 35

Chive Pancakes with Fried Eggs, cheese, and Mishawa Ingredients For the Pancakes »»

1 tbsp melted butter

»»

1 tbsp sugar

»»

1 egg

»»

1 cup flour

»»

1 t tbsp baking powder

»»

1/2 tsp salt

»»

1 cup milk

»»

1 tablespoon chopped chives

»»

butter, for frying

For “In Betweens” »»

4 eggs

»»

olive oil

»»

sea salt and black pepper

»»

spreadable cheese

»»

chopped chive for garnishing

»»

chopped tomato for garnishing

For the Mishawa Mushrooms »»

1/3 cup chopped mushrooms

»»

1/2 tablespoon butter

»»

2 tbsp mishawa

Method 1. Using a whisk, mix the butter with the sugar. Add the egg and mix again. Follow with the dry ingredients and the milk, mix and finally add the chives and combine. 2. Heat a skillet on medium high heat and place some butter to melt, when hot use an ice cream to scoop the pancakes mix onto the pan, cooking one by one. Keep adding butter between every pancake done. 3. Heat a skillet and cook the eggs sunny side up, keeping the yolks runny. Set aside in a plate. 36

4. In a skillet, melt the butter, add the mushrooms and cook until almost fully cooked, add 2 tablespoons of mishawa and cook for a few seconds and remove from the heat and set aside. 5. Place a pancake on a serving plate, lather with spreadable cheese, add a fried egg, cover with another pancake, lather with more cheese, add another pancake, lather with cheese, cover with the fried egg, spoon the mushrooms on top, garnish with Chives, tomatoes, and black pepper and salt.

Notes: Mishawa is an Emirati product which is made by drying fish & blending it. It takes quite a bit to make it due to the drying & aging process, it also comes in a liquid form, mishawa is mostly made at home by ladies & given out to friends & family, however some people do sell it from home. You could substitute with a dash of fish sauce, or some finely chopped dried fish.

Shaikha Al Ali www.whenshaikhacooks.com

Traditional Bengali Egg Curry (yellow egg curry)/ Deemer Dalna

Ingredients »»

6 eggs

»»

1 big onion

»»

4 green chillies

»»

Cumin powder- 3 tsp

»»

Turmeric powder-1tsp

»»

Bay leaves – 2 medium sized

»» Ginger grated – 2 inch size of Ginger »»

Garlic grated – 4 pods

»»

Mustard Oil – 2 tsp

»»

Ghee -1/2 tsp

»»

Salt – As per taste

For garnishing »» Roasted garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp Method 1. Soft-boil the eggs and keep them aside 2. Fry the onions till they are red 3. Slit the green chillies into halves (You may keep them as whole Chillies if you want it less spicy) 4. Add the bay leaves, turmeric powder, cumin powder and green chillies to the pan and fry for 1 minute 5. Add 3 cups of water and salt as per taste 6. Cover the pan and simmer at low seam for 5 minutes 7. Add the eggs and let it simmer for 5 more minutes 8. Add 1/2 spoon of Ghee for flavour 9. Garnish with 1 tsp of roasted

Garam Masala Powder Notes »» Garam Masala comprises of Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon Sticks. Take 6 cloves, 6 Cardammoms, 4 Cinnamon Sticks – grind it and then roast the powder

Ishita Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com 37

Soft Meringue Pavlova with Berries Ingredients: For the meringue »» 6 egg whites, at room temperature »»

200 g Caster Sugar

»»

150 g Icing Sugar

»» 2 sachets powdered Vanilla Essence »» a squeeze of lemon (few drops) or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar For Raspberry Coulis

For the Mixed Berries Topping »»

1/4 cup Raspberries

»»

1/4 cup strawberries, quartered

»»

1/4 cup blackberries

»»

2 tbsp red currents

»»

Zest of 1 orange

»»

zest of 1/2 lime

»»

4 tbsp Caster sugar

»»

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

»»

1/2 tsp Dried mint Leaves

»»

10 fresh mint leaves, Chiffonade

»»

250g Fresh Raspberries

»» 2 turns of the mil, fresh black pepper

»»

2 tbsp Caster Sugar

»»

Vanilla Ice Cream for serving

Method 1. Start by making the Soft Meringue, Preheat your oven to 120F and line baking sheets with baking paper. Place the egg whites with a squeeze of lemon in the bowl of your electric mixer or a bowl and mix on medium using the wire attachment, or whisk until the egg whites start to thicken and become white. 2. In the meantime, mix the caster sugar and vanilla essence together. Add the caster sugar a little at a time to the beating egg whites, mixing well after each addition. Continue to beat until you reach a medium consistency (between stiff and soft peeks, check out instructions on ‘Understanding Meringue’ post). The Meringue should be pure white and shiny. 3. Gently fold in the sifted icing sugar. 4. Place large dollops of Meringue onto the lined baking sheets, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar and bake for 3 hours. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then place in an airtight container until ready to use. If you want your meringue to be slightly stiffer, turn off the oven, and leave the meringues inside for an extra hour. 5. Prepare the Mixed Berries Topping by placing all the ingredients in a large bowl and mixing to coat. Leave to set for 1 hour at room temperature, then mix again and refrigerate until ready to use. 6. For the Raspberry Coulis, place the raspberries together with the caster sugar in the blender and blend to incorporate. Push the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the seeds and refrigerate the coulis until ready to use.

Dima Sharif www.dimasharif.com 38

7. To serve, Swirl some raspberry coulis at the bottom of your plate, place a piece of Meringue in the centre, top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream then with the mixed berries. Drizzle slightly with more coulis. Serve immediately.

Recipes: Spring Herbs and Flowers

One of the healthiest ways to increase the flavour in your food is by adding fresh herbs. In Dubai we have a plethora available from our supermarkets, many of them local, or shipped from near producers like India and Oman. But we also have the spice souqs, full of dried herbs and spices, and exotic flowers and flavours of lavender, saffron, rose and orange blossom. Our bloggers have prepared a fresh spring bouquet of these for you.

39

Thai Beef Salad Ingredients »» 1 to 2 sirloin steaks, depending on the amount of meat you prefer For the Marinade »»

2 tbsp oyster sauce

»»

2 tbsp soy sauce

»»

1 tbsp lime or lemon juice

»»

2 tbsp brown sugar

»»

For the salad

»»

1 large bowl salad greens

»»

1 cup bean sprouts

»» handful of fresh mint or basil leaves, lightly chopped or shredded »»

1 cup fresh coriander

»» 1 cup fresh papaya, cubed or cut into spears »» 1 cup cherry tomatoes, left whole or sliced in half For the Dressing »» 1-2 tbsp fish sauce (available at any Asian food stores) »»

3 tbsp lime or lemon juice

»»

1 ½ tbsp soy sauce

»»

½ tsp cayenne pepper

»»

1 tsp brown sugar

»»

1 clove garlic, minced

»»

1-2 fresh red chillies, chopped

»» 2 tbsp toasted and ground sticky rice used peanuts) Method 1. Mix the ingredients for the Marinade together in a cup or bowl, stirring to dissolve in the sugar. Pour over the steaks, turning meat to coat. Set in the refrigerator to marinate (you can leave it overnight). 2. Combine all the ingredients for the Dressing together in a cup or mixing bowl, stirring until the sugar 40

dissolves (adjust fish sauce and lime juice according to your desired taste). Then prepare the bowl of greens and other salad ingredients. 3. Grill the steak over a hot grill, turning only once or twice to retain the juices (meat should still be pink in the centre). 4. While steak is cooking, toss the salad with the dressing. Taste-test for salt, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, or more lime juice if too salty for your taste. 5. When ready to serve, portion out salad onto serving plates or bowls. Slice the steak as thinly as possible and top each portion with a generous amount of sliced sirloin and a sprinkling of peanuts.

Dinusha Jayatillake thestoveandi.com

Coriander Chutney

Ginger & Lemon Soup Ingredients »» 1/4 cup masoor dal/split red lentil or moong dal/split green gram »»

2 green chilies, slit lengthwise

»»

2 tbsp shredded ginger

»»

1 tbsp lemon juice

»»

1/4 tsp turmeric

»»

salt to taste

For tempering Ingredients »» 1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves, washed & coarsely chopped »»

1 inch piece of Ginger

»»

2-3 green chillies

»»

2tbsp. Lime juice

»»

1tsp. cumin seed

»»

Pinch of Cinnamon powder

»»

Salt to taste

»»

4-5 tbsp. water

Ritu Chaturvedi fussfreecookingblog.wordpress.com

Method 1. Place all the ingredients in the blender except the lime juice and salt. 2. Scrape the sides and blend till it is smooth. Add more water if required. 3. Remove from the jar and add salt & lime juice. Mix well. 4. Keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge. Serve with Kebabs or Cutlets as a condiment.

»» 2 tsp ghee or Indian clarified butter »»

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

»»

1/4 tsp cumin seeds/jeera

»»

a sprig curry leaf

»»

a pinch of Asafoetida or hing

Method 1. Pressure cook masoor dal with 1/2 cup water and turmeric until soft. Add 2 cups of water to the cooked dal, along with slit chilies, ginger and salt and bring to a boil. 2. Let this simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes until the flavors mingle. While the soup is simmering, heat a tadka pan with ghee, add the mustard seeds, cumin and let them splutter and crackle. Add hing and curry leaves. Pour this sizzled tempering on the soup. 3. Take it off the stove, lemon juice and serve hot with a rind of lemon.

Priya Srinivasan www.enveetukitchen.com 41

Rose Pistachio Turkish Delight

Ingredients

42

»»

375g caster sugar

»»

Juice of half lemon

»»

25g gelatine powder

»»

100g cornflour

»»

25g icing sugar

»»

4 tsp rosewater

»»

Pink food colouring gel

»»

50g pistachios, roughly chopped

»»

Sunflower oil, for brushing tin

um-sized pan. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, then bring gently to the boil. 2. Mix the gelatine with 75g of the cornflour and 200ml water and add to the pan. Stir constantly until the gelatine has dissolved, then continue to simmer very gently for 20 minutes until thickened.

Method

3. Meanwhile mix together the remaining cornflour and the icing sugar. Lightly oil a 20cm square baking tin and line it with clingfilm. Lightly dust the clingfilm with some of the cornflour mixture.

1. Add the sugar and lemon juice with 300ml of water in a medi-

4. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Add the

rosewater, food colouring and pistachios and pour the mixture into the tin. Spread level and leave to cool for at least 4-6 hours or until completely set. 5. Cut into squares and dust with the rest of the icing sugar and cornflour mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 80 pieces

Nabeela Ismail http://beelabakes.blogspot.ae

Raspberry and Rose Layer Cake

Ingredients For the pancakes (layers) »»

2 eggs

»»

1 cup milk

»»

1 cup self raising flour

»» butter for greasing pan (If yours is not a non-stick one) »»

For the filling

»» 1 punnet raspberries (approx. 1 cup) »»

400ml whipping cream

»»

2 tsp rose syrup (see note)

»»

2 tbsp caster sugar

For the frosted rose petals »» Petals of 1 small rose (washed well and dried if store-bought) »»

1 egg white, lightly beaten

»»

caster sugar

»»

Icing sugar for dusting.

Method 1. Beat together the ingredients for the pancake batter until very smooth.

6. Beat together the cream, rose syrup and caster sugar until stiff.

2. Lightly grease a pan (not too much – if it is completely non-stick, then the lack of friction will prevent you from smoothing into shape)

7. Layer the pancakes with approx. 1cm thick cream mix and scattered raspberries. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving (can be prepared the day before).

3. Add a small amount of batter (approx. 3 tbsp) with a ladle, and smooth into a perfect circle with the back of the ladle.

8. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of rose petals with egg white, then dip in the sugar. Can be frozen until serving time.

4. Cook until bubbles appear and the perimeter of the pancake is dry, then flip and cook for about 1 more minute (until golden)

9. To serve, dust well with icing sugar, then place a few raspberries and rose petals on the top.

5. Continue to do this until the batter is all gone (approx. 8 pancakes), stacking with sheets of baking parchment between pancakes. Refrigerate until later.

Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com

43

Lavender Almond Cake With a Vanilla Bean Lemon Glaze Ingredients For the Cake: »»

200g Butter, soft

»»

1 2/3 cups normal Sugar

»»

1 tablespoon Dried Lavender

»»

1/2 cup Flaked Almonds

»»

4 Eggs

»»

2 1/2 cups All purpose Flour

»»

1/2 Teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda

»»

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

»»

1 Cup Yoghurt

»»

1/4 Cup Milk

For the Glaze: »»

1 1/3 Icing Sugar

»»

1 Tablespoon Butter, melted

»»

Juice of 1/4 a Lemon

»»

1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

»»

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste

»»

Fresh Milk

Method 1. In a mixer, mix the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add the lavender and flaked almonds and simply mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one is added. 2. In a jug, mix the yoghurt with the milk and set aside. 3. Add the dry ingredients and mix slowly while adding the yoghurt milk mixture. When combined, place in a oiled mold or silicon mold and place in a 175C preheated oven until golden and toothpick comes out clean! 4. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before flipping. 44

5. To glaze, In a bowl, add all the Ingredients and begin adding enough milk to it while whisking until it reaches the texture of a not too liquid glaze. 6. When the cake has cooled and you’ve flipped it, spoon the glaze all over the cake and sprinkle a little dry Lavender on top.

Note This recipe calls for the local lavender, which is not the same as French lavender. It’s milder in flavour, and the petals are softer when dried. It can be found in many parts of the UAE, particularly in the spice souq.

Shaikha Al Ali www.whenshaikhacooks.com

Orange Blossom Almond Fig Torte Ingredients »»

5 ripe figs, quartered

»» 3/4 cup blanched almond meal (you can make your own) »»

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

»»

1/4 tsp salt

»»

1 tsp baking powder

»»

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

»»

1/2 cup sugar

»»

1/4 cup orange blossom water

»»

2 large eggs

»»

1/2 tsp anise extract

»»

A sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line the base of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. 2. Place the figs in a shallow dish; add ¼ cup orange blossom water and cinnamon. Set aside to marinate. 3. Stir together the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside while you prepare the wet ingredients. 4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 5. Lower the speed on the mixer, add 2 tbsp of orange blossom cinnamon mixture, and the anise extract. 6. Add dry ingredients and the eggs.

Arwa Lootah lamereculinaire.com

7. At a medium and beat until all the ingredients blend in. 8. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan; spread the mixture so that it covers the base of the pan. 9. Arrange the fig pieces atop the batter and bake for 45 minutes or until the top of the cake turns golden brown. 10. Run a knife around the cake before unlocking the pan, then leave it to cool before serving. 45

Available at: Galeries Lafayette Balqees Honey outlets Deira City Center, Burjurman Center, Mercato Mall, Festival City, Madinat Jumeirah Contact us for more information T: +971 4 223 1520 ext 224 www.lootahpremiumfoods.ae 46

CULINARY TRAVEL

This issue we take you to some of the most inspirational markets of the world. Two unique markets in London and Rome, and then a guide for French country markets in general. Finally we take you further east, and show you a glimpse of the spice market and organic and ethical sourcing in Rajasthan.

47

Borough Market Sally Prosser www.mycustardpie.com Tourist. Somehow this has become an undesirable term, a dirty word. Associated with snaking crocodiles of dull-eyed sentries, coaches like ant-hills spilling people, couples touting backpacks and lenses; tourist equals undiscriminating, while traveller means adventure. “Borough Market’s not what it used to” seemed to be the common consensus among my friends who live in London. “It’s for tourists“. But sometimes you have to admit that’s exactly what you are; I haven’t lived in London for over twenty years and Borough Market was something I needed to tick off my list as a self-respecting foodie, albeit rather late in the day. Emerging, with crowds of commuters to street level, from the Underground, the first thing that struck me was not a proliferation of bright fruit and vegetables but the disconcerting spire of the Shard at close proximity. Viewed from the angle of a very normal London high street it looks incongruous and slightly menacing. Explore the Southbank Stepping into the dark cavern behind the Borough Market sign, just after 9am, I was faced with boarded up stalls. Desperate for a bacon sandwich, I toured the periphery but had to settle for a flaky croissant and coffee at Elliot’s. There were few people about except for a ginormous queue for coffee at Monmouth (which I couldn’t face joining). I pottered around the market, seeing it come to life. Braving the servers who didn’t have a square centimetre of flesh that was wasn’t tattooed, pierced, tunnelled or embellished, I downed a welcome fresh juice with lots of ginger. Out in the central courtyard various street food stalls were setting up with 48

promising aromas, and ingredients starting to be chopped, seared and simmered. I decided to take a stroll along the South Bank and return when it was all fully up and running. This part of London is rich with sights and sounds – with the Thames to your right, you pass The Golden Hinde, The Clink Prison Museum, Vinopolis (wine tasting, classes and exhibits), Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and end up at the Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge all within a very short walk. Taste…

By the time, I’d wandered back to Borough Market it was a different place. Stalls were thronging with people buying and tasting, there were queues for the fish and chip restaurant, which had been ghostlike less than an hour before. The street food sellers were doing a roaring trade and I looked longingly at a vast array of Arabic mezze, Jamaican stews, a home cured salt beef stall and a proliferation of burgers and pies. Pitchers and beakers brimming with fruit-laden Pimms seemed to be everywhere. Back inside, the fresh fish stall was

gleamingly beautiful, staffed by keen looking chaps in striped aprons. The fruit and veg area was a series of painterly still life arrangements of produce. Tourists (and there were a lot of Chinese visitors wielding lenses) were tasting their way around, so I took the ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ attitude. No surprises that a lot of cheese tasting was involved – Gorwydd Caerphilly, Belper Knolle from Jumi, and Comté from the Borough Cheese Company are worth seeking out. Mushroom pâté from Pâté Moi was flying out of the dishes as soon

as they were filled. As I was meeting someone for lunch and travelling by coach later on, I did more browsing than shopping but I found space for one special thing in my back pack. British Charcuterie In Poland, in the summer of 1996, my Uncle went out and fetched some salami from his friend. Made from a locally kept, free range pig, the savoury spice was deep and layered, the fat creamy and sweet, the meat softly chewy. I hadn’t ever tasted charcuterie as good – until I found Cannon and Cannon. Doing a brisk trade but still happy to give

samples to some enthusiastic 10 year old boys who were negotiating bargains, the stallholder found time to discuss Gloucester Old Spot pork, tell me about their producers and guide me through a tasting ranging from chorizo to some salami made with Kentish cob nuts. It was my introduction to the British charcuterie scene and I’m now on a mission to taste more…..much more. Having lunch with my sister, devouring most of the haul paired with freshly picked tomatoes in my Mum’s garden, is one of my best food memories of the summer. 49

While the feel of the old market is still there, a new glass covered structure in the centre adds a modern touch, softened by plants like olive trees and hops. This is a hub for cookery demos or just somewhere to relax. The variety of restaurants around the market, from old-fashioned pubs to wine bars (there was a wine education session in full flow at a table in Bedales) keeps it buzzing outside market hours. So should you visit Borough Market? Absolutely. Go hungry and blend in with all the other tourists. There will be crowds so take your time. Have a late breakfast in one of the surrounding cafes, stay for lunch, walk it off along the South Bank and the ingredients for dinner to take home with you. Borough Market is located near the London Bridge Station, at 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL.

50

The Jewel of Testaccio Market Noreen Wasti www.thevanillabeandream.wordpress.com Having visited Rome once as a teenager, I was extremely excited about exploring the city as an adult with a far more sophisticated palate and hunger for life. Back then my only guide was a torn up Lonely Planet book that I had checked out from the public library. Times have changed. Now I spend at least an entire month before my trips researching food blogs and trying to find out specifically “where the locals go.” It can be exhausting as there are so many options and always a limited number of days. Combined with a love of markets and tiny winding streets I was full up to my ears with hidden gems and secret spots in Rome. The best Margherita pizzas, the best cappuccinos, the best Cacio e Pepe, the best artichokes, the best artisanal olive oils… the list goes on. However, one of my favourite past times while traveling is checking out local markets. What really gets me going are escaping the tourists and seeing where the locals shop, eat, drink and pick up the best tomatoes for their family’s secret recipes. My senses are awakened with the sights of fresh local produce displayed in abundant bushels as if they were jewels in a glass case. Vendor owners shout out to the passersby with eager smiles as one tastes their juicy tomatoes and sweet Sicilian oranges. While in Rome I kept hearing about Testaccio Market, which is the most frequently visited markets by local Romans and true gourmet enthusiasts. It is located far and away from the hustle and bustle of tourists who visit the historical sights and situated in a small neighborhood outside the center of Rome. The market is much more modern with stark clean alleyways, very different from the rustic wooden crate displays you see on the street markets. It’s quite an 51

interesting juxtapose between the old and new Rome. There are various stalls from butchers, to fishmongers, to fruit and vegetable purveyors, to home ware and even the most random displays of Nike sneakers. The produce was beautiful and vibrant as it was all over Rome, but I was particularly drawn to one shop called Lo Spaccio di Testaccio – definitely a heaven for this food blogger and kitchen accessory lover. I would define this as the jewel of Testaccio with shelves filled with 52

artisan and handpicked kitchen goods. You would find everything here - tea towels, vintage knives, rustic kitchen twines, pasta cutters, enamel cookware to everything else you can dream of. Each item seems to have some sort of a story of its origin or use you would have never thought of. I spent an hour in this tiny stall, just imagining how each piece could fit into my kitchen and the delicious meals I would be making using these gorgeous tools. With much restraint I finally picked

up a few gorgeous enamel plates as well as some lovely wooden whisks and mini bowls. The Testaccio Market, and in particular Lo Spaccio di Testaccio, is truly a discovery for someone looking for an authentic Roman market experience off the beaten path. Testaccio Market is between Via Galvani and Via Alessandro Volta
 00153 Rome, Italy
 Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 2pm, until 7:30pm on Fridays.

French Country Markets Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com It’s 6:30am on a Saturday. You might think this was the beginning of the day, but the small rabble sitting on the next table are having wine with their lunch. There is a minute amount of time for them to injest the cafes are open, but the market as yet is not. In half an hour, they will lift the worn hessian covers and reveal their pristine, straight-fromthe-horses-mouth (so to speak) produce. For now though, they drink wine and break bread with their competitors and colleagues alike. Some, like me, opt for a more sedate cafe au lait and croissant. The market runs until 1pm, but I know full well that by then, the stalls will be all but empty, the carparks will all be gone, and the tables at all the best cafes already seated. It’s not punishment, even on a holiday to be here at this time. Three of my favourite things all rolled into one – travel, food and shopping. I also have this quiet moment to myself. At a more reasonable hour, my family will join me at a restaurant nearby, where I will show them my treasures and share a pichet de rosé over something simple and delicious like a salade de chèvre chaud. Soon the stall owners move. One grabs the remnants of the bouteille de vin by the neck, and tucks it under his cheese display. As the sun moves its way over the rooftops and into the square, the shrouds are lifted and the vicinity simultaneously fills with people and colour. I stroll the narrow aisles, simply tables and umbrellas propped against shop-fronts or under awnings. Seafood sleeps in a beds of crushed ice, scallop shells arranged to form divisions between the species. Saucisson and chevre coated in varying degrees of mould, rind, ash, and other forms of gorgeous putridity - keep each other

company in baskets or chilled compartments. No time for window shopping – there is too much to cover. Luckily I have a cool bag, and a selection gets popped in for dinner. There is a chicken rotisserie spinning, potatoes at the bottom, gathering the heavily seasoned dripping. The chicken is not ready yet, but the spuds are. Breakfast number two. Of course, there are the fruits and vegetables, arranged like something out of a designer magazine, with simplicity and flair. The colours are

sublime, and the produce is often organic (biologique). They smell like a bouquet – so sweet and fragrant, particularly the strawberries and tomatoes. They taste so good, it’s like they have been injected with magic. Then the condiments. Spices, shipped from afar, but of course presented with unique french style. They are expensive, but again, today they are organic, and surprisingly fresh. They are sold by bohemians in overalls, with knotted headscarves and dreadlocks. They 53

tie the paper parcels with raffia and a cinnamon quill or a dried chilli. There is honey, usually with a nuance of provincial lavender, and also available on the comb. Preserves and relish are on the next stall – mismatched glass jars with matching gingham caps. I wander down side alleys, and soon arrive in another tiny arena. This one is fillled with table linen – either provincial yellow with gaudy lavender, olive or cricket (grillon) designs, or classically white or neutral. They are cheap. So cheap for the quality – I must be missing something in translation. Bedspreads, quilted or lacy are next, and I purchase an entire quilted queen set with massive cushion covers for 50 euros. I am joined by my late-coming family while I take an espresso break. Buskers play guitar and clarinet, and tweenagers sell cheap and nasty toys out of baskets – bird whistles that trill when watered, water-spray fans to cool us, and glow sticks to keep the kids quiet. My husband takes the heavy bags, leaving my hands free to buy more. Another wander off the main strip takes me to clothing. It’s cheap and nasty, but sweet and summery. Next are the bags – all woven coloured straw in fuchsia, emerald, cobalt, mustard, terracotta and saffron, accompanied by wide-brimmed matching straw hats. Some of the bags are crafted in the shape of little houses, cars, flowers and hearts, joined with contrasting blanket stitch. The wine stall is jumping like a neighbourhood party. I’m not entirely sure if much wine is being sold, but it is definitely a successful tasting. There is a grotty old ghetto blaster on the table playing JJ Cale – out of place, and yet also not. A harpist competes unsuccessfully about 30 metres away. Does she not move because of the licensing, or is it because it would be harder to replenish her plastic cup?

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Today we are lucky – this market also has brocante. Husband groans and suggests he finds the table for lunch, and while I am enjoying another moment or three of solitude

in the throng, I spot my partner-in-brickabrak-crime, Lulu, whose husband has also deserted her in preference of a seat, and some wine and food. We look at every row of “antiques” on the ground, and purchase art deco prints, Parisian cast iron street numbers and a rose glass vase with dragonflies. By the time we are finished, the men are halfway through the pichet, and we realise we will be driving home. But home is not so bad either. My baskets of goodies are another treat in the making. I can cook, listen to opera, drink iced and watered Pastis, and watch my family in the pool in our Dordogne farmhouse. Then everyone will praise me for a wonderful dinner that is très facile, due to the incredible nature of the fresh ingredients. There are three basic kinds of market in France Food- contains both fresh produce and often at least a cheese section and meat stall of some form, e.g. sausages (saucisson), poultry (will include game), farm fresh meat (beef, pork, lamb) and sometimes seafood. There will often also be a stall with wine and/or condiments. General- This includes food, and other articles, mainly clothing. Brocante- This is a flea market, selling all kinds of second hand goods, particularly sweet cheap french antiques and overpriced junk (it’s hard to know which is which sometimes). It often stands alone, but sometimes will be held on the same day as an adjoining food market.

My favourite markets are: Nyons – Thursdays (and on Sundays in Summer), general. A huge market, covers all of the central area of town, spilling in and out of alleys and plazas. Has a vibrant atmosphere, and a high proportion of organic goods, and hippy handcrafts. Street music was very lively. Town itself is gorgeous. Vaison la romaine – Tuesdays, general. Similar to Nyons, but often has the added bonus of brocante. Food is excellent quality, as is the table linen and parking is a nightmare (go early!). Town of course is stunning, and there is a bevvy of good restaurant options. Try Le Beffroi Carpentras – Fridays, general (truffles in winter). Sundays, brocante. Again, the food here is exceptional quality – just keep to the smaller stalls that look like they have the farmer perched behind them. The brocante market on Sundays is not huge, but is one of the better priced ones in the region.

Castelnaudary – General, Monday. Castelnaudary is the self-proclaimed home of cassoulet, and so as you can imagine, the presance of this, in beautiful tins and accompanied by ceramic bowls, dominates stalls. It is one of Rick Stein’s favourite French food markets. There is also a good collection of good cheap clothing seconds (not second hand). Aix-en-Provence – General, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (Place Verdon). Flowers, daily (Place des Prêcheurs). Food, daily (Place Richelme). Such an incredible town. The street music is exceptional. Parking garages are just out of the centre, and not too expensive. Mirepoix - General and brocante, Mondays. This could have been my best market experience ever. The town is like a creaky wooden movie set, the food is incredible, there were some great buskers, a carousel for the kids, and super restaurants all over. Stunning cathedral to poke your head into too.

Bandol - General, Tuesday (on the waterfront). Food, daily. Go to the town for the beach and the wine, and try and partner it with market day. Great paella. Good clothes. Better wine in the side streets. Bastille, Paris – General, Thursday and Sunday, also known as Marché Richard-Lenoir. OK – it’s not a country market, but it’s probably the best one in Paris, and famous in particular for seafood. Also a generous selection of touristy tack. Pretty much every town that is big enough to have a post office will have at least a weekly market, even if it’s only four stalls. I loved the tiny ones in Grillon (simple, but walking distance from the rental house), Saint Julien de Lampon (wine was great), Les Eyzies (beautiful town), and tiny little Richerenches has one of the most famous truffle markets in France (in season). Simply google your town and “market day”, and you are sure to find out more.

Nice – Daily, flowers and food (not Mondays). Mondays, brocante. Summer evenings, crafts. The flower market in Nice is the main attraction. Combined with the vibrant candy colours of the buildings in the area, it makes for beautiful photographs. Sarlat-la-Canéda – Daily, (covered market in former St Mary’s church) all day Friday in summer, and not on Thursday in winter, Food. Saturday, general. Stunning town, and beautiful, atmospheric market with a little brocante. This is the one described above (with excepts from Sorgue and Mirepoix). You must get there early – parking is impossible otherwise. L’Isle Sur la Sorgue – General (Sunday and Thursday), Brocante (Sunday). This is pretty much THE antique market to go to. The stalls cover a remarkable amount of area around the centre of the town and the river. You’ll never get through it in one go. Eat in the stunning garden of restaurant Jardin du Quai (book if you can). 55

A Trip to Rajasthan To Meet The Far mers Ishita Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com Is Your Spice Procured Ethically? Produced Organically? Four locations, two time zones, different sets of people and many emotions – a posh cafe restaurant, an organic store, a small Farmers’ Market – all in the heart of Dubai and a Farmers’ Festival and a few organic farm lands, thousands of kilometers away in Rajasthan. What is the relationship between all of these? It can seem as simple as procuring the right ingredients from the source where the farmers are, or the very complicated relationship where products nurtured in small organic farmlands across India, travel many miles before they finally reach the actual buyer (farm to fork philosophy). Location 1 – Baker & Spice, Dubai: A concept cafe cum restaurant with gorgeous locations, this is a restaurant which is one of a kind in Dubai. I met up with Yael Mejia, the lady behind B&S, to understand their concept. The concept of ‘organic’ food or ‘locally produced’ fresh produce is gaining awareness in Dubai only recently, but what is commendable about Yael is that she has been committed to supporting the local farmers from the very beginning. The philosophy that rules the B&S kitchen is – local, organic, fresh and homemade along with a ‘changing’ menu, which depends upon seasonal fresh organic fruits and vegetables that can be procured from the local farmers. Location 2 – Down To Earth Organic Store, Dubai: The essence of Down To Earth Organic is captured by it’s very logo – beautiful green stems branching out from the ground. The red-bricked walls with the humbling word ‘natural’ written in various languages, reflect what the entire shop stands for. In their own words, 56

Down to Earth Organic Products retain the natural goodness of food and are produced in harmony with the environment. These products are free of all chemicals, pesticides and fertilizer residues; hence the perfect instrument to live in harmony with our bio-rhythms, our society and our world. Mr Lokesh, the Managing Director of Down To Earth Organic, explained how in most cases the existence of intermediaries between the farmers and the shops add up to

the bulging cost of organic products. Down To Earth Organic products were sourced directly from the farmers, hence there were no hidden costs involved. Location 3 – Farmers Market on The Terrace, Jumeirah Emirates Tower: Imagine breakfast on Fridays sitting on a wooden bench or on a picnic mat on green grass surrounded by locally produced fresh, bright organic vegetables available at affordable prices. Does the term

‘affordable’ even exist in Dubai, you wonder? This is the Friday Farmers’ Market organised by Baker & Spice at the Terrace of the Emirates Towers. Initially, starting with 7 farmers, today there are many local farmers who have joined in, along with other organic vendors displaying their organic products, starting from Coffee to Honey. Again, the focus here is on the farmers and one can buy directly from them.

Shekhawati, which is about 125 kms from Jaipur, are served organic food. A huge stadium is hired and the farmers set up their own food court where the women folk cook traditional Rajasthani food, while there are performances and competitions for the kids all day long. (This must the only festival in the world, where everyone – both the participants and the visitors are fed only organic food)

Location 4 – The Shekhawati Festival in Rajasthan, India: Suzanne Radford of Dubai Eye 103.8FM, the host of the popular talk show ‘Dubai Today’

What was the objective of B&S and Down to Earth, in going all the way to India? To understand more on the sourcing of Down To Earth ingredi-

where she brings in people, places and personal stories from the heart of the city, had accompanied the Lokesh and Yael to India to learn the trail of organic farming in India. Suzanne shares her pictures of the Shekhawati Festival. What is the Shekhawati Farmers’ Festival all about? The Shekhawati Festival is a kind of a break for the farmers and celebrates the farming families’ hard work throughout the year by sharing traditional Rajasthani food made with organic ingredients grown on the farms. During the 4 days of the festival, all the farmers who come from all parts of Rajasthan as well as India to the town of

ents, it’s important to know about the Morarka Foundation. It is a 19-year-old non-profit voluntary organization, set up by Mr. Kamal Morarka, which started helping the farmers to convert their lands into organic farmlands. He came up with the concept of creating support services for farmers. Today, there are 70,000 farmers associated with the Morarka Foundation and over the last 15 years, the foundation has impacted around 250,000 farmers across India. The team of Bakers & Spice and us, we all went down to see the farms and the research centres. Our trip happened to coincide with the Shekhawati Festival and that made our journey

much more interesting and colourful. B&Spice is using a wide range of our organic products. By itself, their concept is very unique and focuses a lot on ethically produced ingredients. They also wanted to find out t abouthe authenticity of all these ingredients. Tell me more about Organic Farming in India. The concept of Organic Farming in India is not very old. The Morarka Foundation is the pioneer of sustainable agriculture in India and Down To Earth is a part of this Foundation. It didn’t start with the intention of starting organic agriculture, but simply to provide some sort of support services for the farmers like providing information on weather etc. Going back to the past, didn’t Indian agriculture follow the principles of organic agriculture, especially when chemicals weren’t as prevalent? Yes, that’s true but not in the last 35 years. With the Green Revolution in the 1970s, farming started to become hybrid with more focus on commercial crops. Contrary to popular belief, I believe (and who ever believes in Organic Farming, believes) that Green Revolution didn’t boost Indian agriculture. It boosted the harvest of only two particular crops – corn and wheat (same as in the US). But in reality, for most farmers in India who are marginal farmers, owning 2-3 acres of land, monoculture or cultivating only one crop is not sustainable. A typical Indian farm would have wheat growing along with say, coriander and other crops underneath and much of this produce nurtured the farmer’s own family. So although there was a boom in production with the Green Revolution, after the 1990′s there was a thrust to change the type of crops being farmed by small farmers. So, the thought here was, why not start farming organically? However, even today, this hasn’t proliferated much into the core of the Indian farmlands. With the help of the Foundation and Mr Mukesh Gupta, an agricultural scientist, there was a movement to promote organic farming. Starting from being a one-village concept with 50 to 60 57

farmers, the movement slowly spread to the neighboring village and gradually it reached 70,000 farmers! The dry goods like lentils and spices are collected from the different farmers and brought to our facility, packaged and then distributed across the stores. {Do read the entire process involved in Dubai Eye’s blog} No middlemen or intermediaries? No, not at all. The farmers give their produce to the Morarka Foundation and that comes directly to all the Down To Earth stores across the globe. Some of these farmers are associated with the foundation for the last 15 years. Organic spices are sourced from India. But what about the organic Pastas? As a commercial company, we realised that to increase the viability of production we have to produce everything ourselves. Initially, we were sourcing these from Italy but they proved to be very expensive. So we worked back the recipe of Pasta, and started manufacturing Pasta ourselves. Everything that is being sold is sourced in India. For example, tea. Adjoining the famous Kaziranga National Park, there is a beautiful tea estate called the Hathikuli Tea Estate and our tea grows wildly in this estate which is very regularly frequented by elephants, rhinoceros.

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How is Baker & Spice special? B&S understands what we are doing. Most commercial operation would probably use organic products if they were offered a decent price. The very agenda of going organic or the choice that B&S makes while choosing its ingredients – proximity to the source of produce – is very important. Spices don’t grow in this region and hence one of the closest sources would naturally be India. They make an effort in doing that. For the rest, we have to go and convince them. It’s just not being ‘organic’ but they are also very conscious of ‘fair trade’ and ensure that we pay the farmers the prices that they deserve. So, conceptually we are at the same plane. While every business needs to be commercially viable, everyone who’s starting an organic business knows that it’s

going to take a long time to make it sustainable. Behind this, there has to be a passion to ‘believe’ in the concept of ‘going organic’. Yes, it’s good for the environment but also the main focus is the ‘farmer’. The final question that is probably the most important. Being conscious is one thing, but as a consumer, am I paying more when I make a choice of going organic? Yes, but not very much. We are unable to communicate to the consumers that the

purity of the spices is the biggest challenge when it comes to spices. For most brands, the adulteration is at the source itself. In India, where a trader who owns hectares and hectares of land, if there is an adulteration at the source of even 10%, it is a turnover of crores of Rupees. Until and unless, they are whole spices, the chances of adulteration are very high.

Restaurant Reviews The word “Spring” has many meanings. When we were deciding which restaurant reviews we should include this month, we thought it might be opportune to pinpoint a couple of areas that have really sprung up in the last year. Dubai’s a growing city, and so it’s hard not to find something new in almost any area, but we have noticed plenty of growth in Jumeirah Lake Towers and Downtown. Both have become focul points of the Dubai culinary scene over the last year, and when you take a closer look at some of our finds, you’ll see why. A guide to restaurant ratings, taking into account the value, quality, service and the facilities. < 5 - either horrendously overpriced or terrible.

Avoid at all costs.

6-9 – Eat at only if you’re really, really desperate. 10-12 – Fairly lackluster. Nothing to talk about but a feed here won’t kill you (we think). 13-14 - Reasonable value. Not the worst in the area. 15-16 – This is a good restaurant. Worth seeking out if you’re nearby. 17-18 – Super place. Sure to impress most people. 19-20 - As good as it gets. Worth travelling for. 59

Jumeirah Lakes Towers - the rise of a cafe empire Only a year or so ago, JLT was the place to go for cheap accommodation in New Dubai. It didn’t have much else on offer besides a dusty lakebowl, and al arterals and streets choked with the cholesterol of roadworks, construction debris, cranes and bulldozers traveling at 7km per hour. That’s all changed. JLT has become a haven for clever start-ups. The lower rents coupled with proximity to the Dubai Marina and JBR, the offices of JLT itself and Tecom and the family diners of Emirates Hills, has made it the perfect place to set up a lunch-time cafe or a good cheap curry-house. And as more of these venues move in, more people fill the previously empty towers. JLT is actually becoming a destination in it’s own right, rather than just being Marina cheap-seats. So here’s Food e Mag dxb’s round up of the places to seek out in the area, brought to you by Dubai’s best restaurant review blogs.

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Spice Kraft

Rating: 14/20 Pros: super ambience for a cheap eat, good breads Cons: lunches can be very crowded and service slow Price: 40AED per person inc drinks

Not reviewed in this issue, but also worth checking out: Today was a first for me, I have never been to a vegetarian restaurant before and was rather looking forward to checking out Spice Kraft in Jumeirah Lake Towers. I am a huge meat lover so I was a bit apprehensive about visiting, but having already read the menu on-line I was assured there were some dishes that appealed to me. The restaurant is situated on the lake level and has a small but nice indoor eating area and an outdoor area which is where we chose to dine. With cooler weather it makes a nice change to be able to dine al-fresco. The menu is a good size and offers Indian and Chinese vegetarian options with some Gujarati specials. I am no expert on Indian food - never mind Indian vegetarian food - but the waiter was more than helpful in explaining what the dishes were. It would have been helpful if there had been a descriptions for each dish, maybe when a new menu is launched this could be added. There is a huge vegetarian population in Dubai and I am pretty sure the majority of them don’t know many traditional Indian dishes. There was a good few people dining today and the delivery service was busy, always a good sign.

Today I opted for Chinese today and ordered the sweet corn soup and the mushroom Manchurian. My guest chose the paneer handi and we shared a portion of veggie pulao. My soup was fabulous but the star of the day for me was my mushroom manchurian, I really enjoyed this dish and will definitely return. My guest said his paneer handi was superb. Our dining experience came to the huge total of 74 dhs, now that is value for money!

Debbie Steedman www.therealgeordiearmani.com

Korean: K Pop Chicken Indian: Memsaab Cafe Funkie Town Bunny’s Tandoori Italian: Nais Kitchen Chinese: Homey Blue Sapphire Roasts and Grills: Flames Grills & Curry Urban Bar and Kitchen(Licensed) Greek: Public Café English: The Cavendish (licensed) 61

Nofara Rating: 14/20 Pros: glassed-off shisha room (great for non-smokers), gluten-free desserts, large portions, sweet potato fries are frankly awesome, pleasant interior Cons: deli/salad offer a tad meagre, service slow, sleepy at dinner-time, variable quality reports. Price: 50-70 AED per person inc drinks

photographs from website

Nofara Café with its sprightly, utilitarian purple and white themed interior is oddly quiet on a week night. It’s a cosy spot with table setting aside, a few sofas and quite separately, a glassed off shisha room. There’s a deli counter with the odd salad, wrap and quiche but the selection is rather limited, so you’re better off ordering à la carte like we do. That aside the desserts on display, gluten-free included, look rather appealing. Perhaps the breakfast and lunch selection is more comprehensive? The international menu is divided into starters and mains, but having ordered what we did, the portions are all impressively large and designed for sharing. Tried: The Arabic mezze platter arrives with individual servings of houmous, babaganoush (bursting with fresh chunks of aubergine), chunks of fetta in a robust herb and olive oil marinade, olives and pickles – accompanied by crisp slithers of toasted pitta sprinkled with zaatar. The goats cheese tart has a light and fluffy filo pastry base topped with a generous slice of slightly warm goats cheese and lashings of 62

fig and onion marmalade. Personally I would have preferred just a dollop of the sweet preserve to allow the goats cheese to shine through, whilst my dining companion would have liked a stronger flavoured goats cheese. Testament to how food is so subjective! My beef meatballs are baked in an ever so slightly spiced tomato sauce and topped with crumbled fetta and whole toasted almonds. The meatballs are a little overcooked in my opinion making for a drier texture. (Minced beef has so much more flavour and juice when served medium.) I had asked for the freshly baked bloomer style bread to be replaced with sweet potato fries but both arrive. Gosh these are good, crispy on the outside and mushy digging in – more like chunky chips. Dunked in a side order of a a decadently rich creamy pesto dip, I polish these off pretty pronto. The hot dishes are cutely and cleverly presented on wooden chopping boards. Top marks for the freshly squeezed apple and lemon juices. Service, whilst sweet and accommodating is a tad tardy and given we are the only punters dining there’s no real excuse. Nofara does require

diners to liven the space up and give it some much-needed buzz. Perhaps it’s just more worthy of a lunchtime spot? At just over AED 100 a head, our meal is reasonably priced and the wholesome, nourishing food in a contemporary café setting is good enough to make me return – especially with free wi-fi.

Samantha Wood www.foodiva.net

Marta’s Workshop Rating: 18/20 Pros: lovely terrace, very gourmet food for the price, personal service Cons: only open for lunch on weekdays, and limited seats (once the food sells out, Marta shuts up shop) Price: 60-100AED per person inc drinks Contact: www.martasworkshop.com

After weeks of waiting today I eventually managed to call into Marta’s Workshop. For those of you who don’t know Marta, she is the beauty and the brains behind Marta’s Kitchen, a well established boutique catering company based in Dubai. Marta is passionate about food and I was elated when she decided to go ahead and open a small but unique little eatery in the heart of Jumeirah Lake Towers. The weather is fabulous and we were able to dine al-fresco, on a small but very pretty little terrace littered with pots of fresh herbs. Marta’s menu changes daily and posted onto a chalk board, very simplistic and the pricing is kept that way too. The outlet isn’t about making millions but more about sharing the food that Marta is so passionate about. It’s so simple that Chef not only prepares your food they serve you the food too, there are no hovering waitresses which is rather refreshing. You order your food, they cook it, they serve it, you pay for it, job done! Today I chose the Caprese salad, done their way. I was absolutely delighted with the entire dish! a beautifully presented pesto cake with homemade tomato jam, oregano crumble and Parmesan tuile adorned the centre of my plate

photographs Sarah Walton

surrounded by tiny cherry tomatoes, stunning. My main course of poached sea bream with creamy leek crepes was incredible! The fish was beautiful and moist and served on with two crepes stuffed with rich and creamy leeks. My guest had a mango tart for dessert, which she reported was perfect. So Jumeirah Lake Towers, yet again has given us some amazing food. Congratulations Marta you have a little cracker on your hands

Debbie Steedman www.therealgeordiearmani.com

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Fraiche Rating: 17/20 Pros: great food, some unique café dishes, super breakfast Cons: dinnertime quiet and some menu items sold out by this stage Price: 80-100AED per person inc drinks

photographs by coffeecakesandrunning.com

Towards the end of last year I was introduced to a really passionate foodie who has channeled this passion into a business. Yousef Barqawi is this man, a former banker and now restaurateur, owner of the recently opened Fraiche Cafe and Bistro in JLT. From the first menu tasting in his apartment through to a pre opening dinner, launch night, breakfast and lunch at Fraiche, I’ve literally fallen in ‘foodie love’ with Fraiche and the team. Tried: Beetroot Carpaccio with the candied walnuts, and creamy goats cheese stealing the show. Crab Poutine consisting of crispy thrice-cooked fries smothered in a crab bisque and topped with blue-shell crab, it was simply stunning, and I would return for this alone. A fresh and crunchy Lentil Salad with crisp green apple and celery dressed with a maple syrup balsamic vinaigrette

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A Charmwood Smoked Cheddar sandwich with a home-made tomato chutney served on rye bread. I’m not a huge cheese fan, but this one is amazing. It’s creamy with a subtle smoky flavour and sits very well alongside the chutney.

Twice Cooked Lamb Shoulder with butternut squash puree. Packed full of flavour and yet oh so tender, served with a triangle of puff pastry and sautéed broccoli. (I would prefer some potatoes on my plate, but that’s the ‘meat and two veg’ Brit in me, and so would order a side of mashed potatoes or even some of those delicious Home-made french fries if I have the dish again.) For dessert we shared a decadent Flourless spicy Chocolate Cake which was delicately spiced with chilli and surrounded with circles of caramel with just a hint of chili sprinkled over the top, it was truly divine. Finally I ended with a double expresso along with some creative thinking with fellow blogger Ishita, as we brainstormed some ideas on a new logo for my site (but that’s still work in progress and needs further creative input over a good cup of coffee and with a great slice of cake). This isn’t the first time I’ve visited Fraiche and it won’t be the last, from a place to work with a laptop, breakfast, lunch or dinner with friends of business colleagues this is a great place to visit. Worth the trip to JLT ? Yes – Free

Wifi, a bright and contemporary, yet urban bistro with terrace seating, this is a great hidden gem. And a weekend breakfast deal - a combination of al la carte and self serve items with tea/coffee served until 3pm for a very reasonable 55/AED. Top Tip, the Eggs Benedict are a firm favourite of mine, as are the Pancakes with lashings of maple syrup.

Debbie Rogers coffeecakesandrunning.me

Tantuni Rating: 17/20 Pros: Cheap eat, authentic, superb baklava

Chicken Tantuni) is cooked in sunflower oil along with the spices – paprika, sumac, chilli powder and salt. Hot water is added to this from time to time, resulting in a voluptuous smoke erupting from the pan. In addition to controlling the temperature of the meat, this also creates some steam in which the Lavaş, the bread that is used to wrap up the meat, is softened. The Tantuni Chef then places the cooked meat in the bread, plus onions, sumac and parsley, tomatoes and a dash of more spice.

Cons: quality variable, home delivery not as great as on-the-spot orders Price: 30AED per person inc drinks

In Turkey, Tantuni rolls are served either with Ayran (a cold beverage of Yogurt mixed with iced water and salt) or Şalgam Suyu (made with the juice of pickled Red Carrot, salted and spiced, flavoured with aromatic turnip (çelem) that have been fermented in barrels with the addition of ground bulgur) The Şalgam drink that was served to me in the restaurant was bottled though and had a strong taste of Beetroot and spices. Both the chilled beverages have a cooling effect that perfectly complements the Tantuni Rolls.

Tantuni is a traditional Turkish street-food originating from the city of Mersin, situated on the Mediterranean coast of Southern Turkey. Contrary to popular belief, Tantuni Rolls in Turkey are more called for than Döner Kebabs. Traditionally, thinly diced Beef is cooked with Turkish spices in special Tantuni pans and then served in special durum wrap rolls called Lavaş/Lavash. Tantuni sellers are found on every street corner in many Turkish cities – including Istanbul. The Tantuni Chefs, as they are proudly called, have their own secret techniques and so the taste will always differ from one shop to the other. The pans where Tantunis are cooked are vital to it’s unique production. The central part of the huge pan indents downwards, and the oil is put here and the diced meat added in small amounts as they are brought forward from the bigger pile that surrounds the rim of the pan. As the spices are added the sound that the entire act makes – “Tan/Tun, Tan/ Tun” lends the name to the dish. Two friends Cem and Can ended up opening up a Tantuni shop themselves when their search for this elusive street treat failed in Dubai. They say the taste of the Tantunis served here is as authentic as it can

photographs by ishitaunblogged.com

be (given that the taste of Tantunis differs under each Tantuni Chef) and cooked exactly in the manner that Cem and Can have always preffered. The making of Tantuni: Previously boiled meat (traditionally, beef is used but the restaurant also serves

A special chili pickle comes complimentary with the rolls and you could also try an Ezme Salad (tomato and onion salad mixed with spices and Pomegranate sauce) or the Bostan Salad (a rare Turkish delicacy where chopped Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Onions are served in Şalgam juice). I am glad that my Bengali tooth’s hankering for something sweet at the end of every meal was pampered a bit by the two Turkish sweets Tantuni offers – the famous Baklava and the Şekerpare (soft balls of pastry dipped them in thick lemony sugar syrup).

Ishita Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com 65

Merlion’s King Rating: 14/20 Pros: lovely service, super satays Cons: laksa a little bland, crab a little sparse Price: 60AED per person inc drinks Contact: merlionsking.com

photographs from website

I remember years ago when talks of a new city within a city was to be built and years down the line, we now have Jumeirah Lake Towers JLT. Albeit still in an infinite construction phase, the community and the never-ending traffic woes is home to expats of U.A.E and clusters away many, many cafes & restaurants, and one such is Merlion’s King. Merlion, a national personification of Singapore is a mythical creature with a head of a lion and body of a fish, thus, the fitting name for a restaurant which caters Singaporean delicacies with a homemade touch in Dubai. An open plan kitchen offers what one can imagine is a street view of the eateries in Singapore, with the chefs wokking up delicious ingredients. It also provides a sight of the owners who are well involved, which in turn is noticed with the service and food served up at Merlion’s. Tried: My fingers dive into a plate of prawns coated in a blend of spices, which is deep-fried and served with a creamy dip. A satay is never far from a far eastern menu and the chicken chunks, although petite in size, pack 66

in a punch of flavors which compliment the nutty-chunky peanut sauce, rice cubes and sliced cucumbers.

cubes of chicken dipped in an airy batter and tossed in a mesmerizing sauce mixed with colorful fresh peppers and onions.

I love noodles and a good curry. What’s even better you may ask? It’s the combination of both. The Chicken Laksa with its creamy coconut curry base, tofu, a boiled egg, and tender slices of chicken and rice noodles is a filling meal on its own considering the sizable portion.

A favorite staple, the Singaporean Chilli Crab was robust, with a flavorsome punch provided by the ginger, garlic; red chilies and a special Merlion’s King blend of spices. Immense in quantity, but low on crab meat for a size as massive as pictured. Authentic? Hard to judge, but priced well for the quality served.

The egg Fried Rice is served with finely chopped vegetables and herbs, and was well consumed with a leafy green dish served with fried garlic, dried prawns, chillies and prawn paste (a Kang Kong). The nuttiness along with the sweet and sour taste made up the Sweet and Sour Chicken dish with tender

For quick service, homely cooking and a glimpse into Singaporean cuisine all for an affordable price and massive quantity, Merlion’s is well worth a visit.

Jasmine Perrera peartreediaries.com

77 Veggie Boutique Rating: 14/20 Pros: genuinely healthy vegetarian food, some inventive dishes that will even please carnivores, super cheese cake Cons: calorie count and menu prices blend together, and there is no indication of size on menu items Price: 40-50 AED per person inc drinks

photographs by stopdietin.wordpress.com

Enough is Enough. I’ve been eating a lot of mutton, chicken, beef and all the other innocent animals :p . It’s high time I add some vegetables to my diet. Therefore I visited this veggie-only restaurant located conveniently next to my office in Jumeirah Lake Towers, Tiffany tower. Through out their menu you would find the amount of calories you were about to consume. So if you were a health freak then you obviously count and eat. Since my mathematics is pretty bad I just didn’t bother to count calories but they are here for you regardless. Tried: Alfresco (drink): Light and refreshing mixture of parsley, green apple, celery, cucumber and ginger with a touch of pure honey. Calories: 204 Avocado Flair (drink): Avocado with use of low fat milk to balance your fatty acids. Calories:175 but needed honey, and therefore more calories to give it ‘flair’

Lentil Soup: Boil and cooked red lentils and yellow peas combining in spices, tomatoes, curry leaves and coriander. Calories:191 Fairly much as expected. Nice breads Light Tofu Salad with veggies: Roasted vegetables and fresh herbs with baked tofu on green beans. Calories:175 my favourite out of my whole dinner. Vegetables were juicy like never before. Red Bistro Sizzler: Fresh veggies garnished with spring onions and cutlets. Calories:580 Wow I was never expecting a sizzler in a vegetarian restaurant! It was sizzling but after eating that wonderful tofu salad I felt it was a repeat show of just more vegetables. Healthy Red Nice noodles with veggie chilli sauce: Low fat rice noodles sauteed in veggie chili based sauce. Calories:425 Well made and thoroughly enjoyed

Low fat chocolate cheese cake tasted better than the original chocolate cheese cake. Hard to believe as normally desserts that are made low-calorie are less in taste than the originals. This was also free from butter, eggs etc. Questionable texture, but tasted amazing. The Brownie was impressive as well. Though it wouldn’t beat the taste of their chocolate cheese cake After heavy days work and then this wonderful dinner, then I needed to drive back home all the way to Deira from JLT. My eyes were closing and I thought it was not a bad idea to have a milk tea. ( I am a die hard fan of strong milk tea if you haven’t realized as yet.) Thankfully their masala chai was good enough to keep me awake for the drive back home.

Rubeen Rashik stopdietin.wordpress.com

Roma’s Tonic (drink): Sparkling water, fresh orange juice and mint. Calories: 182 Pretty, and my pick. Molly Made much Bunch Bakes: a nice ball of baked vegetables (sauteed cabbage and carrots) with a tangy manchurian style sauce. Calories:126 67

Hanoi

About a month after I returned from my Vietnam trip, my cravings for Vietnamese food finally started to subside. I had stopped dreaming about having silky-smooth rice noodles twirled around beef meatballs in a clear clean broth for breakfast. I no longer hankered for the taste of tangy-spicy-garlicky flavors of Nem (a type of pork charcuterie). Out if sight and out of mind were thoughts of the corner Banh Mi carts selling French baguettes (with a golden thin crust and the lightest of crumbs more reminiscent of a croissant than a baguette) filled with pâté and assorted pork cuts, laced with pickled daikon and carrots, smeared with a mayo-like sauce, and freshened up with slices of cucumber and sprigs of cilantro. It beyond satiates the omnivore in me. And then fellow Dubai Fooderati, Neelu of Creating Memories posted ”craving for some Vietnamese food.. anyone know any good restaurant in Dubai? Not over the top price wise.” And that did it. Released the cravings monster that I had pushed down into a cage and tried to forget. And this monster could only be tamed by being fed Vietnamese food. But not expensive frou-frou food from the likes of the Shangri-La or Jumeirah’s Zabeel Saray – two 68

photographs by Sandy Dang

high-end hotels in Dubai that serve over-priced Vietnamese food good only for special splurges. My monster wanted down-to-earth Viet food not overly styled nor garnished nor hyped – just like on the humble streets of Vietnam. Enter Hanoi. An affordable Vietnamese restaurant that has two branches in Abu Dhabi and one here in Sector C of Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT). Climbing down the stairs from the podium level of JLT to reach the restaurant, I caught a glimpse of the kitchen staff through the glass windows. Could they actually be… Vietnamese? Looked promising. With large windows lining the front and one side of the restaurant, the atmosphere inside was very bright and airy for a lunch time get-together. Large portraits of Vietnamese women and rurual scenes lined the walls. A fake banana plant, papaya tree and other faux plants served as low-maintenance indoor greenery that seemed quite commonplace in Vietnamese restaurants that I’ve visited. With eight monster appetites to satisfy, we ordered more food than there was room on the table. But being the resourceful types, we

made use of vacant chairs and commandeered an extra table just for the food overflow. The staff had to manage two large groups (one of them ours and the other had 15+ diners) but remained friendly throughout and tried to be as helpful as they could but due to language barriers, some of our questions about the menu were left unanswerable. Here are some of the dishes we ordered… “Goi Cuon” – fresh summer rolls: “Goi Du Du” – green papaya salad with fried anchovies (the 2nd time I ordered this dish, I was disappointed that it was not topped with the anchovies): “Pho Dac Biet” – Hanoi special pho (contained tripe, beef balls and brisket) was a little bland but still enjoyable and I loved the meatballs “Ga Cari” – this Vietnamese chicken stew tasted so different from the one that my family prepares that I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It seemed very buttery (instead of coconutty), lacked the addition of tomato sauce, and the spices just didn’t seem right. Perhaps this is one of those dishes that has regional differences and the northern flavors of Hanoi take some

getting used to: “Ca Ran Xot Me” – crispy fried whole fish with spicy tamarind sauce served with steamed rice (we tried to find out what kind of fish this was but to no avail): “Banh Xeo” – these savory crepes were not one of the restaurant’s better offerings (again, I’m not sure if it’s partly because I’m used to Saigon-style):

Rating: 16/20 Pros: bright atmosphere, fairly authentic, reasonable price Cons: some dishes don’t hit the mark, no pork (vital ingredient in Vietnamese food) Price: 75-100AED per person inc drinks

“Caphe Sua Da” – iced Vietnamese coffee: Artichoke Tea: “Che Ba Mau” – 3-colored dessert:. It would not be fair to compare the food served at Hanoi to what I ate in Vietnam. In speaking with the servers, it seemed that many of the ingredients (including some of the rice noodles) are imported directly from Vietnam as they cannot be obtained here in Dubai. But substitutions have to be made for those items that do not travel well – like fresh herbs, freshly-made Vietnamese style baguettes – and of course for those dishes that are traditionally made with pork or pork fat. Plus, my taste buds are more accustomed to southern Vietnamese food, so I felt that many of the dishes were close…but no cigar. It would be interesting to read a review of the restaurant from someone who is familiar with northern cuisine. Overall, I would say that the food at Hanoi was enjoyable (I’ve since been back) and as authentic as you can get in Dubai for inexpensive Vietnamese food. Portions were generous and most dishes can be shared by two people, bringing the bill to under 100 dhs per person. The only thing missing for me was Banh Mi. But the Banh Mi (which simply translates to “bread”) that everyone knows and loves originated from Saigon so we probably won’t be seeing that anytime soon in Hanoi restaurant (but prove me wrong!).

Sandy Dang gingerandscotch.com 69

Downtown Burj Khalifa - It’s finally come of age

It’s marvellous watching this city being built around us. The Dubai Mall combined with the Burj Khalifa and it’s surrounding fountains would now have to be Dubai’s largest tourist attraction (yes, in both senses of the word!). And now, finally, there’s now a restaurant district surrounding it that fits the grandeur and grandiose nature of the attractions it offers. The most delightful part of it all is that the area offers us a range of cuisines and prices as varied as can be found anywhere else in Dubai, perhaps more-so. It really is becoming a showcase. There are Pakistani barbecue joints with 60AED buffets, there is Dubai’s best French restaurant, grating truffles onto scrambled eggs. There is Dubai’s first Armenian restaurant, inspired by a grandmother, a funky Japanese lounge and restaurant shipped in from Sydney, patisseries that really should be in Paris, and an Arabic karaoke shisha joint that reminds our reviewers of Syria. Picnic brunches and gastropubs, authentic Italian gelato and Lebanese breakfasts. What more could you want? (except perhaps some better parking ) 70

Eugenie Rating: NA – complimentary trial Pros: Gorgeous ambience, perfect patisserie, lovely tea and iced coffees, view of the fountains. Cons: Not cheap, hot coffees a little off the mark. Price: 60-100 AED per person for coffee and sweets.

photograph by Rubeen Rashik and (above) from website

Once upon a time there lived an Empress by the name Eugenie (the last empress of France and iconic wife of Napoleon III, Eugenie de Motijo.) She would invite her guests to stay at her palace and treat them with special culinary delights. The same way Empress Eugenie would invite her guest to her palace to treat them I was also invited here at Eugenie Café. It’s located on the first floor of Souk Al Bahar, gleaming in pure white. You can dine inside or under the interior arcade of the souk, watching the Burj Khalifa and the dancing water. Many come to take away though – Eugenie’s patisserie morsels are presented like jewels in their cabinets, and customers leave clutching parcels as delicate and treasured as if they’d just had breakfast at Tiffany’s Eugenie serve hot and cold drinks and I really enjoyed their cold coffee. It had that extraordinary taste which I felt was unique to Eugenie. Eugenie is also the only place in Dubai to buy the famous tea Mariage Freres – so a must-go for tea lovers. Once you are at the counter you see a stretch of macarons and choux, each named and pricing clearly

mentioned. The garnish inside each macaron is a unique creation of their chef and each as a distinct individual taste and color. I just couldn’t settle with one or two and so I tried all of them! The white one “Tahaa” was my favourite macaron for the day. My son enjoyed it too but he was specifically going after the one you see on top here. The “Rendez-vous from our childhood” was a perfect macaron for a kid, especially with those soft candies resting on top.

the “Winterhalter’s Iced creations”. A customized dessert at Eugenie, where a scoop of ice cream sits on top of a macaron along with a side such as caramel, caramelized hazelnuts, turron, white chocolate, raspberries etc. What can I say I spoilt myself tonight for sure!

I was suprised that the Choux costed less than their macaron, and honestly I enjoyed eating their Choux more. I tried the lemon, caramel (sea-salted), vanilla (a traditional french pastry cream with Tahaa island vanilla), chocolate (Kalingo chocolate – a light cream), pistachio and coffe (strong grue coffee cream) The last dessert I tried came from

Rubeen Rashik stopdietin.wordpress.com 71

La Porte des Indes Rating: 15/20 Pros: Fairly good food with some real highlights. Attentive service Cons: A little pricey, overbearing blue lighting Price: 250-400 AED per person inc drinks (licensed) Contact: www.laportedesindes.ae photographs provided by venue

I was intrigued to find an Indian restaurant in Dubai with a French name. ‘La Porte des Indes’ which translates to ‘Gateway to India’ has outposts in Brussels and London. Research revealed that for centuries, France had a strong presence in India. In regions like Pondicherry, the influence of their culture still lives on. I have always enjoyed the idea of fusing cuisines together, ever since my amateurish childhood experiments in the UK of making hummus tuna sandwiches or adding labneh to baked beans and toast. So, interest piqued, I made a reservation to try La Porte des Indes’ fusion cuisine. The restaurant’s entrance is conveniently located in a hallway linking The Address Dubai Mall to Bloomingdale’s. Warmly welcomed, we were led into a space drenched in blue fluorescent lighting. The dark wooden tables and intricate wall carvings did little to tone down the feeling of stepping back into the 70’s. Once seated, we focused on the lengthy menu, finally settling on the sharing menu (a starter platter, four mains, three sides and dessert), which had our preferred choices anyway, and a chance to taste a variety of dishes for AED225 each – 72

much less than a three course meal. Prices are on the high side especially in a city filled with cheap and cheerful, authentic Indian food. After an amuse-bouche of almond buttermilk (creamy and sweet with small pieces of almond), came our slightly watery lassis along with crunchy gram flour sticks and chutney. Good to nibble on while we waited. The starters platter arrived piping hot, with neatly arranged chunks of chicken tikka, chard pakora and murgh malai kebab. The tikka marinated in cream cheese was tender and delicious. The green pakoras were crispy on the outside, and soft inside, with the nutty floury spinach contrasting nicely with the mango sauce drizzled on top. Finally, the lamb kebabs were a dream – finely minced and oh so moist. Every bite was a pleasure – a spicy one, but a pleasure nonetheless. We were told that the chef would only then begin making our mains to give us some breathing room. Taking a closer look at our surroundings, on a Friday night, the restaurant was less than half full. Tables were nicely spread out creating a sense of space and enough distance to carry a private conversation – albeit in hushed tones. But those

lights! I thought my eyes would grow accustomed to them. Instead they seemed to glow brighter as the meal progressed. While I understand the restaurant is trying to create a modern atmosphere, it’s a little cold and impersonal. Poulet rouge, a house speciality, was my original choice for a main. I was interested to see how the French influenced version of my go-to Indian dish butter chicken would compare. It had a thicker, richer body and was less creamy with yoghurt adding a tangy saltiness. It was quite a dish and would have been the star of the show, had the chicken not been tough, marring the velvety texture of the sauce. Kari de mouton was highlighted in the menu as a cherished family recipe, and I could taste why. The goat meat was luscious and cut like butter. The smooth tomato-based curry was robustly spiced and flecked with crushed black pepper – only the subtle hint of calming coconut milk explained why I wasn’t downing my lassi. This is the kind of dish that keeps you coming back to a restaurant time and again. We still had two dishes to try, both vegetarian. Saag paneer, a traditional dish of sautéed spinach and cubed cottage cheese, was well

executed but rather unexciting. Rougail d’aubergine, another French-infused dish, looked just like guacamole. The smoked aubergine was delicately seasoned with ginger and green chilli. The fresh green lime ensured the dish had a cooling effect in spite of the aubergine’s bite. While a decent dish, it was no match for the first two. The sides were tadka dal (mushy yellow lentils), appropriately fluffy basmati rice and crispy naan bread served fresh out of the oven throughout the meal. Hot towels were provided in preparation for the cinnamon fondant we had requested instead of the dessert platter. It arrived looking simple yet elegant. Digging in with no time to waste as molten chocolate oozed from the side, we were in awe. The warm temperature of the gooey centre beautifully complemented the cinnamon infusing the chocolate. Here was the best marriage of flavours we’d tasted yet, reflecting a truly French touch. Each mouthful revealed a perfect balancing act, proving it a dessert absolutely worth saving room for.

my napkin slipped (sad but true – starched napkins rarely behave on a silky abaya), it was swooped up almost before hitting the floor. The sharing menu turned out to be a brilliant idea. Not only because it gives you feedback on more dishes but because it took us on a little gastronomic tour that extended beyond the French-influenced cuisine of Pondicherry and into the diverse and fascinating culinary landscape of India. La Porte des Indes makes for an unusual addition to Dubai’s dining scene and whilst the place lacks atmosphere, it’s nothing a little warmth (and perhaps less blue) wouldn’t solve.

Reem Alshamshi www.foodiva.net

Throughout dinner, our waitress was knowledgeable – expertly explaining each dish. Service was good, though slightly over attentive. The two times 73

Ketchup Rating: 13/20 Pros: Great burgers, food tastes super fresh, a good range of teas, good mocktails Cons: Waiters need better training, restaurant needs buzz to fill the atmosphere, chicken dishes not awesome, parking. Price: 100-150AED per person inc drinks

photographs by Tala Samman

My good friend has been hearing about a restaurant called Ketchup (which is co-owned by Ashton Kutcher) that recently opened in Dubai so we decided to go out for a catch up dinner – especially as we were craving Burgers and fries. There’s a good variety of menu items at Ketchup, and you can have your quesadilla, fries, steak, burgers… It’s an American Diner style, but at this stage, the restaurant was quite dead. There were quite a few tables and only two were taken. It’s one of those restaurants I’d like to see buzzing, but maybe it’s just the early days. The food did make up for it… Perfect for a casual dinner. What they say: Ketchup adopts not only LA’s pleasure-seeking philosophy but also the classic American cuisine that has long been a staple of the Beverly Hills dining scene and catapults them both into the modern age and beyond. The typical American grill, tired, boring and predictable, is totally recast as something young, vital and completely new. Tried: -Threesome (three kinds of fries, 74

skinny, fat and sweet. Sweet potato was my favourite! with a range of five ketchups from Curry ketchup, bbq ketchup, to spicy ketchup) -Ketchup burger sliders (The burgers were juicy, tasted like gourmet, high quality burgers and a whole lotta flavour. – my favourites included Ketchup old timer the classic, New Yorker and Smoked BBQ) -First kiss mocktail (passion fruit, lemon juice and agave syrup topped with ginger beer) -Chicken sampler (BBQ Chicken wings, Chicken Quesadilla, cajun chicken, and hand scooped potato skins) -I had no space for dessert, but I would’ve tried the Banoffee pie. They have a good range of teas, perfect for post digestion. I wasn’t completely happy with the service. Both waiters were super sweet, but new, and knew nothing about the dishes or the menu.

Tala Samman myfashdiary.com

House of Curry Rating: 15/20 Pros: Some good quality food, lovely setting, beautiful light, bottomless masala chai for 6AED Cons: A little expensive, parking difficult, some poor dishes, desserts need work Price: 50-70 AED per person inc drinks

photograph by Rubeen Rashik

This is one of the most beautiful restaurants that you could find in the area. The interiors were mind blowing, and I was a little surprised to see an Indian restaurant dressed this way - It actually gave me more of a feeling entering a British home in an invaded India. You can find traditional indian bicycle parked in there along with Mona Lisa dressed in a sari. (I think she looks prettier this way). Nice wooden flooring with artificial blossoming trees inside the restaurant, and three sides of the restaurant surrounded by floor-toceiling glass making the whole restaurant glow. Tried: For me the best part of lunch was the grills. They had the color, taste, softness, smell to entice you by just sitting their on the plate. Pudina Roti: A simple wheat flour based round flat bread Roomali Roti: A large round flat bread tossed to make very thin and cooked on a dome. Garlic Naan: A triangular thick flat bread cooked in a tandoor giving it crisp edges and a soft center – my pick of the three.. Panner Tikka: Cottage cheese cubes marinated with spices and cooked in

tandoor. Served as a starter, yum. Tandoori Lamb Chops: Very tender and melting in the mouth. A must try if you are here. Tandoori Prawns: four very large tiger prawns steeped in a marinade of fresh ground spices, cooked over glowing embers. A speciality from Amritsar. Spice blend a little odd, but prawns tantalizingly fresh. Murg Achaari Tikka : Chicken pieces marinated in a combination of chilies and other aromatic spices. Perhaps not as tender as hoped. Black Daal Makhani: Ancient recipe of slow-cooked black lentils. Very rich and thick. Good

I did enjoy their masala chai. One interesting part about having tea at House of curry is it’s unlimited refill! Hehe I haven’t seen that perk before anywhere for tea. By the way it’s a nice tasting masala chai. By the way, for those of you who count how many calories you intake they do have a calorie counting menu which again is a rare section for an indian menu. From pricing perspective it’s a little on the higher side and you can see where they recover the cost of their interiors.

Rubeen Rashik stopdietin.wordpress.com

Mutton Rogan Josh: A signature dish from Kashmiri cuisine. Good quality mutton, and well enjoyed. Mutton Biriyani: on par with taste and didn’t disappoint any of us. The masala and the mutton was nicely packed with flavour and taste. Gulab Jamun: large with a little pista filling Gajar Ka Halwa : nice to see it on the menu, but needs improvement Kulfi ice cream: fair – tasted storebought, and really should be made in-house 75

La Serre (Boulangerie) Rating: 14/20 Pros: Superb scrambled eggs, classy ambience and bustle, great bread Cons: Very expensive, prohibitively so for most. Price: 150-200 AED per person for breakfast inc drinks Contact: www.laserre.ae photographs by Tala Soubra

Waking up, still cozied up in my beloved quilt cover, I think a reward is justified for pulling myself out of bed. And for me, a reward equates to a lovely meal in a lovely space. Walking into La Serre Boulangerie at 11 am, I worry if a table for two is available. With someone paying the check at that moment, I patiently wait, indicator turn on to the left and swiftly slide myself into the table as they pull out. In true French style, breakfast offerings include croissants, variations of eggs, fruits and more. And, keeping with my reason to get out of bed, I begin with an order of truffle-topped scrambled eggs. My breakfast date arches his brow and comments: “I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying AED 125 for a plate of eggs, regardless of the truffles.” I respond by saying I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying X amount for Business class, regardless of the extra legroom. We all have our guilty pleasures and its no secret that food is mine. Making my way through the fluffy scrambled eggs, truffle shavings and beautiful bread, some of the best in Dubai, is a lovely experience. An extra crack of fresh pepper would do wonders. 76

If waffles are not on the menu then I’m afraid its not breakfast. Piercing my fork into the sugar doused waffle, I feel its’ crispy crust. Immersing the bite into the berry compote and cream I prepare myself for delight. And, rather unexpectedly, I get the flavor of orange zest in both the sauce and the waffle batter. A purely personal opinion, I don’t enjoy orange in ANY of my desserts because of its overpowering flavor. To remedy the situation, I ask for honey, which gracefully expunges any trace of orange in my waffle. Much better. And to end our breakfast on a healthy note, a can’t-go-wrong bowl of fruit salad. Apart from the bread, there is nothing that La Serre Boulangerie offers, which you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else in Dubai, but with the floor to ceiling windows and almost revolutionary street front positioning, stepping into its beautiful morning hustle and bustle is almost hard to match.

Tala Soubra forkitoverdubai.com

La Serre (Bistro) Rating: 17/20 Pros: consistently great food, lovely ambience, Cons: Expensive, service slightly variable (inexcusable at this price range). Price: 350-600 AED per person inc drinks (licensed)

photograph from website

A striking illuminated glass boîte juts out from the sexy new Vida boutique hotel in Downtown Dubai. Once inside, an organised frenzy greets us with chefs at play in the open-plan kitchen, a bar buzzing with punters and a near full restaurant on a Thursday evening. Now that’s what I call atmosphere. We’re in French-Mediterranean La Serre, Izu Ani’s (the opening chef of La Petite Maison) new baby. I asked for a window table on booking, partly for the sparkly view of Dubai by night but mainly to steer away from the smoke engulfing the bar area. And so the hostess guides us to a corner window table à deux. Bag that spot especially if you’re on a romantic date. The menu categories are all in French so if you’re not au fait with the lingo you may struggle translating. Here’s FooDiva’s guide – pour grignoter (to nibble), pour commencer (to start), brut (cold), chaud (hot), enrichissant (enriching – pasta or risotto in this case), la mer (sea), famille (family – meat) and la terre (earth – veggie sides). Dessert is simply dessert. A tomato rocks up sliced with a drizzle of olive oil as an amuse bouche. At LPM (the affectionate name for La Petite Maison) the tomato sits ripe on the table for you

to chop and garnish as you wish. We opt for an Italian vino from the San Leonardo winery – the Terre Marchese Carlo Guerriri Gonzaga 2010 – with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, as well as Merlot grapes. Smooth and slightly fruity. At AED 470, it’s one of the mid-priced vinos on the list. Our three ‘appetisers’ arrive at the same time with the idea of sharing. An onion tart to nibble on supposedly, but it’s the size of a small pizza – a crisp flat bread crust topped with onions, cherry tomatoes and dotted with crème fraiche. Already sliced, we eat it up with our hands savouring the caramelised sweetness of the onions. The warm green beans are al dente and tossed with small cubes of foie gras, so silky and smooth I yearn for more. (Please be a little more generous here!) A blanket of mixed green salad leaves arrives hiding baby octopus chargrilled to crispness, yet so tender to the bite, with dollops of zesty gremolata. With a decent respite between courses, our twin tiger prawns are served grilled with Peruvian aji Amarillo peppers and topped with herby crumbs – we scoop out the sweet and spicy flesh wishing for more. The trio of plump lamb cutlets are served perfectly rare as requested and spiced with plenty of cumin making

for a rather Moroccan flavour. Side orders of baked gratinated potatoes a la Dauphinoise is a moreish meal in itself, whilst the sautéed spinach is a tad too salty for our liking. For dessert, we can only stomach one to share – the traditional breakfast dish of pain perdu – otherwise known as French toast. An unusual choice for afters, but at La Serre it’s so gooey and eggy with the caramelised goodness of maple syrup oozing out and a scoop of milk ice cream to mop it up. Next time and there will be a next for sure, I’ll be leaving room for the apple tarte tatin…be warned it serves four. Service under the helm of manager Heather McKnight who hails from Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in London is slick in every way – knowledgeable, relaxed and friendly – but am pretty sure FooDiva was recognised. I’ll be looking for consistency next time. One qualm though, it took a while to get our waitress’ attention for the bill. One thing’s for sure LPM, arguably one of Dubai’s best restaurants, has a new rival.

Samantha Wood foodiva.net 77

Barbecue Delights Rating: 16/20 Pros: Very good value, especially the buffet, and especially for Downtown. Authentic. Cons: Service can be a little slow, gets very crowded on Fridays Price: 75-100 AED per person inc drinks

photograph by Saba Wahid

Walls clad with Pakistani Truck Art and the smell of spice circling the air, BBQ Delights is aesthetically pleasing and aromatically appetizing. As I sat down anxiously waiting for my friends to arrive, I enjoyed a perfect summertime beverage Known for itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cooling properties, this drink is prepared from the pulp of raw green mangoes mixed with cumin and black pepper, and a touch of rock salt for a sweet, sour, and savory summer drink. After my friends arrived, we began to feast on all the delicacies freshly prepared by professionals in the kitchen. The first item to arrive at the table was the beef Gola Kebab - a sweeter and more delicate touch provided by an addition of mace/ nutmeg, as opposed to the more savory seekh kebab readily available on other Pakistani menus. Next up was the Grilled Green Fish, the marinade mad entirely from green ingredients - green chili, mint, cilantro (coriander), and green bell peppers (capsicums). There is also a medley of spices in this marinade including the key ingredient, Ajwain/ carom seed, a pungent spice, which resembles a seed, but smells similar to thyme. The third of the grilled items was the Chicken Malai Tikka, the deilcately 78

tender cubes of chicken thighs were marinated in a medley of spices and Malai, the South Asian version of clotted cream. The dairy element in this style of preparation acts as a tenderizer for the meat. It imparts an immense amount of taste and texture to this simple grilled chicken, To compliment our grilled items, we were also presented with another house favorite, stuffed naan. There were two varieties served to us, one with a savory potato filling the other with mince chicken. Buttery, chewy and bursting with flavor, divine! We also enjoyed Kandhari Naan topped with sesame seeds. The origin of this bread is linked with traditional Iranian Sangak or even Barbari bread. In the province of Balochistan, Pakistan (sharing borders with Afghanistan and Iran), a very similar bread called Kaak, is cooked over preheated stones. On this particular occasion we paired this soft and chewy bread with a couple of classics; Palak paneer with copious amounts of fresh Methi/Fenugreek. The sweet, and slightly bitter undertones of this magical herb/spice/vegetable are very distinct in this dish. Going very light on the cream, which I was happy to see, the palak paneer warmed my stomach and my heart. Even the lightly pan fried salty pieces of fresh housemade paneer/curd

cheese were the right texture, with a slight crust on the outside. Equally as comforting and yet another staple in any Pakistani household is the infamous Karhai. Similar to the palak paneer, this dish has many different approaches. The way I was taught focused on the simplicity of the ingredients. Using fresh grated ginger and crushed garlic, along with fresh tomatoes, green chillies, and chilli flakes (or powder) plus a little salt and pepper makes this an easy dish to execute, and extremely tasty. The chefs over at BBQ Delights did justice to this tradition, and I can safely place the Saba Wahid stamp of approval on keeping it true to its authenticity! We stormed ahead and did our due diligence to the numerous suggested sweets, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m SO glad we did. The waiter first placed a colorful array of ice cream bowls down on the table. We had everything from strawberry, to a pistachio mint, and even a pistachio cardamom flavor. All are house-made and tasted as fresh as

they looked. Along with the ice cream we were served a South Asian favorite, Gulab Jamun. These little fried balls of dough are soaked in a sugary syrup scented with rose water, cardamom, topped with ground pistachios and slivered almonds. Super sweet and rich in flavor these were the icing on the cake for this unbelievable experience.

Saba Wahid culinarydelightsbysabawahid. blogspot.ae

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Mayrig Rating: 15/20 Pros: Good al-fresco area, nice interior decor, some excellent menu items, valet parking (15AED) Cons: slightly nonchalant service, some mediocrity on the menu, no shisha restrictions on the terrace (con for non-smokers), silly website with incorrect map Price: 100AED per person inc drinks

I heard about this place from scattered tongues – a friendly food blogger, and then a stranger-neighbour at a shared table, then a celebrity chef and a week later, a friend who had heard from a friend that they must try an Albanian restaurant on the Boulevard. Merik, she thought it was called. After much googling, despite the obstacle course of indications, I finally discovered Mayrig. An Armenian restaurant (no, not Albanian), that I found by searching for their lauded signature dish, the one everyone was telling me about – Fishnah kebab – barbecued lamb topped with sour cherries Mayrig is Armenian for ‘Mother’, and the restaurant’s ethos holds to this. Recipes are traditional home-kitchen ones, brought from Armenia to Beirut, affected by the local (Lebanese) culture over the years, then frozen in time when the family set up their first restaurant, below sandstone arcades in a house dedicated to Manouchag (who was actually grandmother, not mother) in the Bohemian quarter of Beirut. Hopefully Grandmother was entrepreneurial, because Mayrig has since franchised to Jeddah, Dubai (of course), and is soon to be in Riyadh and Bucharest. 80

The venue itself is about as homely as a villa in the shadow of the tallest building in the world could be. The exterior has that lovely rendered faux-old town look of (ahem) ‘Old Town’, and the Gulf two-level expansive villa feel that you’d expect to find in venues along Jumeirah beach rd. The floor is covered in exquisite tesselated tiles, the walls in cabinets that seem to be full of Mum’s best crystal, and there’s a valet-parking service out front, which might almost make you compare it to pulling into the driveway at a mate’s place. On that day, I didn’t have the cherry kebabs. It’s not my fault. No matter how I try and persuade my whitebread family to try something new, they are sticklers for their own tradition. The fact that they will happily eat shish tawook and stuffed vine leaves is purely accidental – they must have been too hungry to care at some point or another, and discovered that they actually enjoyed something they had previously thought weirdly exotic and filed under ‘untouchable’. And so, we ordered shish tawook and stuffed vine leaves. The stuffed vine leaves (Derevav Sarma) were accompanied by some slow cooked lamb chops with some

hefty-looking layers of fat. It’s fortunate they tasted better than they looked. The lamb was tender if meat a little sparse, but the great benefit of the combination was the gelatinous nuances infected upon the lightly sour sarma. Do I need to explain the shish tawook? In this city, I think not, suffice to say it was good. Roasted spuddies in preference to frozen chips was a nice surprise. Accompaniments of Armenian salad (too much cucumber) and mhammara (grainy but flavoursome) were reasonable but

nothing above the very high bar that has been set here in Dubai. I managed to sneak in a starter of sempougi kuefteh (eggplant stuffed lamb kofta), which were flavour bombs of the most wonderful order – crunches of pine nuts (I think), zest of labneh and sweet zing of mint combining into a very clever fusion of tastes and textures. The other sneaky dish was the Mante – meat dumplings swimming in a hot yoghurt sauce. It was rich and creamy, sweet-spiced with yoghurt tartness, and layered in texture with crispy dough. And after all this, I tried something that all the other bloggers seem to have missed out on (stick that in your sour-cherry-lamb-kebabs-pipe and smoke it) – Turkish delight icecream. Oh sure, they called it ‘rose’ icecream, but it was creamy, with touches of elasticky mastic, and chunks of pink rose jelly. It’s seriously the best, the BEST ice cream I have had in Dubai, finally knocking the green tea mochi at Honyaki off it’s pedestal. But this one, the kids enjoyed too (greatly unfortunate, as they ate too much of my share). I

also tried some chocolate ice cream (dark, pure and flavoursome, but an unusual grainy/sorbet texture) and meghele sorbet (Meghele is a spiced pudding that is similar in flavour to a speculoos biscuit – icy but wonderful). Mayrig also has a reasonable selection of Shisha, which I can imagine smoking out on their terrace in the evening as I watch the

Ferraris slink over the speedhumps of the Mohd bin Rashid Boulevard before dying of thirst and popping back to The Palace for a quick beverage (Mayrig is unlicenced and I am after all, Australian).

Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com

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Royal Orchid Rating: 14/20 Pros: Good value for Downtown. Nice venue. Extensive menu, some lovely dishes Cons: Service can be quite poor at times, Friday brunch has a reputation for cheap but poor buffet Price: 80-120 AED per person inc drinks

photographs by Rubeen Rashik

Royal Orchid is on the vibrant Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown. It’s not their first venue, but joins the family that also includes Dubai Marina and Festival City venues. It offers a fusion of Chinese and Thai cuisine, and brings another lower-to-mid-priced restaurant offer to the boulevard. Tried: Fruity Samui – A blend of berries with a twist of passionfruit – enjoyed every sip Juicy Pattaya –mango and orange with pineapple juices The mandarin mojito came as a small serve, but it tasted good and it got over in a zap. Tom yam with chicken - Soup never tasted this good, partial credit should also be given to the wintery weather. We got into this restaurant a little wet and cold and this excellent soup made up for all the chill. Som Tam – Thinly sliced papaya in tangy dressing. I enjoyed this than the main course. I enjoy onions dipped in vinegar at home, and this one tasted something similar. Vegetable spring rolls – No complaint here. As expected it came thick, crispy and loaded with veggies. 82

Tao Duck Dumplings are a house speciality. Each duck dumplings sat

on each piece of cucumber like golf balls placed on a tee. There were just 2 pieces of their Wasabi prawns. 2 bites and sadly both were done. Nice and juicy and dripping with wasabi mayo.

Rubeen Rashik stopdietin.wordpress.com

Basket of assorted dimsum – 4 selections from their large offering of dimsum. I enjoyed the dimsum that came from a section of ‘pot stickers’ in particular - a chicken, chive and water chestnut parcel. Sizzling lamb – cumin-flavoured lamb with onions and leeks - nicely cooked lamb (perhaps sliced a little too thin) along with vegetables. Great wrapped in pancakes Beautifully presented Peking duck – sliced duck with plum sauce and vegetables, served with 6 pancakes. Some lovely desserts were on offer, traditional or innovative: The Water Chestnut Rubies in Sweet Coconut Milk with Crushed Ice was my favorite. Sweet and creamy, but surprisingly light, and a 5/5 for it’s presentation (It came in an iced coconut). The fresh thai mango with coconut sticky was another traditional option, and my wife enjoyed this one more. The sticky rice was very well done. Changing it up a little, they also offered chocolate wontons with strawberry coulis – an interesting twist.

Rubeen Rashik stopdietin.wordpress.com

Mezza House Rating: 14/20 Pros: Cheap valet parking, heaps of atmosphere, good Arabic food Cons: Seating not so comfortable, smokey, (but really, this is part of it’s charm!) sometimes service not so good Price: 100-150AED per person inc drinks

photograph from website

This Lebanese icon is buzzing – even on a weekday. With Arabic karaoke nights and shisha on offer, I felt like I was in Syria, till I saw the Burj Khalifa! The service is great - lots of staff, and they’re quite alert. The manager, Roland was great too. What they say: Mezza House is one of the most unique restaurant concepts in Dubai. Featuring authentic cuisines from the Levant to your appetite. Representing Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian food culture all amidst a contemporary modern interior setting.

AED10 – anyone who has been to restaurants in Downtown knows having this service is a gem. -Just really good Arabic food. Lots of Lebanese restaurants focus on their branding and less on their food. Mezza House isn’t exactly fancy, but you can count on good food. -They serve Shisha and have a great outdoor seating area. -They host Karaoke night once a week.

-They have a vast range of mocktails. -For the mommies, they have a kids menu. What I didn’t love as much: -The seating isn’t comfortable, but it’s no fancy place.

Tala Samman myfashdiary.com

Tried: -Mashawi – basically a kebab, this one lamb and burghul - they melt in your mouth. -Date and rocca salad (This has got to be one of the best salads I’ve had. Rocca, dates, pomegranate and walnuts – wow.) -Garlic cheese rolls (if you love cheese rolls and garlic…) -Yalanji (vine leaves) -Mafroukeh bil Ishta (fresh delicious ishta – arabic dessert) What I loved: -They have valet with a fixed fee of 83

#Foodporn: Fume Restaurant, Pier 7

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Neil Walton Photography www.nwpstudio.com

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Need a recipe? Shaikha Al Ali not only tinkers with the recipe for Karak Chai by adding Vanilla Beans to it, but has also developed a Karak Chai Ice cream! www.whenshaikhacooks.com

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Photo Gallery by Neil Walton

This issue, Neil has contributed a series of menu and cocktail shots from the soon to open Fume Restaurant. Fume will be found in Pier 7, a new development in Dubai Marina, sprung from the outer edges of the Dubai Marina Mall. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a seven-storey building that is to have a different cuisine on each level. Fume joins Atelier M, O Cacti and Abd El Wahab, so our figuring is thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still a couple to spring up around the existing venues.

Neil Walton Photography

www.nwpstudio.com 87

In Conversation with Gaucho’s Chef Fer nando Trocca:

The menu change, is that something that you do regularly at Gaucho? In the UK, we do change the menu about four times a year, depending upon the fresh produce and ingredients available seasonally. We are trying to change the menu here at the same time as in the UK, maybe with some minor differences – say, for example, we will not be using pork in our menu here. Although, pork is not really very important to the Gaucho menu, there are some signature Argentinian dishes that do require sausages. Quite obviously, we do not serve these here. But the menu is 80% the same as in the UK. We also have to take into consideration the weather here. 88

Seasonal variations, does that apply here in Dubai?

What can we expect from Gaucho’s spring menu?

Yes and No. You get good produce from around the world, all the year around. But at the same time we are trying to source a lot of fresh produce and ingredients locally. We are constantly meeting up with local suppliers and see whether we could incorporate those in our menu

Gaucho is known for its steaks for sure. But we would like the diners to try our Tiraditos and Ceviches too. They are made with fresh herbs and raw fish – flavourful and zesty at the same time. I think these are easy to make at home as well. The most important thing while making these dishes are good quality fish and fresh ingredients. Our Spring menu uses lot of vegetables and different home made sauces.

. Do you find any difference in the Dubai diners, as compared to other cities like London? Dubai is a very cosmopolitan city and the taste preferences and expectations here are very similar to those elsewhere.

Ishita Saha ishitaunblogged.com

Ingredients »»

75g seabass, skin removed

»»

25g mango vinaigrette

»» 10g cucumber, peeled and deseeded »»

2g coriander, coriander

»»

5g red onion, finely sliced

Seabass Tiradito with MangoLemon-CorianderGinger sauce

»» 1g sliced red jalapeños, seeds removed »» pinch of sea salt and black pepper »»

10ml olive oil

»»

½ lime (juice only)

For the Mango vinaigrette »» 1g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped »»

3g coriander, chopped

»»

1 lime (juice only)

»» 250g mango, peeled and chopped »»

pinch of salt and pepper

Method 1. It’s very important to have a ripe mango, the softer the better to ensure the best flavour. Prep all the ingredients as stated in the list above. Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. 2. For Tiraditos, one of the most important preparations is the fish. With a sharp knife carefully slice the seabass thinly to around 3mm slices and place onto the plate which you are going to use for serving the dish. 3. In a mixing bowl place mix the oil and lime together and then drizzle over the fish on the plate and season with the salt and pepper. 4. Mix the onion, cucumber, chilli and coriander together and arrange over the top of the fish.

Tiradito is a Peruvian dish of raw fish. The difference in Tiradito and Ceviche is the way in which the fish is cut. In the former, the fish is thinly sliced in a ‘Sashimi’ style while in the Ceviche, the fish is sliced into small pieces. Tiraditos clearly reflects the Japanese influence on Peruvian cooking.

5. Dress with mango vinaigrette and serve immediately. 89

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Food e Mag dxb issue2