DUBAIâ€™S FINEST FOOD, TRAVEL & WELLNESS E-MAGAZINE Edition 16, May 2017
Our new logo using the Dubai Font.
Edition 16, May 2017
If you don't express your inner feelings, you will never know what you might be able to achieve.
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#Expressyou - with your own Dubai font! Dubai has gifted the world with a new font. For a lot of people, this doesn't mean anything - it's a font after all, not a means to end poverty or an app that helps in harnessing solar energy or something practically relevant. True, but to me, expression is everything. The fact that so many nationalities are living in one single space and being able to share their experiences with each other as we gear towards a new world era - that itself is something to celebrate together as a nation. And with that in mind, we at FoodeMag have embraced the new font in our emagazine to express ourselves through inspiring food, travel and wellness stories. Ramadan is just a few days away and we have already into a scorching summer. Our thoughts are with those of you who are fasting - do replenish and rehydrate yourselves properly once you break your fast. We have an amazing array of Ramadan inspired recipes in our website - do hop in, try them as you gather around your Iftar table with your family and friends. Debbie fasts through the Ramadan and my thoughts are always with her. Tag us and share your #RamadanStories with us and let us be enriched.
Ishita B Saha Editor & Co-Founder firstname.lastname@example.org T/FB/Instagram: @ishitaunblogged www.ishitaunblogged.com
Last but not the least, do share your stories of doing simple things in life that bring happiness to you - like walking on the beach, curling up on your couch for that extra couple of leisurely minutes as you sip into your daily cup of coffee or tea, or read your favourite excerpts from your favourite book etc. Do join us in our gentle crusade on STRESS as we lend our voices to each other and #BringBackBalance!
Debbie Rogers Editor & Business Head email@example.com FB/Instagram: @coffeecakesandrunning T: @bettyboodubai www.coffeecakesandrunning.com For Advertising & Marketing, email Debbie Rogers.
Prior permission for all editorial content and images have been obtained from contributors and featured sources. Images are sourced from authors for their respective articles unless mentioned otherwise. We have also taken measures to ensure that the info and data mentioned here are accurate. However, we take no responsibility for any factual error or for any misinterpretation, if there have been any.
Ishita B Saha, Editor & Co-Founder
Ishita is obsessed with street food and learning about culinary cultures across the world. She aspires to travel the world with her family - husband and two daughters â€“ the Z-Sisters, and
dreams about writing a book on Bengali cuisine, the kind that can be passed on as a wedding [Cover shot and concept: Debbie Rogers]
trousseau to her daughters.
Where did the time go? I canâ€™t believe we are already into May - it hardly seems like yesterday since we were planning the last issue. Talking of time, Ramadan is just around the corner too and before we know it kids will be out of school and most of you will be travelling for the summer.
Do three things well, not ten things badly. ~ David Segrove, Author
Itâ€™s been a busy few months for us at FoodeMag Dxb. Our last magazine heralded the launch of our Wellness Category with the start of #BringBackBalance campaign in collaboration with Oman Insurance Company (OIC) and Bupa Global. As well as launching the campaign, Ishita and I have been interacting with lots of people both in person and virtually who are saying how much the campaign resonates with them personally on so many levels. We are in a privileged position where we can use the magazine and our social presence not only to share inspiring stories and ideas, backed up with expert information, but also to help our readers, our families and friends and ourselves to make changes to our life. We want to be able to help ourselves and others to bring back balance to all that we do. Sitting down, with a cup of tea or coffee and taking time to read this magazine, uninterrupted if you can manage to do so, is just one of the ways in which you can bring back balance and enjoy the moment. Go on, try it and see how good it feels just doing one thing at a time. Do read on, we have lots of articles, hints, tips and stories that we hope will inspire you, tempt you and perhaps encourage you to live better lives. Ishita and I are also sharing our stories about what we are doing to #BringBackBalance in our personal lives and we hope in a small way this might inspire you. Until next time!
Debbie Rogers, Editor & Business Head
Debbie shares her experiences through the joys of eating and travelling, as well as the pains and gains of exercise. She is passionate about Food, Baking, Cooking, Travel, Exercise and Specialty Coffee.
Disover | Choose | Enjoy | European Apples European apples are grown in the countryside in clean fresh air and are famous across the world for their unique taste and aroma. Unique climate and soft conditions, along with carefully developed cultivation methods produce a wide range of different varieties of apples, each with a unique look, taste and ﬂavour.
What are Bicolored Apples?
Bicolored apples ripen and are harvested between mid-September through to the end of October and they can be stored in temperature controlled atmospheres for upto 8 months making them available for a large portion of the year. Because of the climate in which they are grown, Bicolored apples tend to taste a bit sour and tart.
Why enjoy Bicolored Apples?
Quality: High standards of cultivation, storage and transport of European Bicolored apples ensures that only the best apples reach our stores. Apples are free from residues of pesticides and fesrtilisers and as a result of this, each apple should look and taste like it does th emoment it is picked from the tree. Bicolored apples come in many different varieties including some of the better known apples such as Gala, Golden Delicious and Jonagord through to more unusual varieties such as Ligol, Najdared, Gloster, Red Jonaprince, Idared and Champion.
Special Characteristics of Bicolored Apples: • available in many varieties • have sweet and sour taste • have full blush and juicy ﬂesh • are crunchy and aromatic
Taste the difference!
Different types of apples have unique taste proﬁles, how do you know which to buy? For instance, if you’re planning on baking an apple pie you will need a ﬁrm apple with some tartness and lots of ﬂavour. If you prefer to eat your apple raw then there are different choices too.
CAMPAIGN FINANCED WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND
CAMPAIGN ALSO CO-FINANCED FROM FRUIT AND VEGETABLES PROMOTION FUND
a Luxury Hotel stay for two
at Taj Dubai in a Luxury City View Room complete with Cooking Class & Special Dinner, or other fantastic prizes like a Power Blender or a Dessert Maker!*
e 1st Priz
www.apples-europe.com petition is This com to you by brought
CAMPAIGN FINANCED WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND CAMPAIGN ALSO CO-FINANCED FROM FRUIT AND VEGETABLES PROMOTION FUND
*Terms and conditions apply
Our Specialist Panel
Win Special Mentions
Prachi Grover, Kids Columnist
Prachi declares that her blog has â€˜recipes that we have tried and appreciated, cooking victories and failures, kitchen and food related DIY projects that we are working on and more'. We refers to Prachi and Sara, her 8 year old little chefling, whom we have lovingly adopted as our own contributing little expert! Prachi is a Super Ambassador of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Programme. www.orangekitchens.net
a Luxury Hotel stay for two
at Taj Dubai in a Luxury City View Room complete with Cooking Class & Special Dinner, or other fantastic prizes like a Power Blender or a Dessert Maker!*
Chef Silvena Rowe Celebrity Chef and Founder Omnia
Chef Peter Sebby Chef de Cuisine at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Mari Moilanen www.jotainmaukasta.fi
Tinna Kontra www.tinnakontra.com
Cooking with Kids Energy Balls
Debbie's Diary, Ishita's Diary
Gaggan Pop Up
FoodeMag Event #BringBackBalance Event, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Silvena Rowe, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Balance Burj Club Spa
64 Ramadan Special Iftar Roundup & Gifts
Zara Spa in Dead Sea
Peppermill, Le Petit Chef
Culinary Travel Helsinki, Recipes
Note: Some of the articles and/or recipes in this edition may contain reference to alcohol and other ingredients without intentions to hurt any religious sentiment.
Energy Balls... mix, chill and roll - that is how we snack-eat! By Prachi Grover
“Don’t eat those biscuits now or you will spoil your appetite!” Raise your hands if you grew up listening to this or find yourself saying the same to your little ones. Snacks - I struggle with them the most, you know those inbetween meal times when children are hungry and dinner and lunch is still a few hours away. These are the times that they need to nibble on something small, energy packed, healthy and filling. Also, they want them real fast. Snack time is a great opportunity to help kids to try out new foods and new flavours, specially if you involve them to prepare. My chefling Sara loves making what she calls 'cake balls”. Carrot-Walnut, AppleDate and Banana-Chocolate are three of her favourite flavours. The upside? She gets to eat these desserts whenever she wants and mum doesn’t seem to mind and that sort of makes me the coolest mum ever! I love the fact that these tiny balls of goodness are not only a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition but also keep her little belly from rumbling until dinner time. She loves to measure, mix and shape, and the fact that she can make them independently as they don’t involve any 'cooking', she will find any excuse to make them eat them. And that works perfectly for me!
Try these energy balls once and I can assure you your children will reach out for these instead of that packet of chips or a store bought bar when hunger pang strikes... Happy Snack-Eating!
Apple & Date
Makes 8-10 balls (depending on your preferred size)
½ tsp coconut oil 1/8 cup of cashew butter (or a nut butter of your choice) ½ cup dates, deseeded and chopped into pieces 1 cup grated apple (squeezed to remove all the juice) 1/8th tsp all spice powder 1 tsp bee pollen (optional)
Melt the cashew butter along with the oil. If you don’t have coconut oil you can substitute that with cashew butter or a nut butter of your choice. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. It will make the process of rolling this mixture into balls much easier and also allow all the flavours to mingle well. Divide the mixture into equal parts. To get equal portions, I like to use a measuring spoon. One tablespoon for each bite. Feel free to increase or decrease the size.
The method for making all the three balls is identical. Mix, Roll, Chill and Pop them into your mouth! You can store these balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week. You can also freeze a batch of these for a month and simply thaw them overnight in the fridge and enjoy.
#CookingWithKids Banana & Chocolate
Makes 8-10 balls (depending on your preferred size)
½ tsp coconut oil 1/8 cup of cashew butter (or a nut butter of your choice) 1 cup desiccated coconut ½ cup ripe banana, mashed ½ cup dark chocolate (chopped into pieces) or chocolate chips ½ tsp cocoa powder ¼ tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp bee pollen (optional) Extra desiccated coconut to roll the balls in (optional)
Carrot & Walnut
Makes 8-10 balls (depending on your preferred size)
½ tsp coconut oil 1/8 cup of cashew butter (or a nut butter of your choice) 1/8 cup of honey ¼ cup of old fashioned rolled oats ½ cup grated carrots (squeezed to remove all the juice) ¼ cup walnuts (broken into little pieces) 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder 1 tsp bee pollen (optional) Extra oats to roll the balls in (optional)
Tom Kerridge'sDopamine Diet: My low-carb, stay-happy way to lose weight By Debbie Rogers
Late last year, Ishita and I met Chef Tom Kerridge at Marina Social. He was here for a few days working with Jason Atherton and Tristin Farmer for a pop up dinner menu which was hugely popular and a complete sellout. Back in the UK I was an avid fan of Tom, his TV series was hugely aspirational. He was always cooking large portions of hearty food, sharing it with friends and family and I remember it having a big impact on me. I wanted to be him, to cook like him and have his social life and to be honest it all looked so darn good! Back in those days, Tom was a big guy, not just in height but also in girth. Since then Tom has lost eleven stones (70 kgs) over the last three years and in his book, he shares his journey, recipes and his inspirations. The main thing that struck me is that Tom says he wanted to eat delicious food and that this was key to his diet. Let’s be honest, if you are a foodie who wants, or needs to lose some extra pounds, then it makes perfect sense that you follow a plan that tastes delicious and gives you results. The turning point for Tom was his age, he was approaching 40 and this major milestone inspired him to take the leap and make big changes.
Tom Kerridge's popular work as cookbook author and TV host include: Great British Food Revival, Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food, Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes, hosting Saturday Kitchen, hosting Spring Kitchen, and also the front of BBC's Food and Drink. More recently the chef on BBC2's Food Detectives, and the lead presenter in Bake Off: Crème de la Crème. To know more on Tom Kerridge, his works, restaurants and his cookbooks, visit
He started his plan by taking a critical look at himself. His large size, close to almost thirty stones (190 kgs) meant that he needed to take some drastic action. He started by looking at what was making him fat, and working out a plan to cut those out. Tom spent a lot of time researching different types of dieting and working out what would work for him and what would not and in doing so he started to figure out what could and would work for him as a long-term change of life. 'Taste' was a key factor, and he worked out that he needed to have food that tastes good, so a new diet plan had to allow some butter and olive oil. He also looked at the link between eating carbohydrates and insulin production and how high carb diets can lead to fat accumulation. Critically, for me, he also looked at the menu of his restaurant, The Hand and Flowers and started analysing what he would be able to eat from the menu if he followed a low carb approach to eating. From here he started to see how he could eat some of the things he loved and could make some food swops to reduce carbs further, eg remove the chips from steak and chips and replace with low carb veggies.
NB : There are quite a few pork dishes, so this might not be suitable for everyone. Tom Kerridge's Dopamine Diet is available in Amazon and is priced from $16/-
The resulting plan which he devised is unapologetically high protein, low carb – full of variety and taste and great for satiety. Tom’s says he prefers to focus on what he can eat, rather than what he has cut out Whilst you might think that Tom has followed the typical High Protein, low carb approach, what stands out during this book is just how much his change of diet resulted in higher levels of satisfaction, and almost by accident Tom discovered the role of dopamine in his diet. Certainly when talking to him, he’s full of energy and is literally glowing and really a great promoter of his changed of life style.
Debbie: You don’t have to follow Tom’s plan to enjoy the recipes, but you just might want to check it out if you are looking to make a few changes to the way that you eat and to how you feel.
Dopamine is a chemical which signals to the brain’s reward hub. From a food perspective dopamine is created when we the amino acid tyrosine is broken down and used by the body. The dopamine hero’s are: • Dairy, Eggs, Oily Fish and Seafood, Fruit, Well Sourced Meat (think free range, grass fed), Nuts, Vegetables, Spices and Chillies. • Add to this a healthy dose of 70 per cent dark chocolate for sugar cravings, and you just about have Tom’s diet • Exercise: Finally, on top of all the food changes, Tom took up a form of exercise that he loved, swimming and he encourages everyone to find something they “don’t hate and do it every day if you can”. • Yes to Coffee! As a final thought, Tom loved Coffee whilst it is claimed that it can lead to reduced dopamine levels he has continued his love of coffee throughout – news to my ears!
Is this a Diet Book?
This isn’t a diet book, you won’t find a long list of ‘dos and don’ts, you won’t find daily meal plans, or any sections on weighing and recording your results etc. Instead it’s more of a cookbook where Tom shares the recipes that he cooks to allow him to follow his new high dopamine lifestyle. And having met Tom and seen his progress you can tell that it has worked for him. The book starts with an introduction about how and why Tom changed his diet and the rationale behind it. It’s not technical or prescriptive at all. Instead, it’s an honest introduction on how a very large person who loved their food decided to make a significant change and how they made that change work for them. From that perspective, I find it hugely inspirational.
In The Kitchen
The recipe section of the book is broken down into sensible categories making it easy to cook from. The categories are based on the type of dish rather than categorising Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner etc, and this reflects the way in which he typically eats now. Instead you will find sections on Soups and Broths, Hot & Cold Salads, Omelettes & Pancakes, Minced Meat Dishes, Braises & Strews, Panfrying & Roasts, Sweet Things & Baking In the main the recipes look great and come with carb count information. For me, there’s enough variety to suit casual dining from family sharing dishes – Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower topping - through to something a bit more substantial and suitable for casual entertaining, which takes me back to his TV show days when I first had a glimpse of his life. For dessert lovers there are also eight dessert dishes (using sugar substitutes) and a couple of low carb breads.
From our archives...
We had the pleasure of doing a blind tasting of 13 flavors of sorbet while chit chatting with none other than Tom Kerridge, Jason Atherton and Tristin Farmer at the Marina Social, courtesy BBC Good Food Middle East. It was a fun afternoon with Simon Rimmer from The Scene causally joining in!
Images on this page: Ishita B Saha
Dear Diary... when-where-howwhy must I switch on and switch off? By Debbie Rogers
Almost at the same time we launched the new Wellness section of FoodeMag dxb, I won a place on an exciting twelve-week programme called Switch360. The programme is operated by Switch DXB and over the course of the twelve-week program, four individuals, including myself, are learning how we can live better lives by Switching On (physical exercise and increased knowledge about ourselves) and Switching Off (more about relaxing and recovery). From the moment, I saw the competition and read more about it, I felt that this was a programme for me and after passing a few selection activities I’m pleased to say that I’m now part of the Switch360 team. Check out my Instagram page for details on some of the things we’ve been doing as well as my new YouTube channel. There are a lot of parallels between the intentions of Switch DXB and our current wellness campaign #BringBackBalance with both focussing on not having to live at extremes, but instead reaching a level of balance and awareness which works for us.
Eight Weeks In
In our last issue, Ishita and I committed to making changes to our lifestyles and to sharing those changes with you both here in the magazine and through our personal social media channels and blogs. FoodeMag dxb brings us together in a way in which we can celebrate our shared passions, but also maximize on our differences and use them in a way which builds on our strengths and weaknesses. Yes, I know, nobody wants to admit they have weaknesses, but we all do, or should I say we have “areas we would like to improve.
Over the last eight weeks I’ve learnt much more about myself through a battery of testing and assessments. I know all about my DNA through a DNA Assessment, I’ve spent time talking to a nutritionist and life coach and taken a good look at myself and my goals. I’ve learn about how my body moves and functions, what it is composed of and how it performs when training.
I’ve become much more physically active too and have taken part in various boot camps, trampoline fitness classes and HIIT classes (High Intensity Interval Training).
I’ve taken part in Yoga classes and learned how to Meditate and be more present. I’ve swung my first ever Golf club and learned how to do Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. I’ve done a hypnotherapy session to aid sleep and learned how to rest and recover as well as to train hard. Images: Debbie Rogers
#Balance Diet & Nutrition
I’ve learnt more about my nutrition, both in terms of having my food delivered and fully customised to me, as well as learning how to buy and cook delicious healthy meals at home. Psst … I’m still honing in my skills on eating out and making better choices (with the odd indulgence), since that’s a bit part of my job too. Exhausted by what you’ve read? I am! Essentially, we have been doing some sort of activity six days a week and it’s been hard work but fun, and extremely rewarding. There are still a few more weeks of the programme to come and honestly, I will be sad when it finishes. What I do know is that I’ve begun to make lasting changes to my life which I want to continue, and hope to inspire you to make them too. After all, if I can do this aged 50, then you can too!
On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact!* I always thought it took thirty days to make a change of a habit, but the quote above says it takes a bit longer and strangely enough, literally nine weeks into the program (sixty three days), I recorded a YouTube video saying that I was now missing training as it had become part of my daily routine! *Source : Phillippa Lally - Researcher of Health Psychology at University College London. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology
How does Switch360 work?
Out of hundreds of applicants, four people were chosen to take on the Switch360 challenge with a 12-week program that will see them learn about their body and their mind, set performance goals, try new exercises and fitness activities, take part in relaxation and recovery exercises, learn about nutrition and make marginal gains, leading to a better, happier life. Over the course of the 12-week challenge, the Switch360 participants have a dedicated Switch Coach who guides them through the process, supporting them with their Switch On & Switch Off activities. Since 19 February 2017, the Switch360 participants have been taking part in six weekly activities, five days during the week and one activity at the weekend, documenting their journey online. For more info visit
Images: Debbie Rogers
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Learning to Live Better Exactly twelve weeks ago I started a program called Switch360 operated by a Company called Switch DXB. The program was offered as a competition prize and after a short selection process, four Dubai residents, including myself, were selected for the intense program with the aim of us learning how to live better. During the last twelve weeks we have been learning more about ourselves through a variety of different activities. Weâ€™ve been learning about different ways to Switch On and Switch Off with the ultimate aim of living better. #fitAtFifty #switch360 #switchon #switchdxb
Dear Mind... learn to meander
through your thoughts in a postive way By Ishita B Saha
I have managed to convince myself that mindfulness and meditation aren't my kind of stuff. And what's the need for them anyway? I can twist my mind the way I want to think... only I had been failing quite a few times lately. Sugar is bad for health - yes, I know but I am not being able to do without it. Sleeping late isn't good either - I know but there seems so much to do, and always! A day and a night spent in the lap of the sand and desert landscape in an incredible surrounding ~ with heavy clouds descending upon the sand dunes as we prepared ourselves for a yoga session, this was Alma retreat in Ras al Khaimah. Wrapped in simplicity, the retreat has various programmes like colour and art session, mindfulness, yoga and meditation etc. I created my vision board (right) on canvas following an amazing art session on colours and chakras by Sarah Abdelal from Soul Art Center at the retreat. The colours I had chosen were blue, indigo, orange, yellow and purple ~ all reflecting the areas that I wanted to work on... the third eye and intuition, creativity and emotion, health and spirituality. Art gives me solace, happiness and helps me to #bringbackbalance and visiting art exhibitions used to be my hobby once upon a time. A lot of emotions gushed through my mind as I picked up the brush and colours after such a long time! Guided meditation and mindfulness sessions have helped me to chalk down a few things that I want to incorporate in my daily life so that I can be grateful for each and every moment that I get to experience in my life.
I feel I am taking myself too seriously these days and not having much of fun. I should chill and enjoy a bit more, lap up to all the opportunities that I am getting without over-thinking and over-analysing. I am always feeling that I am rushing towards a finishing line! There's sand underneath my ground, blue skies above my head, occasional raindrops on my skin, amazing friends and people around me who inspire me and protect me as if I am a child... and I have an amazing family ~ loud and boisterous and always about to irritate me to the hilt - this should be perfect life!
Images: Ishita B Saha
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Jumping out of the comfort zone
Everything is in the mind, I am told and all you need to do is to tune your mind to it. So, I tuned my mind into doing something out my comfort zone and dipped into a pool with 350kgs of ice in the name of a therapy! Cryotherapy is considered very good for muscle relaxation and this was just one of the coolest activities in my weekend wellness retreat at Alma ~ literally, for rejuvenation of mind and body! Have you done something similar this year which has shaken you out of the comfort zone or chilled you to the bone?
start again from today... that's my mantra
...seek out simple words like magic and miracles in daily life
Pick up the pen
No, not your touch pad or the word document in your digital device but pick up the pen and a notebook for traditional note taking of your mind - heard the saying 'the pen is mightier than the sword'? Well, it's apparently true. As I learnt from Sarah Abdelal from Soul Art Center, writing down your wishes and goals daily in a journal can help to manifest them into reality.
have fun... ask kids around you for tips
The power of words
I have been reading various books lately which talk about self development and harness more positivity in one's life. I jot down points that resonates with me and make it a point to 'remember' to apply a few of them in my daily life. I practically chase after words, for example, magic or miracles, which I think would change my life and try to seek them in my daily life - as I go out for my daily walk with the dogs, browsing through social media, reading the morning newspaper. And believe me, they seem to appear more frequently from nowhere - in roadside posters or in a restaurant name!
It's all there in nature & around you Breathing in a sunrise, or the filtering rays of the early morning sun and letting a fluttering butterfly guide your way - nature has all the magical powers that you need. I try to make a creative fun project focusing on one element from nature. I deliberately joined Instastory late, but I use it as my daily dose of creative fun. For example, the other day I clicked pictures of everything heart-shaped that I found in nature and in our home and sew together a story dedicated to May, the Mental Health Awareness Month, the message being ~ before harnessing thoughts of self harm or self negation, look around and you will find so many love symbols surrounding us, be it through gifts from a loved one or a souvenir from a place holds affectionate memories.
Images: Ishita B Saha
Keep your tasks & goals simple
My daily tasks are simple nowadays - the Z-Sisters have chalked down a few tasks on pretty pebbles we collected on our walks. I pick up one task each day and concentrate on that throughout the day. In my last stocktaking, I was thrilled that I have danced, laughed, dreamt, walked, sang, read, wrote, loved much more since I have started doing this, than I have done in the last few months! For our #BringBackBalance events, we created gifts like simple affirmation cards (right) consulting with Tanuka Gupta, Clinical Psychologist and Wellness coach, succulents for the work table, coasters with simple messages that one can share over social media etc. Although these appear simple, they are very powerful reminders that can tune the mind into being happy and productive.
Retreat & Relax... bringing back balance in the midst of desert and dunes!
This event was a part of a series of bespoke events that we have planned to raise awareness of our campaign. Different venues, different themed dining experiences, a bit of an education on Stress ~ the silent killer at this time and age. In todayâ€™s times of dramatic distraction, people have inadvertently lost out on good quality rest and have somewhat compromised on the work-life balance.
#BringBackBalance is a FoodeMag campaign in collaboration with OIC and Bupa Global. More on how to enter our future competitions: www.foodemag.com/wellness
Our second #bringbackbalance event Retreat N Relax concluded beautifully at the desert retreat Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa. We gathered at the beautiful Moroccan Lounge at Four Points in the morning for a quick refreshment which was then followed by a session of mindfulness and meditation in the coach itself by our Clinical Psychologist and Wellness Coach, Tanuka Gupta on our journey to Al Maha. Later at the resort, a talk on nutrition and healthy eating by Restaurateur and Celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe gave us an insight into the simple changes that we all can incorporate in our eating habits to lead a long healthy life. She added, ‘Sugar, dairy and gluten are highly inflammatory and avoiding these have benefitted me immensely. I highly recommend intermittent fasting, good sleep and exercising as anti-aging tips as well as to lead a healthy life and increase longevity’. While Tanuka’s advise was to ‘Add mindfulness and meditation in your everyday life. A lot of us feel that we cannot meditate and numerous thoughts keep drifting in. That is but natural and proves that we are humans!’ The event signed off with a visit to the Timeless Spa situated amidst the stunning desert landscape.
Celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe talks about health and nutrition in an interactive session in the desert resort (right) while Clinical Psychologist and Wellness Coach Tanuka Gupta leading us through a session of meditation and mindfulness in the coach itself on our journey to and from Al Maha (below).
The menu for the day was curated by Chef Peter Sebby (left) which reflected a ‘healthy and indulgent’ note starting with the welcome drinks of Avocado, Mangoes and Mint to the show stopper dessert of Sweet Potato and Orange Brownie served with sugar free vanilla ice cream and fresh mixed berries.
Complimenting the day’s mood, Samar Sadik, a Fashion & Lifestyle Illustrator and Art Director based in Dubai, created illustrations as bespoke souvenirs for the guests – a memoir of the day reflecting the desert resort in her chic illustrative style.
The Al Diwan private dining room at the resort had been transformed into elegant sit downs.
The campaign throws spotlight on recognizing the first signs of stress and finding a way to unwind and balance it. The first campaign on #BringBackBalance has been created to recognize that stress is a primary concern in the UAE leading to many medical issues. The campaign will have a series of bespoke reader activities with medical professionals, wellness practitioners, chefs, nutritionists and experiences shared by real people.
...interested in joining our next event?
As Samer Sawaya, Head of Partner Operations (Bupa Global) for Oman Insurance Company, notes: â€œBringing balance back into the lives of UAE residents is a goal close to our hearts. Our research revealed that 89% of UAE residents want to live a healthier life, while 40% claim that lack of time is a barrier to managing their wellbeing. If people cannot find a measure of balance within their busy lives, they are more likely to be spending less time eating wholesome meals, exercising regularly, sleeping sufficiently, and looking after their overall health and wellbeing. Neglecting their health and wellbeing will also have a knock on effect on their happiness. We understand that achieving the perfect equilibrium is a challenging feat, and for this reason we have partnered with FoodeMag to support people in finding a way to bring balance back to their life.â€? Do visit our website regularly, there will be series of #BringBackBalance videos and articles from experts as well as our simple suggestions of how we can bring back balance through returning to our basics. Stay with us if you want to join our next event and also tag us if you find some time to do the simple things in life that make you happy!
On the Table: Protein & Wholewheat Breads - Homemade hummus, Babaganoush, Cucumber Tzatziki and kalamata olives (#7); Starters & Salads: Guacamole Dip & Tomato Gazpacho with Garlic Melba (#1) & Greek Salad with Cottage Cheese, Tomato, Onion and Pepper (#2); Mains - Puppernickel Bread with light Mozzarella Cheese, grilled Vegetables and Pesto (#5) or Grilled Salmon with Steamed Vegetables (#3) or Grilled Beef Fillet with Grilled Vegetables (#4); Dessert: Sweet Potato & Orange Brownie with sugar free Vanilla Icecream and mix Berries (#6).
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...continued Nestled amidst a palm oasis in the magical desert landscape of Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa encompasses the heritage and architecture of the Bedouins. As one steps into the resort territory, one is almost forced into surrendering in the serenity and calmness of the desert with an occasional visit from the Arabian Oryx and Gazelles. Each villa is independent and has a temperature-controlled infinity pool and a sundeck that overlooks the desert and a wildlife view - a perfect sunset vista at one's doorstep during a stay. For more info on special promotions and packages visit
Chef Silvena Rowe, Founder of Omnia and our RetreatNRelax Guest speaker is a health aficionado and has a huge following on Instagram where she shares he focuses a lot on raw food and fresh sourcing of ingredients. She is a self confessed lover of the superfood - chia seeds & shares a signature recipe from her res
Recipe and image reproduced with permission from Silvena Rowe
er enthusiasm for health and fitness by educating people on healthy eating habits that staurant Omnia.
#triedNtested Omnia Iconic Chia Serves 4
2 cups unsweetened homemade almond milk 1/2 cup chia seeds 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1-2 tbsp honey Seasonal fruits (Chef Silvena Rowe uses blueberries, strawberries, banana, kiwis, mangoes and raspberries) 1 tsp honey bee pollen desiccated coconut for sprinkling 3 tbsp of berry coconut yogurt
Method • • • • •
Combine almond milk, chia seeds, vanilla and honey in a bowl and mix well until the mixture begins to thicken. Store covered in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, stir well before serving on a plate with the berry coconut yogurt on the side. Top with fresh fruit and sprinkle the coconut. Sprinkle with the honey bee pollen and serve!
@omniabysilvena: #happiness is eating well and #healthy - why is it so easy to spend $$$ on bags, shoes, make up when you don't invest in yourself from within- #beauty is an inside job #thehealthychef #omniastyle #sugarfree #glutenfree #dairyfree #paleo #vegan #chia #superfood
#triedNtested Avocado & Mango Smoothie Ingredients
1 fresh avocado, ripened 200 gms fresh mango, ripened fresh mint leaves, a bunch 100 gms low fat yoghurt 100 ml soy milk 30 gms honey
Method â€˘ â€˘
Blend fresh avocado, mango, mint & low fat yoghurt together until it reaches a fine texture. Add rest of the ingredients with a few ice cubes and blend well
Image & Styling: Debbie Rogers; Recipe reproduced with permission from Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
- High levels of monounsaturated fats - Antioxidants like vitamin E & vitamin C
Avocado & Mango Smoothie, the welcome drink that had been prepared specially by Chef Peter Sebby for our event #RetreatNRelax. Healthy and delicious, this drink when served chilled, is both refreshing and fulfilling and is definitely going to be a perfect coolant to combat the onslaught of the hot summer months. It definitely did for us, specially after the long drive to the desert resort. The chef is soon going to add this Avocado & Mango Smoothie to the regular menu!
Image: Ishita B Saha at the #RetreatNRelax event at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Roasted Tomato Gazpacho Serves 6
8 plum tomatoes 1 onion, medium size 3 garlic cloves 3 red pepper medium size, whole 1 tsp oregano, dried 4 tbsp olive oil 6 cherry tomatoes 1 banana shallot 1 shrimp, size u10 (shrimps that are large enough so that less than 10 pieces make up 1 lb) 1 tsp orange zest 1 tsp dill 1 tsp chive salt to taste
Method â€˘ â€˘ â€˘
Add tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper, oregano, salt and a little oil in a pan. Cover with a foil and roast in the oven. Upon cooling blend it until smooth and then strain. Poach the prawns, chop them and mix with orange zest, dill, chive, shallots and some potatoes. Roast whole cherry tomatoes with some oregano and olive oil until tender and serve.
Chef's Special Greek Salad Serves 6
½ cup or 20 gms lettuce hearts ½ cup or 20 gms red pepper diced ½ cup or 20 gms green pepper, diced ½ cup or 20 gms yellow pepper, diced ½ onion diced 1 tomato diced 5 ml olive oil 20 gms cottage cheese For Garnishing 3 cherry tomatoes 2 black olives salt and pepper to taste
Method • •
Mix all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper. Place in a serving dish and garnish with some lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes and black olives.
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Images: Ishita B Saha excepting the feature shot for Roasted Tomato Gazpacho. Recipes, images and nutritional excerpts reproduced with permission from Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Do check out our Ramadan Special section on the website, which will have many recipes using our favourite regional ingredient - Dates!
Date Cake Serves 10
250 gms dates, peeled ½ cup water 1½ tsp baking soda ½ cup brown sugar 5 eggs ½ cup corn oil 140 gms flour For the caramel sauce 2 cups sugar 500 gms cream 50 gms butter
Method • • • • • •
For the tuile 50 gms flour 50 gms butter 1 egg white 50 gms dates
Boil the water and dates, and once the dates become soft, add baking soda and keep aside to cool. Whip the brown sugar and eggs to ribbon stage. Add corn oil slowly and then add the flour. Add the date mix to the batter. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and bake in a pan for 15-20 minutes. For the sauce, caramelise the sugar and temper with hot cream. Add the butter. For tuile (baked wafer), mix all together and bake at 180ºC until done.
Date Scones with Clotted Cream & Banana Jam Serves 6
2 cups self-rising flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 2 tsp sugar 1 tsp butter, chopped ½ cup dates, chopped into 1-2cm pieces 1 egg 150 ml milk clotted cream banana jam
Method • • • •
Preheat oven to 200ºC . Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter until it resembles bread crumbs. Add dates and then create a well in the middle. Mix together milk and egg in a jug then pour into the well. Mix all the ingredients together until its combined well. Knead dough for about 45 seconds. Lightly wet hands and separate dough into 8 individual portions. Roll into a ball and place on a tray and bake for 12 minutes
Secret Tip! Brush some milk on top of each scone and then bake until the tops turn golden (for approximately 10-15 minutes). If you want an “Arabic” touch to your scones, try them with sweet vanilla labneh (simply mix labneh with some date syrup and vanilla bean) instead of the usual pairing of clotted cream and banana jam.
Images: Supplied. Recipes, images and nutritional excerpts reproduced with permission from Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
savour a healthy or an indulgent fine dining!
...continued #triedNtested Although our #BringBackBalance event at Al Maha saw us savouring the specially curated healthy menu, their signature Al Diwaan Fine Dining Restaurant is also known for its indulgent fare prepared with the finest and fresh ingredients from around the world. Before the actual event too place, we tried and tested both their Breakfast menu as well as their Lunch menu and indulged a bit ~ mixing both the healthy choices from the menu along with some signature dishes from their regular fare. Our favourite #AlMahaExperience however, is the magical Dune Dining under a starlit sky amidst the luxury of the sand dunes, good weather permitting!
Chef Piotr Kamieniczny, Executive Sous Chef at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Chef Piotr Kamieniczny has an enviable heritage, having worked at famous culinary institutes such as Paul Bocuse in Lyon and Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s 3-Michelin Star restaurant, and later under the supervision of Michelin Star Chef Mansour Memarian at the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel. As the Executive Sous Chef at Al Maha. he takes care of new menus and enjoys his expressive and experimental cooking. Piotr’s passion for food saw him traveling to Cyprus, Ireland, France and England where he learned the art of various cooking styles and delicacies, a fundamental of the respective cultures, signature to some of his dishes. A typical day for him is to spend in Al Maha’s kitchen – cooking, training, experimenting, overseeing and researching. Piotr shares his knowledge, expertise and experience with his team, as he is a firm believer that experienced chefs must share their wealth of knowledge and cooking techniques with everyone who is eager to learn and grow.
How did the Healthy Menu evolve? The genesis of the healthy menu was as a result of his interaction with the guests as regards what they wanted to eat and made them feel good. He took this understanding of the customers’ growing need for “clean eating”, “organic produce”, “environmentally sustainable produce” and the increasing conscious awareness of a healthy lifestyle together with the simple pleasantries that food plays a vital part in family and togetherness and decided to work on something special. He spent a dedicated and extensive amount time crafting out menus with lighter, satisfying and healthier options to cater to almost all dietary requirements. The focus was on creating something tasty and healthy which primarily involves sourcing fresh, organic and lean ingredients.
The focus is on ingredients rich in protein and healthy acids while low in carbs. Some of which include: lean meat (chicken or beef filet), vegetables, low fat dairy product (cottage cheese & Greek Yogurt), Omega 3 & 6 sources like nuts, seeds, fish and protein breads. Furthermore, refined sugars are eliminated and healthier alternatives are opted, like honey and agava syrup. The healthy menu has been curated in a custom made manner that is almost unique to each guest catering to their dietary needs and ultimately offering a healthy balanced diet!
Image & Info on Chef Piotr: Reproduced with permission from Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Do follow us on Instagram for a visual dose of our daily journey
The Burj Club... the spa and a health club with Burj Khalifa view! By Debbie Rogers
Treatment Iâ€™m here for a Swedish massage with scented oil. The therapist asks what areas I want her to focus on and she quickly goes to work on soothing my aching muscles. She pays attention to the knots in my shoulders and neck and although this is a little painful, she quickly soothes me with some softer massage and I leave completely relaxed and a little sleepy.
theme. Iâ€™m virtually transported from a humid rainforest with a gently warm mist through to thunder and lightning and a torrential downpour of cooler water.
Facilities Guests of the spa can also use the large Sauna and Steamroom along with the Thermal Showers. The showers are a first for me. Choose a scenario and then immerse yourself in the experience as themed music is piped into your shower along with hot or cold water depending on the
Location The Burj Club is in Burj Khalifa and is in three parts. The Gym with a range of classes and training sessions, the Pool deck with an infinity pool overlooking the Dubai fountains and the Spa.
Images: Debbie Rogers
Pool access is not included in the price, but day passes with lunch are available as well as Sunset Happy Hours (6pm8pm) and weekend brunch deals (2-course set lunch costs AED 225/person).
For more info on the special packages and offers at The Burj Club, visit
@coffeecakesandrunning: Celebrating the end of the second week of #switch360 by #switchingOff with a Swedish massage, a detox drink & a dip in the pool @ theburjclub @burjkhalifa with @missamandahone Feels like we've been mates for ages already! Thanks @ phill_switchdxb for the fab click.
Plotos is a Healthy Food Delivery and Wellness Platform that brings you healthy eats from your favorite restaurants in and around Dubai. Created by nutrition experts Maria AbiHanna & Nadine Tayara, the founders of KeepEATreal. Plotos aims in ordering nutritious and wholesome meals keeping your dietary plan in mind - vegetarian, vegan, or whether you are following a paleo plan or on a calorie-controlled diet. For more info visit
Talise Fitness with four clubs in Dubai across the Jumeirah properties, has recently appointed Sinead Scott, a leading Clinical Nutritionist, to guide the fitness and wellness programmes for members and non-members. Sineadâ€™s focus is on getting to the root cause of the problem. Her focus is really on getting back to the root cause of any issue. She starts every consultation with a Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency test and then builds a plan around that. Her philosophy is not about treating symptoms but finding out why they are happening in the first place and treating the cause rather than the symptom. Sinead shares her tips on healthy sops that should be easy to get you going healthy this summer! For more info on special packages and offerings visit
Info reproduced with permission from Talise Nutrition
#tipsNswops 7 Easy Food Swaps to make your food healthier â€“ but still tasty! 1. Replace table salt with sea salt that has sea herbs in it: This is because table salt is depleted in natural minerals replace with sea salt that has added sea herbs in it like dulse and kelp which are also high in iodine which is essential for thyroid health. 2. Replace pasta with spiralized zucchini: Skip the heavy carbohydrates in the evenings for a low calorie alternative which helps to lower cholesterol, supports circulation and has high antiInflammatory qualities. 3. Replace butter and mayo in your sandwiches/wraps with mashed creamed avocado: Avocado is jam packed with heart healthy monounsaturated fats (the kind that lower cholesterol). 4. Replace mashed potato with mashed cauliflower: Mashed potatoes usually are prepared with butter/cream/ milk or all of them. Replace this high calorific dish with mashed cauliflower, with almond milk and grass feed butter. 5. Replace white rice with quinoa: White rice is highly caloric and spikes blood sugar levels while quinoa has the highest protein content of all the grains and provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. 6. Replace your concentrated fruit juices with coconut water: Ditch the high sugar drinks and replace with natural coconut water which is loaded with potassium and electrolytes. 7. Replace Ice Cream for blended frozen banana with chopped berries: Replacing high sugared ice creams with natural fruits and almond butter will help in increasing your daily fruit intake as well as protein intake as almond butter is high in protein.
Top Tips: Season your food with turmeric powder which enhances antiinflammatory properties? Or Even blend Âź cup of frozen berries into the coconut water for flavor and sprinkle with cinnamon to help to balance the blood sugar levels. Berries are also packed with phytonutrients. @coffeecakesandrunning: Morning! Poached eggs on avocado toast with the addition of a good dollop of fresh pesto and a side of smoked salmon. #breakfastbliss #yolkporn
the master pops up in Dubai with a menu that's quirky & fun! By Ishita B Saha
I am fascinated by Gaggan Anand - not only because his restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok was named the best restaurant in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for the third consecutive year (2015, 2016 and 2017) but also because he's managed to present Indian cuisine outside the paradigm of the clichés and still managed to maintain the very essence of what Indian Cuisine consists of - the interplay of a variety of flavours, textures and tastes. The fact that he hails from Kolkata, my home city, is also another reason for my secret admiration for Gaggan! Both Debbie and I had the pleasure of attending Gaggan's pop up dinner earlier on at the One and Only Royal Mirage Madinat Jumeirah, kind courtesy of Zoe Bowker, a World's 50 Best Restaurants Tastemaker and Dubai based global fine dining, luxury travel blogger from NZ who writes at www. TableNumber7.com. Zoe shares her dining experience of Gaggan's emoji menu when she tried it originally in Gaggan, Bangkok. Debbie also shares her experience (the Brit tastebuds), while I dig into the menu with my familiarity to Bengali food teasing my tastebuds!
Zoe Bowker: Being a huge fan of delightful flavours in small packages, it was wonderful to sit back and enjoy the lengthy and leisurely journey of small bites that comprised the emoji menu. The only downside of these small bites? I would have loved to have more of my favourites! One other thing I would say – even though the bites themselves looked gorgeous, a lot of the coloured plating choices didn’t enhance the look of the dishes, sometimes the opposite – so perhaps some more neutral (while still being architectural and interesting) plate designs would let the edible creations shine brighter. I also preferred last year’s chili bomb (the green version with silver leaf) to this year’s, and I’d love to have seen my fave Salli Boti stay on the menu over the Idly Sambar, but that’s personal preference.
I can guarantee that you’ll be surprised, delighted and entertained by Gaggan’s emoji menu. I certainly was, and it’s fascinating to watch the ever continuing evolution of Gaggan’s creations. It’s still unmistakably modern Indian and carries a current of heat and spice throughout, but I feel this new menu has much more international influence. Gaggan’s love of Japanese cuisine, in particular, shines through with courses inspired by sake, sushi, tempura, uni, matcha, chawanmushi and more. With his involvement in the fabulous Suhring and the soon to open Gaa (literally across the driveway) and Raa, there’s no stopping this culinary juggernaut. If you’re visiting Bangkok, it’s a must do. If you’re not visiting Bangkok, go there just to try it! Debbie Rogers: I’m a lover of menus! I often read the menu of a restaurant before I leave the house, checking out what the dishes are, making decisions on what I might order and visually thinking about what they might look like. The more descriptive a menu is the more I can virtually immerse myself into the whole experience, it’s like reading a book where the author is so descriptive that I am literally in the book as I read. So, imagine how odd it feels to be presented with Gaggan’s emoji menu which is literally a piece of tracing paper with eighteen emoji’s arranged in a vertical line. I had read about the Emoji menu as
Images: Ishita B Saha
Tomatofor Arabic Coffee The Chefs busy in preparation the Brunch
part of my research on what to expect but I hadn’t stopped to think much about what it might be like. The slip of paper, or should I say our menu, says everything and nothing. The first emoji is a pair of red lips and at this point I’m puzzled, is someone going to come and kiss us? Too much for Dubai surely… I jest. Moving down the menu the lips are then replaced with various emoji’s giving nothing away in terms of what dishes might arrive except one of the key ingredients. Part of me thinks It looks like a five-year-old has had a go at drawing a shopping list for me, with fruits, vegetables and animals (meat and fish) on the list, whilst the other part of me is totally intrigued.
MorahCurry meatCookie platter
Bombay The Bhel dessert station
A spiral staircase and a custom-made crystal chandelier (above) forms the focal point in Morah, while an intricate petal ceiling design that showcases overlapping wood panels forming the shape of a flower. The bar and lounge is located on the second level while the panoramic views of Dubai unfolds all around in both the floors.
As each dish is sent to the table Gaggan takes to the stage and talks us through each dish. The menu is brought to life through his own words making it a much more intimate experience than just reading a menu. He also shares some of the adaptions made to the menu to suit the UAE as well as a few tales about some of the dishes which he is still not entirely happy, I guess that’s one of the downsides of bringing such an unusual pop up to a new country. The lips appear on our table and are eaten swiftly – it’s a kind of jelly served on a leaf, and we later find out the title of the dish is “Kiss Me”. Other dishes arrive over the course of dinner all beautifully plated or arranged. The downside of the menu being short and sweet is that I don’t manage to capture all the ingredients and descriptions of each dish as Gaggan talks which would have loved to do, particularly when trying to share images on social media afterwards The entire meal is served before we get to read the menu, I say read in the most general sense as there’s a maximum of four words and one emoji for each dish. Overall, my first taste of Gaggan is interesting, and if I’m honest I’m not sure if it’s one that I would repeat. There’s a lot of playfulness in the menu and as you would expect for a menu of this calibre, a lot of clever twists, a variety of techniques, intensity of flavour and textures in each dish. There’s a tonne of Gaggan’s Calcutta heritage in to too. Some of the dishes are an instant hit for me, and, a few instant misses too, but that’s always one of the issues for me with a tasting menu. Would the experience be different with a traditional menu and fuller descriptions? I’m not sure. Half of the ‘magic’ and appeal of Gaggan’s emoji menu is that it’s different than anything
Charcoal Fish Amritsari Green Peas & Mushroom Roll
#DubaiDining Catching Gaggan almost at Cinderella hour
Finally I meet Gaggan! Ishita B Saha: Moving aside the fact that meeting Gaggan was a fangirl moment for me, what struck me with Gaggan's Emoji menu was the fact that the simplicity of the concept - encapsulating a dish in terms of a single emoji, much like our modern day lingo encompassed many layers of emotions and complexity of thoughts. Experiencing his food may not be an introduction to a traditional India fare for a first timer, but it will definitely be a dramatic, nontraditional and out of the box introduction to a crescendo of a musical piece, if Indian cuisine can be transcribed into an opera. And like the latter, not everybody can appreciate or understand an opera - yet, one thing is certain, it leaves an assault to all the senses. Having seen Gaggan on the Netflix show Chef's Table (Season 2 Episode 6) on repeat mode, I have almost internalised Gaggan's failures and achievements. With Gaggan I explored the streets of Kolkata and Bangkok, and wiped a tear when he speaks of his hardships and raised a toast as he soars through a cheering crowd picking up his 'Asia's 50 Best' trophy and for holding the bastion of Indian cuisine in the international culinary waters. I knew by heart all his signature creations like Charcoal, Black Carrot, Birds
nest, the Indian fois gras, Onion pakoda, the coconut lassi, the Tomato matcha etc etc and of course his iconic Yogurt Explosion which by far has been replicated in almost all Indian restaurants promising progressive Indian cuisine - worldwide! I caught hold of Gaggan through Instagram (like most new generation chefs, Gaggan is himself the most powerful influencer for his own brand) and he promised to meet me after the pop-up dinner at One & Only Royal Mirage. Well, he kept his promise even though it was so late at night and we chatted casually and in Bengali - not with the objective of an interview. He used the directive 'tui', the casual parlance that we use in Bengali - almost an equivalent of the French 'tu' vis a vis 'vous'... and left with his parting shot 'Come to Gaggan
in Bangkok, you will go crazy!' How did he guess that? Exactly, that's what my intentions are - to experience a Gaggan menu in Bangkok. To be honest, a pop up only captures a tiny essence of any concept and I felt that the pop-up venue in Dubai with a ballroom set up wasn't really doing justice to the drama that Gaggan's dining experience wished to achieve. But that doesn't take the magic out of a maestro! The emoji menu was full of surprises but what struck me was the quotient of fun and experiment that went into it. I could identify so many traditional flavours from my childhood, but each one of them came wrapped in surprise. For example,
Charcoal Fish Amritsari ~ this was the quintessential 'Macher Chop' or the Bengali Fish Chops that I have grown up eating but the ones I tasted at Gaggan's looked nothing similar to those. A fish filling encased inside a coating blackened by burnt vegetable ashes - what a clever and surprising presentation! The familiar 'Macher Chop' sending a different signal to my brains and teasing it. As if by coincidence, the first thing Gaggan asked me was 'Ki, Macher Chop kyamon laglo?/ How did you like the Fish Chops?' I realised why Gaggan is an intrigue in the culinary world - he experiments, he is fearless and celebrates both his own failure and success. He is honest and expressed concern with the 'Hummus snow sand dunes', his version of Hummus created specially for the Dubai pop up. But that didn't matter, because everything else that he showcased was so playful. The 'Bombay bhel' had the exact dosage of masala that goes into a bhel sold in a roadside kiosk but the diner wouldn't realise it. He doesn't tamper traditional tastes and flavours but plays with it, adds elements and textures (again, that may sometimes backfire too - for example, I felt there was too much happening with the desserts) and the personality of the man shows through his food. And promises that he won't be serving another curry in the name of Indian food!
else I’ve experienced before, it’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s playful, it’s imaginative, and intriguing all in one go and to coin a blogger term often used now, it’s so ‘on point’!
Our hostess Zoe Bowker (second from left) and selected guests including Chef Reith Othman
Gaggan speaks in Chef's Table
I had my struggle…and I don’t want to go back there. I want to go ahead... Everybody comes in fashion and goes away, if that happens I will come back in a bigger way. Gaggan will become more aggressive. It will have a bigger appetite for destruction. – Destruction of Indian food, that’s the only way I know. No more curries, chicken tikka masala, naan breads.
...continued Lamb Chop Rangoli
Dining at Gaggan in Bangkok is an experience that should be in any serious foodie's bucket list. Seated in a colonial-style wooden house whitewashed in elegance and experiencing the food as it rolls out dramatically from a menu curated with memories and nostalgia of Indian street food, it is imperative to surrender all your senses. That's the least probably one can do to salut a chef who's restaurant has been voted No 1 in Asia's 50 Best List for three consecutive years (No 7 in World's 50 Best) - no mean feat that! Something is rolling out from this great chef in Dubai for sure in the near future, but definitely not another Gaggan, the restaurant as we know it now. For those who tasted 18 courses out of the 25-course Gaggan tasting emoji menu in his Dubai pop up (AED 825/person and AED 1275/person with wine pairing) and can't have enough of it - well, you have to hop a flight to Bangkok real fast as the chef made no secret of his intention to close Gaggan in 2020! For more info on Gaggan in Bangkok, visit
The emoji menu that's handed over at the beginning of the meal doesn't have anything written - only emojis. The above menu comes only after the end of the meal... and everything seems to fall in place.
#NowStreaming Find Your Foodspiration on Netflix: 1. Tales from kitchens across the globe; Chef’s Table Chef's Table features six of the world’s most renowned international chefs, and offers viewers the opportunity to go inside the lives and kitchens of these culinary talents. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven. With two seasons to indulge in, visit the kitchens of renowned chefs from Italy, Brazil, New Zealand, France, Thailand, Slovenia, United States, and others. For more info on the different shows, visit
4. Globe-Trotting with Chef Chang and Co: The Mind of a Chef Chef David Chang, along with his friends, explore, explain and enjoy food from around the world combines travel, cooking, history, science and humor in a weekly series about everyone's favorite topic -- food. Each season brings with it a new host as well as fresh and exciting recipes. The series is narrated by chef Anthony Bourdain.
2. Oui oui, monsieur!: Chef’s Table: France Audiences are invited back to take another globe-trot in Chef’s Table: France, where the series will showcase the crème de la crème of French chefs; talking about what inspires them and how it translates into their individual styles. The filmmakers embark on a personal look into the daily lives of these carefully curated chefs, from their diverse backgrounds to the evolution and craft of their chosen cuisine as well as their quests for sensory perfection. 3. More than Masala, better than Biryani: Raja, Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan Explore the food habits of the Maharajas and delve into the royal kitchens of India! This series explores the history behind the cuisine of the Indian royals, showing you how dishes were discovered, and the events that influenced culinary practices across different parts of the country. The show also features a combination of recipes using local herbs, rare fowls and elaborate preparation methods.
5. How do you like your sirloin? Find out with Steak (R) evolution Tag along on a gourmet road trip looking for the best steak in the world. Breeders, farmers, butchers, cooks, historians and business men all around the world (from France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Argentina, Brazil) help us understand the (r)evolution taking place when it comes to steak and the challenges ahead. 6. What’s this, and how do we cook it? They tell you in Cooked As he tries his hand at baking, brewing and braising, acclaimed food writer and bestselling author Michael Pollan explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world. The series examines the primal human need to cook and issues a clarion call for a return to the kitchen in order to reclaim lost traditions and restore balance to our lives. Each of the series’ four episodes examines one of the physical elements used throughout the ages to transform raw ingredients into delicious dishes through cooking: fire, water, air, and earth.
old colonial flavours of India in a trendy new avatar! By Ishita B Saha
Signature Mojitos made with my choice of muddled fresh fruits
The Concept Peppermill, the colonial Indian dining restaurant that was earlier located in the same building that housed Lulu supermarket in Al Barsha, had been one of our personal favourites with impromptu visits after a weekly grocery shopping or otherwise. Although popular and boasting of a menu that reflected Indian colonial flavours and regional dishes from the coastal line of India, it never did get the attention that it probably should have got much earlier. However, its newly opened location in Dubai Festival City with a contemporary feel and a stunning view to boast of, I am glad that Peppermill will finally get the spotlight that it so deserves. The revamped Peppermill, the Version 2.0 as Ms. Shafeena Yusuff Ali, CEO â€“ Tablez Food Company, the lady behind Peppermill and many other F&B concepts like Bloomsbury, Galitos, Sugar Factory etc, lovingly described it, is exactly that - a stunning view of the Dubai creek, a lazy leisurely vibe and of course, brilliant presentation of the earlier classics. And that too not trying too hard on the latter either, specially with so many Indian restaurants in Dubai right now who are going ballistic over molecular presentations - no puns intended at our favourite ones though! I insisted on catching Shafeena, an extremely busy lady - a restaurateur, entrepreneur,
Images: Ishita B Saha
The Starters - Chaat Platter, a Greek inspired Prawn Kadaifi and an Arabic inspired salad - Fattoush Ala Indie
Tamil style Mutton Pepper Fry with stir fried idlies
Nalli Rogan Josh with tender pieces of baby lamb shank
The Kulfi Lassi dipped into a bowl of thicker and creamier lassi
a mother of four and now a student (yes, she's enrolled in a prestigious business course in the University of Oxford - this is by invite!), she obliged. Life always comes a full circle ~ the first time we (Debbie & myself) had met her, it was at the earlier Peppermill restaurant over lunch, drooling over a Palak chaat. This time it was at the same restaurant in its new avatar, again over Palak chaat and other signature dishes... all in its new avatars. An inspiring chat and an extremely elaborate meal later, I could only sigh in relief - Peppermill has retained its original flavours, added a few modern takes here and there in terms of presentation and the most important part - the posh location in DFC is really not going to affect the diner's wallet! While I missed the real peppermill that had been the centre piece in the previous venue, I have been promised that it will be a showcase somewhere very special - if not in this venue but elsewhere. Aha - more ambitious projects churning out from the same stable that are sure to keep us guessing ovetime!
#DubaiDining A stunning backdrop for a sundowner or a masala chai (which I did as I couldn't resist the location). Also a perfect venue to watch IMAGINE - the breathtaking fire-water-laser show that take place every evening!
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The Experience The Drinks: I start with a signature Mojito made with my choice of muddled fresh fruits (I ask for mangoes and then an usual lemon and mint one) and stir into a bowl of thick lassi with my stick of Kulfi lassi! The Starters: A selection of hearty soups and fresh salads (not an usual offering in traditional Indian cuisine, isn't it?) make its way to the table - while I am recommended the Prawn Shorba poached prawns in coconut and curry, I stick to the rich Tomato Shorba brimming with fresh tomato, coriander and butter poached vegetables - just because I know a lot of food will be coming my way. Fattoush Ala Indie, my choice of salad is infused with Arabic flavours - fresh and flavourful made with mixed lettuce, cucumber ribbons, red radish, chargrilled peppers and pickled beetroots. The Chaat Platter is delightfully presented and has the perfect dose of masala and zing as it should be in an array of classic Indian chaats. A Mediterranean inspired Kataifi Prawns followed soon - prawns wrapped in crispy kataifi and served with a spicy mango chilli salsa. There are many interesting additions in the menu which catch my attention - for example, the Kalimpong Chicken Shuijao - chicken dumlings from China-Sikkim border; the Gorkha Chicken - a Nepalese stir fry chicken with spring onions, coriander and black pepper or the Grilled Tangra Prawns, dish inspired by the Chinese colonies in Tangra in Kolkata - the only official Chinatown in India. When we talk about food from across India, most of the times the North East and even the Eastern parts of India escape the attention, something that I note diligently coming from Bengal.
The Mains reflect a showcase of succulent grills from tandoor and sigdi accompanied by freshly baked naan breads as well as colonial inspirations such as the First Class Railway Officer's Mutton curry or a Gymkhana Selection. I dug my bread into a Nalli Rogan Josh with tender pieces of baby lamb shank pulling off while next in line vying for my attention was a Tamil style Mutton Pepper Fry with generous pieces of stir fried idlies garnishing the dish. Peppermill's take on the classic Matar Paneer (top left) leave me quite surprised and with a smile - a big chunk of paneer with cooked pea filling inside! As if I hadn't eaten enough, my mention of the kind of Biryani that a Bengali craves - the Awadhi Biryani, is immediately met with a Mutton Biryani cooked in the Awadhi style. The Peppermill menu is quite elaborate - a lot of signature dishes thrown in - Pankhi Kebab and Murgh Malai Tikka, signature homestyle curries such as Chicken Chettinad and Roast Duck Kaliyan and some trendy additions like the Coconut Cream and Pepper Corn Panacotta - a strawberry granita, fennel and thandai milk crumble served with star anise flavoured apricot compote or the Broccoli Zucchini Musallam, broccolli stiffed courgette with ricotta and nuts, saffron and mace musallam sauce etc. The portion sizes are generous and all the dishes that I tasted so far (and I tasted a lot more than I can mention here) are cleverly crafted with simplicity and deliciousness and deserves a return visit, this time with a lot of leisurely time in hand and a bigger appetite!
Le Petit Chef... a unique
culinary concept where food marries optical illusion and storytelling!
By Ishita B Saha
The Concept Le Petit Chef is a spectacular culinary concept exploring the journey of Marco Polo through 3D mapping. It narrates the journey of Marco Polo Polo from Marseilles in France to China and back via Arabia and India crossing the Himalayas and the six course menu is created by the talented Chef Tomas Reger and reflects cuisines from different parts of the world. Every course has been inspired by a country and is complimented by the story of Marco Polo's cute experiences during his stay. Nadine Beshir, the creator and Filip Sterckx and Anton Verbeevk, the Belgian artists have brought this culinary concept to life at the Dubai World Trade Club where even the most 'mundane' props seemed magical in this culinary show filled with optical illusions and surprises. On my second visit to the Dinner Time Stories, I was more keen to know the technical side of the entire show and Nadine Beshir, the concept creator and show producer, took me through the world of 3-D mapping and projectors. Do catch this unique concept where food marries optical illusion and storytelling before it ventures out of the UAE shores! During Ramadan, there are two shows only on Thursdays and Fridays - 7:00pm and 11:00pm (Suhoor with a different menu); Prices start from AED 430/person (adult) and AED 225/child. The season will finish at the end of Ramadan and will commence again in September with the same story.
Images: Ishita B Saha
Each course is delicately crafted taking nuances from each place that Marco Polo visits. It's kept really simple but delightful - from falafels to Indian chaat to the Main Course - a Seabass and Bokchoi in a light soya and ginger sauce or a Duck and Broccoli in a Rice hotpot cooked in Hoisin Sauce, to the sweet sign off. The latter is a celebration of his entire journey with ingredients picked up by our Le Petit Chef from different parts of the world ~ with a Rice pudding with Saffron (below), Cardamom and Pistachio, served with Hibiscus and raspberry sorbet, rose petals and crunchy Kunafa. And the best part is that the flavours and the tastes, they all blend seamlessly to create a rich experience.
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Soulful Iftars... break your bread in a way that touches your heart!
Images: Debbie Rogers & Ishita B Saha
Dubai has a variety of Iftar offerings throughout the month of Ramadan across the city's many restaurants - from elaborate Iftar spreads to beautiful Ramadan tents. This year, we take a look at a few selected Iftars which are styled differently and that we feel, embody the true spirit of Ramadan. We urge you to go beyond the traditional Iftars offerings and focus on those where there is no food wastage. We are still maintaining the tradition of featuring Iftars which reflect the hashtag #thisisnotabuffet.
#triedNtested Chef Greg Malouf's Zahira with a weekly changing Modern Middle Eastern Iftar menu
This was amongst the very few Iftar previews that we have taken up this time and the recently launched Zahira, with Greg Malouf's interpretation of modern Middle Eastern food is top on our list of 'must try outs'. Soon after Zahira’s tradition of breaking fast with organic Medjool dates, smoked almonds, Iranian walnuts, pumpkin seeds and a selection of freshly pressed Shrubs, a selection of Mezze would be laid down on the table that would include Greg Malouf's signature hazelnut falafel, homemade ma’hanie sausages with harissa potato salad and pickled fried chilies and chicken and date fatayer with saffron labneh. Main course plates, changing weekly will range from slow-cooked spiced lamb with nut rice to salmon tarator with tahini & walnuts and spatchcock fatteh with twice cooked French chicken in a clay pot. Our absolute favourite was the Salmon & Prawn tagine (below) one of Greg's signature recipes. The feast will end with fruits, a selection of halawa, homemade kunafa (left), baklava and Chef Malouf’s signature knife and fork ice cream. Opening a restaurant just before Ramadan may just be a very good opportunity to test the waters during the slow summer months and then opening full throttle during the expected bust season in the last quarter. The decor and the space is thankfully not over the top, although we prefer a venue with an open view. And the music although initially sounded a bit loud, soon a blend of the classic sounds with a chilled house soundtrack seem to entice us all. 7.00pm – 9:30pm daily; AED 190/person for the set Ramadan menu, excluding beverages and a la Carte reservations start from 8.30pm onwards.
#triedNtested An Iftar sit-down at the Address Boulevard amidst elegance
A sit down along a pretty communal table with a selection of sharing platters and dips, selected items brought to the table from a very well crafted menu at the Boulevard Ballroom in the newly opened Address Boulevard ~ you can expect no food wastage here, and thankfully no giant buffet as one expects in hotels of such stature. From sunset until 9:00pm daily; AED 250/person, for groups of 8 guests and above and a seating capacity of 50 people, this is ideal for an elegant Iftar with family or group of friends and for corporate group bookings.
mydubairamadan.com Images: Ishita B Saha
Ramadan Nights by Dish ~ a contemporary pop up Iftar with a daily changing menu
An innovative Iftar experience with Moroccan-inspired lounge furniture and candlelight in a pop-up restaurant in Al Quoz's Warehouse Four, Dish - the catering and events brand will offer a brand new menu every day of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
desserts, including green olive hummus, torn falafel salad, charcoal chicken and the signature slow braised shoulder of lamb in Middleeastern spices. From sunset until 9:30pm daily; AED 195/person inclusive of freshly made signature cold beverages and coffees. With a seating capacity of 120, private and VIP tables are available for those who prefer a more intimate setting or for corporate group bookings.
The 3-course menu inspired by flavors of the Middle East allows guests to choose from a selection of starters, main courses and
#RamadanSpecial Exclusive Ladies Suhoor at Andiamo
There seems to be a demand for 'Ladies only' Suroors during Ramadan that led Grand Hyatt Dubai to create one. The popular Italian restaurant Andiamo offers the very first Ladies Suhoor where a variety of international cuisine with a curated set menu will be available during Ramadan. Even the Shisha attendants will be women in order to ensure complete privacy to the ladies who book into this Suroor. 9:00pm – 3am daily; AED 220/person, including soft drinks and AED 295/person, including unlimited Shisha.
www.dubai.grand.hyatt.com Ramadan Nights with a curated catering with Marta’s Kitchen
Boutique catering company Marta’s Kitchen brings Dubai a taste of Ramadan with the launch of two perfectly curated Ramadan menus for this holy month. From sweet bites to savoury delights, boutique catering company Marta’s Kitchen founded by popular home grown chef Marta Yanci, launches two perfectly curated Ramadan menu for an Iftar at office or at home. The ‘Ramadan Nights’ menu with Mediterranean and Arabic infused influences includes delicious canapés, hearty bowls and special desserts with options like hummus in traditional style or with green and beetroot, Cajun prawns and fried rice, light couscous salad with roasted vegetables and crumbled feta cheese,
smoked roasted lamb served with glazed root vegetables, salted caramel brownie bites to vanilla panacotta with date honey and organic fresh fruit platter. The ‘Iftar Menu’ offers a more traditional take on festive dining with everything from Falafel salads to Baba Ganoush and pomegranate caviar, a succulent lamb ouzi and creamy cheese fatayer or the fresh sea bream fillet with a cherry tomato and olive relish for a lighter option. Ramadan Nights Menu available at AED 165/person and Iftar Menu at AED 130/person; Catering facilities upto groups of 10 – 500 people. Price includes all cutlery and crockery as well as the assistance of chefs. Beverages, furniture and waiting staff available upon request
Feed The Men in Blue ~ with Moti Roti & other Dubai samaritans
A great initiative from Moti Roti, this is supported by other local businesses, bloggers and resident volunteers. Each year, Moti Roti teams up with these samaritans to provide Iftar to labourers working throughout Ramadan. Every evening volunteers are requested to turn up at the designated construction site where workers, residents, and volunteers mingle together in the handing out of food, snacks, gifts and sweets. Volunteers have to arrive 30 minutes before Iftar to help the setting up and the handing out of food starts at Iftar time. Starts 5.30pm until 6.30pm daily during Ramadanexcept Fridays. This year #fillingtheblues will take part at the construction site in Cluster L, JLT (Nearest metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers), where there will be approximately 100 workers. There is parking in the cluster area.
www.motiroti.me/fillingtheblues Location Pin: www.goo.gl/maps/Np71sDKXx9N2
Images: Debbie Rogers
When you are living in a cosmopolitan city like Dubai where more than 200 nationalities rub shoulders against each other at any given point in time, it is only organic that one will end up imbibing others' cultures. Ramadan is one such example where we have seen many non-Muslims observing fasting to show solidarity in the culture that they are living in. Debbie, is one such example. She is also an active volunteer in the #FillingTheBlues initiative and you will find her breaking her fast with the men in blues every single day of Ramadan!
Marks & Spencer
If gifting dates feel very traditional, do check out Marks & Spencer for their offerings - beautifully presented Ramadan hampers filled with Belgian chocolate biscuits and truffles, to salted caramelised nuts, Swiss chocolate discs and delicious nut and fruit mendiants. Prices start from AED 89 to AED 349 for the M&S Collections Hamper.
Why not gift an Iftar to your family or someone special by booking into ChefXChange, and having a private chef come home and prepare a special Iftar menu? You can grab a $20 off your booking and a FREE basket of dates when you book your Ramadan Iftar through ChefXChange within a limited period!
www.chefxchange.com Mall Gift Card
Easy and convenient, these Mall Gift Cards are ideal gifts to celebrate Eid without breaking your head on what to buy your loved ones! Available at Mall of the Emirates & City Centres across U.A.E. & Bahrain, these gift cards come with a minimum load amount of AED 50 and a maximum load amount of AED 3,000 with a Card activation fee AED 7. Either you can collect the Mall Gift Card from a Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Mall in UAE or get it delivered anywhere in the UAE (courier charges apply). Happy Eidiya!
our press release pick
The Bateel boutique adds a luxurious twist to traditional gifting through their exquisite gift boxes filled with the finest organic dates and luxury chocolates, date-infused sweets and savouries to finely crafted desserts. These boxes are personalised and can be filled with a selection of Bateelâ€™s finest gourmet organic dates, whether plain, filled or chocolate coated. Prices range from AED 100 (Ramadan Kareem Box) to AED 930 for its very special Antique Blue Chest Box.. To view the full collection online, visit
charms with Art Nouveau architecture and cutting edge food! By Tiina Kontra
Finland has often been considered as a magical winter destination with the Santa Clausâ€™ village and reindeers. The country is also worth visiting during the summer time and it is equally enchanting with almost endless summer days, moderate temperatures and pure green nature. In Lapland, a typical summer day lasts for over two months and it does not get really dark in the Southern Finland either. This is why Finland is called the Land of the Midnight Sun. There is something to impress everyone. While clean forests and lake lands invite adventurers to step into the nature, the various festivals, the nightlife, the small cafeterias surrounding the city centres and the restaurants are enough to entice city hoppers. This time, we travel to Helsinki, the capital of Finland, which is quite accessible from most popular cities in the world. In fact, culinary travellers are revelling in Nordic cuisine and have recently found their way to this Nordic city with its many newly established trendy restaurants, traditional indoor market halls and summer food festivals.
May Day festivities in Helsinki
Flight Time from Dubai: min 7 hours 10 min Time Difference: Dubai is ahead of Helsinki by 1 hr
Finland is full of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West. Helsinki, the capital city is vibrant with a beautiful coastline, many islands, forests, lakes, great green parks and can be easily explored on foot. Every week, Finnair operates 18 flights between Helsinki and Dubai with a duration of 7 hours 10 mins and resumes its next operation in October 2017. Both Emirates and Etihad Airlines fly to Helsinki with a stopover in Stockholm and Berlin respectively and prices start from AED1400/person depending upon the season. Special packages on flights and accommodation is available all the time.
Suomenlinna, the fortress island: The fortress of Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Finland’s most popular sights. The beautiful islands of Suomenlinna are only a 15-minutes ferry ride away from Helsinki Market Square and boasts of diverse scenic routes, exotic locales, restaurants and cafés across the islands. Image: Juho Kuva
May Day festivities in Helsinki
The summer temperature in Helsinki ranges from 15°C–32°C and lasts for around 100 days from June – August. There are festivals galore - be it music or food, the Finns take out their boats and sail along the coastal islands or enjoy a slow paced life at their summer cottages. In fact, escaping to the countryside or wilderness is a 'national way of relaxation'! Image: Juho Kuva
#CulinaryTravel Out & About in Helsinki
One of the best ways to explore Helsinki is by tram and a day-ticket covers all public transportation in the city. Daytickets can be purchased from Tourist information points on Pohjoisesplanadi Street 19 and Helsinki Airport (Terminal 2A) as well as several other selling points. Tram routes are also included in the Helsinki card. Tram 2 (former 3T) is regarded as the sightseeing tram in Helsinki, a way to travel around among the locals but it isn’t the only route that offers lots of interesting things. Route number 4 is recommended for tourists interested in exploring the city's architectural splendours while Route no 6 is for those interested in design, art and culinary culture. Cycling too is another interesting way to explore Helsinki and a popular cycling route is the “Baana”, through the city centre from Kiasma to Ruoholahti. Built along a stretch of disused railway line, Baana is a pedestrian and cycling corridor that is equally popular among commuters on bike, dog owners on foot and young people on skateboards. You can stop along the wat and play table tennis or grab a soft drink from a container café. At the far end of Baana in the district of Ruoholahti you will find the Länsisatama “West Harbour”, the new residential dwellings in Jätkänsaari and the buzzing market at Hietalahti. (info from www.visithelsinki.fi)
Berry picking is very popular in Finland and bilberries are one such unique berries which are indigenous to the region. Powered by Northern lights, bilberries are often confused with the high bush blueberries that we commonly know, as the word bilberry translates into blueberry in many European languages. However bilberries (or forest blueberry) refer to those that grow naturally in Northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and some parts of Russia.
Taste of Helsinki
After the cold long winter, Finns welcome the summer passionately with numerous festivals like the Taste of Helsinki, when the gourmet lovers get together in June for Taste of Helsinki. The popular international culinary concept takes over the city centre and presents the best restaurants and chefs at reasonable prices. Everyone has a chance to sample of the best food and wine culture of the country. This year the festival run will be running from 15-18 June at the Kansalaistorin Puisto in Helsinki. Some of the famous restaurants showcasing their food in the Taste of Helsinki are Bistro Omat. Grön, Ludu, Noa, Shelter, Passio, Pastor, Savoy, Toca, TuOhi and Markha. www.tasteofhelsinki.fi/en/
A Finnish Table - What to eat
Along with other Nordic countries, Finland is home to the latest ”hot” diet of the culinary world – the Nordic diet. Often compared to the Mediterranean diet as a healthy diet, the Nordic diet is based on vegetables, fatty fishes, game meats and whole grain cereals. Dishes are prepared respectfully with old techniques like smoking, salting, marinating and drying. Purity and freshness are key to Nordic Cuisine with appreciation for seasonal and local produce. In the summer time, the Finnish table is set with new potatoes, asparagus and other fresh vegetables from the garden. Strawberries may add a finishing touch to a summery lunch. For the winter, the cellars are filled with apples and root vegetables like carrots, swedes and potatoes. The treasures from the Finnish forests, which have been certified as organic, include chanterelles as well as bilberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, cranberries and sea buckthorn berries. Mushrooms and wild berries are hence, naturally organic. When it comes to protein, the Finnish enjoy the fatty fishes like salmon and game meats like elk. Nordic diet also favours whole grain cereals like oat and rye, and the Finnish dark rye bread is a delicacy that is a must try.
...continued Presentation in Restaurant Grön - simple and preserving the beauty of the wild. Image: From restaurant website
Where to eat
Helsinki is home to many trendy restaurants that draw inspiration from the New Nordic Cuisine. These restaurants headed by upcoming chefs offer new and traditional dishes with local, natural and seasonal ingredients. Mari Moilanen, the popular Finnish food & wine writer and photographer and cookbook author, shortlists her favourite restaurants in Helsinki: Restaurant Grön, Vinkkeli and Werner. Restaurant Grön: This restaurant was recently awarded as the Restaurant of the Year in Finland. Located on Albertinkatu in the trendy Punavuori neighbourhood, the philosophy of
the restaurant is based on creating tasty and inspiring plantbased food with high quality ingredients. The food is based on seasonal, organic, wild and the Scandinavian produce. Guests can enjoy a small selection of a la carte dishes and four course Grön Menu which is completely determined by seasonality. According to Toni Kostian and Lauri Kähkönen, the chefs and the owners of Grön, this is 'a tribute to creativity, us all and the wild'! The atmosphere of the restaurant with approximately 20 seats is welcoming and relaxed. Mari describes her experience in Grön as "fabulous with fierce but modern, veggie focused delicious food”. She recommends the restaurant to the gourmet lovers who enjoy an intense atmosphere and appreciate excellent customer service. Open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 17.00 24.00 www.restaurantgron.com
#CulinaryTravel Vinkkeli Restaurant: This classical restaurant is located at Pieni Roobertinkatu in the heart of Kaartinkaupunki neighbourhood. The restaurant describes itself as a food and wine restaurant that presents a friendly, honest and uncomplicated take on classic cuisine. Mari adds, "Vinkkeli offers clear and simple, but amazingly delicious food”. Dishes are beautifully built classics with a modern touch. She thanks the space full of light with classic decoration. Tables are covered with white cloths. The name Vinkkeli (point of view or corner in Finnish-Swedish) refers to the restaurant’s location in a historic corner building. The restaurant also boasts of a private dining room with vintage brickwork situated in the renovated coal cellar of the building and built in 1889. Dinner for four with champagne as aperitif, two quality wines, cheese and desert wines costs approximately 125 Euros/person. www.ravintolavinkkeli.fi Restaurant Werner: This restaurant boasts of having the biggest open fire grill in Helsinki, cooking whole fish, cauliflower and meats. The Nordic menu here offers a surprise with some inspiration from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. According to Mari, the food in Werner is “genuine and uncomplicated but very delicious”. She describes the atmosphere in Werner as ”spacious, Scandinavian and warm”, thanks the interesting menu and easy location at Bulevardi in the heart of Helsinki. In the summer time, you can enjoy your meal at the large beautiful terrace and watch the passing city dwellers. www.ravintolawerner.fi
Indoor Market Halls for Souvenirs
For tasty souvenirs, gourmet lovers head to Helsinki’s buzzing indoor market halls. Located close to each other in the city centre, Hakaniemi Market Hall, Hietalahti Market Hall and the Old Market Hall offer local delicacies from friendly family enterprises. Finland’s first indoor market hall, the Old Market Hall opened its doors in 1889 at Eteläranta next to the Market Square. Today, the Hall is home to many specialized culinary boutiques. Confectionery Konditoria Matti ja Mari specialises in traditional yeast-free, handmade rye bread and white bread. Juustokauppa is the cheese specialist of the hall with mouth watering specialities for every taste. Finnish emmental cheeses that are also called “the pride of the country” are best sellers of the shop. The story of Pajuniemi’s delicious hams started in the smoke sauna of the owner Pekka Pajuniemi where meat was slowly roasted in the soft heat. This meat shop offers authentic and local food produced with ethical practises, traceable raw materials and uncompromised quality. Local game and fowl can be found at Annan Villiliha butcher shop whereas The Kalakauppa E. Eriksson sells local smoked fish, cured fish and fresh fish. For chocolate lovers, the hall offers Kultasuklaa Oy, a Finnish family-owned chocolate factory with handmade authentic chocolate. www. vanhakauppahalli.fi Souvenir shopping in the market hall tempts surely for tastings, but have some space for a lunch with delicious hot smoked salmon and some fresh berries for desert. If you prefer a picnic,
Helsinki has emerged into a culinary haven where the dining scene is both cutting edge and experimental. The concept of restaurant Pop Ups and Restaurant Day (right), both originated in Helsinki. Restaurant Day is a worldwide food carnival and a movement that allows anyone to set up a restaurant, café or a bar and it first took place in May 2011. On a Restaurant Day, - anyone can set up a restaurant, anywhere - at one's home, at the office, on a street corner, in your garden or inner courtyard, at a park, or on the beach. This food carnival allows ordinary people get to become chefs and sommeliers and open their kitchens to guests. During the first five years from May 2011 to May 2016, Restaurant Day was celebrated four times a year. In May 2016, a new concept evolved which allowed pop-ups and restaurant day on every day of the year. However, this didn't prove to be successful and now this year, it's gone back to the original concept of holding the Restaurant Day four times a year. The anniversary of Restaurant Day is celebrated annually with a big global food carnival every third Saturday of May. This year the Restaurant Day was recently held on 20th May, 2017. During the first five years of quarterly global food carnivals all together over 27 000 pop-up restaurants by over 100,000 restaurateurs have catered for over 3 million customers in 75 countries!
Helsinki Market Square Image: Juho Kuva
For more info on Helsinki and Finland, visit
Image: Tuomas Sarparanta Image: Timo Santala
...interested in participating in a 'Bugs' Masters? Images: Eetu Ahanen
The latest invention in Helsinki dining scene was the Helsinki Street Food Festival in 2014, where the capitalâ€™s culture districts change into street food hubs. This event has now been recognised amongst the world's top street food events. While Finnish food is known for being local, seasonal, wild and fresh - with game, fish, mushrooms and berries at the core of it all, these innovative food events embrace all culinary cultures. It showcases different methods of food preparation, new concepts and local specialities. Today you can find great street
food in Helsinki all year round and street food entrepreneurs have established themselves as strong players in the F&B market. For the recently concluded Streat Helsinki 2016, the aim was to reach the next level of street food culture: addressing questions of ecology and sustainability, discovering fabulous new flavours, as well as developing and testing new methods of preparing food.
Among all the events that we are zeroing in on, are the world’s largest village festival and the Helsinki Baltic Herring Market. In the former, a hundred days before Finland’s 100th birthday, from 25 to 27 August 2017, all of Finland will get to eat together at the world’s largest village festival. Hundreds of actors in the food sector throughout Finland will organise special village festivals to be held in national parks, in the open air, in garrisons, in schools and in restaurants. The “Let’s Eat Together” event aims to promote a culture of eating together and sharing – an opportunity to find new, enduring ways to enjoy our unique food culture and have meals together. In the Helsinki Baltic Herring Market, the oldest traditional event in Helsinki takes place on the first Sunday of October, when the Herring Market brings fishermen and an archipelago atmosphere to the Market Square and South Harbour.
For more info on the centenary celebrations in Finland, visit
Image: Finland 100/Suvi Tuuli Kankaanpää
The centenary year of Finnish independence will be celebrated throughout 2017 with a comprehensive and diverse programme of events. The theme of the centenary year is “Together”, and the programme is open to all Finns and friends of Finland.
Image: Finland 100/Katri Lehtola
Näkkileipä is a traditional Finnish dry rye cracker. Previously considered poorman's food, now these have become a much favoured staple.
Makes 20 crispbreads 169 kcal per 100 gms
2 tsp of dry yeast (or 25 g fresh yeast) 1 cup of warm water ½ tsp of salt 2 cups of rye flour ½ cup of wheat flour ½ cup of sunflower seeds 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds (optional) 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
Method • • • • •
Add dry yeast to warm water or crumble the fresh yeast in warm water. Mix all the dry ingredients and add water with yeast little by little. Knead the dough for a few minutes. The dough will become sticky. Let it rise about an hour. Roll out or press the dough into very thin sheets. Use more flour if the dough is too sticky. Poke holes with a fork on flat bread and bake in 220ºC oven for about 8-10 minutes.
Image & Recipe: Minna Herranen
Mustikkakeitto as it is called in Finn bilberries, which can be served both contains starch, which gives it a fair a soup, often together with porridge the blueberry soup is very popular a and gentle on the stomach. Bilberrie bush blueberries that we commonly into blueberry in many European lan blueberry) refer to those that grow Sweden and some parts of Russia.
Tip! The dough is easy to roll directly on silicone or teflon baking sheet and lift it over baking tray and bake. Thus crisp bread is harder than store bought. Let it dry or after breads are cooled, keep them in moderate hot oven for few more minutes to be really crisp. For a haute affair, accompany these rye crisp breads with caviar!
nish, is a Scandinavian soup made from h hot or cold. It is sweet in taste and rly thick consistency. It is served both as e, or as a drink. In Finland and Sweden, and although energy rich, it is soothing es are often confused with the high y know, as the word bilberry translates nguages. However bilberries (or forest naturally in Northern Finland, Norway,
... find more Finnish recipes on our website
Where to stay
GLO Hotel Art: A charming lifestyle hotel built around a century-old Art Nouveau
castle in Lönnrotinkatu, the GLO Hotel Art is located very near to the commercial centre of Helsinki and in the heart of the Design District, a vibrant hub of design and fashion, attractive shops, trendy cafés and restaurants. GLO Art Kitchen, the hotel's signature restaurant is located in a hundred-year-old castle’s atmospheric cellar and the menu reflects the finest of Nordic ingredients with European influences. GLO Hotels welcomes you to enjoy the midnight sun in Finland and explore the beautiful Helsinki with their 'White Nights in Finland' special package with the code GLOHOTEL- Stay 3 nights for the price of 2 Stay 3 and and get: accommodation for one or two; complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Booking period valid until 3.8.2017 and you can avail the stay from 21.6.2017– 3.8.2017. www.glohotels.fi/en/hotels/glo-art
Bilberry Eton Mess Makes 4 servings
1 cup or 200 ml whipping cream 2 sachets Berryfect Bilberry Powder* 50 gms meringues berries, nuts and seeds for toppings
Place the meringues on a chopping board. Chop them coarsely into chunky pieces and set aside. Save a few tiny pieces of meringue to dust over the top of the dessert at the end. • Pour the whipping cream into a bowl and whip for about a minute with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer. • Add 2 sachets of Bilberry powder* to the cream and continue whipping for a few minutes until the cream is thickened and stiff. • Get four small glasses to layer the ingredients in. There will be five layers in this dessert. Spoon some Bilberry whipped cream into the bottom of each glass. Then make a layer of broken meringue. Add another layer of Bilberry whipped cream followed by a layer of broken meringue. And finally add the last layer of Bilberry whipped cream on top. • Decorate the top of the dessert with berries, nuts and seeds. If there are any tiny pieces of meringue left, you can dust them over the top. • Serve straightaway or refrigerate and serve within 6 hours (otherwise the broken pieces of meringue in this dessert might start dissolving after a day in the refrigerator).
Eton Mess is a classic British dessert originally made with whipped cream, broken pieces of meringue and strawberries. In this recipe, we skip the strawberries and add Berryfect bilberry powder to the whipping cream instead. There is enough sweetness in the meringue so there is no need to include any type of sweetener to the whipped cream at all. Add extra healthy goodness by topping your dessert with healthy fruit, nuts and seeds. Bilberry Eton Mess is quick to prepare and is always a crowd pleaser!
Everybody should have at least one good banana cake recipe up their sleeve. Not only is it a great way to use up your ripe bananas, itâ€™s one of the few cakes you can eat with a good conscience. Simple banana cake on its own is delicious but if you want to make it a showstopper, try frosting your cake with Bilberry Mascarpone Frosting and decorating it with healthy fruits, nuts and seeds.
...continued Banana Cake with Bilberry Mascarpone Frosting Makes one 8-inch round cake For Bilberry Mascarpone Frosting
8 oz or 250 gms mascarpone 25 ml ( 1 tbsp + 1 tsp) maple syrup ½ tsp vanilla extract 2 sachets Berryfect Bilberry Powder* a pinch of salt
Method • • • •
Put the mascarpone into a medium-sized bowl and soften by mixing with a spoon. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract to the mascarpone and mix until evenly combined. Add a tiny pinch of salt and 2 sachets of Berryfect Bilberry Powder. Mix until evenly combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For Banana Cake
1½ cups all-purpose plain flour ½ cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt 3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 eggs, beaten 100 gms unsalted butter, melted
If you feel like summer and Finland are still too far away, have a try of these delicious deserts with Berryfect Bilberry Powder made from bilberries powered by the Northern lights in the wild forests in Finland. Berryfect
comes in easy to use individual sachets which can be added to shakes, smoothies, porridge, dressings, dips and in baking, making it ideal for a busy lifestyle. The deep purple powder adds colour, nutrients and an extra tangy taste to food. One 3 gms serving is the equivalent of 30 gms of fresh berries and one complete box contains one litre of fresh picked arctic berries – all the Bilberry’s nutritionally dense parts: juice, pulp, skin and seeds are used. Berryfect contains no additives, preservatives or sugar. Bilberries contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as nutritional fibre and hence a perfect food choice for children, the elderly, competitive athletes and anyone trying to improve their health, or trying to lose weight. You can find these superfoods in the UAE at
Method • • • • • •
• • •
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Get an 8-inch (20cm) round baking pan and line it with parchment paper or lightly grease and flour it. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and set it aside. In a separate large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. To the bananas, add the vanilla extract, beaten eggs and melted butter. Stir to combine. Get your bowl of dry ingredients and a spatula. Pour the dry ingredients into the center of the wet ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients gently but quickly into the wet ingredients until just combined (do not overmix). Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and place immediately into your preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes and then check if it is done. If the banana cake needs more time, leave it in for another 5-10 minutes. If the top of the cake seems done before the center is done, cover loosely with a piece of baking parchment paper or aluminium foil. Once baked through, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before removing it from the baking pan. Once cool, frost the Banana Cake with the Bilberry Mascarpone Frosting and decorate with fruits and nuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tip! If you do not have space in your refrigerator to keep your frosted cake, you can keep your unfrosted banana cake in a sealed container on your countertop and your bilberry mascarpone frosting in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, simply cut a slice of cake and add a dollop of frosting on the side.
Recipes & Images: Erum Gulmann for Berryfect; www.bilberry.ae
the healing powers of sun and sea ~ 430m below the sea-level! By Ishita B Saha
Two visits in two consecutive years and with an utmost urgency that's the effect Jordan had on me, not to mention the Dead Sea. Having visited the brilliant Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea last year on an influencers' trip, my visit to Jordan this year was purely a family vacation but replicated with an itinerary that I had already experienced in my previous visit. Our stay was strewn with a few unexpected upgrades from the team ~ making our stay really special. Dead Sea and its mineral rich surroundings undoubtedly has magical healing powers. From the ease with which one can breathe to the effortless gait while climbing a long flight of stairs, you can feel a real difference. I booked into an aromatherapy massage in Zara Spa, built in the style of an ancient Jordanian desert castle and considered one of the most advanced spa complexes in the Middle East and unique in Jordan sprawling across 6,000 square metres. A special Dead Sea mud mask for 20 minutes followed by a complete surrender to an expert masseuse for a hypnotic full body massage for the next 50 minutes, every knot and tension in my muscles vanished. A long and vigorous soak afterwards in the spa's special hydro-pools and I was ready to gallop like an Arabian horse!
Flight Time from Dubai to Amman: 3 hours 30 min and then an hours drive to the Dead Sea Time Difference: GMT +3
Although Jordan is a year-round destination, Dead Sea particularly can become extremely hot during the summers (June-Spetember) with the temperatures soaring upto 45ºC with high humidity. Autumn onwards until the end of Spring, the weather is perfect with warm waters, bright sunshine and blue clear skies. The best time to visit Jordan is spring (March–May), when the wildflowers are in bloom and the hillside and the valleys turn lush and verdant.
Queen Cleopatra is said to have been one of the first to recognise the exceptional cosmetic and pharmaceutical qualities of the Dead Sea while Herod the Great considered the Dead Sea to be the word's first health resorts. In the present day and age, the Dead Sea is considered the world's largest â€œNatural Spaâ€? ~ and I duly made use of it by soaking in the minerals form my natural Dead Sea mud mask (right) and feeling visibly rejuvenated and glowing (top right). Apart from ticking off my bucket list this time to experience the miraculous floating in the Dead Sea (below), I also get got to hug an epic 2000 year old Olive tree in the resort ~ again!
My favourite picks from all the facilities available in the spa are the Hydro Pool which is the perfect holistic sunset spot (below) and standing under the Tropical Rain Showers in the mosaic domes of the Eastern-inspired Thermariums!
Images: Ishita B Saha
#DestinationRetreat The Dead Sea Magic
Containing over 30% minerals and salts that are beneficial to the skin, the Dead Sea is unique (other seas and oceans generally have a concentration of less than 4%) It is the natural elements of the brines which give the water its curative powers, although, as its name suggests, the extreme high content of salt and minerals means the Dead Sea is unable to sustain marine life. The area's reduced harmful UVB rays, low humidity and unpolluted air are a major attraction for wellness tourists. The sun's harmful ultra violet rays are filtered through multiple atmospheric layers allowing for longer periods in the sun with reduced risks to the skin. This unique phenomenon can only be experienced on the shores of the Dead Sea and nowhere else in the world.
...continued Do visit Jordan Tourism Board's official site for your travel ideas on Jordan
Recharge, Relax and Rejuvenate
Dead Sea Black Stone Massage
Zara Spa overlooks the Dead Sea and features 31 treatment rooms, relaxing terraces, roof solariums, a soothing hydro pool, an infinity pool, two Dead Sea pools, a Kneipp Foot Massage Pool, steam rooms, tropical showers and a team of professional therapists offering 70 different types of traditional and contemporary health and beauty treatments. Treatments include hydrotherapy programmes, massages, facials and specialised therapies such as Hot & Cold Stone Massage, but naturally, much of the inspiration comes from the sea salts, mineral-rich waters and other natural resources of the healing Dead Sea. The signature Salt & Mud Therapy Suite, for instance, is internationally renowned for its anti-ageing therapies featuring purifying salt granules, and restorative dark mud from the famous sea. The natural Dead Sea salt scrub leaves the skin feeling brand new while the full body mud wrap is an ideal way to detox and stimulate the skin. The 200 square metre Therapy Centre with 7 treatment and consultation rooms and 4 individual and private climate therapy zones (natural solarium) specialises in dermatology and rheumatology. It offers a wide range of hydrotherapy treatments as well as electrotherapy. It also features customised treatments for guests experiencing joint problems, cardiovascular difficulties or skin disorders such as psoriasis or acne.
The Therapy Centre benefits from the unique natural resources of the Dead Sea; the pollen free and oxygen rich climate, 350 days of UVB filtered sunshine per year, the hyper saline and mineral rich sea water and mud for prophylaxis, treatment and rehabilitation of the skin and joints in particular.
For more info on special spa packages and offerings, visit
Images: Pixabay, except the image of the Dead Sea black stone massage which has been sourced from Jordan Tourism Board. Info for the content has been sourced from Zara Spa.
EDITION 12, Summer 2016
#ramadan Ramadan Special
Do visit our website for special Ramadan special stories, recipes and inspiration. #summer2016
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In our Special Feature ~ #Reflect, we are embracing the summers in Dubai and the holy month of Ramadan. From inspiring recipes to travel sto...
Published on May 18, 2017
In our Special Feature ~ #Reflect, we are embracing the summers in Dubai and the holy month of Ramadan. From inspiring recipes to travel sto...