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DUBAI’S BEST SELECTION OF FOOD AND DINING NEWS IN A BIMONTHLY E-MAGAZINE

inside our launch issue : Dubai’s hottest new restaurants reviewed

ISSUE 1, FEBRUARY 2014

Inspirational food stories to whet your appetite and fill your soul

Recipes to freshen up your body and your outlook Food destinations Istanbul, Maldives, Siem Reap and Mauritius detailed in our Culinary Travel section All the important dates and places for this year’s massive Dubai Food Festival 1


Click to win a Mongolian Buffet Night For A Couple At Mazina* Three Steps to simple Mongolian Food • Choose • Cook • Eat and enjoy Mazina is the culinary powerhouse of The Address Dubai Marina, offering a contemporary reflection of global cuisine. Our signature restaurant’s bustling show kitchens serve an eclectic variety of Asian, Arabic and European dishes, from wok hot Cantonese to Rotisserie grill, all cooked live in front of you. This unique interactive dining experience gives you the opportunity to enjoy delicious delights served directly by our multicultural chefs.

www.theaddress.com Phone +9714 888 3444 dine@theaddress.com 2


{ A Delicious Hello! } What a lovely start to 2014! If 40s is the new 20s, then February must definitely be the new January. It’s only in February that the realization sets in that indeed we have settled into another new year. So, what is this all about? A bright spark somewhere in this beautiful world and another food magazine in the block to cheer for? Yes, absolutely! For, this is not the one that will crowd up your coffee table or your trash bins once you are done with its reading. This one is for the archives, literally – dig them out of the cyber shelf whenever you want, and stack them back in later. Welcome to Food e Mag dxb – Dubai’s best selection of food and dining news in a bi-monthly e-magazine, compiled from the creme de la creme of bloggers in the region. Dubai has a whole bunch of talented bloggers, and we are compiling their delicious work into a gastronomical spread, just for you. In the last few months, Dubai has tasted a lot of new garnishes, seasonings and gourmet sprinkles. Michelin star chefs and celebrity chefs have visited our shores, some have opened up their own restaurants, while many are still contemplating. Dubai is slowly getting into the groove of concept restaurants, chef run and pop up restaurants, organic cafes and stores. There is a drone of food events circling around our taste buds. Our palate is getting used to raw food challenges, ayurvedic, vegan, macrobiotic food and more. The city is in for a menu change for sure. Back home in our fridges and kitchen shelves, we›ve become food-eco-conscious, packing our lunchboxes with locally sourced fresh produce brought from farmers markets and organic stores. “Food sustainability”? That is the new password in our smartphones! As we virtually unfurl our first issue, we are super proud to have Roundmenu as our social dining partner, powering our restaurant reviews section. Do bombard us with your love on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (you will find us as @foodemagdxb everywhere) and help us to trend a new hashtag... #foodemagdxb Ishita B Saha and Sarah Walton

www.foodemagdxb.com

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CONTENTS 5 Cookbooks: Inspiration for the New Year in the kitchen 8

Cookbooks: Chef Khulood Atiq’s Sarareed

10

Inspired Recipe: Market Day

13

Inspired Recipe: Africa, a Gem

16

Food Sourcing: Grass-fed VS Grain-Fed Beef

18

Food Events: Dubai Food Festival

20

Recipe Inspiration: Cooking with kids - Devilled eggs

40

Almost Healthy Apple Doughnuts

Cakes, Just Because 41

Semolina Coconut Cake

42

Pistachio Layer Cake with Rose

43

Cocnut Pecan Cake

44

Big Fat Healthy Greek Banana Bread

Culinary Travel

48

Eating in Istanbul

Recipes

52

A Day in Siam Reap

Ethnic Morsels

54

Maldives Top 10 Culinary Bucket List

22 Batheeth

56

Mauritius - Sweet Culinary Adventure

24 Alfajores

Restaurant Reviews

25

Nawabi Mithaas

61 Eataly

26

Baghrir - Crepe Magrebhine

65 Seaview

23

Nakkileipa (Finnish Rye Crackers)

Vegetables to make you drool

68 Yuan

27

Herbed Cauliflower Carrot Falafels

70 Toko

28

Grain-free Tabbouleh Salad

72 Qbara

29

Quinoa, Chickpea and Almond Salad

30

Dahi Papdi Chat

31

Butternut Squash Tian

32

Braised Red Cabbage with Tahini Dressing

33 Mhamara 34

Moong Daal Pakora / Bhajiya

Gluten Free Sweeties

4

Cover: «Almost Healthy» Apple Doughnuts p 37

35

Chocolate Avocado Cake with Ganache Drizzle

36

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bars

37

Ragi Chocolate Pudding

38

Honey and Lavender Bunt

39

Kesar Pista Kulfi

74

Maison Mathis

75

Sapori di Bice

76

Bunny’s Tandoori

77

Mahesh Lunch Home

78

Illy Cafe Esspressamente

79

Tom Arnel Interview (Tom&Serg)

81

Best Of: Flavours in Dubai from 2013

84

Foodporn: or should we call it Drinkporn?

86

Contributors and thanks


Cookbooks: Inspiration for a New Year in my kitchen The last slice of Christmas cake sits looking a little forlorn, vermillion cranberry sauce catches my eye when I open the fridge, I’m wondering what to do with half a jar of mincemeat, the scent of basil fills the air and I’m trying to find enough room to store all the freshly-picked, organic vegetables from the farmers market. January is a kind of crossroads in my kitchen where the rich tastes of the festive season give way to fresher, healthier, lighter ingredients in line with New Year resolutions. I’m finding inspiration in new cookery books on my wooden shelves.

By Sally Prosser

the sexual revolution and food, modern day eating and cookery – truly a smart tart. I devoured this book in one sitting as keenly as sinking my teeth through pastry into custard.

www.mycustardpie.com Smart Tart by Tamasin Day Lewis This book excites me for so many reasons. For one, it’s the follow up to The Art of the Tart, one of my favourite cookbooks. Tamasin is one of my ‘go to’ references for cookery advice. Her ‘All you can eat’ compendium of recipes covers everything from cauliflower cheese to Christmas cake. She used the Unbound publishing platform to raise the funds for this book. It’s based on crowd sourcing and in April 2013 I pledged to buy the book, which would be published if enough people did the same. By the end of last year it was printed and as an early ‘supporter’ includes my name – I’m thrilled. It’s beautifully made, with a thick, embossed hard cover but small enough to fit

West Country Cook Book – home cooking from the chefs of South West Britain, photography by David Griffen

in your hand. The photography is tempting but informal, the fillings from the pies oozing from their pastry carapaces. The format is heavy on memoir and as each chapter unfolds you discover how food memories are woven into a fairly extraordinary family (Tamasin’s father was Irish poet Cecil Day-Lewis and her brother the actor Daniel). She’s always been uncompromising in tone but here are some ‘no holds barred’ chapters on food production,

My family didn’t have many holidays, we never went abroad, and our most exciting journeys were to visit my cousins in Cornwall. As my Aunt and Uncle ran a small hotel this couldn’t be in high season summer but in the wild depths of winter. We negotiated winding B roads in our old, unreliable car with my Mother on high-stress mode all the way, making regular stops for sandwiches, our hands wiped with a damp flannel kept in a plastic bag (my Mum’s pre-cursor to wet wipes). The dark, brooding sea with 5


crashing white, foamy waves, the rain stinging your face, was a world away from the estuary of the Bristol Channel (our previous experience of a beach in Weston-Super-Mare). Born in Cheltenham, married to KP from Plymouth, a time living in Bath, friends and family throughout the South West, this is my part of England and where I spend every July and August (and where I will return home to). The book is a portrait of the South West of England through a lens of an outsider (a grockle or an emmet) who loves good food. That lens is wielded by one of the most brilliant photographers I have had the pleasure to meet and one of the nicest. David Griffen is from Australia but has made the West Country his home. At a workshop with him in 2012, I learned more about light in photography in two hours - ensconced in a railway arch lit by a fluorescent tube - than from any other course or book. Although he brought along his professional kit, he made sure that every single one of us achieved the best shot we could from our varying equipment. He’s a very practical man, with loads of boyish energy and a genuine appreciation of accomplished chefs regarding their cookery as an art form. He works closely with many top names and this book is a mission to interpret their appreciation of the bounty of the fertile South West counties. I’m not a fan of cheffy books but this is not one of them. There’s nothing over complicated here, either in the recipes or the photography. There are many fish recipes befitting a place with 702 miles (1,130 km) of rich coastline, and simple classics like Cornish rarebit with Doom Bar beer, Cornish pasties (with sweet and savoury filling) and bread and butter pudding with blackberries. I received this as a Christmas gift and 6

would recommend it for any food lover who enjoys superb ingredients and the beauty of nature in its simplest, purest form. Crust by Richard Bertinet My foodie bucket list for 2013 included making sour dough. Not only did I fail even to make a starter but my usual regular bread making took a nose dive and fell off the dough wagon in the frantic schedule of those twelve months. Crust, a gift from my daughters, is just the kick-start I need to get back on track. I’ve bought bread and pastries from the Bertinet Kitchen in Bath and love just gazing into its tempting windows. Richard brings his French bread-making expertise to the heart of England. He advocates a more gentle and intuitive approach to dough (shared by Dan Lepard) than our traditional British pummelling technique. A friend lent me his first book, Dough, which covers the basics. This book has even more in-depth information about working with dough,

proving, shaping and outside influences such as the weather and of course achieving a really good crust. It covers sour dough and ferments extensively and uses unusual flours like spelt and cabernet grape flour. As well as traditional recipes such as Breton bread made with sel gris from Brittany there are innovations like Japanese ‘sushi’ rolls made with sake, nori


I was really excited to be sent this book as a review copy. Always keen to learn more about the vibrant and varied food of the region that I live in (which is so wrongly lumped together as homogeneous Middle East cuisine so much of the time). If you are not familiar with Arabic sweets, don’t think of candy; these little delicacies range from the lightest layered miniature pastries, to crumbly date biscuits to milk puddings. In an age of mass production, we’ve lost sight of how rare these treats were in the past due to the rarity of the ingredients (honey, butter) and the time consuming nature of how they are made. They were mainly used for times of special occasion or celebration.

and sesame and his interpretation of the Bath bun. Both books come with a very useful DVD and makes me long to attend a bread making course by him. In these times where bread seems like ‘the enemy’ to many people, I love his philosophy:

with any food – a burger made freshly with brilliant beef is a great thing; a cheap, processed burger full of additives and fillers isn’t.

Good bread is good for you; bad bread is less good for you – it’s as simple as that. The same applies

I’ve had this since the Emirates Festival of Literature in March but haven’t got round to cooking from it. As well as breads there are some excellent recipes for pies and tarts. If my sour dough making goes well maybe I can test it out instead of dried yeast with some of the flat breads. The cover of the book features a picture of Palmyra in Syria; a tragic reminder that just a few hours by plane from my home people are reduced to eating domestic pets as there is not even bread to eat.

Savory Baking from the Mediterranean by Anissa Helou

Sweet Delights from a Thousand and One Nights: The Story of Traditional Arab Sweets by Habeeb Salloum, Muna Salloum & Leila Salloum Elias

The authors sketch a fascinating background including poetry and tales, for each recipe and the source from ancient texts often from medieval times (historical recipe), a traditional recipe and a modern version for today’s methods, ingredients and cooks. A fascinating historical read plus an extensive treasury of recipes from a vibrant region; the only thing that lets this book down is the few colour plates in the middle with very poor photography – it would have been better to leave it out. I’m also surprised that there is no mention of om ali (or umm ali) a very popular milk pudding – literally translated as Mother of Ali. A couple of the recipes that I’ve bookmarked are Lugaymat (which I know as lgeimat) which are doughnuts from the U.A.E. and Ka’b Ghazal from Morocco (I tasted some which were light as a feather at a recent festive cookie exchange with Tavola). This book comes from IB Tauris the same publishers as Sherbet and Spice; their whole list is really interesting especially if you want to know more about topics in the Middle East.

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Inspiration: Sarareed Emirati Cookbook By Sandy Dang www.gingerandscotch.com Sometime last year, I heard through the food buzz that there was a new Emirati cookbook released and I attempted to get my hands on a copy. I know I have been a real slacker in regards to my Emirati Cooking Experiments and I had hoped that obtaining a new cookbook would breathe some life into my little project. Sarareed by Chef Khulood Atiq is a cookbook of “Emirati cuisine from the sea to the desert” which refers to the inclusion of both coastal as well as desert (in-land) recipes. This bilingual cookbook contains over 80 recipes in English and Arabic. The book reads from right to left like most Arabic texts and has stunning photos of Emirati life and scenery as well as the food. The foreword explains a bit about Emirati hospitality including the important role that cardamom-infused coffee plays in that ritual. An excerpt from the book: The book bears the name “Sarareed,” an authentic Emirati word, the singular form of which, “Sarroud” is used to describe the big, traditional Emirati mat, made of woven palm leaves, around which people gather to eat and on which food is placed. For those who are not familiar with Emirati cuisine, the head note to many of the recipes includes beautiful descriptions of the dish and sometimes includes information about the origins, traditions, and history. I felt mild disappointment in the fact that not all the recipes included an informative head note – for example, the recipe for Khabees. It’s obvious that it is a dessert because it’s in the dessert section but then the last part of the recipe says to serve for breakfast. Hmm… One place where I felt a distinct void from the lack of any description was the recipe for bzar (also spelled “bezar”). Now I am no expert in Emirati cuisine but it seems to me that bzar is an essential spice mix that defines many Emirati dishes and I would have expected and loved to have seen a thorough description with historical notes on it. Things I liked about the book besides the recipes and photographs: dishes popular during Ramadan were noted; the section at the end about Emirati traditions of hospitality (“receiving and honouring a guest with enormous generosity is considered a crucial part of Emirati heritage”); the section on Emirati cuisine terms and colloquial cuisine terms (i.e. dried limes = loumi, date essence = Marees al Tamer); and the section on cooking utensil names (i.e. Dalla = a coffee pot; Tanour = an oven used for cooking or grilling). I just wish the lists were alphabetized for easier referencing. 8


How did I fare in my Emirati cooking? I settled on Moadam Rubyan (Soaked Prawns) from the coastal section (versus desert) because I just love seafood – especially prawns. Emirati recipes are created with the idea of feeding a large host of people, not a two-adult household like Scotch and mine. So I had to cut this recipe by one third as the original called for 1 kg of rice which is just too much for us as a cup of uncooked rice (~1/4 kg) lasts us for many days! Other modifications I made to the original recipe from Chef Khulood: • I used cherry tomatoes instead of larger ones as that’s what I had in my fridge. • I was short on time so did not use the fish bzar recipe as specified in the cookbook but a commercial one instead (the red “urban coastal” one from this post). • In addition to the coastal bzar mixture, this recipe also called for loumi (dried small limes), fresh garlic, fresh green chilli, fresh coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander powder. I didn’t quite understand the recipe directions of leaving the

marinated shrimp “to dry in a pot” which I assumed was “to drain in a pot” so I used a colander over a bowl. The other issue I ran into was the cooking of the rice – the instructions required me to “pour in some water until it covers the rice by 1 cm. Cover the pot, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat until the rice is cooked.” I was using Basmati rice, which normally I cook like Jasmine rice (1 part rice, 2 part water) and the results were always great. So the 1 cm reference in this recipe threw me off a little as it didn’t include cooking time and the proportions of water to rice didn’t seem right. I followed the directions anyway but the rice was very under-cooked, so I added more water and cooked for 5 more minutes. It was still not right so I cooked for another 5 minutes. I was really worried that my shrimps would be totally overcooked. The final result? While the shrimp wasn’t too severely overcooked, it was still a little dry but tender. I can’t say I was wowed by the flavors from the first taste but after a few spoonfuls of rice, I began to appreciate the aroma of the spice mixture and I just loved the citrus notes from the loumi. 9


Inspired Recipe: Market Day

By Dinusha Jayatillake www.thestoveandi.com Having been born and raised in Sri Lanka, a country abundant in all things green (think of lush verdant forests, tree-canopied footpaths, blue mountains, endless paddy fields… I can go on forever!) it took me a while to get used to the flat, sand-hued landscape of Dubai. I love greenery, so much that when I was a kid I used to imagine myself living in a flowerbed. For someone with this ‘green’ obsession, a visit to the local park is always a treat, especially when there is a bonus thrown in (which you shall soon find out)! Last weekend I paid a visit to the Foodie Friday Market by Ripe in Safa Park. The park is one of the most beautiful parks in Dubai, complete with sprawling lawns, a pine grove and even a duck pond! The market takes place near Gate No. 5 and is held every Friday from 9:00am till 2:00pm. A mélange of delightful sights, sounds and smells welcome you as you walk towards the market…the aroma of sizzling burgers and pancakes wafts through the air making your mouth water and breezy tunes from a solo guitar dance their way into your ears while little orange, green and white flags flutter overhead. We spent hours browsing around the stalls sampling delicious tidbits – from juicy sausages and crusty bread to freshly squeezed lemonade and gooey brownies. I also bought this beautiful bunch of organic and locally grown radishes from the Ripe stall - they were so gorgeous that I wrote them a little poem! For lunch that day, I made a simple radish salad, which tasted amazing and oh-so-fresh! They say food tastes better when you know where it came from and who grew it. Well, I couldn’t have agreed more. 10


Radish and Baby Lettuce Salad with Lemon and Parmesan Ingredients: • 8-10 radishes, sliced • 1 green apple, cut into matchsticks • baby lettuce, washed, spun and dried • zest and juice of half a lemon • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil • freshly ground pepper • 4 pinches coarse salt • parmesan cheese (ParmigianoReggiano) • crispy fried shallots Method: 1. Add the lemon zest into a large bowl. Pour olive oil over the top. Leave it to settle for about 15 minutes to 2 hours, for the lemon zest to infuse the oil. 2. Just before serving toss the lettuce into the oil and zest mixture, toss gently with your hands. Sprinkle on the lemon juice, gently tossing. 3. Season with salt and pepper. Toss again and add more lemon juice if required. 4. Scatter over the radishes and apple. Using a vegetable peeler shave off curls of Parmesan and scatter liberally over the top of the salad 5. Sprinkle over the crispy fried shallots. Serve at once. Notes: Allow each leaf to become coated with the oil. Add more oil if necessary, but do not overdress. A coating is all that’s needed. 11


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Inspired Recipe: Africa, a Gem

By Drina Cabral www.eaternalzest.com Its funny how when I sit to write up a blog post I imagine a girlie narrator Voice… you know like in the movies, with sighs, highpitched expressions and vivid visuals of each word I type. But this isn’t a movie, obviously. In fact these blog posts are the result of little voices in my head splurging out my kitchen escapades. The voices in this post however, are blurting out irreplaceable memories of one of the most exciting trip I had.

“ Watching the wild be wild is something you can’t really savor on National Geographic. Funnily enough, wildlife is best experienced in... well, the wild.”

It was just a little over a year ago when I took off on a 21-day road trip from Zimbabwe to South Africa - through Botswana, Namibia and Cape Town; a land of ever-changing landscapes, where the faintest sound of percussions would get the natives to sing, dance and clap their hands to Acapella tuned perfect hums; and of course an unmissable massive food culture arising from the variety of agriculture and game available to them. I started off with a visit to the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We then wove our way through a few different national parks, Chobe and Etosha were a couple of the bigger ones. Namibia was home to a huge part or our trip, insanely diverse in its 13


landscapes. From soft desert sands in Swakopmund, to the crocodile infested swamps of the Okavango Delta. In the Okavango we had stayed a night on a houseboat, and also a night in the wilderness. As scary as it was, it was an absolute thrill. Right before we zipped up our tents we were carefully warned a few times of the wildlife around us and that we should make sure to shine a torch out before we step out. We were told that our campsite is not ours and that we could easily be visited by anything. Wildlife is obviously unpredictable and if there are any young in the herd, they will be intimidated. I slept that night hearing loud hippos in nearby pools; bush ramblings from animals that had wandered around our campsite (I dared not to peep), loud crickets and of course the crackling fire fading away as the night died down. With this post I particularly wanted to share with you an interesting experience I had with a ’Gem’. On the road trip it made sense to shop fresh every 3-4 days since we didn’t have a refrigerator really, just a few coolers. So as we were re-stocking on one of our grocery stops, I saw our chef pick up a bag full of dark green colored ‘something’. I wasn’t really sure and at the quickest glance I thought they were avocados. The chef quickly grabbed the bag as I was trying to sneak a second look and said, “it’s a surprise.” That afternoon we headed off to see the Himba tribe, one of the smallest and most intriguing tribes I had come across with.

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Their skin and hair was covered and caked with ochre, which is meant to perfume and disinfect their bodies. The ochre is layered over and over again, without showering or washing it off, hence tinting their bodies with a deep red. Apart from this, men in their tribe consider wearing ochre as

a sign of beauty and vanity. It was amazing to see how this small tribe of fewer than 50 people lived together harmoniously, with basic and simplest needs like in the caveman days. Men engage in political discussion and decisions – basically chilling out, while the women seem to work more rigorously - building houses and just keep busy making wooden toys, jewelry made from seeds and nuts and also other handicraft items. They don’t wear clothes and cattle is their only currency. They do sell handicrafts to tourists like us when we do visit of course, but the money is almost immediately exchanged for cattle. After returning from our visit I saw our chef slicing and scooping something… an irresistible vegeta-

ble; a dark, tough swamp green on the outside with a yellow gem colored meaty, flesh on the inside. That’s probably where it got its name… the Gem Squash. Although a sister vegetable/fruit of the squash family, once cooked the fleshy bit shreds off like spaghetti and if served without its tough shell it can be easily mistaken as so. I was more than excited to see it at spinneys and it has been marked a favorite in our house. These lovely gems can be stuffed with anything you want. Back at our campsite our chef stuffed it with simple corn and cheese; however I wanted something meaty (carnivore that I am) I opted to add some chorizo and a dash of cream to almost give it a mini pie like feeling.


Stuffed Gem Squash – Inspired by Africa Ingredients: • 4 gem squash (when you halve them you get 8 servings) • 1⁄2 large onion (or 1 small onion) • 1 medium tomato • 1 lemon • 1 large can of corn • 250g chorizo or your preferred protein • 50g parmesan • 50g cheddar • 1 cup cilantro Method: 1. Bring some water to boil in a pot. Pop the gem squash in whole. Make sure to prick a

couple of holes (preferably in the same line you plan to cut it in half ). Cook for 15 min and set aside to cool. 2. Set the oven for 220 C. 3. On the side prepare the stuffing mixture. Start by sautéing the onions till brown and soft. Add in the corn, tomatoes and chorizo. Pop in the salt, pepper, juice of one lemon and cook for 15 minutes. 4. Slice the gem squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Stuff each half with the mixture, topping it with a 1-1⁄2 tbsp of cream and a sprinkle of both the grated cheeses. 5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes till the cheese is melted and all bubbly. Serve hot.

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Food Sourcing: 100% Grass-Fed & GrassFinished Beef VS Grain-Fed Beef By Dima Sharif www.dimasharif.com The choice of eating meat is very personal. I have been exploring the ‘organic’ in depth throughout my whole #GoOrganic series, and if you have missed the other posts (Available on Dima’s blog) please read them to know the risks of consuming non-organic food. In this article however I want to focus on Grass-fed beef, exploring its benefits with you and encouraging you to try it, because this is where flavour takes a full new dimension besides the health and ethical benefits. I have also included a Glossary of terms below, because there are many terms and labels used for food that most of us don›t understand. “Grass-fed” and “grass-finished” animals are raised entirely on grass. Their maturation process is slower and the end product is therefore slightly more costly as opposed to the more convenient and cheaper mass production of grain-fed animals. Most important to note here is that mass-production comes at a cost too, the countless side effects of consuming the product of mass production. Here are just a few reasons why meat-eaters should go grass-fed: 1. Let’s start with the flavor. Grassfed beef has a completely different flavour palate that is more delicate, with hints of grass and earth, it is almost like you can tell what the animal was eating through the flavour of its meat. Grass-fed does not rely on fat for flavour, the meat itself is very tasty and tender as these animals have lived a stressfree life, grazing freely. 16

2. Grass-fed beef is nutritionally superior to factory-farmed grainfed Beef. According to Dr. Frank Lipman, a specialist in sustainable wellness, and based on various researches conducted on the topic, “grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of Beta carotene, Vitamin A, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help keep cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure in check.” Furthermore, grass-fed animal products are also significantly lower in fat, cholesterol and calories, which also help consumers to maintain a healthier diet, especially those who need to watch their cholesterol and fat intake. 3. Grass-fed animals are eating what they are meant to eat and what their bodies are meant to digest. Unlike feeding the animals carb-laden grains that exhaust their bodies, digestion and cause them many ailments for the treatment of which the use of antibiotics becomes very necessary. Grass-fed

animals live stress-free and are usually antibiotic-free. 4. We need to do our bit to stop the over-use of antibiotics. All recent reports are warning against a post-antibiotic era, where important medicines crucial to treating seriously ill people will become ineffective due to the current irresponsible use of antibiotics in factory-farms and to treat grain-fed animals. This process is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs), and causing infections that are harder to treat and more likely to cause lethal complications. This alone is reason enough to go grass-fed. When we are discussing food products there are many labels to consider, and at times we see many labels and are unsure we understand what they refer to. So to take the guessing out of the label reading here is a glossary of the most commonly used labels in the case of organic produce (in particular, meat):


Dima has worked on a specific #GoOrganic series in collaboration with OBE Organic Beef producers, whose vision and philosophy she respects hugely. “Small Change, Big Difference, Endless Benefits.”

Organic: Produce or products that are Chemical Free. These products are free of pesticides and other chemicals, antibiotics, artificial hormones, GMO or any other unnatural components. Organic animals have also been fed on organic food. It is worthy to mention here, that the label ‘Organic’ is not enough to show a produce is organic. Unless the ‘organic’ statement is certified by an authorised authentication for organic produce (certified 100% Organic), the product is most likely not organic. Therefore, opt for produce that is certified and do not take the word of the merchant or a casual organic label! GMO: Genetically Modified Organisms, whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques Grass-Fed: Fed only on its natural diet, Grass. Grass-Finished: Even better. Meaning that the cattle are still fed grass all the way up until their slaughter. It’s possible for companies to market their beef as “grass-fed” but will switch feed to grain toward the end of its life to fatten the animal up. Grain-fed: Fed on Grains and other ingredients but no grass. Free-range: Cattle that gaze freely in a large area of outdoors that provides continuous supply of water and food, shade and sunlight and never confined are referred to as free-range animals. Free-range, like organic, has to be certified however to ensure this is not just cheeky labelling.

Where to buy OBE Organic Grass Fed Beef: Le Marché Hypermarket Arabian Ranches Geant Ibn Battuta Mall Carrefour Mall of the Emirates Carrefour Mirdiff City Centre

Halal: Animals Slaughtered according to Islamic Shariaa to cater for Muslim consumers. Here too the label has to be certified by a specialised authority. Quite simply, Grass-fed beef is just better – better for the cattle and ultimately better for us. There is a much appreciated and almost artisanal quality to grass-fed beef. The farmers ensure the animals are in best condition and are proud of their product, so much so that they ensure the quality to always be of highest standard, as opposed to mass-produced feedlot animals. You see, what is not to like?

Carrefour Marina Mall Abu Dhabi 17


Food Events: Dubai Food Festival Dubai, being Dubai has taken all its amazing food events and thrown them together into what is now known as the Dubai Food Festival, running from February 21 to March 15. It’s insane. It’s bigger than ever. I’m not even going to start name-dropping because I’ll be here all day doing it. Just trust me, you HAVE to get down to some of it. But warning - there’s so much going on over the next couple of months, if you try it all, you’re bound to end up with the world’s biggest heartburn. Dubai’s food bloggers will also be taking part in a small way, helping to design a Gourmet Trail for visitors and locals alike. We’re afraid that the Dubain Food Carnival at Festival City and the Grand Kerela Festival have already been and gone, but there’s plenty more coming. You can watch out on the www.dubaifoodfestival.com website and find out more as we get through the month. But, to get you all excited, here’s your basic guide:

Gulfood 2014

Taste of Peru

The Big Grill

23/02/14 - 27/02/14

26/02/14 - 01/03/14

27/02/14 - 28/02/14

Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre

Madinat Jumeirah

Emirates Golf Course

A four-day celebration of Peruvian gastronomy. This award-winning cuisine is the result of a nearly 500- year melting pot of Spanish, Italian, African, Japanese and Chinese immigration and native culture. Food huts offering classic Peruvian dishes, along with Peruvian juices and the renowned national grape cocktail, will be available for guests to enjoy. Organized by the Trade, Tourism and Investment Office of Peru in Dubai, Taste of Peru will include appearances from celebrity Peruvian chefs as well as live Peruvian music.

A Laid-back and fun event for all the family. A celebration of meat and music; a unique event dedicated to anything grilled. Top grill masters, from the high street to high-end, will serve their delicacies in a vibrant festive and family friendly atmosphere, while a King of the Grill competition will showcase Dubai’s own BBQ masters. Attendees can also expect a lively entertainment line-up featuring international artists, live music, and local DJs.

Gulfood 2014 is the world’s largest annual food and hospitality trade show. Running over five days from 23-27 February, the show’s 19th outing at Dubai World Trade Centre will boast a host of new features, national pavilions, specialist conferences, high-ranking ministerial summits and pioneering B2B programmes in a segmented format covering the entire foodservice sector. Gulfood will feature more than 20,000 brands, 4,500 exhibitors, 120 country pavilions and 80,000 visitors. Mainly for trade, but I’m sure others will find a way in if they’re really interested. click here for more 18

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Taste of Dubai 2014 13/03/14 - 15/03/14
 Dubai Media City Amphitheatre This is to the public what GulFood is to the trade. The 7th annual Taste of Dubai will attract crowds and crowds of foodies and their families. The main feature is lines of tents with flagship local restaurants serving samples of their delicious signature dishes. But there is also the chance to rub shoulders with a celebrity chef or two, masterclasses, music, an abundance of epicurean exhibitors, music, kid’s activities and basically plenty of general merriment. click here for more

There’s a host of other events, in the line-up, some not as “foodie” as others, but well worth while. My pick is Litfest, where you will find many chef/authors launching new books (Including Greg Malouf, who will be talking about his new restaurant!). And Gulf Photo Plus, for budding food photographers has food-loverfodder in their program too.

Dubai International Boat Show 2014 04/03/14 - 08/03/14 Dubai International Marine Club Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Litfest) 2014 04/03/14 - 08/03/14 InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City Gulf Photo Plus 2014 07/03/14 - 14/03/14 Across Dubai Global Restaurant Investment Forum 11/03/14 - 12/03/14 Conrad Dubai 19


Recipe Inspiration: Cooking with Kids By Prachi Grover www.orangekitchens.blogspot.ae

Devilled Eggs Ingredients:

At our home we love eggs. We really do. I make sure Sara eats one every day. To become a “strong girl with lots of neurons in her brain”. Most days it could be just a simple sunny side up or a creamy scrambled egg with chives that she likes to sprinkle on top. For special treats for her sweet tooth, it could be a French toast with orange marmalade. For us it has to be the egg and ham or whatever else I can lay my hands on. We love our sun dried tomato, spinach and egg baked pie and when in a mood to spoil myself silly, my favourite Eggs Benedict. And then are the cakes and the pies and the cookies that all have the egg. Can’t live without these babies. Deviled Eggs are also a big favourite at our casa. And when we have friends over its always on the menu. Its so easy to put together, can be prepared hours in advance, a big hit with the crowd and really its my idea of bite-sized heaven. Did I mention how it also satisfies the creative bug in you because you can keep varying the recipe? Sara is always in the kitchen with me. Standing on her little step stool to “help” her mum cook (lately she has been choosing baking books over her favourite Giraffes can’t Dance for her bedtime reading). She helps me peel the eggs with her tiny hands and combine the yolks with whatever else we may decide to add to them that particular day. She also likes to “dress” them up with capers and parsley. Cooking with Sara is fun and I hope you have fun “cooking” these with your “Sara”.

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• 12 peeled hard-boiled eggs • 1 tsp freshly chopped parsley • 1 tsp chopped capers • ½ can of oil packed tuna flakes • Salt to taste • ½ tsp paprika • Some chopped capers & chopped parsley for garnish Method: 1. Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks. 2. Combine egg yolks, chopped parsley, chopped capers, tuna flakes, salt and paprika in a medium sized bowl. Whisk till smooth. 3. Fill the egg white boats with the above mixture either with the spoon or if you prefer something more fancy with a pastry bag. 4. Garnish with some chopped parsley and capers and serve cold. Dust with paprika if you like.


Recipes: the best from our blogs You know how you made all those New Year resolutions on the 1st of January, and then forgot them on the 2nd? Well we’re not going to let you get away with it. Here’s a few cooking resolutions for you: 1. Cook outside your comfort zone. Look to other cultures, and learn about them by eating and cooking as they do. 2. Eat your vegetables. Look for exciting ways to make your five-a-day more appealing to ensure you get your healthy share. 3. Go gluten free – you know you need to for your health. It’s becoming more than a fad. 4. Eat cake. Ok – the fourth suggestion is a reward, for doing such a good job with the other three, and besides, our bloggers have been caking up a storm over the last few months, and we just had to show you. Alfajores – image credit Sayana Rahiman

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Recipes: Ethnic Morsels Let’s take you out of the box this year and introduce you to a few recipes from around the world. Perfect nibbles to bring you out of your comfort zone, and in touch with another culture.

Batheeth Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com Batheeth is a traditional sweet in the UAE, a fabulous no-bake mélange of dates and spices. Ingredients: • 1 cup plain flour • 1 ½ cups chopped dried dates • 1 tsp ginger • ½ tsp cloves • ¼ cup good quality ghee • 3 cardamom pods • pinch salt 22

Method:

Notes:

1. Place the flour and dry spices in a dry pan over a medium heat, and stir occasionally until it is lightly browned (about 10 minutes, careful not to burn, as it turns quite quickly).

Serve at room temperature. Will keep for at least 3-4 days. Best not to refrigerate, or the ghee will solidify.

2. Put the ghee and the bruised cardamom pods in a small pan on a low heat while the flour is cooking 3. Loosely chop the dates and add to a food processor, topping with the cooked flour and the ghee (pods strained off ). This can be done by hand – chop the dates as finely as you can and stir well to combine. Feel free to get your fingers in there to mix it thoroughly. Place in a bowl in the refrigerator.

To make in biscuit form, preheat oven to 190 C, roll shortcrust pastry to ½ cm thickness and use a cookie cutter and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. While the pastry is cooling, take the batheeth mix and mould piece by piece, and place each one atop a pastry biscuit. Cover with rolled fondant cut into a star shape. Use fondant icing and cut shapes with moulds to decorate ‘pies’ once they are cool.


Näkkileipä (Finnish Rye Crackers) Minna Herranen www.nakedplateblog.com Näkkileipä is a traditional Finnish dry rye cracker, previously considered poor-man’s-food. Everything has changed, and now they are a favoured staple. Ingredients: • 2 tsp of dry yeast (or 25 g fresh yeast) • 1 cup of warm water • ½ teaspoon of salt • about 2 cups of rye flour • about ½ cup of wheat flour • about ½ cup of sunflower seeds • 1 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (optional) Method: 1. Add dry yeast to warm water or crumble the fresh yeast in warm water. 2. Mix all dry ingredients and add water with yeast little by little. 3. Knead the dough few minutes. The dough will be sticky. Then let the dough rise about an hour. 4. Roll out or press the dough into very thin. Use the flour if the dough is too sticky. 5. Poke holes with fork on flat bread and bake in 220 C degree oven for about 8-10 min. Notes: Tip! The dough was easy to roll directly on silicon or Teflon baking sheet and lift it onto the baking tray and bake. This 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. To make it complete, you must accompany with caviar from the tube. In Dubai Abba Seafood’s most squeezed tube is available at Carrefour and Hyper Panda. Makes approx. 20 crisp breads 23


Alfajores Sayana Rahiman www.mymouthisfull.com Al-fa-ho-res are traditional biscuits native to Spain and some countries in Latin America and are composed of shortbread with Dulche de Leche sandwiched between two cookies and dusted with powdered sugar. The biscuits were light, buttery and the melt-in-the-mouth kind. Recipe barely adapted from Technicolor Kitchen Ingredients: • 11/4 cup corn starch • 1 cup flour • 1 teaspoon baking powder • 1/2 cup or 114 g of butter • 3/4 cup sugar • 2 egg yolks • Dulche de Leche - as required • Icing sugar to sprinkle Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper. 2. Sift corn starch, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. 3. In large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until incorporated. 4. In slow speed, add the sifted ingredients and mix until the dough comes together – don’t over mix. 5. Roll out dough between two 24

pieces of baking paper to ¼ inch (0.60cm) thickness. 6. Using a 2-in (5cm) round cutter, cut cookies and place on prepared sheets 7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until barely brown on the bottom - tops will be pale. 8. Set on cooling rack to cool. 9. Sandwich the cookies with the dulce de leche and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Notes: If you are working in a warm place, refrigerate the dough for a couple of minutes before rolling it. Don’t re-roll the dough more than twice. These biscuits would be perfect for your cup of tea, as they taste heavenly by themselves even before they were sandwiched.


Nawabi Mithaas Huma Kalim www.gheza-e-shiriin.blogspot.ae Preparation of different varieties of Halawa and Mithai are our daily routine. I have learnt many Muslim traditional recipes from my ma in law via telephone. Nawabi Mithaas is one of them Ingredients: • 500 gm. Khoya/Mawa grated or crumbled • 1/2 cup sugar (keep 3 tbsp aside from it) • 1/4 cup of almond powder

• 5 pod of green cardamom crushed • 1/2 tsp of sweet spice powder (optional) • 1 tbsp coconut shred • 1/2 tsp ghee for greasing the tray

5. Last add the 3 tbsp sugar and stir. 6. Pour on the greased tray & spread evenly. 7. Sprinkle coconut shred on it. 8. Cool and cut in to desired shapes & enjoy. Notes:

Method:

Gluten free.

1. Grease the tray with ghee for setting the Mithai.

Can be stored for 3 days at room temperature.

2. In a heavy bottom pan on a low flame, heat khoya till soft & mushy.

Khoya is similar to ricotta cheese, but drier in consistency and made from whole milk instead of whey.

3. Add in almond powder, sugar, cardamom & sweet spice powder. 4. Keep stirring continuously until it is brown in color.

It can be found at the spice souk, and supermarkets specializing in Indian ingredients.

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Baghrir - Maghreb’s Crepe, or Crèpe Maghrebine Radia SiYoucef www.radotouille.com The Baghrir is a staple from the Maghreb’s culinary tradition. It is a light and fluffy pancake with a lot of little holes all over. Recipes vary with the countries, the regions and the families. It is made with semolina or a mix of semolina and flour.

Method: 1. Dilute the yeast with the sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water until it foams. 2. Mix the semolina with the salt, and then add the foamy yeast to it. 3. Using beaters, mix the semolina while adding slowly the warm water. (you might not need the whole quantity - you need to obtain a thick yet liquid batter.) 4. Add the baking powder and mix some more. You can finish it off with a blender or a hand mixer. 5. Let it rest for 15 minutes

Ingredients: • 500 g semolina • 1 tsp salt • 1 tbsp 1/2 dry yeast • 1 package baking powder (around 7g) • 1 tsp sugar • 2 1/2 cups warm water 26

6. Preheat a non-stick pan, and lightly grease it with a paper towel dipped in a little bit of vegetable oil. 7. When the pan is hot, lower the heat to medium, then slowly add around 1/4 cup of the batter. Do not move the pan. It need to spread by itself on the pan (like pancakes).

8. You will see holes popping on the surface. Keep cooking it until all the surface is the same color (no more raw dough). 9. Remove from the heat and repeat until you run out of batter. Notes: If the pan is not hot enough then no wholes will appear. If the pan is too hot, then the bottom will burn but the top wont cook. Try 3 to 4 pieces before deciding to dilute the batter if you think that it is too thick. Keep them warm by covering by a clean tea towel. Serve the traditional way - warm, dipped in honey, with melted butter and honey, or with any other topping you like: my children like them with maple syrup or Nutella.


Recipes: Vegetables to make you drool Herbed Cauliflower Carrot Falafels Anja Schwerin www.anjasfood4thought.com Ingredients: • 2 tablespoons flax meal

New Year’s resolution? Eat more veggies! It’s sometimes hard to get your 5 a day without disappointing your palate. Here’s our favourite recent vegetable recipes – dishes that are tasty enough to make you forget you’re eating healthy food.

• 6 tablespoons boiling water • 1 cup cauliflower florets • 1 cup carrots, chopped into chunks • 1 small red onion • 1 garlic clove • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves • 1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin • 1 tbsp sea salt • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste) • 1 tbsp sesame seeds • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds • 1/2 cup almond meal • olive oil for frying Method: 1. In am small bowl, combine flax seed with boiling water and stir until well combined. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken. 2. In a food processor, combine cauliflower, carrots, onion, garlic and parsley. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. 3. Add lemon juice, cumin, salt and cayenne and pulse again to

blend. The mixture should be very finely chopped now. 4. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add flax seed mixture and almond meal and knead until mixture holds together. Add more almond meal if the mixture seems to wet. Add sesame and pumpkin seeds. 5. Form patties of the size of the palm of your hand. You should get about 6 patties out of the batter. 6. Coat a frying pan with olive oil and cook patties over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Serve immediately with a fresh salad and tahini or yogurt dip. Serves 2-3. 27


Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad Heba Saleh www.mideats.com Ingredients • 1 large bunch (10-12 leaves) chopped kale, stems removed • 3 cups chopped Italian parsley, stems removed • 2 cups chopped fresh mint, stems removed • 3 medium firm tomatoes, finely diced • 3 medium Persian cucumbers, peeled and finely diced • 1/3 medium cauliflower, made into “bulgur” in food processor • 5 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced • 3/4 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil • Juice of 1 lime, or to taste • 3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste 28

• 1 teaspoon ground allspice, or to taste

the tomatoes, peeled cucumbers and scallions.

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, to taste

5. Add the chopped greens, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions to a glass bowl and toss together until well incorporated.

• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste • Unrefined salt, to taste Method: 1. Rinse all the vegetables and leave out to air dry. 2. Make the cauliflower “bulgur”: Chop 1/3 of a medium cauliflower and add to a food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is chopped into the size of fine bulgur. 3. Finely chop the parsley, kale and mint in batches (without their stems). (or pulse lightly and quickly in a food processor – although hand chopped is better). 4. Using a sharp knife, finely dice

6. Add the lime juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, salt, and pepper. 7. Taste-test: Try out the tabbouleh and adjust the seasoning to your liking. This step is very important! Notes: Make sure your veggies are dry or you’ll end up with very mushy tabbouleh. Serve or refrigerate. Tabbouleh is best if served immediately. It stays fresh for a couple of days, but it’s definitely not as crisp as it is on the first day it’s made. Serves 8-10


Quinoa, Chickpea and Almond Salad with Orange-Cumin Vinaigrette Erum Gulmann www.totalsalads.com Dressing Ingredients: • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar • 3 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeeze, or a good quality brand) • 1/2 tsp cumin powder • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder • 1/8-1/4 tsp red chilli powder (to taste) • 1/4 tsp sea salt Salad Ingredients:

Method:

Notes:

1. Dice zucchini, salt and toss in a baking pan with 4tbsp olive oil then bake in a 200°C oven for approx. 20 minutes or until just cooked, turning once. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Serve straight away, or refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

• 3 cups cooked quinoa • 1 tin chickpeas (approximately 400g drained and rinsed) • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed and loosely chopped (if necessary) • 1 cup of cilantro / coriander leaves (washed, dried and roughly chopped) • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (preferably with skin) • 10 prunes (or dried apricots), chopped into bite-size pieces • 1 large zucchini / courgette • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 tsp sea salt + 1 tsp sea salt • 1 dried bay leaf

2. Dressing: Make the salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients together and mixing well (I recommend shaking them up in a clean jar with a lid). Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. 3. Add the quinoa to a large bowl and toss well with dressing. 4. Add the cooled zucchini, chickpeas, baby spinach, cilantro, prunes and almonds. Fold until well mixed.

If you do not have 3 cups of cooked ready-to-eat quinoa, you can make it in the following way. Rinse the quinoa in a colander with your hand, discarding the water 3 times. Add quinoa and 1/2 cup boiled water to a saucepan with the quinoa. Add 1 tsp of sea salt and 2 dried bay leaf. Cover the saucepan and allow to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and allow the quinoa to simmer for 15 minutes (covered). Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit (covered) for 5 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and spread it on a platter to cool. 29


Dahi Papdi Chat Ritu Chaturvedi www.fussfreecookingblog.wordpress.com This is a very popular street food of India. Dahi Papdi is thin & crispy fried puff breads topped with yogurt, boiled potato & Mint & sweet chutney. You can use ready-made Papdi instead of baked Mathree. Ingredients: • 2 baked mathree, basket (readymade 8 papdi) • 1, boiled potato, cubed • 1 cup, yogurt • 2 pieces dahi bara, • 4 tbsp sweet chutney • 2 tbsp mint chutney • 1tsp cumin powder, dry roasted • 1/2 tsp red chili powder

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• 2tbsp. pomegranate seeds • Fine sev for garnishing Method: 1. Mix salt in the yogurt and whisk it till smooth. 2. Lightly mashed cubed potatoes and add 1tsp. mint chutney & salt. 3. Arrange baked Mathree or Papdi in the plate. Top each Papdi with boiled potatoes, and if you are using Dahi Bara, add that to on each Papdi. 4. Add whisk yogurt on each Papdi, then drizzle some sweet chutney and mint chutney on top. Lightly sprinkle Cumin powder & red chili powder. Top it with pomegranates and Fresh coriander leaves. Finely add Sev and serve immediately. Notes: Find my Sweet Chutney & Mint Chutney recipes on my blog, or you can buy ready-made off the shelf in an Indian supermarket.

• Salt to taste

You can find sev in most supermarkets, probably with the potato crisps or the spices.

• 2tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

The Papdi will become soggy very fast so enjoy immediately!


Butternut Squash Tian with Herb Topping Stacy Rushton www.foodlustpeoplelove.com Ingredients: For the tian: • About 2kg whole butternut squash – diced and roasted, then lightly mashed. • 100g short-grain or arborio rice • 50g freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese • 200g smoked cheese • 2 large cloves garlic (minced) • 5-6 large stems curly kale, destemmed and finely chopped. • 3 large eggs • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the herb topping: • 1 cup or 80g dried bread crumbs • 1 big handful flat leaf parsley, leaves only • Leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs of thyme and/or rosemary (I used some of each.) • 50g freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese • 2 tablespoons olive oil Method: 1. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your eventual baking pan (of tian) or casserole dish by greasing it liberally. (I used a spring-form pan 20cm in diameter and about 7 1/2cm deep.) 2. Boil rice in salted water with a drizzle of

olive oil. When the rice is just cooked, drain and set the rice aside to cool. 3. Sauté the garlic in a little olive oil in a fry pan, being careful not to let it color. Add the chopped kale and a sprinkle of sea salt. Cook, covered, until the kale is completely wilted. Set aside to cool. 4. To make your breadcrumb topping, add all of the dry ingredients to your food processor and process until it is completely uniform, then add in the two tablespoons of olive oil and process again. 5. In a large bowl, whisk your eggs and then add in the butternut squash. Mix well. 6. Now add in the rest all of your tian ingredients: The wilted, garlicky kale, the cooked rice, and the cheese. Give the whole lot a good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper and then mix well. 7. Spoon the mixture into your prepared baking pan, smooth it out, and top liberally with the herby breadcrumbs. Pat the herb topping down so it doesn’t fall off later when serving. 8. Bake for one-hour, covering the top with foil part way through if the breadcrumb topping browns too quickly. Check that it is cooked through by sliding a knife in and leaving it there for about 30 seconds. It should be very hot to the touch when it is removed. 9. To remove from the spring-form pan, allow the tian to cool for a few minutes and then run a knife around the sides before releasing the catch. Run a knife under the tian to loosen it from the base. Slide to a serving plate, cut into slices and serve warm. Notes: As mentioned before, you can bake this in a larger casserole, in which case, you’ll probably use all of the breadcrumbs. For my smaller, deeper pan, I ended up using just about half. Store leftover topping in a bag in the freezer. It can be used for topping baked fish or chicken. Yum!

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Braised Red Cabbage with Tahini Dressing Noreen Wasti www.thevanillabeandream. wordpress.com

• 1 clove garlic finely minced

I found myself staring at a head of red cabbage feeling highly uninspired as I imagined sticks of butter and cups of cream instead. Fighting between good and evil I took out my go-to cookbook when I am trying to use vegetables, Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. It is over four hundred pages dissecting every vegetable imaginable. The red cabbage recipe in the book is more of a salad whereas I wanted to do more of a hearty braised dish so I adapted the recipe accordingly.

• 1/2 cup yogurt

Ingredients:

2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for one minute.

• 3 tablespoons olive oil • 1 medium onion sliced thinly • 1 head red cabbage sliced thinly • 2 garlic cloves finely minced • 1 tsp sea salt (I used Maldon) • 1 tsp ground black pepper • 2 tablespoons brown sugar • 1/2 cup date balsamic vinegar (if you can’t find date balsamic, you may substitute regular) • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley • 3 tablespoons fresh dill • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

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Dressing

• 3 tablespoons tahini • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper Method: 1. Heat the oil in large skillet on medium. Then add the onion with the brown sugar and let it caramelize for around 5 minutes.

3. Next add the cabbage with the salt and pepper. Immediately start mixing and turning the cabbage so everything is distributed evenly for about two minutes. 4. Now add the date balsamic vinegar and once again mix it thoroughly, then cover the pan and let it braise for about 20 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes. 5. Place the cooked cabbage onto a nice flat serving tray or plate to cool. 6. Make the dressing by whisking the garlic, salt, pepper, yoghurt, tahini, and lemon till combined and smooth. 7. Once the cabbage has reached room temperature elegantly place all your herbs and carefully spoon the tahini dressing on the cabbage and sprinkle with the pine nuts to finish.


Mhamara Shaikha Al Ali www.whenshaikhacooks.com Ingredients: • 2 big red peppers, grilled • 1 big red chilli, grilled • 1 toast

Mhamara is a spicy red pepper dip, originally from Syria but found all over the Middle East. Its spice is

• 1/4 cup olive oil

highlighted by the

• 1/3 cup walnuts

creaminess of

• 1 small clove garlic • 1/2 teaspoon cumin • 1/2 tsp chilli powder

walnuts and the tang of

• 1 teaspoon paprika

pomegranate

• juice of 1/2 a lemon

molasses.

• 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses • 1/8 teaspoon sumac • Salt Method: 1. Brush the Peppers and Chilli with olive oil and grill until charred, place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until it has steamed and cooled, this’ll make peeling much easier. 2. Peel the peppers and chilli and remove the seeds and insides of the peppers. 3. Blend everything in blender while drizzling the olive oil, store in a jar in the refrigerator for a week. Notes: Mhamara is perfect to put on anything from Rugag, Manakeesh, Sandwiches, and pretty much everything you can smear it or dollop it on. It’s also lovely as a dip, and can even be used as a meat rub or marinade. 33


Moong Daal Pakora / Bhajiya Anjana Chaturvedi http://maayeka.blogspot.ae

daal to make a smooth and thick paste (no need to add extra water) 2. Peel and chop boiled potato into small pieces (like we chop to add in poha).

Crispy fried nuggets made with yellow lentil, fresh fenugreek and potatoes

3. Wash and finely chop methi leaves and coarsely crush coriander seeds in mortar and pastle.

Ingredients:

4. Take ground moong daal paste in a bowl and whisk well.

• 3/4 cup yellow lentil /moong daal • 2 small potato, boiled • 3/4 cup fresh fenugreek/methi, chopped • 2 tsp green chilies, chopped • 1 tsp chili powder/Mirch • salt - to taste

5. Now add all the spices and methi leaves and mix well. 6. Then add chopped potatoes and mix gently. 7. Heat oil in a deep and wide pan to deep fry. 8. Drop small portions of lentil mixture in the oil with the help of your fingers or with a small spoon. 9. Deep fry on medium heat till golden in colour, drain on a paper napkin and serve hot.

• 1/3 asafoetida /hing • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds /jeera

Notes:

• cooking oil - to deep fry

This daal ka bhajiya or vati daal na bhajiya is a easy and popular snack in North India. These lentil fritters are called as vadas in Southern India and in North India they as popular as bhajiya or pakoras.

• 1.5 tsp coriander seeds/dhaniya, crushed Method: 1. Wash and soak moong daal for about 3 hours. Grind 34

Serve hot with green chutney, tamarind chutney or ketchup.


Recipes: Gluten Free Sweeties Chocolate Avocado Cake with Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

Many of us are starting to realise that gluten avoidance is not just for celiacs.

Anja Schwerin www.anjasfood4thought.com Ingredients: • 2 cups almond meal • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda • 1/2 cup/1oz unsweetened cocoa powder • 1/2 cup boiling water • 2 eggs • 1 cup/8oz palm sugar or grated Jaggery • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract • 2 ripe avocados, mashed (ca. 2/3 cup) For the chocolate ganache

It’s a new way of cooking for those who have been brought up with wheat as a staple food, and therefore gluten free recipes are among the most highly sought on the web. Here’s some our favourite recent gluten free dessert alternatives from bloggers who know how to embrace a gluten free lifestyle without too much sacrifice.

• 100g/4oz chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped • 1/4 cup heavy cream Method: 1. Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Line and grease medium sized spring form. 2. Pour boiling water over cocoa powder and stir until dissolved and smooth. Set aside to cool. 3. In a large bowl, combine almond meal and baking soda. Set aside. 4. In a medium bowl, cream eggs and sugar with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, avocado and cocoa mixture and blend until well combined. 5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and blend until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared spring form. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely. 6. For the chocolate ganache: 7. Melt chocolate together with the heavy cream in the double boiler or a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. 8. Drizzle the mixture over the cooled cake. Let stand until ganache has hardened.

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Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bars Nabeela Ismail www.beelabakes.blogspot.ae (Adapted from Sweetapolita) Ingredients: • 2 cups butterscotch chips • 1 cup unsalted butter • 1 cup smooth peanut butter • 6 cups mini coloured marshmallows Method: 1. Line a small baking tin or oven dish, with parchment paper. 2. Melt together the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips, in a glass or ceramic bowl, over a small pan off water, and on low heat till the water starts to simmer and the mix is smooth. 3. Take off the heat and stir in the marshmallows. Mix together well till marshmallows are coated with the butterscotch peanut butter mixture. 4. Pour the mixture into the dish, using a wooden spoon or spatula to help spread evenly. 5. Press some loose marshmallows over the top, and chill in the fridge until firm. 6. Using a sharp knife cut into bars. Makes about 16 bars

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Ragi Chocolate Pudding Priya Srinvasan www.enveetukitchen.com Ingredients: • 2 tsp ragi flour • 1 tsp cocoa powder • 1.5 cups of milk • 2 tsp brown sugar (see notes) • Roasted almonds/cashews for garnishing Method: 1. Take 1 cup of milk in a saucepan and heat to boil. Add the ragi flour and cocoa to 1/4 cup of milk in a small bowl, and make a smooth mixture. 2. When the milk starts to boil, reduce the flame to simmer and slowly add the ragi-cocoa milk mix and whisk well to combine. Add the remaining milk and sugar and stir.

Ragi Flour is made of finger millet, which has the benefits of high fiber, some protein, iron and calcium. It has a mild flavour and is very easy to work with. It also makes fabulous rotis.

3. Cook on a medium flame to about 10-12 minutes, stirring, until the mixture thickens. 4. Remove from the flame. Serve warm or pour into small cups and refrigerate until serving. Garnish with roasted nuts and chocolate shavings. Notes: Makes 3 servings. This is a perfect breakfast dish, but can also be served as a light dessert. If you don’t have brown sugar, you can use white sugar or try using powdered jaggery. In case if you feel you have added more milk than necessary or pudding isn’t thickening, try adding one tsp. of oats.

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Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Honey and Lavender Bundt

• 1 cup honey • 3 eggs • 2 tsp lavender buds (or 3-4 full flowers) • frosting:

Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com Ingredients: • 4 cups (Schar Patisserie) gluten free flour • 8 tsp gluten free baking powder • ¾ cup rice milk • ¾ cup canola (rapeseed) oil • 1 tsp salt • ½ tsp vanilla

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• 1 tsp honey • 1 cup icing sugar • 1-2 tbsp boiling water • a few drops of red and blue food colouring

3. Milk should be gently simmering by now and have a good lavender flavour. Strain, then add slowly to the cake mix, alternating with the final cup of flour. 4. Pour into a greased bundt tin or cake tin, and cook for 35 minutes or 50 minutes respectively, or until cake tests done with a spike. 5. Cool, then whisk up frosting ingredients and pour over cake. If desired, sprinkle with lavender buds.

Instructions:

Notes:

1. Put lavender and rice milk in a saucepan on the stove and set at a medium heat. Preheat oven to 180.

The honey does not need to be lavender honey. In fact, if you do use lavender honey, please use less lavender in the milk infusion to compensate. Lavender has a very strong flavor and it can overwhelm easily.

2. Beat eggs and oil until smooth, then add honey, vanilla and finally the rest of the dry ingredients, until you only have one cup of flour left.


Kesar Pista Kulfi Huma Kalim www.gheza-e-shiriin.blogspot.ae Ingredients: • 1 liter full fat milk • 1/2 tsp saffron • 1 -2 green cardamon powder (optional) • 1/3 cup pistachios (coarsely powdered with little tit bits of pistachios) • 1 tin (395g) condensed milk • 1 ¼ cup milk power • 8 tbsp. water to dissolve milk powder • 2 tbsp sugar (optional - dependent on how much sweetness you need)

Notes: Not to worry if there are some lumps remaining in the milk powder paste. These lumps will add texture to your end result. This recipe will fill 14 kulfi molds (you can buy these at Indian supermarkets) If you don’t have kulfi moulds, use a plastic or aluminium container. Just ensure it seals well, and use foil to cover if you are unsure. To remove the kulfi from the Molds, wet your hand with water & rotate it on the frozen kulfi moulds or keep the frozen kulfi mould for a second under running water. Now open the lid & insert a medium size fork in the center of kulfi moulds. Pull the fork towards your side. Kulfi will come out with the fork.

Method: 1. Pour fresh milk into a deep saucepan & cook at medium heat. 2. Add in crushed saffron & green cardamon powder (if you are using). Cook for 10 minutes stirring from time to time. 3. Now add in pistachio powder. Cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously. 4. Add in condensed milk. Scoop all the condense milk from the tin. At this stage turn the heat down to low. 5. Add water to the milk powder to form a paste and add to the boiling milk 6. Stir continuously whilst cooking the milk mixture on low flame for approx 25 -30 minutes to reach a custard-like consistency. (This will ensure no crystals) 7. Pour into moulds or other airtight container. Cover it properly with aluminium foil. 8. Freeze overnight and enjoy it the next day.

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Almost Healthy Apple Doughnuts (Yeastfree, dairy-free and gluten-free) Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com Ingredients: • 1 apple – peeled and loosely diced • 1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk) • 1/2 cup ghee • 1 egg • self raising flour (I used Doves Farm gluten free) • pinch salt • oil for frying (I used grapeseed) • sugar and cinnamon for dusting Method: 1. Put the oil in a deep, preferably non–stick frying pan (I used a wok) and heat on the stove. You can use the deep fryer. Put the apple and enough milk to cover the blades in the blender and puree. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside. 2. Whisk up the egg and butter until creamy, then add in the wet mix and sifted flour alternating, whisking until it gets too thick, then using your hands and finishing with the flour. The consistency should be a soft, silky dough, just solid enough to roll. 3. Take pieces of the dough and roll into finger-thickness sausages, then pinch together into circles and 40

place in the oil, turning once browned on one side, then tossing through the sugar mix once cooked, finally set aside into a plate.

The doughnuts should take about a minute on each side – if they take much more they will be greasy, and much less and they will be raw on the inside.

Notes:

Also, this could be easily made without the apples or replaced with another fruit like banana or blue berries. This mix made about 40 small doughnuts – way too many, so we had some left over the next day. They went hard in the fridge overnight, but softened up nicely with a few seconds in the microwave.

I did not measure the temperature of the oil, but started with it on full heat, then turned it down as just as it had started to smoke. I had to turn it up again a little halfway through.


Recipes: Cakes, just because... Semolina Coconut Cake (egg-free) Shaikha Al Ali www.whenshaikhacooks.com Ingredients: • 2 1/4 cups semolina • 200g sugar • 1 teaspoon baking powder • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence) • 1/4 cup yoghurt • 1/2 cup melted ghee • 1/2 cup milk • Flaked almonds to garnish Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 175°C 2. In a big bowl, use your hands to incorporate all the dry ingredients. 3. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and use a whisk to combine everything together until it resembles a thick but batter like consistency. 4. Line a small cake tin with baking paper on all side. Pour the batter & place the cake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes up clean. Notes: Sift some icing sugar on top, & if you like it extra sweet, drizzle some sugar syrup or honey on top.

These cakes have nothing to do with our issue theme of New Year and a new start. But they are a few of the nicest looking things we have seen on Dubai Food blogs recently, and we just had to show you. Go 41


Pistachio Layer Cake with Rose Mascarpone Frosting Nabeela Ismail www.beelabakes.blogspot.ae Ingredients: For the pistachio cake: • 240g all-purpose flour • 320g caster sugar • 125g pistachios, finely ground • 1 tsp baking powder • 1 tsp baking soda • 1/4 tsp salt • 6 egg yolks • 3/4 cup water • Half cup melted butter • 1 tsp vanilla extract • 6 egg whites For the Rose Mascarpone Frosting: • 500g mascarpone (2 x 250g tub) • 1/2 cup icing sugar • 4 tsp rose water • Pink food gel • Pistachio kernels and dried roses, for decoration Method: 1. Preheat oven to 180°C, and line 4 small cake tins, or 2 medium ones. 2. Combine the flour, sugar, pistachios, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 3. Whisk together the egg yolks, water, melted butter and vanilla, and then mix into the dry ingredients. 42

4. In a mixer or with a whisk, beat the egg whites until fluffy and soft peaks have formed. Mix in the baking soda with just a couple of folds of a spoon. 5. Fold in the egg whites to the cake mixture, and pour equally into cake tins. Bake for between 20-25 for thin layers, or 30 minutes for the thicker layers, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool before assembling with rose mascarpone frosting. 6. Combine together the mascarpone and icing sugar using an electric whisk, and then add the rose water until well mixed. Lastly add the pink food gel to tint to your desired shade.

7. Use a spatula to spread, or a piping bag to pipe the rose mascarpone onto each cake layer. 8. Assemble the cake together, and frost the top with another layer of mascarpone. Leave the sides exposed or cover with more frosting if desired. 9. Sprinkle pistachio kernels over the top, and decorate with dried roses. Notes: Keep cake stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 4 thin cake layers, or 2 thick ones.


Coconut Pecan Cake By Arwa A Lootah

• 2 Cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes (1 Cup Toasted)

www.lamereculinaire.com Method: Ingredients: • 1 cup buttermilk • 1 tsp baking soda • 1 3/4 cup sugar • 1/2 cup butter • 1/2 cup canola oil • 1/3 cup shortening • 4 eggs (separated) • 1 tbs vanilla • 2 cups flour • 2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two baking pans with baking paper and spray/butter them. 2. Combine the baking soda with the buttermilk and set aside. 3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat sugar, butter, shortening and oil until light and fluffy. 4. Add egg yolks one at a time beating well after every addition. Add vanilla. 5. Add buttermilk mixture and flour, alternating between the two. 6. In separate bowl, whisk egg

white until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites and then fold the rest. 7. Carefully fold in the pecans and coconut. 8. Pour in prepared pan/pans and bake for 35-45 minutes. (It may take longer depending on the oven). Notes: You can substitute buttermilk with 1 Cup milk plus 1TBS Lemon Juice. Can be made with a Pecan Cream Cheese Filling. (cream cheese whippes with toasted pecans and icing sugar). Successful cake also made with flavour base of Raspberry and Rose.

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Big Fat Healthy Greek Banana Bread (Sugar-free, dairy-free and egg-free) By Irini Savva www.irinisavva.com Ingredients: • 250g / 1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour • 2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda • pinch of salt • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon • 1/4 tsp ground cloves • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (unsalted) • 3 large over-ripe bananas • 75ml / 1/3 cup light olive oil • 125ml / 1/2 cup honey • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 175C and line a loaf tin (I use 19x9x6.5cm) with baking paper. 2. Add the dry ingredients, except the pumpkin seeds into a bowl and whisk to combine, then stir in the pumpkin seeds. 3. Peel and mash the banana well. Place the banana and liquid ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it looks smooth with a few small lumps of banana here and there. Lightly stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. 4. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with a few extra pumpkin seeds on top. 5. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the loaf comes out clean. If the top browns quicker, cover with a piece of foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. 6. Remove from the oven and allow

the loaf to cool a little in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin to allow it to cool completely Notes: Use over-ripe bananas – they mash better, taste better and add natural sweetness. I added an extra banana to replace the eggs so this loaf is packed with healthy fruit. If wholegrain is not your thing, you can replace it with the same gram quantity of white spelt flour or all-purpose flour if you wish. Never, ever, use the cup measurement to replace flour. Use a light olive oil not extra virgin. I’ve also made this recipe using grapeseed oil and coconut oil and they all work well. The coconut oil gives a distinct coconut taste to the loaf. Stir lightly just until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over mix it. If you over-do it, the bread will be too dense. Honey is an excellent sweetener in baking, although it can be a bit tricky when substituting a dry ingredient with a liquid. If you’re vegan you can use maple syrup.

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CULINARY TRAVEL The latest trend to explore the world is Culinary travel. It lets you explore and learn about a destination through the simplest and the most important activity of all - eating! Tasting new cuisines, learning about new culture, visiting local markets, enrolling in culinary classes - these are only a few things that encompass Culinary Travel. In this issue, we choose a few destinations within a few hours flight of Dubai. Let the culinary travels of our authors inspire you too.

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Culinary Travel: Eating in Istanbul By Ishita B Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com Istanbul is definitely a place for foodies. The culinary heritage is reflected by the various influences that have shaped Istanbul’s history. There is a lot of influence of Ottoman Cuisine which itself is a fusion of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. Here is your rundown of what to eat and drink when you hit the town. Turkish tea or Çay: You cannot escape Istanbul without banging into a man hurriedly carrying a tray with tea or coffee. Turkish tea is not only a part of Turkish culture and tradition, it also symbolises Turkish hospitality and has many social connotations. The first thing that is served to a guest who comes home, or to any tourist that enters a shop, is the tea. Tea breaks barriers and binds people from different faith, culture, and religion to speak a common language. Çay, as it is called, generally refers to the Black tea and is served in the famous tulip-shaped glasses. Turkish Coffee or Kahve: Incredible as it may sound, the Kahve has been recognised by the UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turks. The strong aroma and the rich chocolate colour of the coffee, served in the uniquely designed little ceramic cups can soon become a fatal addiction. This is very similar to the way coffee is prepared and served in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans, Bali and other regions in Eastern Europe. However, what makes the Turkish coffee in Turkey different is the addition of sugar in the boiling process – not surprising in a city where a bowl of sugar cubes can be 48

found to stand side by side with a salt shaker in every dining table! Roasted Chestnuts or Kestane kebab: If there is a smoke emanating from a street corner in Istanbul, either you’ll find meat kebabs, corn on the cobs or chestnuts being roasted in the style of a barbecue. Food carts selling these are all across the city but in the popular tourist places like Sutanahmet Square, the display of the roasted chestnuts in the carts acquire the form of an art by itself. Grilled corn on the cob or Mısır: Similar pushcarts selling boiled corns or corn on the cob, also known as Mısır, are rampant on the streets. Usually, the corn on the cobs is very popular during the summer months and the chestnuts take over these carts during the winters. Apart from the Sultanahmet Square, you’ll also find them in front of Hagia Sofia and the Topkafi

Palace. Döner kebabı: This is probably the most popular Turkish food that has been exported out of Turkey. The Döner kebabı is the origin of Shawarma, that is found in other Arab countries. Here, the meat is roasted on a large open vertical spit. In fact, the word Shawarma has evolved from the Turkish word çevirme, a synonym of döner (meaning turning, spinning, rotating). You’ll find unique eateries resembling bar counters (half-outside and half-inside the eateries) all across the city and almost at almost every nook and corner. But the biggest concentration would be in the Taksim area. Turkish bagels or Simit: This is a type of ring-shaped bread covered with sesame seeds. Simit is commonly eaten in Turkey, plain or with cheese, butter or marmalade and is probably the most popular food to


eat in Istanbul. Although, the Simit is eaten at breakfast, this   can also be had anytime and anywhere – much like the Turkish tea and serves as a great accompaniment to the Turkish tea. You’ll find street vendors all over the city selling the classic Simi, and in recent years fast food chains like Simit Sarayi (meaning Simit Palace) have come up, which serve many variations of Simit. Fancy a Simit sandwich anyone? Kumpir: This is baked potato served with a medley of chopped vegetables – onions, tomatoes, green peas, corns, fresh olives, some pickled vegetables, probably soaked in brine. You will even find hot dog slices – all served inside a half of a mighty potato with its’ skin on. Pomegranates and other juices: Pomegranates acquire a gargantuan proportion in Istanbul. You will find either food carts or small juice shops selling fresh pomegranate juices almost everywhere. Pomegranates transcend into embroidery for clothes, ceramic artwork, even playing an important part in the New Year’s celebrations in Turkey – with midnight approaching, each person would grab a pomegranate, smashing it against the ground, with the belief that the more pieces it breaks in to, the more good luck it would bring in the New Year. In Turkish culture, Pomegranates represent abundance, prosperity and fertility. Cultural belief apart, I can vouch for one fact and that is I have never come across pomegranates looking this beautiful and tasting this good, specially when they have been squeezed into juice! Sultanahmet Köftecisi - According to Wikipedia, a 2005 study done by a private food company suggests that there were 291 different kinds of Köftes in Turkey! The question is, where do you want to taste these meatballs while you are in Istanbul? Enter a historical site – the ‘Historical Sultanahmet Meatballs Restaurant’ (as written in the restaurant’s website), with the promise of the ‘best Izgara Köfte in town’. The restaurant claims to have been the original creators of Köfte. Sultanahmet Köftecisi is located in the crowded and the very touristy Sutanahmet Square in Istanbul, still housed in the original building where the restaurant was established way back in 1920. Although there are more than 20 franchises all across the city and many restaurants with similar names and the other branches also serve more dishes than the ones served in this ‘original’ Sultanahmet Köftecisi in the Sultanahmet Square, this one is a ‘must visit’. This is the place to be if you are looking for that ‘dining experience’, feel the vibrating floor as the diners walk up and down the rickety stairs, gulp your delicious food down under supervision (there’s a restaurant staff who’ll immediately inform the staff on the ground floor that a potential table might be empty within the next 4-5minutes!) and be a part of some kind of culinary history of Istanbul. In addition, you will get to eat some soft, greasy and buttery minced meat melting in your mouth by the name of meatballs. 49


Baklava and other Turkish sweets: Yes, Baklava is the most famous of Turkish sweets. Turkish sweet shops or the Baklavacis are everywhere. From the outside of these shops, you can see their glass windows adorned with trays of delicate and exotic looking Baklavas – şöbiyet, bülbül yuvası, saray sarması, sütlü nuriye, and sarı burma. People gathered around these shops for casual evening banters (above), catchinh up on their day-to-day lives while sipping on Turkish tea and buying a few sweets for home. Apart from the Baklavas, I tasted some fruit desserts where the fruits had been cooked in sugar with carnation, cinnamon and served chilled. I have to admit that I fell prey to the kabak tatlısı or the pumpkin sweet. These were fine examples of how to make healthy fruits ad vegetables go unhealthily wild! Turkish Ice cream or Dondurma: You will most certainly find a Dondurma stall everywhere in Istanbul – from street kiosks to fashionable cafes, even in some fancy restaurants. Bold rectangular compartments of thick creamy ice cream in tantalizing colors of different shades line up each ice cream stall. The Turkish ice creams are not your regular ice creams. Apart from the regular ingredients like Milk and Sugar, they also have an ingredient called Salep, a thickening agent made from a flour from Orchids and Mastic, a resin that gives the chewiness and the crunchiness. The ice cream vendor churns out the creamy mixture of an ice cream flavour with a long-handled paddle and as he scoops it out like a thick elastic chewing gum, you have to wait for the customary trick to be performed on you – these Dondurma-men serve you the ice cream, hand it over to you by wrapping the cone delicately in tissue paper and as you put your hand forward to grab the ice cream, you realise that the tempting ice cone has already gone back to the seller. Then with a swish of his hand he topples the cone upside down! Once a spoonful of this magic cream enters your mouth, you’ll know that you’ve chewed upon the thickest and the creamiest form of edible divinity.

Why not stay in the middle of all the action? My pick would be a hotel in the Sultanahmet Square itself, so that you can immerse yourself in the crowd, whenever you want and till the wee hours of the night. Four Seasons Hotel, Istanbul

Special areas to visit in Istanbul

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The location is fabulous, so is the service. This is right in the middle of the historic old town with amazing views of Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.


Little cobbled alleys lead to other alleys meandering through cafes cum pubs and restaurants packed with diners – locals and tourists alike – this is the magical Ortaköy. Musicians, belting out haunting Turkish melodies, are occasionally interrupted by the loud jazz music played in-house in some restaurant. Kumpir stalls are all across Istanbul, but Ortaköy Kumpirs have their own fame and Maya Kumpir steals the show. This particular insanely electrifying area, known as the Kumpir Sokak or the Baked Potato Street, leads up to the Ortaköy mosque. We chose a casual restaurant called the Epope Cafe and Restoran for dinner – a plate of Grilled Garlic Sausage, a plate of Iskender Kabab and an Ezme salad accompanied by a Turkish Sauvignon Blanc. This was followed by the most delicious Turkish waffles and pancakes with Nutella and strawberries, smoked a Caramel flavoured Shisha (Nargille as they are called here) in the Destan Cafe, just 10m across the road.

dülaziz in 1872. Serkis Kalfa built a three-storey mansion on the island and lived there until he died in 1899. After World War I the island was rented and used as a coal storehouse. In 1957 Galatasaray Sports Club bought the island and transformed it into a social facility. It has a pool (imagine a pool in the middle of Bosphorus!), a nightclub and six exclusive fine dining restaurants offering different cuisines from seafood, kebabs to authentic pasta. Such exclusivity comes at a premium and expect a minimum set back of $200/person if you are dining in one of these restaurants. Can you expect anything less if your potential fellow diners are Madonna, Daniel Craig, Megan Fox, Gisele Bündchen, Bono, Kevin Costner, Monica Bellucci, Kylie Minogue, Matt Dillon or Kobe Bryant?

completely packed. The entire glass façade of the restaurant overlooked the Bosphorus. This place was definitely for Kebab lovers. Pureed and raw meatballs were favourite hors D’oeuvres served here, with the most popular dishes on the menu being Gavurdağı or the Turkish Tomato Salad with walnuts and cumin, Çöp Şiş (little chunks of lamb and a chunk of fat on a split wood skewer -the “chaff”, roasted and served with a spicy green pepper), Külbastı (these are meat cutlets cooked in its’ juice) and Katmer (an ancient pastry, wellknown in Anatolia, especially in rural areas). Once you have digested the food here, step onto the verandas for some visual stimulation – lit up boats plying the Bosphorus and the city’s many bridges and the fascinating cityscape of Istanbul.

As we entered the Suda Kebap for dinner, the restaurant seemed

Apart from beautiful cafés with brilliant Bosphorus view, such as the Ortaköy Kahvesi and House cafe, there are pubs and world-class restaurants near the ferry port like Zuma and Köşebaşı. Ortaköy is also known for some of Istanbul’s best seashore nightclubs, including Reina (where Madonna comes to party in her own yacht and has hosted famous stars like Bon Jovi, Kylie Minoque, U2, Uma Thurman, Daniel Craig, and Naomi Watts) Suada: This is a much sought after glamourous Island venue in Istanbul. Located 165 meters away from the European shore in Kuruçeşme this island was a present for Serkis Kalfa, the head architect of the Ottoman palace, by Sultan Ab-

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Culinary Travel: A day in Siem Reap

Where to eat and what to do if you find yourself with 24 hours in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s sleepy yet seductive northern town.

By Radhina Almeida Coutinho www.platetrotter.weebly.com 9.00am: Breakfast with butterflies Hot tropical sun, immodestly green foliage and colourful, fluttering wings form the backdrop to the appropriately named Butterflies Garden Restaurant, probably one of the most charming places I’ve ever had a breakfast in. The quiet garden restaurant is tucked away on the eastern banks of the Siem Reap River, under a canopy of green netting that houses hundreds of live butterflies flitting around as we sipped a fragrant cup of Cambodian coffee or devour a fruit-and-syrup doused pancake. In and around the area: Early morning strolls along the banks of the 52

narrow river, shopping for tourist tat and hidden gems among the piles of silk cushions, paper lanterns, Buddha prints and ornate opium pipes that tumble out of the stalls at Siem Reap’s Old Market. 11.30am: A bite of banana rice cake in Angkor These sweet rice cakes moulded around pieces of bananas and cooked in banana leafs, are the perfect snacks to fuel a morning of Angkorian temple discovery. Some versions are better than others, so try a few before settling on your favourite roadside rice cake vendor. In and around the area: Take your pick - from the ruins of Ta Prohm, woven through with giant roots and tree trunks, the sprawling Preah Kahn complex, the enigmatic

face towers of Bayon or the jewel in the crown of Angkorian architecture - Angkor Wat, there are hundreds of stunning temples, ruins and monuments to explore, in what used to be the seat of the mighty Khmer Empire. 2pm: Run (for some) amok Pop back into town for a quick lunch on Cambodia’s quintessential dish - Fish Amok. This coconut curry spiced with chilli, lemon grass, kafir lime and turmeric, steamed in a banana leaf bowl is the perfect example of what’s right with Cambodian food - all your favourite Asian flavours presented with a twist. Bar (Pub Street) is Siem Reap’s main restaurant strip and has a great collection of places where you could try this dish. My top pick


A round trip from Dubai to Siem Reap starts from 2,500 AED, depending upon the number of connecting flights you want to opt for. The best way to fly (and the cheapest probably) would be to fly with Singapore Airlines with a stopover in Singapore. Emirates Airlines flies you direct to Siem Reap, with airfare starting from 3,500 AED.* (The airfares indicated here are obtained from the web at the time of writing the article)

would be Khmer House Restaurant for a homely vibe and generous portions served on pretty blue & white crockery. In and around the area: Tuk tuks to take you back to the temples for some more photo ops and poking around impressive ruins. 5.30pm: Sundowners at Angkor Wat Escape the crowds at Bakheng Hill waiting for the ‘best sunset over Angkor Wat’ and perch in relative solitude on the banks of the moat surrounding the majestic temple to soak in the magic with a drink and some nibbles. Many hotels will pack you a sunset picnic (we got a bottle of wine, chicken satay, cheese and olives). You probably will never find another evening like this, as com-

pared to the experience of witnessing dusk falling over Angkor Wat.

here are free unlike a dozen other overpriced places).

In and around the area: You won’t really feel the need to do much else other than sip and stare.

In and around the area: The fairylight strung night market a few minutes away for more impulse buys and a tickly ‘fish massage’.

8pm: Exotic Eats Frog, snake, crocodile... you can find them all on the menu back on Pub Street and a crocodile barbeque may be a good bet for the sake of sheer novelty. For those keen on catching a traditional Apsara Dance performance, the Temple Club puts up two nightly shows that can be enjoyed with dinner on the upper level of this slightly touristy haunt. The food’s decent enough and although you could possibly find half a dozen better restaurants in town, the entertainment trade-off may be worth it (the Apsara shows

11pm: Nurse a colonial hangover at Le Grand Cafe You couldn’t get more French Colonial than this if you tried - an elegant old dame of a building, awnings stretching over the pavement and dark oiled wood inside - grab a cocktail or a cognac and waste away what’s left of the evening watching the world go by. In and around the area: $2 reflexology massages to soothe away temple hopping-induced aches and pains. 53


Image credit: Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com

Culinary Travel:Your Maldives Top Ten Culinary Bucket List

By Samantha Wood www.foodiva.net It’s taken me 14 years of living in the desert to visit paradise, and I’ve no idea why. When I worked for Hilton, the Conrad with its undersea restaurant was a short staff rate away, but I still didn’t go. Crazy given how astronomically expensive these resorts are, well the luxurious lot FooDiva prefers. Now that I’ve flown to one of the most southernmost atolls, 150 kilometres north of the equator to the heavenly Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives, I’ll be back. And just in case you’re wondering why, here’s FooDiva’s top ten bucket list, culinary-centric of course. 1. Maldivian yellow fin tuna - it’s hard to eat any other tuna (well apart from the prized Japanese toro fatty belly) once you’ve tasted this handline-caught sustainable fish from the Maldivian Indian Ocean. Super tender and melt-in-the-mouth, order it as rather thinly sliced sashimi (not the chunks we get here), slithers of carpaccio, lightly seared, or even a curry – but for the latter I prefer local reef fish, i.e. whatever’s on special that day. And that’s just a couple of ingredients out of the 38 per cent sourced locally. Here in Dubai, restaurants tend to serve tuna from the UAE or Philippines (not much of the latter lately though) but I buy my Maldivian tuna fresh from Market & Platters to make as a tartare. 54

 


2. Local or organic five-a-day - much of the produce is either local and/or organically sourced in line with Six Senses’ sustainable ethos. There’s a huge herb garden with 15 varieties including dill, basil (Thai plus Italian red and green), mint, parsley and chillies. Mung bean sprouts, spring onions and spinach together with passion fruit, banana, papaya and sugar cane are all grown on the island. Fresh fruit platters and juices every day for brekkie. 3. Free ice cream - yes you read right – free, unlimited ice cream and sorbet day and night seven days a week – along with candy, jelly bellies included. And there are 40 flavours to choose from including plenty of savoury options for those like moi without much of a sweet tooth. 4. Bubbles with dolphins - dolphins swim in full view of the shoreline, but make time for a sunset cruise to watch them jump, flip and twirl with a glass or two of prosecco. FooDiva with the prosecco not them. Compared to Musandam, expect to see many more.

chefs from Vietnam. Just as good as the real deal – try the banh xeo, those moreish crispy fluffy eggy rice pancakes. 9. Eat tatami-style - have a lie down on tatami seating in Japanese restaurant Zen and tuna sashimi aside, gobble down okonomiyaki, one of my fave street food dishes – a savoury pancake sprinkled with smoked reef fish bonito flakes. Yes I’ve got a thing for pancakes. The French crepes at breakfast are a winner too. 10. Cycle it all off - it’s eat, swim and ride here with your own private bicycle (golf buggies are reserved for luggage) to take you to and from your villa day and night. Well at least we worked off all the drinking and dining. And on that note…where to dine and what to drink – the only decisions you need to take throughout your stay.

5. Cocktail o’clock over-water - sip your cocktail of choice suspended on an over-water hammock – in fact stay there all day. Try the lethal arrack-based Laamu Rocks passion fruit number or a lychee daiquiri. 6. Room service with a view - a room with a view is easy to get anywhere in the Maldives, but order room service from an ocean-fronted beach villa ensconced in a lounger and you get your own private beach. 7. Charcuterie and cheese in the wine tower - pop into Altitude, the over-water spun glass 400-strong wine tower for a platter of European charcuterie and cheese over brekkie or lunch for that matter. 8. Vietnamese lunch fare - cross over a suspended bridge to oceanview Leaf restaurant and perch above the organic garden for a Vietnamese lunch fest – courtesy of

Image credit: Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com

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WEATHER: The best time to visit the southern atoll of the Maldives if you’d like to avoid rain is November to April. SLEEP: Our ocean beach villa is priced at US$980, but I nabbed a media rate (with no obligation to write about my visit). We stayed four nights – I’d recommend a week if your wallet allows. Sadly no in-villa pools or anywhere on the island for that matter – not very sustainable I guess – but then again you do have the wide ocean on your doorstep. FLY: We flew from Dubai to the Maldivian capital Male with Fly Dubai (considerably cheaper than Emirates) – a five-hour direct flight. From Male, Six Senses organises a 45-minute domestic flight (not seaplane as they don’t yet have a docking station – yes that’s a bit of a bummer) to Laamu Kadhdhoo airport for US$385 + 18% tax and onwards to the resort via speedboat in 30 minutes or so. Beware some of the domestic flights stop off at another local airport en route, which can extend your journey by an hour. Fares for a round trip from Dubai on Emirates Airlines start from Dhs 3,500 (subject to changes) Note: the Maldives is a Muslim country and does not permit the import of booze, duty free included, so our champagne and cocktail bill in the resort was rather huge. But on the upside, plenty of pork abounds! Image Credit: Six Senses Hotels

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Culinary Travel: Mauritius - The sweet culinary adventure and the very definition of Mother Earth By Dima Sharif www.dimasharif.com

Mark Twain visited Mauritius in 1896 and eventually wrote his ‘Following the Equator’ book in which he describes: “From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius...” then goes on describing the Mauritius of 1896. I have just got back from Mauritius and I can only describe it as: You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, then heaven; heaven definitely being copied from Mauritius! The island is so breathtakingly beautiful, you have no choice but to think: This is in fact Heaven!

I first visited Mauritius 10 years ago. One thing that stuck in my mind was that Mauritius is stunningly beautiful. But the most outstanding characteristic I took home then was that Mauritius has such deep relationship with produce. In fact, its whole history and culture was defined by it (sugar cane at most, tea, rum and others to follow). I had to go back! This time around with an objective to be less enchanted with its beauty and more focused on its culinary heritage and culture.

continue to make up the native citizens of Mauritius.

The Beautiful People of Mauritius and Their Cuisine

This diversity has reflected itself hugely on the Mauritian cuisine. The cuisine is generally Creole, like that of the Seychelles. However, it is evidently more pungent in flavour. The choice of sharp flavours such as mustards, gingers, fish sauces and chillies, is very characteristic of Mauritian Cuisine. Unlike its milder flavoured neighbour Seychelles, here the Indian influence is strongly evident.

Mauritius was first landed on by the Dutch, who eventually left it to French colonisation, and with it, sugarcane production. The British followed to rule Mauritius and continued to grow sugarcane, increasing it’s impact on the colony further. Migrants from France and England came to Mauritius as governors and their crew. The Africans were brought in as slaves at first, then as slavery started diminishing, the Indian immigration started as labour power, and is still ongoing today. There are also the Chinese traders, who settled on the island with the others centuries ago, and they all

Therefore, Mauritius has a very diversified culture, each segment bringing their own lifestyles, beliefs and even cuisine. The end result is a very interesting blend of people and belief systems that harmoniously coexist, offering its tourists a bit and a piece of everything. What ever it is you are looking for, especially spiritually, you are most likely to find over there. From Ashrams, to very old churches, to mosques and temples, all are there for you to explore.

Typical of Creole cuisine, curries make up a huge part of their cookery, mostly seafood and everything else follows. Their curries are either plainly dependent on spices (called yellow curries), mixed with mustards (called Vindaye), or with coconut milk (referred to as 57


Vindaloos). All of which, completely delicious, and Must Try’s when there. More Mauritian than Creole are the many versions of biryanis, which are very Indian in application and flavour. Then there are the fritters, beignets, gratins, roast and stews, which are more French and British in origin, but cooked with the Mauritian flavours and aromatics. Fish cakes, crab cakes, dumplings, noodles... done the Asian, mainly Chinese way, with a Mauritian twist are all part of the cuisine too! Finally and most importantly there is the African touch of exotic fruits added to the mix, just in case the flavour was missing anything! It is therefore, completely common to serve a menu of Samosas with Sweet Chili Sauce, Bok Choi Dumplings, Pineapple Mustard Salad, Gingered Roasted Snapper alongside a Breadfruit Gratin followed by Flambeed Bananas! Sounds very chaotic, but somehow works amazingly! A colourful feast in true African fashion! It’s enough reason to call a Culinary Trip, just to see how all these elements mix together, to discover how such an abundant menu of flavour profiles is received by your palate. Must Eats in Mauritius - Island’s Specialties If you head to traditional cuisine restaurants you must try the dishes below. These are the ultimate best, which you should not miss out on. Remember you are in 58

Mauritius, so make sure to try their food instead of the intercontinental foods of most hotels. Go out of your resort and make sure to explore the local food scene, I assure you it tastes way better than hotel food.

Most Popular Starters Samosas. Usually with Indian influence, but mostly with unique Mauritius flavours. The tuna, crab and fish samosas are fresh, spicy and addictive. The potato and curry samosas served with the fiery green chilli paste where also excellent. Samosas are not only to be had in restaurants - street vendors are scattered all around Mauritius, selling these along other selections of fritters all of which are really delectable. I ate from almost every vendor I encountered, and never once was unhappy with the food or ill afterwards. Beignets & Fritters. These are usually a vegetable, seafood or fish dipped in a batter then fried. The batter can vary from very thin to thick depending on the restaurants. Recipes are on my recipes blog Octopus Salad. On almost every restaurant menu. Just because the name is everywhere, does not necessarily mean it will always be the same. Each restaurant prepares this salad differently. Some will serve it with vinaigrette, others with a cream dressing. At times it can be spicy, in other places it will be sweet. Some even add vanilla seeds to the dressing. It can be served with hearts of palm, green papaya or garden vegetables.


Salade de Millionnaire. A salad of fresh palm hearts mixed with assorted vegetables and dressed lightly with a vinaigrette. The same applies to this salad as above, it will be made differently everywhere. However, the one thing you should be aware of is to only consume the hearts of palm that come from sustainable farms, otherwise whole trees are cut for obtaining the heart, which ends their lives and threatens their existence. Cold Cuts. Smoked mackerel, smoked marlin, and octopus Carpaccio are specialties of the island, and you are probably never to have them taste better than when in Mauritius. These can be had with bread and chili paste or can be had in salads, usually consisting of green papaya, sliced red onions, deseeded sliced tomatoes and red capsicums. Mains The island’s specialty Octopus Vindaye is a mustard curry that can also be made with fish, salted fish, other varieties of seafood. If you find concentrated mustard to be too sharp for your taste, then try the milder version of Vindaye, called Vindaloo (another specialty dish of the island). It is essentially

the same curry as Vindaye, but cooked with the addition of coconut milk, which makes the mustard flavour much lighter. Aubergine & Chicken Curry, is absolutely delicious. It is a must try specialty curry in Mauritius, usually served with steamed rice and a side selection of chutneys and/or green chili paste. All fresh seafood are exceptional in Mauritius. They are from sea to plate and don’t get any fresher. Grilled, roasted, curried, stewed, or cooked with ginger sauce... all are wonderful. The black Lobsters and King Prawns are especially tasty as well as the fabulous Mauritius Marlin, Tuna & Mackerel. If you are into rice dishes, you will enjoy the varieties of Biryanis (very similar to Indian Biryanis, with slightly different spices), you will also enjoy the Paella. The creole Paella might look like the Spanish Paella, but it tastes nothing like it. Mixed fried rice is also abundantly offered and is at times even had alongside a curry. Mauritius traditional Sauce. On the menus you will see all types of meats and seafood, as well as vegetarian dishes, cooked in

Mauritius sauce. It’s a tomato based sauce that is fragranced by curry spices and other island specialty spice mixes. It is delicious, however nothing like the fabulous curries. Yellow curry - another curry sauce in which they will cook all types of meats and vegetables. Always aromatic and complex in flavour. Desserts Any time you read home-made vanilla or coconut ice cream on a menu, go for it! The vanilla is exquisite in Mauritius and fresh coconuts are every where, which makes the flavours of these ice creams very decadent. They even go all the way and add a drop of coconut jam on top of the coconut ice cream, which is just heavenly! Sauteed / Flambeed fruit desserts are another specialty. Delicious does not begin to describe these desserts, especially with the caramel sauce and when paired with their home-made ice creams... Perfection on a plate! Creme Brulee is another great dessert to have in Mauritius, especially when made with those bourbon vanilla beans and unrefined cane sugar, it’s very, very special.

A country defined by the sugar industry and trade, whose culture springs from the fields. An island of diversified and varied produce. Exotic, beautiful and very unique... I would say this definitely makes Mauritius a “Must” culinary destination. 59


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Restaurant Reviews Following our theme of a new year and a new start, This issue we look at several restaurants that have launched in Dubai over the last few months. Our feature reviews are of Eataly, a venue imported from Italy and now covering 2000 square meters on the lower ground of the Dubai Mall, and Seaview Restaurant, which has sneaked into the new Fishing Harbour in Umm Suqeim 1 and quickly become the darling of Dubai’s food bloggers. In other news, we have an interview with Tom Arnel of the much hyped and loved Tom & Serg by Rayan Chabou. And finally, our favourite food-tour leader, Arva Ahmed shares her favourite dishes around Dubai from 2013 – things we can hopefully still get our hands on in 2014.

A guide to restaurant ratings, taking into account the value, quality, service and the facilities. < 5 - either horrendously overpriced or terrible. Avoid at all costs.

6-9 – Eat at only if you’re really, really desperate. 10-12 – Fairly lackluster. Nothing to talk about but a feed here won’t kill you (we think). 13-14 - Reasonable value. Not the worst in the area. 15-16 – This is a good restaurant. Worth seeking out if you’re nearby. 17-18 – Super place. Sure to impress most people. 19-20 - As good as it gets. Worth travelling for. NA – not rated (comp meal or opening tasting) 61


Featured: Eataly, Dubai Mall By Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com The ideal behind Eataly is to bring good quality Italian food to the market in a big, affordable and honest way. Adhering to old values, supporting local farmers and yet presenting it in a suitably urban manner. It’s Dubai emigration has been performed as a collaboration between Eataly Italia and Lebanon-based AZADEA Group, a mainly retail holding company that also controls a couple of dining franchises, including Paul and the Butcher Shop and Grill. It’s not tiny, with 2,000-square-meters and around 2,000 products (however the Rome venue is 15000-square-meters, and the venues in the states hover around 4000 and higher.)

Rating: 14/20* Pros: good pasta and pizza, bread, cheese, desserts and drinks. OK kids menu, interesting concept, some excellent products available. Cons: No pork or wine, expensive gourmet items, no shine on the service, sad olive tree. Price: approx. 100-180 AED per head including drinks.

I’ve seen Eataly in Italy, in all it’s prosciutto-and-chianti-filled glory. This range is part of what takes Eataly from assembly-line-department-store to something completely different. An altar to gluttony, if you will. And before visiting, I questioned Eataly Dubai’s ability to pull off the venture lacking these two vital ingredients – pork and booze.

Eataly Dubai could have applied for a pork license, but this would have alienated half their customer base, reduced their likelihood of being housed in Dubai’s flagship mall, forced them to have separate storage and kitchens, and increased costs exponentially. Selling alcohol is also no-no for Muslims, but taints with less of the dirty stick than pork does. Let’s reduce the alienation to about 10%. It would however have required a change in venue (moving to a licensed hotel or club district), and therefore may have put a serious dent in retail sales, coupled with higher costs (although rent at the Dubai Mall can’t be cheap). Unfortunate, but understandable. 62

So what have they done to make up for the gap?: Pasta – There’s an excellent (albeit brief ) offer here. Gorgeous fresh pasta in about 10 or so different forms, for consumption on the premises, or take-away. Pizza – simple, but good. Possibly a little overpriced, but done well, and quickly. Piadina is also tasty (although not really rocket science). Foccaccia upon entry looks amazing – return visit required methinks. Bread – like the Italian Eatalys, slices of bucolic bread in sealed paper bags arrive at the table with the menus. In Italy, this is not complimentary (marked on the bill as “contorni”), and cleverly allows unopened packages to


be re-used. Here, it’s free, so dig in.

And what is still working it’s way towards excellence?

Cheese – most of the cheese is imported (and very decent, but the way), but you will find some housemade scamorza on offer, which dangles prettily in bauble-form like hundreds of little presents from the ceiling.

Rosticceria – They’re trying, with some chicken wrapped in (veal) bacon, and some decent roast beef, but I think this area needs a little more attention and innovation. The Italian stores smell like you’re walking past a rotisserie food cart at the market – in the land of lamb shawarma, they need that kind of pungency to win us over.

Gelato – soft-serve gelato streams out of classic taps in 8-10 traditional flavours. It’s superb. Combines childish Mr Whippy memories with adult flavour. And if you are feeling indecisive or greedy, they let you sample the flavours before you decide on one. Drinks – Ok, so they’re not cult garage beers and wines from the fields of Emilia Romagna, but there is a great offer. The mocktail list is clever and suits broad tastes, there’s San Pellegrino sodas on offer (although unfortunately not Chinotto, which is my “drink-when-I’m-nothaving-a-drink”), and stacks of fruits and veggies ripe for juicing. Pasticceria – you’ll find this just before you exit, and so even if you think you can get away without dessert, there is a last-ditch effort to swing you. It will work. There’s some seriously amazing looking desserts in the case, including cannoli, tiramisu, biscotti, Cioccolatini, Crostata, and Zabaglione amongst other incredible things.

Books – The non-food section is small – mainly expensive homewares and a small range of books. It does not inspire the cook in one as Eataly in Italy does. Fresh Produce – Tricky, I know… Keep it local, and it’s fresh and supporting Slow Food values, but it’s not Italian. Keep it Italian, and you have food miles and freshness issues. I’m not sure how to solve the problem, but it would be nice if this were more of a one-stopshop where you could buy everything you needed for a gourmet dinner, not just the bits in jars and packets. The Istanbul Eataly apparently has a daily market – I’d like to see this done in Dubai too. And what totally misses the mark? The olive tree in the centre - It’s been alive for more years than me (one person told me 50, the other 200), and is now being shown total disrespect to what will be the end of it’s life, in the middle of an, air-conditioned 63


mall with no natural light. I’d love to see an artistic Andrea Roggi olive tree in there instead (but maybe without the nude emerging from the trunk considering where we are). Coffee – why the hell can’t you get it at the dining table? I suppose they are looking for that Venice café-bar feel, with people standing and sipping. But really, it’s not Piazza San Marco. I’m not standing for my coffee Range – Much of what you can buy from the separate departments and the shelves is not available on the menu. Considering the mission statement is “We cook what we sell and we sell what we cook”, I believe this should be expanded. So is it worth a visit? Yes, definitely for a look. Unfortunately the concept is a little diluted, with the lack of local produce (which can’t be Italian anyway), and no bridge connecting tradition and urban living like the other venues. They’ll have to work a little harder for return visits from me, but it’s early days, so let’s hope all goes well.

 

www.rotana.com 64


Featured: Seaview Restaurant, Umm Suqeim By Ishita Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com I visited Seaview for the second time today, and I’ll tell you why. It’s simply a seafood restaurant overlooking a harbor by the sea, with a menu serving fresh catch hulled to the shores daily by fishermen employed by the restaurant itself. This may sound like the most obvious of developments in cities in the world that may boast of long shorelines. Unfortunately, Dubai until now, didn’t have such a restaurant. The seafood restaurants by the beach were mostly premium restaurants and belonged to well known hotels. A few stand-alone restaurants that popped up once in a while, were mostly lined along the Jumeirah Beach Road – but none of them claimed

having their own fishing boats that brought in the fish directly from the sea to the dining table. This restaurant has a licensed fishing boat to catch fresh seasonal local Hamour, Sheri, King Fish, Mullet, Mackerel, Shrimp and Crabs, thus keeping the daily menu flexible and dependent on the fresh catch of the day. I wish all this could be enjoyed over a mug of beer or while sipping some white wine. Alas, that is not going to happen, as there is no alcohol license! Seaview is a brand new restaurant – it is not even two months old. On my first visit here, I arrived in my full capacity – two kids and a group of visiting houseguests.

Rating: 16/20* Pros: Simple, fuss free restaurant serving fresh local catch. Varied menu (including chicken and veg options), water views, easy parking Cons: Tricky to find, unlicensed (no alcohol) Price: approx. 100AED per person including drinks. Phone: +971 4 333 5552 Umm Suqeim 1 Fishing Harbour www.seaviewrestaurant.ae

Most of them had seen Dubai in its full glory, having already ticked off all the things to do and places to visit. We wanted a restaurant which served good seafood, was different from the expensive branded or popular joints, haven’t been visited before by us (the Dubai residents who have managed to visit most of the places a multiple times accompanying guests) and which would calm our senses without making a hole in our pockets. Seaview restaurant fitted our criterion perfectly. After our initial gasps of ooohs and aaahhs following the first glimpse of the panoramic view of the fishing 65


marina, we chose to sit on the terrace outside. Barely a few meters away from the water, the December chill in the air soon gave into a warm welcoming space with the friendly staff ushering us in and settling us down around our table. A few minutes into the menu and I realized that I couldn’t categorize this restaurant according to a particular cuisine type. Although the menu wasn’t too elaborate, it had been thoughtfully created with a nice medley of Arabic, Continental, Indian, Malaysian and African flavours. Hence, a Peri Peri Sheri vied for equal attention as an Achari Machi Tikka (Fish Tikka prepared with pickled flavored spices in the North Indian style) or a Malay Steamed Sea bream competed with the Prawn Caprese. From the fresh catch that’s on display inside the restaurant, we could choose the styles in which we wanted our fish to be prepared. For our Main Course we could choose between grills, Arabic BBQ style, Indian Tandoori style or fried or steamed. Interestingly, the catch of the day is priced ‘per piece’ and not sold by weight. We chose a grilled Hamour in the Arabic BBQ style), a grilled Sheri to be prepared in the North Indian Tandoori style, a fried Sheri and one of the signature dishes of the restaurant, namely Seaview Prawns.

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While we waited for the Main Course to arrive, we munched into a delightful array of seafood Starters. A

plate of crispy breaded Calamari rings preceded a plate of Jhinga Tandoori – Prawns marinated in mild Tandoori Masala and cooked in a traditional Tandoor or a clay oven. This was complemented by a fatoush Salad, and set the tone for a brilliant afternoon spread that was about to be unfurled soon. By the time our Main Course arrived, the waterfront was abuzz with seagulls encircling the anchored fishing boats and although the sun was yet to set in the horizon, the blue in the sky had started to pale in its color. A slightly tangy sauce with chopped tomatoes, onions and Arabic spices covered the grilled Hamour. Hot and flaky, the flesh seemed to glide off the bones. A plate of Majboos Rice and the Lemon and Herb Rice were perfect accompaniments to our fish preparations. The winner however had to be the Seaview Prawns – a brilliant adaptation of the Mangalorean Prawn Ghee Roast. Ghee Roast is one of the most popular delicacies of Mangalore (a coastal town in South Indian state of Karnataka) that has been popularized by the Bunt community of Kundapur. The finishing act in this preparation comes from the mild aroma of clarified butter – the Ghee and as I bit into the soft, juicy and spiced prawns, I could imagine myself coming back to the restaurant a couple of times only to taste this particular preparation. On our second visit, apart from ordering the Seaview


Prawns, we tried two other signature dishes – the Malay Steamed Sea bream and the Peri Peri Sheri – both of them are definitely “must-trys”. Do try their home made sauces that are served along with them – the tangy Tomato, Honey Mustard and the Roasted Lemon with my preferred sauce being the tangy Tomato. Staff recommended that we order a few Seafood Roti Canai as well as a plate of regular Roti Canai (a type of Indian influenced flat bread found in Malaysia and Indonesia and is very similar to the Indian Kerala Porotta) to dig in with the Seaview Prawns. Soft and slightly crispy, they were perfect to scoop out the juicy and buttery prawns off its plate. Staff seemed pretty well versed with the menu and confidently guided us as we placed our orders, without

succumbing to call upon the senior staff – a thing that I have got used to in most restaurants in Dubai, especially if it’s a new restaurant. This is indeed a welcome change indeed and lets the diner discover a menu that he/she is not conversant with. You can sign off your meal on a sweet note too with a Crème Brûlée or a Blueberry Cheese cake, which my companions declared as not too sweet and nice (I didn’t want to dilute my seafood experience so soon with a dessert). The only dish that I wouldn’t recommend is the fried Sheri. I don’t know whether it was the chill in the air or the long time that had elapsed between the time the fish was served initially and the time we actually ended up eating, it had turned a bit too crispy and very cold.

 

www.rotana.com 67


Fine Dining (licensed) Brunch: Yuan By Ishita Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com I just came back from a Friday Yum Cha brunch at Yuan in Atlantis and I am still thinking about it. For 188 AED, one can taste an unlimited amount of the dim sum offered in the Menu, plus 4 more pages doling out a selection of steamed items, wok-fried/deep-fried items and salads, rice/noodles and of course some traditional Chinese desserts. Yuan unmasked itself (a term that had been used in itszlaunch propaganda) in October last year and although I was unable to attend the launch, I heard that the restaurant opened with a lot of aplomb. My first dinner at Yuan was marked with a few hits and misses, although I was floored with the interiors. Apart from an Oriental inner courtyard, designed using Chinese elements of harmony and balance, there was the Principal House, reminiscent of dining halls built for Chinese nobility. Diners can also opt to relax in private dining rooms whilst enjoying a menu that has been created with a blend of traditional Szechuan cuisine and diverse flavors of the Sichuan province. Yum Cha is a traditional Chinese style morning tea. Also known as Ban ming, this Chinese style of drinking morning or afternoon tea is accompanied by eating dim sum dishes. In Yuan, a Yum Cha session is drenched with the finest selections of free flow teas (and also non-alcoholic beverages). A traditional Yum Cha not only focuses on drinking of tea but also on the range of small dishes served (which are collectively known as dim sum) either with breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. It is customary to share the dim sum dishes among everyone seating at the same table. Each type of dim sum is served delicately in bamboo boxes like wrapped up gifts. Each time we lifted the lid of a box, along with the steam, a surprise dumpling was revealed. Instead of choosing from the menu, we let the staff free – a wise decision, I must say, considering the long list of interesting options listed in the menu. Here’s an account of those dishes that can’t be missed at any cost. The first dish that we tasted was the Steamed Sticky rice with shrimps. Wrapped in lotus leaf – the rice was delicate, flavorful, really soft and sticky. This was followed by the Steamed Seafood Tart and the traditional steamed buns – a version of the famous char siu baau, but made with Chicken – the Steamed Barbecued Chicken Bun. Another baked version of the same – Baked Barbecued Chicken Bun was served later on (I 68

Rating 16/20 Pros: courteous staff, many vegetarian options Cons: No kids under 4 years Price: 188 AED for brunch including non-alcoholic drinks


liked the latter much more). One of my favorites of the day would have to be the deep fried King Crab Meat and Taro Puff – the crispy fried Taro Puff probably not being the main reason behind salivating on this dish, but the deliciously moist crab filling inside. Don’t miss the fashionable Crispy Duck and Pumpkin Puff looking like mini pumpkins. The steamed Custard Pumpkin Bun could also be served as a dessert – but I prefer to order this one as a starter, because, for a dish to be categorised into a dessert, my Bengali genes demand more sweetness.

Sorbet, Sweet Milk Snow – I had tasted it in my earlier visit and I just realised that I completely forgot about it this time – another reason to come back to Yuan! With the 2/3rds of the menu remaining untasted, I am going to come back for a Yum Cha brunch very soon. Next time, I have to be bring a bigger appetite and the family, because although Yuan is positioning itself as a lounge-cum-fine-dining outlet sans children, the Yum Cha brunch does permit kids above 4 years.

We also ordered two non- dim sum dishes – San Bei Chicken Clay Pot with sweet Basil, Chili and Spring Onion and the Crispy Chicken Salad with Pomelo in Mango Plum Dressing. The sweet fragrance of Basil in the San Bei Chicken Clay Pot fooled us initially and made us forget that the other ingredient that had been mentioned in the dish was Chili – until the subtle spiciness hit the nostrils. And the Pomelo Salad reminded me of a traditional haute couture French Salad being Orientalized perfectly! Although we didn’t have any dessert at Yuan this time, please don’t miss out a dessert with this peculiar name – Textures of Corn: Custard, Crumble, Crisp, Coconut

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Fine Dining (licensed): Toko Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com Toko, as a Sydney-born brand, have been sating the desires of the chic elite of the chi-chi inner suburbs for 7 years. It’s not the most famous of Sydney’s Asian restaurants, but they’ve had consistently laudatory reviews over many forms over that time, keeping them well in the upper echelon, and attracting notice from overseas. The Bulldozer Group have brought them into Dubai, joining their fairly impressive lineup which includes Movida nightclub and the soon to open Sass Cafe.

Rating: 17/20* Pros: food, service, decor, location, music, al fresco area are all pretty darn good. Cons: Not cheap – but reasonable in respect to competition. Not enough wines by the glass. Price: approx 400-600 AED per head including drinks.

It’s yet another Japanese Izakaya/lounge/restaurant concept. Toko is definitely not the first of it’s kind in Dubai, but it’s a worthy contender to the others. The cavernous interior of these many other Dubai lounge/ restaurant venues is replaced here with low ceilings, warm wood, modern textures and private nooks all over. It’s possible to be in this restaurant with 300 other people, and still feel cozied-up with your partner. It has the feel of a Japanese mansion, with rooms and moods – you just have to find your favourite corner of the castle. Music is dance-worthy but far from intrusive, allowing conversation with companions – always a plus. The exterior, with it’s artsy umbrella-filled roofing, lush plantings and many levels rivals Hakkasan’s superb al-fresco offer, and with it’s premium location on the other (and more prominent) Boulevard, Toko will probably see more partaking of it’s green space in the future. The service is exceptional – many will also enjoy the amicable and easy attitude of the staff, which, partnered with some excellent menu knowledge and passion for the brand, ensures diners get the most of the offer. I only hope that after the whirlwind of opening, Toko Dubai will retain some of it’s Australian staff an not move in a cheaper workforce and leave them largely untrained as many other Dubai venues seem to do. Time will tell. The wine list is short but well selected, with some interest I rarely find in Dubai. Perhaps there are some risks that may not prove worthy in this conservative market, but I for one thoroughly enjoyed finding and drinking some dry German Riesling and Ribera del Duero by the glass. The cocktail list is likewise rousing, and although not quite at the level of Okku’s offer, was enough to steer me away from a Champagne aperitif and towards a “Dark and Stormy” aged rum and fresh ginger mix that was an ideal match to our starters. 70

Food is interesting, varied and delicious. Sometimes it’s also particularly innovative – a finger-lickingly-good quail and bonito dish came with a blossom-branch constructed of fried soba noodles and tempura crumbs. But there’s also some attuned standards on the menu – the beef tataki was tender and juicy, and served with a perfect mix of micro herbs and sprouts and some crisp fried garlic that had aromas that almost made me feel like I was walking through a field with the unfortunate cow I was eating. There’s also some dishes and ingredients that seem distinctly un-Japanese – a tomato and quinoa salad with sesame tofu cream came highly recommended, and provided a lovely contrast to other dishes. Some robata-grilled avocado with lime was


simple yet well executed. It ensures all diners will find something on this menu, even those who would swear they don’t like Japanese food. Desserts are often simple and formulaic in Japanese restaurants, yuzu and green tea seeming to be the only flavours available. Here though, there’s a large selection, including items flavoured with macadamia, rhubarb, whiskey and honey – combining Japanese recipes with Australian ingredients and trends, and although forming a dessert listing that is definitely nontraditional, provides temptations for all tastes. We opted for the bento box dessert, which could have fed four, but was demolished between the two of us, and included

exactly ripe exotic fruits, some stupendous chocolate and hazelnut fondant, coconut panacotta as soft as a cloud, and a rhubarb crumble that would make my granny weep. It’s the first time in a few years where I can say I have a premier pick in Dubai with confidence. I am however looking forward to returning after their opening buzz has subsided. Hopefully they can continue this remarkable venture – that’s the only crack I can see that may flaw Toko. They have debuted so soundly, I fear a dip in their future. Perhaps I should take heed of the new year, resolve to be more optimistic, and just raise my glass to a job well done.

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Casual Dining (licensed): Qbara By Samantha Wood www.foodiva.net I am drawn back to this new hotspot, not just for cocktails at the buzzing bar, but the lure of dinner in a hugely atmospheric restaurant. We’re at a new chef-driven and homegrown restaurant Q’bara at Wafi’s Fort Complex in the location previously occupied by dreaded Planet Hollywood. Chef-driven because this spot is ex-Zuma and Ivy chef Colin Clague’s new baby. Looks like we have a little bit of a trend going on in Dubai for concepts where chefs are becoming restaurateurs like with another newbie Atelier M. Funky, rotating, life-size projections on a patchwork of handcarved timber panels form the backdrop to the bar, whilst communal tables overlook the open-plan kitchen. A few steps up sits the restaurant with semi-circular banquettes and much-coveted round tables. Upstairs is another bar and lounge area for smokers, and food too from the main menu should you wish. The design influence throughout décor (and food) is Arabesque – vibrant, mysterious and so, so sexy. At 9pm on a Friday evening it’s buzzing with Emiratis and western and Arab expats, but certainly not full. The Moroccan margaritas with preserved lemon have such a tantalising tart kick you’d be hard pushed to ever revert to an original concoction. And at AED55 a pop, they’re good value. These sips pave the way for a menu divided into small bites, soups, salads and mains, with every single dish infused with Middle Eastern ingredients. But don’t venture to Q’bara half-expecting traditional Arabic fare, here’s a taster of what’s on the menu.

 

Crushed butter beans brimming with fetta and zaatar. I am scooping up spoonful after spoonful, forgetting the wholemeal flatbread – on its own…pure soul food. Crab and chermoula cakes with preserved lime. A twist on a traditional crab patty using a coriander-based Moroccan marinade as a filling with the crab. Lobster kibbeh and avocado labneh. Simple but super smart adaptation of a Levantine snack – ditch the lamb or beef mince and replace with generous chunks of lobster. And then dunk in a smooth avocado labneh (strained yoghurt) dip. Poussin marinated with sumac, onions and dried yoghurt on thick buttery flatbread. Colin’s spinned the rich Palestinian chicken musakhan dish making it lighter with baby chicken. Sea bass topped with walnut and herb crumbs and lashings of tahini and yoghurt. The star of the night. So many differing textures here – flaky, crunchy, silky and smooth. Chips cooked in duck fat and that wonderfully spicy Moroccan harissa paste. A side order, and sadly the one disappointment of our meal – undercooked. Shame as I spot these on the 72

Rating: 18/20 Pros: Pretty much ticks every box in the dining out experience – food, service, price, décor and location but above all, oozes atmosphere. Cons: A let-down dish, overt upselling Pricing: 250-300 AED per head including drinks


menu immediately. Mille feuille of dark chocolate with toasted sesame ice cream. Lastly a dessert to share, but mostly devoured by my dining companion. Perhaps one day I will either leave room for dessert or wake up with a sweeter tooth. Slithers of dark chocolate layered with an even richer decadent mousse, and the stark simplicity of toasted sesame flavoured ice cream on the side. Like the cocktails, the menu is extremely well priced with our dishes ranging from AED32 for small bites to AED145 for mains. Service is spot on – friendly and knowledgeable but the up-selling is a tad too obvious. Heads up, please take this review with a pinch of salt as FooDiva was recognised. For want of a much-overused word, Q’bara’s cuisine is fusion, spinning traditional Arabic ingredients and dishes rather cleverly serving food that is lighter and…well Arabesque. Could Q’bara finally fill the gap in Dubai for a fine dining restaurant that showcases a passion for the region’s food culture with innovative cuisine? I think so. Where else in Dubai can you both wine and dine on food creatively influenced by the region we live in? For now only here, and clearly with the success of neighbouring Tomo at Raffles, Wafi is undergoing a little bit of a dining revolution. I have to say I’ve not heard one negative report yet, so let’s hope Q’bara maintains its consistency.

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Casual Dining (licensed): Maison Mathis By Rubeen Rashik www.stopdietin.wordpress.com

Rating NA (menu tasting)

A new European-styled restaurant has opened at Arabian Ranches, attached to the golf club. It’s the first Belgian all day dining concept to arrive in Dubai. The Maison Mathis vision is to give to you an exposure to their local food culture in Belgium. The inside of Maison Mathis is as elegant as the outside with a stunning white on white interior with a hand laid tile floor in the Belgian tradition and several distinct seating areas. You can opt to dine inside or outside facing the beautiful golf view overlooking the 9th hole of the neighboring golf course. Their club chairs were big and comfortable. They’ve got a lovely play area for your kids too.

Pros: big comfy chairs, kids play area, good al-fresco, great bread, beef and coffee Cons: tricky to find for an non-ranches resident Pricing: 120-250 AED per head, including drinks

They put lot of emphasize on their breads, and you will find their bakery on the right as soon as you enter Maison Mathis. Their breads are all fresh and homemade. They strongly believe they make the best breads in town and they make different types of it so don’t forget to try them while you are there. So here I am at the official opening night of Maison Mathis at Arabian Ranches. They were basically showing off their cooking skills and quality by indulging us in little forms of their delicious menu. There were too many items I tried that night and it was difficult for me to recall names of all of it. From many of their items I ate, some of them really caught my attention like the quality of beef in the beef burger was fantastic. Really good beef and even my friend who came along enjoyed it very much. Their smoked duck with beetroot and nuts was lovely too. I never would have ordered by name but once I tried it, I kept hunting for it in the crowd. I didn’t find a vast amount of fish as such but they did have some seafood items such as salmon, prawns and oysters. The European shrimp cocktail with grey shrimp was really tasty from that list. You can also buy their pastries from their bakery shop (The same place where you find their breads). I enjoyed all of it, nothing to complaint about. I ate many of their Mini chocolate brownies, fruit tarts and éclairs as I couldn’t settle with just one of each. The official opening of Maison Mathis was held at night so the beautiful golf view got covered. Hence I revisited Maison Mathis once again on Friday so I could show you some of their green vistas from the restaurant. What I noticed was that the restaurant was mainly filled by golfers at that time and their kids enjoying the swing and slide while some of them were actually playing golf very seriously. If you don’t play golf (like me), you might just be inspired to start playing golf once you eat here regularly! 74


Casual Dining (unlicensed): Sapori di Bice Tala Soubra www.forkitoverdubai.com

oil and slices of mushroom, both of which I feel there is no need for.

One of the trickiest things for a high-end restaurant to do is successfully is open a casual dining spin off. It’s difficult to position the casual restaurant in a way that won’t cannibalize the high-end restaurant’s business, i.e. offering a more laid-back experience at a more casual price tag. The price tag can’t be too casual or else people will start to question the sensibility of margins at the high-end restaurant. It’s a fine balance that I believe Sapori di Bice has hit.

My specially prepared spaghetti arrives, I push away the Carpaccio to make room. Swirling my fork in the pasta, I create the perfect tightly wrapped bite sprinkle some Parmesan and take it all in. El dente, well seasoned and comfortable, everything a bolognaise should be.

Sapori di Bice, as the name indicates, is a casual restaurant from the Bice restaurant group. Bice, once a staple in the fine dining restaurant scene in Dubai, saw an unfortunately decline from the expatriation of heavy weight talent from them to Roberto’s. Bice seems to have faded away like red lipstick after a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. A remanence is there, a pink shade if you will, but nothing compared to the bold red in it’s heyday. Its Friday afternoon and a friend and I are walking around City Walk on Wasel Road, investigating the mushrooming of newly opened shops and restaurants. Shisha – pass - more shisha for heavens sakes – pass – desserts – pass - soulless - pass, pass and pass. And then in a flutter of Italian being spoken around the corner, I pear my head over and the white space draws me in. After working up an appetite and spending a healthy amount on a new skirt in Sauce in the Hood, comfort food is in order. Beef Carpaccio, spaghetti bolognaise and a café gelato for dessert please.

A café gelato, maybe one of the best flavors created by man. Velvet-ty and lovely and with each spoonful my troubles and spending woes wash away. A casual Italian that is not in a mall or in a Hotel, how lovely… Would I make a trip to City Walk for a meal at Sapori Di Bice? I’m not sure, but if I’m shopping or walking around that area, that’s the only place I’d sit down for a bite.

Rating: 15/20 Pros: A casual Italian eatery that is not in a mall or in a hotel. The service is wonderful. Cons: Over-use of truffle oil, a little on the pricey side. Pricing: 90-150 AED per head including drinks

My surprisingly cute Italian waiter (attention, cute waiter in Dubai translates into an oxymoron) responds with, “Right away Miss, the spaghetti Bolognese is not on the menu but I will ask the chef to prepare something special for you.” Could it be? I order something not on the menu and wasn’t greeted with a deer-caught-in-theheadlights expression from my waiter? No! A smile and a thank you. My beef Carpaccio arrives with a drizzle of truffle 75


Cheap Eats: Bunny’s Tandoori Debbie Steedman www.therealgeordiearmani. com Bunny’s Tandoori opened its doors in Jumeirah Lake Towers a couple of months ago. It seems JLT is a real hot spot for restaurants these days, and I wasted no time in seeing what they had on offer. I know you will all be asking – “why Bunny’s?” Well there was no bunny girl involved. The owner, Hussain, bought a restaurant back in the UK in 1975 that was already called “Bunny’s”. He decided to keep the name, and now over 40 years later, Hussain and his family have brought their Bunny to Dubai. The restaurant is very spacious and beautifully decorated. I fell in love with the green door, which you will see when you visit. In the winter there is a nice al fresco dining area, which has great lake views. The menu is huge, with a good mix of traditional Indian food alongside some of the great British Indian dishes that we have adopted and love. Sections are designated for each meat and seafood, along with various special dishes. I had already had a good poke through the online version of the menu so I knew what I wanted. One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Bunny’s was for their prawn cocktail. When I was growing up back in South Shields (we are used to a good curry!) all the curry houses had a prawn cocktail on the menu. It ‘s the dish that many new Brits borrowed to compliment their menu and appeal to local tastes. I was absolutely delighted when my prawn cocktail appeared (circa late 70′s) with a wedge of lemon on the 76

top. Brought back some memories of the Momotaj in Ocean Road. I also opted for the chicken Jalfrezi and my partner in dining crime chose the lamb Roghan. Both dishes were absolutely superb. The sauce that came with my Jalfrezi was rich and creamy, and the lamb in the Roghan was beautifully tender. We threw some pilau rice and naan into the mix. I spotted something else on the menu that I definitely want to try for next time - lamb shanks Niari style, bring it on! We were very happy bunnies. We were even happier when the bill turned up at a whopping 112 AED, which included three soft drinks, making it extremely good value for money. I promise you there is something for everyone at this great new little curry house in JLT.

Rating: 15/20* Pros: Incredible value, very good food, large menu, spacious interior, al fresco area Cons: in the minefield of JLT but don’t let that stop you Price: approx 40-60 AED per head including soft drinks.


Cheap Eats: Mahesh Lunch Home By Rupal Bhatikar www.foodienfabulous.com Ever since I first saw the opening shortly board for Mahesh Lunch Home in Dubai, I’ve wanted to try it out. Our family and friends from Mumbai rave about their Crabs and other seafood specialties. So when I informed M, that I had been selected as one of their lucky fans to sample their offering during the soft opening, both of us were rather keen on taking our seafood-cravers appetite and eat our way through their menu. The restaurant itself is easy to find, located in the densely populated restaurant district of the foodie haven that is Karama. The interiors are plush and apt for family style dining.

Rating: NA (Menu sampling) Pros: fresh seafood, good service, variety of menu options, location Cons: not licensed, some gaps in the menu Price: approx 40-60 AED per head including soft drinks. Phone: +971 4 3968087 Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Street, Al Karama Map link www.maheshlunchhome.com

M and I started off with – the Carribean Twist with tender coconut was subtle and refreshing. The Strawberry Mojito was great too – I especially enjoyed the taste of Tulsi leaves (Indian Basil) muddled into it. We browsed through their extremely exhaustive menu while sipping on our cocktails and decided to stick to their seafood specialties for the night. Our first entree was their Crab Butter Garlic – succulent steamed crabmeat was cooked to perfection. The garlic was crisp, without being bitter. It is easy to see how this is one of their most popular dishes. We followed the crab with the tawa- fried Bassa served with a side salad, lime wedges and Pudina chutney. It was my first time trying this fleshy white fish and the MHL spicy marinade coating the fish was the perfect way to start. Our server helped us in recommending my favourite dish of the night – Pomfret Malipuram. This green preparation of coriander, curry leaves and green chillies went beautifully with the sweet flesh of the pomfret – perfect for the tandoori rotis we ordered alongside. We missed having Phulkas/Rotis or even Bhakris (traditional Maharashtrain home-style flat bread) and I’m hoping this is something they would add to their menu in the future.

previous experiences with this dish, more so compared to the way us Goans make it. But the MLH recipe worked as just as well, if not better, with the clams.

A nice contrast to the lightness of the pomfret, was the earthiness of the dry clam suke, Mangalorean style. Its consistency was different to my

As we dragged our feet out of the restaurant in our seafood coma, I knew I was going to come back, and I’m excited at the prospect of more frequent visits! 77


Cafes: Illy Café Esspressamente By Rubeen Rashik www.stopdietin.wordpress.com Ahh… my first visit to Illy cafe. Illy is an Italian coffee and the brand seems to be an expert in making espresso. One thing I really liked about their menu was that it catered well for part time coffee drinkers like me. They dedicate each page for a different coffee, with crystal clear picture, description and pricing.

 

Rating: 14/20* Pros: Super menu design, great tiramisu, crockery sales Cons: some coffee options not as flavoursome as hoped Price: approx 30-60 AED per head for coffee and cake. No Phone number provided Dubai Festival City

Tasted: Marocchino caldo: shot glass with a bottom layer of hot chocolate, Illy espresso dusted with cocoa, topped with hot frothed milk: beautiful and delicious. I first went layer by layer to see what each one tasted like. Once I stirred the drink and took a sip I realized their espresso shot was quite powerful, and could counter the hot chocolate as well as the milk. I tasted more espresso Tiramisu with Illy espresso: The intense, delicate and unique taste of the Italian homemade tradition. It comes sprinkled with chocolate and together with Illy espresso. The tiramisu is an Italian special, and the most attractive looking dessert from their row of pastries. It came with an espresso, which we poured on top, and then we waited for 5 minutes or so for the tiramisu to absorb it. Tiramisu is generally not very sweet, and if you love coffee then you should enjoy this dessert even more. Affogato: Thick, dense cream will slowly melt into a shot of Illy espresso covered with whipped cream and cocoa powder. My earlier drink was dominated by illy espresso but this drink was completely different. It’s a cold coffee and I enjoyed every sip. The taste was new and very rejuvenating. To me it was more like having a cold dessert than coffee. A must-try. Chocolate Fondant: To me the next good-looking dessert after their Tiramisu. I did not regret it one inch. The cold ice cream on top and the hot chocolate sauce on the inside of this wall… wow what a joy it was! All the Esspressamente silverwares, chairs, cups, 78

glasses used were quality products. Their spoons were a pleasure to hold and came from a designer cutlery set. They also sell everything to make brilliant coffee at home, including coffee machines with mind blowing design, coffee cups, plates (part of the “Illy Art Collection” designed by renowned contemporary artist Kiki Smith) accessories, and more.


Interviews: Tom Arnel of Tom&Serg  

By Rayan Chabou www.thebohemianchronicles.com Tom Arnel and Sergio Lopez are the creators of Tom&Serg, the new urban eatery in Al Quoz, Dubai. After searching online for new cafes/eateries/ restaurants in Dubai, I stumbled upon Tom&Serg, and when you continue reading this post, it will be very clear too you why I became so interested in this place. I am a firm believer that a good concept goes a long way, and trust me when I tell you, these 2 are masterminds at what they do. From the smallest of details in the design, or the style of writing in the menu, this place has remained loyal to their urban/industrial concept.

-Where did the idea of Tom&Serg originate from? Serg and I met back in 2010. It didn’t take long to realize we both had similar passions for quality food and coffee. Back then and still to this day, the Dubai café scene is virtually non-existent. Our frustrations with malls, franchises and hotels serving mass-produced, robotic food and service eventually became overwhelming. This, mixed with the inability to consume the amazing food and coffee we are both blessed to have access to in our home countries eventually led to the idea of ‘doing it ourselves’. So, three years later, here we are. -What can we expect from Tom&Serg? Simplicity. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just want to provide the people of Dubai something they can relate to with a bit of face and personality for breakfast and lunch. The food and coffee menu is simple and short, yet precise. Its designed to change

regularly based on however Serg and I are feeling. Restaurants promoting seasonal produce here in Dubai just doesn’t fly with us as it’s just an excuse for people to change menus only 2 -4 times a year. As 99% of produce in Dubai is imported, ingredients are always in season, somewhere. So we go on mood, and it um, well, makes things interesting. -Why come to Dubai, and why Al Quoz? We love this city. We don’t love its cafes. There is an obvious gap in the market for that place you can go every day to have a quality and affordable gourmet breakfast or lunch, that morning coffee, have a meeting or to just simply sit and read a newspaper. The location needed to be central and it needed to be approachable for everyone, everyday. The location is a little off the beaten track, but that is intentional. We wanted to place ourselves as far away from the glitz and glamour you can get, but still being 79


are a mixture of modern industrial and minimalist grunge, so think lots of concrete, wood, steel, corrugated iron, butchers brick and exposed wiring. It features an open show kitchen, 2 coffee bars, a chef’s table, a library and eventually, a cooking school.

in central Dubai and to have great access and parking from SZR. -Tell us about your decor choice? The space (a warehouse showroom) is very large and seats over 180 people split between a mezzanine and the ground floor. It needed to represent the area we are in (al Quoz industrial 1) and reflect a sort of rebellion against the big money franchises. The Melbourne minimalist café movement inspires the design and we’ve been true to that. Our brand developer, Balcony 8 and our interior designers H2R had major difficulty finding the right materials, but we got there!

-Any Signature dishes we should look out for? One of our breakfast dishes: Poached eggs on toast with crushed avocado, crispy veal bacon, tomato, black bean and lime salsa. Its killer, Hands down! -Any other venues (future plans)? Yeah, Serg and I have plans to go local. We dream to set up specialty coffee bars and cafes across the UAE. But we never want to franchise or grow mushrooms.

It has high ceilings and lots of natural light. The interiors

 

 

 

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Best of: Flavours in Dubai in 2013 Arva Ahmed www.iliveinafryingpan.com The litmus test of a memorable meal is when months later, you can still mentally savour it’s flavours. Thinking about that slow-cooked lamb in tomato broth, tender grains of rice tossed with dill or dumplings, pudgy with curried chicken and coriander, your stomach tugs you back to a meal moment in time. It’s that flavour-defining moment when a dish climbs into the hammock of your palette and decides it will stay comfortably snug in your taste memories for months, or even years, to come. Here are some of my best meal moments in the UAE from 2013. Being an exploratory eater, it’s rare for me to visit a restaurant more than once. I quickly get distracted and drift to the next adventure even if I’ve sworn by the flavours of the last one. I’m hoping that some of you have visited these places and if you have, then tell me: are these flavours still making love to taste buds the same way they did to mine?

1. Haneeth at Cabrito The thought of this fleshy mass of pink lamb meat bunched up under a tight skin sealed with fat and flecked with cumin – the thought of it simply makes me dizzy with longing. If I could request RTA to construct one uninterrupted suspension bridge from my apartment to any point of Dubai, a one-way to Cabrito would be it. 2. Vada Sambar at Woodlands I’ll admit to being a late bloomer on the Vada Sambar scene. But after sinking my jaws into the deep-fried vadas at Woodlands and feeling the lentil innards bounce off my teeth with gravity-defying fluffiness, I’m a ready convert. I’d even go so far as to say that if any Karama-based vada worth its crunch were looking to martyr itself, there’d be nothing more noble than drowning in the enticingly aromatic sambar that Woodlands spoons out, probably by the gallons every day.

 

Until the Farmer’s Market on the Terrace reopened this fall, I’ve never had a worthy reason to drag myself out of bed on a Friday morning. But for the past month, I’ve slipped out of my Friday morning stupor to find myself lost in a new form of hallucinatory haze: sausages crackling on the grill, warm English muffins, soft pillowy buns, strips of lamb, pickled eggs. And maybe a mango-yogurt drizzle to glue all the ingredients together. If it weren’t such a crime to sleepwalk straight from my bed to the market in PJs and raggedy hair, I’d have committed that indiscretion by now.

3. Breakfast Sandwiches at Baker & Spice, the Farmer’s Market 81


4. The Mezze at Al Nasma

your tastebuds.

It took me a second visit to Al Nasma to realize that this is one of those rare, rare places that I’d gladly visit again – even if I had to trade off a new restaurant exploration opportunity in the bargain. I’m won over by the unpretentious, simple and fresh mezze: the baba ghanouj, hummus, fattoush and tabbouleh, each made doubly flavourful with fruity olive oil and a resident beach breeze. The food, the ambiance and generous Mustafa do wonders in shushing the daily harrowed noise in your head until you can hear nothing more than a gentle seaside murmur. The chicken soup is truly one for the soul, and best paired with an order of grilled khubuz smeared with a lip-smackingly salty and bitter chilli paste that makes even spice wimps…err hum…go back for seconds.

[For my non-desi friends, sorry for the Hindi verbal deviations. Adda = haunt/ hangout; thamacha = slap, but one only rendered effective if given ‘tight.’ Please refer to latest Bollywood release for a blow-by-blow lesson in tight thamacha delivery.]

5. Chappli Kabab at Al Ashifah Cafeteria Chappli Kabab made by the white-bearded grandpa at this run-down bachelor adda in Sharjah is not just one of my best kabab experiences in 2013 – but one of my best kabab experiences ever. Seriously. Juicy nubs of beef, tomato and masala are squished together and flattened into discs that taste invincibly perfect – until they are made impossibly perfectER with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Paired with a hot tandoori naan for a paltry price of 5 dirhams, this kabab delivers a tight thamacha in the face of other mediocre kababs that dare to tempt

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6. Tahina roll at Zurna Just thinking about Zurna’s tahina roll makes me realize how incomplete my breakfasts have been since June. How have I drowned cups of steaming coffee without a crusty roll dotted with peppery Nigella seeds? How have I laboured through bowls of dreary cereal when I could have been unwinding chewy tahini-coated threads coiled under a crunchy baked crust? How have I said good morning to people, when the good was miles away, sitting in sweet nutty indulgent silence at the back of Zurna’s tiny dining room? I don’t know how. 7. Baghali Polo at Iran Zamin It’s nothing short of tragic that I’ve lived steps away from Iran Zamin for over twenty years, and I’d never tried their Baghali Polo with Maahicheh until last March. The lamb shank has such tender sophistication that it doesn’t do a clumsy ‘fall off the bone,’ but an exponentially more magical ‘glide.’ The only possible accompaniment that can touché the pink juicy lamb is the platter


of perfectly-fluffed rice grains, tossed with melted butter, dill and broad beans. I’m grateful that the lukewarm service and ear-deafening music are reasons to stay away, else I’d have to bury this blog for good and start one called 365daysofbaghalipolo.com. 8. Iskender Kabab at Yildiz Saray Hunks of soft chewy lamb and beef kabab, unctuous tomato gravy, dollop of creamy yogurt, spongy cubes of pide plump with gravy, and an intoxicating drizzle of melted butter. I beg you to refrain from ordering this dish - unless you’re comfortable with regressing into a crazed over-stimulated gorilla with butter-gravy drool on every available orifice of your face. You can be sure that I’ll be hitting the rewind button on these dishes in 2014. Let’s plan to make 2014 a milestone year of local food discoveries – hidden gems, old-time classics, atmospheric backstreets, and mountains and mountains of those glorious chappli kababs. Happy New Year foodie soul mates, I can’t wait to dip my finger into the pot of un-tasted honey that’s going to be 2014.

Editor’s note: Arva is not only a blogger but the owner of Frying Pan Adventures - Dubai’s first and greatest food tour group. She spends her life wandering the back streets of old Dubai, so she’s got some authority when providing a “best of” from this area. www.fryingpanadventures.com

 

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#Foodporn: or should we call it “drinkporn”?

 

Masala Chai Shiyam captures the Calicur Special Podi Chaya Tea, with the dust left in the glass. Allow the fragrant tea to settle, for the perfect sip.

 

Masala Chai is a flavoured tea made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices - cardamom, ginger, cloves and the other common spices, also herbs – Basil. Traditionally, prepared by decoction, nowadays ready-made tea bags and instant powdered mixtures and concentrates are easily available in supermarkets.

Need a recipe? Shaikha Al Ali not only tinkers with the recipe for Karak Chai by adding Vanilla Beans to it, but has also developed a Karak Chai Ice cream! www.whenshaikhacooks.com 84

Heard of the Chai Karak? This is the integration of the Indian and Pakistani Masala Chai into the local Khaleeji tradition. Every Emirati family today has its unique way of making the Karak. The cafeterias dotting the Jumeirah Road are very popular Chai Karak joints and are open until early morning hours. Here, you will find a beeline of cars lining up and honking away at night, demanding the most fragrant and creamy Karaks. A tray filled with small cups of Karak Chai, is then duly delivered to the thirsty consumer who has been waiting all this while, in the comforts of his or her car – this has evolved almost into a Dubai tradition. Want Masala Chai? Cha Cha Chai, Bombay Chowpatty, Filly Cafe - most of these joints have several branches across the city. My personal favourite is the Filly Café at Mankhool and after midnight. The place absolutely throbs. Don’t miss their Saffron Tea as well! Want some Chai Karak? You can stop at any small cafeteria around the city, specially in Jumeirah. Or, you could drive down to the tiny Modern Cafeteria in Hor Al Anz – people drive all the way from other Emirates to sip the Chai Karak!


Bel ki Sherbat Wood Apple Drink

Aam Pana Green Mango Drink. With roasted cumin powder and kala Namak or Black Salt. It’s a smoky brew with a sweet scent.

A classic Indian summer drink from Jamshedpur

Ranchi, India

 

Filter Coffee Filter Coffee is a sweet milky coffee made from dark roasted coffee beans and chicory and is very popular in the Southern states of India, namely Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. There is a special technique of preparing the Filter Coffee and is served hot and frothy in a traditional steel tumbler.

Filter Coffee – slow roasted Arabica coffee beans, from Coorg in Mysore, India.

Want Filter Coffee? I wake up to the aroma of Filter Coffee, most Fridays. Courtesy, the home delivery service from Appa Kadai. Sure, they taste better, prepared hot on the spot, but the strong aroma of Arabica coffee beans still linger on by the time the coffee reaches my home. And at Dhs 4 per cuppa, who is complaining? Most South Indian Restaurants in Dubai serve very good Filter Coffees but my pet suspects are always Saravana Bhavan, Woodlands in Karama.

Images: Shiyam Sundar www.foodnflavors.com Text: Ishita B Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com

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To all our contributors, Thank You!

We couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have done this without you

All articles have been published with the consent of our contributors. They are a particularly talented bunch - not only have they designed the recipes and/or written the stories you read, they have also taken some incredible photos, which are all by the author of the article unless marked otherwise.

Anjana Chaturvedi www.maayeka.blogspot.ae Anja Schwerin www.anjasfood4thought.com Arva Ahmed www.iliveinafryingpan.com Arwa A Lootah www.lamereculinaire.com Debbie Steedman www.therealgeordiearmani.com Dima Sharif www.dimasharif.com Dinusha Jayatillake www.thestoveandi.com Drina Cabral www.eaternalzest.com Erum Gulmann www.totalsalads.com Huma Kalim www.gheza-e-shiriin.blogspot.ae Heba Saleh www.mideats.com Irini Savva www.irinisavva.com Ishita B Saha www.ishitaunblogged.com Minna Herranen www.nakedplateblog.com Nabeela Ismail www.beelabakes.blogspot.ae Noreen Wasti www.thevanillabeandream.wordpress.com Prachi Grover www.orangekitchens.blogspot.ae Priya Srinvasan www.enveetukitchen.com Radhina Almeida Coutinho www.platetrotter.weebly.com Radia Siyoucef www.radotouille.com Rayan Chabou www.thebohemianchronicles.com Ritu Chaturvedi www.fussfreecookingblog.wordpress.com Rubeen Rashik www.stopdietin.wordpress.com Rupal Bhatikar www.foodienfabulous.com

Food e Mag dxb is a digital magazine with high quality blogger content from the region, released every two months and supported by a weekly updated website If you are a passionate blogger based in Dubai and blog on food and culinary travels, we are looking for you. For advertorial and sponsorship enquiries, please shoot us an email at editor@foodemagdxb.com. Please visit our website, and feel welcome to provide feedback: www.foodemagdxb.com

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Sally Prosser www.mycustardpie.com Samantha Wood www.foodiva.net Sandy Dang www.gingerandscotch.com Sarah Walton www.thehedonista.com Sayana Rahiman www.mymouthisfull.com Shaikha Al Ali www.whenshaikhacooks.com Shiyam Sundar www.foodnflavors.com Stacy Rushton www.foodlustpeoplelove.com Tala Soubra www.forkitoverdubai.com


FoodeMag dxb ~ Edition 1, February 2014