Salam wa aleikum!
You’ve caught me just in time
Here I am taking a ride on a camel
Killing it at Bash Dunes where sand is all over my face
Chatting with the genie
Checking out the really cool Petra
But isn’t there more to all of this? Have I missed out on anything?
Yes, the One Arabian Night continues for me…
My gastronomical experiences at the Ritz- Carlton have always been splendid. I have got to witness the colourful, flavourful and exciting meals they offer and have had a lot to take back with me. This time it was a little different.
I was invited to a rich and robustly flavoured fare, ‘Taste Of Arabia’- the Middle Eastern food festival sponsored by Air Arabia to savour some of the Chef’s signature dishes.
Chef Rami Almakt took over The Market’s kitchen last night and turned it into an Arabian haven where he presented the finest authentic Arabian fare, bringing the dishes to life on the table and created a carefully crafted menu which made it a memorable experience for all of us.
A littte background on the chef: He joined the Ritz- Carlton, Dubai at the pre-opening phase of its all-new Shorooq wing. This caused him to do so as he realized how much he missed his mother and grandmother’s Arabic cooking after being specialized in the French Cuisine. It’s been almost 11 years now that he has been in Dubai and wants to learn more about various Middle Eastern cuisines. His dream is to open his own restaurant in a different culture where he can show the world the beautiful flavours of the cuisine. I hope to be one of his first few guests as his food is exquisite!
Arab cuisine features some of the best flavours that have come about from the ages when men traveled desserts. It consists of cuisines that have been influenced by the culinary traditions from Mesopotamia to Saudi Arabia often incorporating Levantine and Egyptian cuisines too.
We were all in for a treat and I didn’t even bother to count the calories.
Here’s taking you through my One Arabian Night…
Syrian Spice Tea with Nuts
After doing a little bit of research, found out that its most commonly known as the Finjan Kirfee back in the Middle East.It was great to start the meal with this refreshing drink. There was a great balance of flavours. A strong kick of cinnamon along with the slight bitterness of the walnuts. Perfecto!
Moroccan Lamb Harira Soup
It is a rich and nutritious soup that is usually consumed during Ramadan to break the fast. The aromas were spectacular and as for the taste, wonderfully spiced and very filling. It had tender pieces of lamb, tomato and lentils that went very well together as a dish on the whole. I suggest don’t fill yourself with too much with it as there is a lot more tantalizing dishes on the menu to indulge in.
Arabic Mix Mezze Sampler
My first reaction: So many colours on the plate!
It had all my favourites consisting of various kinds of dips. The typical Middle-Eastern hummus had such beautiful textures and flavours. The beetroot dip had sprinkles of black sesame seeds on top and had a taste of its own. Very unique indeed!
There was another kind of dip which was more nutty in texture and flavour but had such a great feeling in my mouth. I couldn’t quite catch the name! It was garnished with almonds and was the winning dip for me! And finally all of this was served with warm, soft pita bread along with Zattar seasoned Olives which were the most gorgeous things on the plate!
The Falafels were hot and crispy and so appealing to the eye. It is basically a deep fried cutlet made with chick peas and fava beans which goes well with the pita bread. One bite of it and it takes you straight to Egypt. A good choice for the veggies!
Syrian Chicken Shawarma Roll Bites
These happen to be one of the best selling fast foods in Arabia and I absolutely enjoyed it. It had the true taste of Arabia that was very original and not like the ones you usually get around here. Surprisingly, the chicken was fried which added a great twist to the dish and much better flavours on my palate. It was superb I tell you!
Syrian Dal Makhani
This was something that really took me to surprise. Never before in my life have I had a fusion of flavours from two countries- India and Syria that have such rich, cultural food backgrounds.It is really hard to explain and hence you have to eat it for yourself. The lentils were beautifully cooked in such strong spices and the pomegranate blended really well. The caramelized onions also added beautiful touches to the dish.
Falafel and Fatta Chicken
This is the traditional Family style recipe from the Levant countries. The flavours were a bit too overpowering for me so I wasn’t too happy with this dish. But thank god for the little bits of bread thrown into it as it helped to balance out theflavours.
Finally we come to maincourse and I’m already so stuffed but there is yet another delightful spread to choose from.
Syrian Selection of Arabic Mixed Grill
The Traditional Afghani Kebabs were infused with special condiments and had that distinct flavour of the coal which worked brilliantly for me. They were tender, juicy bits of meat that had my taste buds going wild.
Kibbeh is a Levantine dish which resembles a croquette. The filling has beef, minced onions and cracked wheat. It was accompanied with lentils and other vegetables. A nicely flavoured curry that tasted a lot like our Indian ones. One thing I’ve observed from all this eating, the Arabs love their lentils!
Grilled Lamb Chops
These beautiful pieces of meat on the bone were absolutely killer! The tender meat came right off the bone with so much ease and the flavours were subtly sweet. Look at that colour!
Chicken with Potato
This tasted a lot like the traditional Roast Chicken. It was a simple, soulful dish with lightly sautéed pieces of chicken along with wedges to go with it. It wasn’t anything really fancy.
Egyptian eggplant moussaka
I’m a huge fan of Moussaka. So when I saw it on the menu, my eyes lit up but sadly it wasn’t anything to my expectations. The eggplants were not fried properly and sadly, it just didn’t work for me.
You have to end on a sweet note…
It is also most comm
only known as the Egyptian Bread Pudding. It consists of a puff pastry that is soaked in milk, butter/ghee, rose water and then whipped cream is added and it is baked to perfection and sprinkled with walnuts before being served. The rose overpowers the whole dish and what really caught my attention was the simplicity of the dish but yet there was so much going on.
So if you’re ready to risk the heart attack, go for it!!!
Sadly all good things have to come to an end and so did this amazing culinary journey of mine. But it never stops me from going back there.
The Arabs are usually known for giving you the best, they cannot settle for anything less.
And last night, was all about taking my taste buds to a whole new level and satisfying my hungry soul with extravagant dishes. It was great to learn more about their diversity and magical stories that have so much of influence over their cuisine.
It was my pleasure to have a chat with the Masterchef himself about all his secret ingredients and his experiences in the industry.
Taste Of Arabia – the Middle-Eastern Food Festival is on till the 17th of May 2015 ie. Sunday.
So do go and try out some of the dishes and let me know how they are!