Masala Grilled Shawarma @ Bur Dubai
Best activity to do in Dubai: Eat shawarmas.
Masala Grilled Shawarma @ Bur Dubai
Best activity to do in Dubai: Eat shawarmas.
Turkey Club Sandwich @ Coco’s, Bahrain.
Still looking for that perfect club!
Ok bear with me on this one. It was a little beyond my comfort zone to begin with, but as I found out, it’s worth sticking with (I also found it that it’s impossible to name. We’ll work on that).
Pasta plays a big part in our diets - but you get to the stage where you think, “Isn’t there something other than the standard tomato, pesto, or creamy seafood I can make? Isn’t there more to pasta?? Isn’t there more to life??!!”
So, part inspired by a pasta dish featuring bonito flakes in Lucky Peach, out of our Pandora’s Box kitchen cupboard came this. This almost unholy concoction of weirdo pan-Asian pasta. This confusing medley of ingredients, that turned out to be kind of a dazzling and brilliant invention.
In a splash of coconut oil, we fried Thai Roasted Red Chili paste (previously used in our Hot & Sour Clam Soup), fresh garlic, anchovies, crushed cashew nuts, lime juice, and tomatoes, simmering it all down to a spicy, crunchy mush.
Then we mixed this in with cooked wholewheat penne pasta, and topped it off with bonito and seaweed flakes and a fresh squeeze of lime all over. Japanese bonito flakes are shavings of dried, smoked bonito fish, and lend a tangy saltiness to whatever they’re added to - rather like anchovies. But perhaps a bit whiffier.
More often than not our experiments with food lead to failure. This was not one of those times. This was simultaneously insane and delicious. And when you actually think about all the ingredients and their flavours properly, it’s not that mad at all.
Salty - anchovies, bonito flakes. Spicy - red chilli paste. Nutty - cashews, coconut oil, and red chilli paste. Base - tomatoes. Tangy - limes. What you’ve really got here is a pesto dish, guys. That’s it. And I know what you’re thinking. And yes, it does still go with cheese.
What keeps attracting to me to all these products is the aesthetic, the packaging; the product design. Something I completely overlooked when I was younger and living in the Middle East was the considerable amount of super outrageous-looking packaging; mistaken for junk; undesirable products that were outdated. Ignored and over shadowed, without even a second’s time given to them.
It’s okay though; I’m older now, I understand the beauty of them. Their fruity, playful ideas - such as crisp packet mascots of muscle-flexing cows, and exotica designs harking back to imagery of tropical landscapes - makes this packaging look like it’s from a different generation entirely. It’s astonishing that they still exist and lasted all these years.
These products are homages to everything Dubai isn’t these days. They’re not organic or luxury, nor trendy. Yet finding them here always intrigues me. Perhaps they are a sign of what Dubai used to be – or maybe a representation of the many ethnic cultures present – which as it shows, have not yet been effected by this whole fashionable healthy-living way of life.
Just knowing that these products are still around, still available is a great thing. I’m not going to lie, those milk-flavoured crisps tasted pretty bad, but that’s beside the point!
See Pt.1 HERE
Words by Kamal ♥
We first went to the Aappa kadai branch in Karama. We were taken by our friend Karthik, loved it, cried over how far it was from our home, got home, and realised there was another branch practically on our doorstep in Marina.
Aappa kadai specialises in aappams, - these are round, bowl-shaped breads made with rice batter and coconut milk, originating (like all the best Indian food) from Kerala. It’s a fermented dough, almost similar to the Ethiopian injera in consistency, and has the bonus combination of being wafer-thin and crispy around the edges, but with a soft, foamy doughiness in the middle, perfect for mopping up sauce, soaking it up in all the holes.
The rest of the menu is split up into regions of India, so on our visit to Marina’s Aappa Kadai, we took a mini-tour of the country.
From Chettinad & South India, King fish tawa fry - fillet of thickly marinated king fish, fried till crispy. This was a little dry, not the best dish of the bunch, but still tasty.
Also from this region, Mutton Coconut Fry - little chunks of tender mutton hanging off the bone like it can barely handle life, in a mild, tingly coconut, onion and pepper gloopy-sauce. This stuff was made for the scooping and shovelling and sucking meat off the bones - all the undignified stuff that comes with eating in Aappa Kadai.
Onto Malabar - from here we ordered Kozhi Porichathu (Chicken fry) - I don’t know what unholy thing they did to make this so goddamn good. Thick, crunchy batter of marinade spices, soaked up into within the chicken, so it’s red to the bone. Obviously I love fried chicken, anyone who doesn’t isn’t worth knowing - this finally introduced me to a new kind of fried chicken. Up there with Korean fried chicken.
It killed me. I was literally in agony from the ecstasy of eating it, knowing that this was but a fleeting moment, soon to be over.
And finally, a Malabar-style King fish Masala - the same thin flat fillet of king fish as in the tawa fry, but this time drowned in a orange blanket of masala sauce, cuddling the fish and my mouth in its comforting flavour. There was nothing not to like about this.
The sweet and fresh aspect of coconut was present in everything we ordered, which along with the fluffy and airy aapams, means a meal at Aappa Kadai tends to be a little lighter than other Indian options. But my favourite part of the meal was this warning displayed on all tables: “BEWARE OF IMPERSONATORS”. Apparently a former employee has opened some fake Aappa Kadai branches in India, trading on their well-trusted name and reputation - and they are not taking this matter lightly! What a brilliant scandal.
Crispy Fried Salt & Pepper Squid w/ Lime & Chilli
We’re very happy and honoured to present a guest post from Regine Basha, editor and curator of Tuning Baghdad, which is an audio-visual collection from the Iraqi-Jewish music scene (see two screenshots below!). Daughter of Iraqi-born oud and violin player Sol Basha, Regine (or Gina) grew up in Montreal, Los Angeles and New York where she attended Iraqi-Jewish gatherings throughout her childhood. We met Regine of course at Dar Al Sulh, the Iraqi-Jewish pop-up restaurant which took place earlier in May, run by artist Michael Rakowitz in collaboration with The Moving Museum.
Throughout the week, clips from Regine’s website, of traditional musicians, soundtracked the meals excellently. Here she’s written us a little something on the tastes and principals of Ayurveda.
Since Michael Rakowitz based his talks on the varying tastes present in the Iraqi-Jewish food (sweet, sour, bitter, umami) I thought I’d footnote it with a reference to Ayurveda, something I’ve become familiar with this year (but I think you need a lifetime to fully comprehend it). The illustration from Vasant Lad’s Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda shows the six tastes that Ayurveda recognizes: salty, sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent, and sour - which connect to six salivary glands. The tongue is actually the first digestive organ in the body. In Ayurveda, a healthy ‘agni’ or digestive fire is the key to health, and well-being…..oh and to universal harmony !
Ayurveda is a science from India from about 5,000 years ago that involves the study of sustaining a balanced body, mind and soul and specifically how certain foods and daily rituals affect these aspects. Iraqi cooking has a lot of Indian influences and common dishes, such as Kitchari (rice and lentils) and the condiment Umba (pickled mango) used in salads, as well as the predominant use of turmeric, cumin and other herbs and spices. Little did our diners know that not only are they eating a dying language from an absent tribe, but they are also increasing their Sattva in the process.
In Ayurveda, every ingredient, herb, spice and quality (hot or cold, dry or moist…) has a purpose and healing property in the way it directly affects your digestion, mood and overall immunity. This is not a diet, but a system of knowledge or guide to understand what foods work best for your constitution - meaning what gives you the best energy, what clogs you up, slows you down and what helps you when you are sick. The Doshas (or tendencies) that every person has are: Pitta (fire), Kapha (water) and Vata (air) though it is also possible to be mixed (I am Pitta-Kapha for instance).
According to Ayurveda, these elements are found in every part of the body, even on a cellular level and are also affected by external factors such as weather and stress, meditation and exercise (or yoga asanas). Once you determine your Prakriti and Vikrati (with the help of an Ayurvedic consultant) you may understand, what properties were present when you were born and what properties are present and operating now as a result of your lifestyle (Sanskrit, the language of Ayurveda is more useful in expressing the theories and guidelines than english, so it helps to learn the terms).
On the pop-culture level, getting to know your Dosha is not unlike getting to know your astrological sign : Pittas have personality types (Type A, aggressive, creative thinkers, hot tempered, outgoing, etc…), as does Kapha (warm, caring, slow, lots of patience and endurance, heavy-build, etc…) and Vata (multi-taskers, intellectual, cold, poor digestion) and it gets really confusing when you discover you are mixed; like you can emotionally be more Pitta, but your physical propensities are more like Vata and so on.
An Ayurvedic consultant will determine what your Doshas are (through an intimate interview regarding the history of your eating habits, what tastes you are attracted to and what ailments often repeat for you….oh and the color of your poop !). The idea being that once you understand your body, mind and your tendencies, you are then capable of transforming any ill effects and diverting disease off its course through what you eat. Ayurveda is more about prevention than it is about healing disease actually. Though in the deepest end of the system, which the first illustration shows, Ayurveda connects the micro body with the macro universe, but this of course is only for the Gurus amongst you :)
A good website for learning more and discovering recipes based on this system is : www.joyfulbelly.com
Regine Basha OUT.
You can check out Regine’s amazing projects and work here:
Now this is the kind of place we know all too well; the marinated kebabs glaring up at us from within the glass counter, the half-stocked Pepsi fridge, the waterfall mural, the evil eyes. We love these type of joints. With it’s outdoor seating right on the pavement, Harput really does transport you to a bustling street in Istanbul. Never mind that it sits right next to one of the biggest malls in Dubai, this place got character!
We had been recommended the Cig kofte, which translates as raw meatball, and is basically just that. These sweet, moulded little blobs of lamb and bulgur wheat - always with finger grooves - melt in the mouth. They look solid, but have the texture of baby food (for the sophisticated baby), and crumble at the touch of a fork.
Harput’s had a spicy, intense flavour, I could literally only have a couple of bites at a time. They were delicious but crazy!! Lots of romaine lettuce accompanied the cig kofte, so we did the obvious thing - put some meat in the leaf, squeeze some lemon, add a little salad, and you got yourself a Turkish-Korean lettuce wrap hybrid!
I ordered the iskender - hello, my sloppy, beautiful mess! So much yogurt was involved here. Kamal introduced this heavenly dish to me years ago at our favourite Turkish restaurant in London, FM Mangal. Hiding underneath all that rich tomato sauce, yogurt, and melted butter is a pile of juicy, grilled lamb shavings, and sliced up flatbread. Diving into this lake of sauce was an eyes-closed ohhh-my-geerrrdd moment of pure comfort.
From a photo point of view, how the hell do you make a dish like this look good!?? I mean to the untrained eye this might just appear like tasteless mush - but you would be oh so wrong to disreguard it for it’s looks. Iskender got it goin’ on!
Along withe the iskender, we had the lamb chops. All smokey and juicy from the bbq, we made little wraps by tearing the chops up, and wrapping them in bread with with somac-dressed onion and salad, just like Shemshack! As always the tastiest bits are the fat. My fondness for fat is getting hard to defend…
Finally Lahmacun, something very familiar to us - crispy flatbread, topped with minced lamb, tomato, and lots of parsley. With a squeeze of lemon juice all over to top it off, it’s widely regarded as ‘Turkish Pizza’, but that doesn’t really do it justice. Harput’s take is on the lighter side and is packed with so much flavour you might need to praise the pizza gods for this blessing.
In Dubai - as in London - it’s all too easy to accidentally get crappy Turkish food, so Harput was a happy surprise. They might not have FM Mangal’s grilled onions in that magical, secret sauce, but it’s certainly a worthy replacement for our Turkish grilled meat cravings.
This Thai-inspired soup was ridiculously easy to make, but also just as ridiculous in how delicious it was. We recently purchased a brilliant jar of Thai paste that sells itself short by being called ‘Roasted Red Chilli Paste’. Rather than being the fiery hot paste of pure chilli I imagined, what it turned out to be was something more subtle - including peanuts, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind. The perfect base for a spicy soup.
We fried a tablespoon of the paste by itself for a couple of minutes to get all the flavours going, then poured in a can of coconut milk. Then all that was needed were a couple of stems of lemon grass and some chopped coriander for fragrance, and a splash of white vinegar and the juice of three limes to get things lip-pursingly sour.
Adding a cup of hot water, once all of this was bubbling nicely we added some fresh prawns and clams, and put a lid of the pan. Let this baby simmer for five minutes and you got yourself a winning soup!
Yo Mama Wheat Noodles w/ Kimchi, Avocado & Fried Egg
Recipe post on request!