Dubai

Secret squirrel Karen McLean dazzles

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SHHH! SECRETS AHEAD

Im about to share a very yummy secret with you. Correction: many secrets that will help you cook and eat healthy as well as tasty. And creating  these recipes and sharing them freely is a slender, slim and sunshiny young girl. I was  so rivetted by her instagram posts that I requested to meet her. Whoa! What an amazing success story…Karen McLean , this Australian-Vietnamese girl moved to Dubai only two years ago and since then has millions of fan followers. She’s a qualified CA who came to a foreign country (Dubai), loves cooking and her dad and grandpa are amazing cooks. But healthy eating recipes are her very own and it was accidentally that Karen started sharing them on her website and instagram and voila! her fan following hit sky high.

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#MYDUBAI WHATS HOT TASTING SESSION

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Whats Hot Session
WHATS HOT TASTING SESSION: Faarah Mehta flanked by Kavita Srinivasan and Saagar Shewakramani (standing Danielle Sallam and Sridip Ganguli)

Is it possible? Can just one evening tasting session deliver the best of a city’s food-scene?  The very best of cupcakes Gourmet shewaramas, salads et al? yup! possible, but only when the knowledgable foodie hostess and publishing consultant and whiz, the lovely Faarah Mehta generously sources and then equally generously opens up her stylish villa (private beach et al) for my Whats hot tasting session. As does her  foodie husband, retailing tycoon, the dashing  Saagar Shewakramani. High voltage, brilliant editor  of a leading lifestyle magazine Kavita Srinivasan, Sridip Ganguly, software expert are foodies extraordinaires too.

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MY DATE WITH HEALTH AND TASTE

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MY DOUBLE TREAT

It’s a treat to beat all treats. A Double Treat, whichever way you look at it. And Im not only referring to the delicious nutritious dates (which I cant stop eating) but also my delightful dates from South India. The brilliant Executive chef Thirimalai Murugan ‘s award winning dish blends South India and Dubai so is it any wonder that the dish was given highly prestigious  UAE award? The creative and hard working chef from kanyakumari has not only honed his talents all over the world, but has also spearheaded many a hotel pre-opening team.

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#DubaiDiaries: DIVINE DESSERT IN THE DESERT

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Dessert Delights: Chef Cizeron and Deveekaa Nijhawan
Dessert Delights: Chef Cizeron and Deveekaa Nijhawan

 

A request. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph: would you believe I shot this in the hot,  arid desert? Such a fabulous relief to be amongst lush tropical gardens and trees in this concrete skyscrapered Dubai! It gets even more exciting because here in the cosmopolitan, diverse Dubai, not only does this multi-talented, brilliant Executive chef share his recipe of my most favorite dessert, the Crepes Suzette but many an invaluable multi-cuisine cooking tip too. Here he is, flambéing the pancake dessert by drizzling the Grand Marnier liquor down the orange rind and swapping many an interesting culinary story too.

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#MyDubaiDiaries: Roberto’s

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While researching for my latest book, I dined at Roberto’s, the contemporary Italian restaurant in Dubai.

The elaborate menu is set by the brilliant Executive Chef Andrea Mugavero.

Roberto’s houses three refreshing concepts under one roof: the elegant main dining room, Il Ristorante, the buzzing lounge, Il Salotto, and an open air terrace, La Terrazza. Combined, these three areas create a unique sense of belonging appropriate for all occations.

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#MyDubaiDiaries: La Petite Mansion

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I dine at the wondeful, La Petite Maison, where we  trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata. This restaurant has been rated amongst the World’s 100 best restaurants. Local produce, notably artichokes, courgettes, lemons, olives, tomatoes, peppers and girolles are used generously with sea food, meat and fresh pasta to produce a style that’s light and healthy at La Petite Maison.

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OVER THE TOP IN DUBAI

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Over the top and over the moon in Dubai? How do I define it? Let me count the ways… Okay so Ive dined in the worlds highest restaurant (At.mosphere) in the worlds tallest building (Burj Khalifa). Tripped out on sushi at the glamorous Zeta while the worlds largest choreographed fountains danced and sang. Dined at the glamorous Pierchic which floats like a jewel in the sea. But here in the accompanying photograph Ive captured the over the top spirit of glitzy, edgy, flamboyant Dubai: Tall, gutsy, glamorous chef Silvena Rowe reigns over the hearts, palates and imagination of Dubai with her trio of  Omnia restaurants. The newest one shimmers with it’s three storeyed see through mirrored kitchen and conjures modern magic with Emirati fare. Having eaten an amazing meal in Omnia we invited Silvena to get a taste of what our 26 year old Indian chef Himanshu Saini was creating with modernist Indian fare in Tresind (which has also been the talk of the town) Dubai’s leading brand builders Rita Karanjia Mehta and Leela Dhar updated me with invaluable insights into dazzling Dubai. Ofcourse, as I continue research on the definitive guide to Dubai, Ive been eating at many an amazing surprise …from the fine dining Govindas (without onion and garlic) to Wolfgang’s Puck’s cutting edge steak house where the chef creates vegan fare too. Dubai does dazzle.

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SPECTACULAR FEAST

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Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta
Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta

Here’s a feast to beat all feasts. It pampers all my senses…there is light, sound, dance, music and ofcourse food. As though all this were not enough there is also the worlds tallest building and the worlds biggest choreographed fountain to keep me company. If the accompanying photograph had a video and sound track, heres what you’d see and hear… glittering and shimmering fountains leaping and swirling and twirling into the evening sky as different colored lights bathe and sway with them. These fountains dance to music and Whitney Houston’s husky ”I’ll always love you” echoes sensuously as the fountains sway to it’s melody. And as though blessing it all and taking the ringside seat like a benevolent all-caring Pasha is the worlds tallest building, The Burj Khalifa which shimmers glamorously. And right here while feasting on this spectacle I am feasting on the freshest of fare created by the brilliant Executive chef Alain Gobeil . All this is the glamorous Zeta Restaurant where the heart of Dubai seems to throb  in all it’s  glory. In many different ways.

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RECIPE TO DAZZLE

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Qbara 1 (1)

I’m excited! I call it “to have your dazzle and eat it too”. Not only do I dine in the most exquisite symbol of Dubai but also come away with it’s treasured recipes for you. “Qbara” is the name of this sexily glamorous restaurant. “Qbara” the word is “Arabic” back to front. Qbara itself is Arabic dining inside-out. And so it is acknowledged to be  “the Dubai experience”.  It distills  Arabic flair, glamorizes  it and  modernizes it too.

Here, the glamorously sprawling  space seduces all the senses. Dramatically lit, with a brilliant interplay of light and shadow, it shimmers with a humongous and beautiful chandelier (of what seems to be large pearls). Beautiful hostesses lead you into a dimly lit, two leveled large dining area. As does the surrealistic  wall  with it’s  mesmerizing 3D sound and light effect.From the upper level, guests can look down on the restaurant in all its glory.

The food dazzles: dish after dish had visual and gustatory starbursts.The magic  comes on thick and fast…compressed, refreshing  sweet watermelon off set by the salty luscious shanklish cheese. The delightful falafel salad, followed by mellow, fragrant fish and rice,  succulent, robust  lamb. Delicate, raw Yellowtail and char-grilled spicy quail pieces, wrapped in vine leaves. The list goes on and on. My gracious hosts Alia Bin Hendi and Anass Allouch explain many an Arabic term and I feast on the conversation as I do on the fabulous food. Camels milk icecream in erotic embrace with crushed baklava delights. The piece de resistance? sensational honey and vanilla panacotta, topped with yards of sweet gossamer Iranian candyfloss pashmak.

Creating this magic is the extraordinarily gifted Colin Clague. Born in the Isle of man, Chef Clague  has worked with icons like Anton Mosimann and Sir Terence Conran, Clague has not only worked and travelled the world  but also spearheaded the pre-opening teams of the prestigious Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and executive chef of award-winning Japanese izakaya restaurants – Zuma in London and Dubai.

Coincidentally I have eaten at all the restaurants he worked in, including Pollen in Singapore. And each time Ive been delighted. Achieving such resounding flavors and texture takes serious skill and effort and Chef Colin Clague displays both.His dishes dazzle as does Qbara and I have many atreasured recipe from him. Should you need any please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and I’ ll be happy to share them with you

 

Edible soup spoons

HAVE YOUR SPOON AND EAT IT TOO

Am absolutely delighted to present this to you: edible cutlery (spoons, chopsticks, plates and more)  made from flours, like the nourishing Jowar. Its yummy, nourishing, not made with any chemicals or preservatives yet has a shelf life of 18 months and it can even cut into hard foods.Whats more you can get this cutlery made in the flavors of your  choice! hot n spicy, onion and tomato, garlic, ginger, spicy or sweet…take your pick!
An amazing and yummy innovation that addresses ecological concerns like depletion of groundwater No wonder it was    was selected by the CII-USAID-World Resources Institute supported initiative called New Ventures as among the top ten sustainable businesses in the year 2006 – the year it was started. You can order online namaboomi

P.S This delightful information was given to me by Anjali Sharma should you have any such foodie favourites to share and have them written about, please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh  .