dubai

DUBAI’S CULINARY MECCA

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Found. Atlast. Is it tangy? Is it sweet? Is it a salad? Is it a complete meal? Is it squishy? Is it crunchy? Here it is, the authentic recipe of my most favorite refreshing sweet, tangy, juicy, crispy, healthy, refreshing “Rojak”. I taste it in the most unique of circumstance and venues. I marvel at how the world is shrinking into an amazing and delicious small space. So,I bring for you, this recipe of the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean “Rojak”. It is made by a brilliant German chef. And it is on one of my trips to Dubai that I come across this refreshing delight. To make the global gourmetization even more exciting, I taste this dish in a legendary Thai hotel in Dubai, which turns out to be a culinary mecca.

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CULINARY JOYRIDES AROUND THE WORLD 


“Culinary joyrides around the world” those are the brilliant Chef Joachim Textor’s words. This is the joyride that he takes me through his amazing cooking. He has travelled and lived in  the remote corners of the world. From along the Great Wall of China to Irkutsk (the Paris of the East in the 19th century) to the Omul salmon recipe from the largest fresh water lake in the world: From the southernmost tip of South America, steamed Alaskan crab to Traditional Tasmanian recipes…………he has them all. 
Chef  Textor having completed his culinary education and masters in Germany has worked in 11countries and has to his credit the opening of four hotels and dozens of restaurants. His passions are cooking and travel and exploring new culinary horizons. In pursuit of this he has been to 486 cities and 90 countries from the North to South  pole,
As we sit and chat, in the stunning and picturesque Anantara, I am more and more delighted. Set amidst lush landscaping, with the private beach just behind us, beachfront lagoon pools around us, it is difficult to believe I am in Dubai.

I don’t have the time to dine in all six of the restaurants and bars of Anantara, the culinary mecca, but the  specialty Asian, Mediterranean flavors and the Middle Eastern cuisine, the Thai cuisine seduce my tastebuds and my eyes.

Named after the Arabic word for ‘water’, the Mai Bar (which I love) has a terrace shaded by palm trees and a swim-up bar in the pool. There are  Australian-inspired flame grilled delights too but I don’t have the time to try these.

It is in the terrace of the Beachhouse with it’s fabulous views of the Dubai shoreline that I enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine, including pizzas, tapas and seafood. It is here that I taste the Rojak along with the charming and well informed Hayley Burgess.

 

ROJAK REIGNS

I first tasted the Rojak on the street side in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was a delightful mix of bean curd, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a sweet thick, spicy peanut sauce. Then in Singapore I tasted their version of Rojak with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. I was told that in Penang, where it is a local favourite, it is always called pasembor, but in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore it is called Rojak.

Ofcourse, there are all different kinds of fruits and fritters which are added and mixed into this. From raw mango to green apple to pineapple, benkoang (jicama), bean sprouts, Chinese-style fritters). And many more.  But here is Chef Textor’s amazing recipe, which is a must try…

ROJAK RECIPE

Ingredients

Serves: 6

  1 medium cucumber

  2 small young green mangoes, peeled

  1/2 medium pineapple, skinned

  50 g Papaya

  20 gr carrot julienne

  45 gr pear

  40 g bean sprouts

  35 fried tofu

  1 large yam bean (sengkuang/jicama), peeled

  1 tsp lime juice

  ½ tsp lemon juice

  20 gr dried shrimps

  30g roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely

  35 g fried Chinese bread stick, thin sliced

  ½ tsp sesame oil

  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  For the rojak sauce

  15 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded

  2.5 cl Tamarind sauce

  1/2 cup (125 ml) tamarind juice

  20 g caster sugar

  1 teaspoon (5 ml) dark soya sauce

Directions

1.        Pound the chillies in mortar and pestle until it becomes a fine paste. Put that paste and tamarind juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and dark soya sauce and cook until the sugar dissolves and sauce is thick. Set aside and let cool.

2.        Cut the vegetables and fruits into small wedges and put into a large mixing bowl. Add the rojak sauce and mix well.

3.        To serve, garnish the top of the rojak with dried shrimps, chopped peanuts,and all remaining ingredients and sesame seeds.

 

Chef Textor explains that “Rojak” actually translates to mixing and mingling and denotes  multi-ethnicity. Through this conversation, I urge the brilliant, well traveled chef to compile all these recipes into a book.

I request him to distil all the excitement of discovery and travel in his first of its kind cookbook. It will be so exciting, so
useful and usable and divided cuisine wise as well as through ingredients and courses… and should he have the time and the inclination to put together this global cookbook what would he like to call it?  “Culinary joyride around the world with Joachim Textor” ofcourse!

Review: Picante

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PICANTE

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Vegetarian Italian, Mexican

Shudh vegetarian goes global and upmarket in Breach candy. It also crosses the Indian borders (or does it?) to serve Mexican and Italian cuisines. I lunch with  a gourmet veggie twosome:  a former state level badminton champion, the multi-talented, lovely Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family is not only a Kathak dancer  (trained under Padmashree Sunaina Hazarilal) but a creative cook whose dinners are legendary. Equally sporty  (US champ in racquetball and squash)  Navin Deo, having spent 40 years in a  high profile US government job is back in India and making Impactroses which have been in huge demand. Im bowled over by his long stemmed roses (see pic)with their personalized gold embossed messages on the petals. We eat our way through the entire menu: result?  the roses and the giant cookie dessert are the only highpoints of our lunch.

 

DÉCOR

Happy surprise. The second floored restaurants  pleasant  ambiance with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs with  wooden geometrical frames, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics.

 

FOOD

Along with their ala carte  Mexican and Italian menu they offer daily (except weekend dinners) a “Sunday food festival” (Rs 999 for one) you can order all  28 dishes. But we are told very strictly that it cannot be shared. So we get 2 of these and plenty a la carte ones too. The Picante Pizza (even a wheat-watchers one,) al dente aglio olio  and lasagna  pass muster. It is the giant, freshly baked gooeycrisp cookie topped with warm chocolate sauce, and the moistwarm Molten Chocolate Cake that saves the day.

MINUS POINTS

Desi palate  tuned fare, with plenty of cheese and ketchup.Soggy nachos,  ketchupy Habanero Cottage Cheese, ditto for the quesadillas

Burrito lacks punch, overdressed salads, a strange Arabic pizza and so on. And on.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

Open through the day, pleasing ambiance, well-presented food, attentive service are the plus points.  Sure! a restaurant is in the business of making money and has to cater to all tastes   but except for a few dishes, the vegetarian Italian Mexican fare bends over backward to please the Indian palate  and tips over to become a mish mash of Gujjutalian and Mexidesi. Tasty no doubt!

Picante Ristorante, 401, Akruti Skypark, Mahalaxmi, Bhulabhai Desai road.Ph 23529393

meal for 2 Rs. 1500.

Open noon to midnight

RATING FOOD 2.5 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

 


 

MUMBAI TO DUBAI

MY CUP OF TEA...DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA
MY CUP OF TEA…DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA

Khulja simsim. Your twitter and instagram messages  as well Dubai foodies guide me through Dubai.  It’s food scene dazzles with world class restaurants (love La Serre, Zuma, La Petit Maison).  I also eat at two brand  new, must-try  restaurants Yuan (Atlantis)  and Katsuya (Dubai mall) with Dubai-based foodie extraordinaire and global philanthropist  Dr Rajen Kilachand. He also takes me to high tea (Fortnum and Mason), along with his friend the legendary Rusi Karanjia’s granddaughter, the gorgeous Faarah Mehta. I trip out on Umai (The Oberoi) cutting edge sushi and cod, Soy (Dubai mall) VFM Chinese, many a local eatery, belly dancing  too. Two “first time evers” … the Awesome Oberoi’s breakfast “Lollipop waffles” (you read that right)  and the fabulous traditional “pre-iftar” dinner at Desert Palm while the spectacular sun sets over the lush green polo grounds behind us. P.S Happy to share info please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh

THE DIVINE TASTE OF IFTAR

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It is a dream come true and it happens just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. I am surrounded by the magic of the spectacular sunset of the Arabian desert (the time when the Ramadan fast is broken) and just then I am regaled with the divine taste of Iftar. Each and every traditional recipe is made with authentic ingredients. As the amazing flavors gallop across our taste buds we are reminded that the lush green polo fields stretching around us are where the shining flanks of pedigreed horses   speed past in a spurt of color and sound. I find it difficult to believe that I am in Dubai, the gleaming, glittering  city of high rises and malls. Here in Desert Palm sprawling over 150 acres, there is silence as Mother nature’s bounty overflows. The sun sets, gilding the handsome palm trees which embroider the desert sky. From the most amazing gourmet cooking classes to horse-riding classes, shishas, global cuisines, Desert Palm has it all. Right now, its pre-Iftar time and I taste and nibble on the most traditional main course of succulent, seven spiced  lamb Kahrouf Mahshi infused with cinnamon cardamom. I mop it up with the traditional four Khubs  with fragrant rice and the Superlative Hammour Harra fish too. We start with the traditional Mezze of creamy    Hummus, Moutabel, Tabouleh  and Fattoush. The crisp skinned  Lamb Kebbeh and  Spinach Fatayar  delights, followed by the hearty and nourishing Yellow Lentil soup.

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THE  SWEET BOND OF IFTAR

Please take a look at the accompanying  photograph and you’ll see how the Iftar dinner brings together all nationalities. Ofcourse, the family Sapti (baby Sapti included) are getting set for Ramadan, as is Ahzar. From South of England there is the  dynamic General manager James Reeves, from Italy, the gifted  Executive Chef David Prantera , India is represented by the talented Chef Anoop  and the lovely Karishma Chopra. And wow!

what an amazing feast  of  Ramadan sweets there is: love the Mafourkeh of toasted bread drizzled with milkfat kashta. Equally delightful is the baked filo pastry with pista and ghee, its called Znoud, which means “lady’s forearm”. Chef Ali Hasan guides me thru this yummy buffet and the baked Omali made of velvety milk and airy puff pastry infused with rose water and blossom water is addictive.  Cant get enough of the Kataif pancakes plump with creamy kashta and crunchy with nuts. After that sweet finale, I sit by the rolling Polo fields under the shimmering night sky and go hubble bubble on the tobacco-free peach flavored sheesha.

 


 

 

Here it is. Just in time for Iftar, Chef Panteras very special recipe…

MANSAF RECIPE

1 KG                       lamb leg with bone / or boneless

200 gms                  plain yogurt

200 gms                  red onion                         half sliced , half chopped

1                      eggs                                 egg white , beaten with a fork untill frothy

25 gms                    corn flour

50 gms                    clarified butter

50 gms                    pine nuts

50 gms                    slivered almonds

15 gms                    water

salt

freshly ground pepper

10 gms                    turmeric powder

10 gms                    all spice

10 gms                    cinnamon stick

400 gms                  basmati rice

10 gms                    cardomom seeds

10 gms                    bayleaf

50 gms                    ghee

3 gms                      dry

Lemon

3 gms                      cinnamon powder

½  ltr                       lamb stock

 

1.Place the yogurt in a thick heavy based pot , add beaten frothy egg , corn flour , salt to the pan .Blend gently with a wooden laddle .

2 . Place the pot over a medium heat , stir with a a wooden laddle , lower the heat as the yogurt can split .

3.Lower the heat and gently let it simmer .

4.Boil the lamb in a pot with Water ,  bayleaf , cinnamon stick , cardamom , turmeric powder, salt to season .

5.Skim the surface for froth  the while the lamb is boiling

6.Heat ghee in a frying pan and add pinenuts  , almonds .fry untill golden brown , remove and keep aside .

7.Add sliced red onion to the same pan with ghee and fry gently untill transparent . add turmeric powder , all spice powder , cinnamon stick and mix and saute well .

8.Add the boiled lamb with this spice mixture with the stock .

9. When the lamb is done , remove and shredd the meat with a fork from the bone .

10. Reduce the sauce more and add yogurt sauce , blend well with wooden laddle , let the mixture boil , add the the shredded lamb and reduce the sauce more .

9.After the lamb has been cooked , keep reducing until the sauce thickens .

10.Heat the clarified butter in a pot and saute cinnamon stick , bayleaf , dry lemon ,chopped onion, minced lamb, add soaked basmati rice and add lambstock and let the rice cook ,add cinnamon powder when the rice is boiling .

11.Once the rice is cooked , serve on a large round serving platter , then garnish with fried nuts .

12.Top the platter with the shredded lamb and mansaf sauce , fried nuts .