Friday, October 25, 2013

An "Arabian Food Pilgrimage" in Dubai, UAE


Now that's the right way to spend five or six hours! See, tonight I joined this food tour from a company called Frying Pan Adventures, which is run by a local blogger who took a group of us around on foot from one shop to the next to try out a bunch of her favorite places in Deira. Being in a group meant that we got to try a lot of stuff, and she even gave us target percentages in terms of how full we should be at each stop so that we could pace ourselves. That was awesome; my biggest frustration (especially when traveling alone) is that I just don't have enough time nor stomach space to try a lot of things. And while we were busy stuffing our faces, she stopped to explain the origins and makeup of each dish rather than me trying to figure it out on my own.

Clockwise from bottom: falafel mahshi, foul medames, and hummous

The first stop that we made was this Jordanian Palestinian place called Qwaider Al Nabulsi on Al Muraaqbat (227-5559), whose falafels were so light and fluffy that it was the complete opposite of those the big nasty dry ones that I used to get in college (those above were stuffed with chili and onion paste, by the way). She taught us how to smash the falafels with our hands into the thin flatbread and then dip into not just hummous and tahini but a refreshing green sauce too. Another surprise that she got us was a Jordanian dish called mansaf, whose lamb came with a fermented goat milk yogurt reminiscent of Chinese doufu ru that made me just want to keep shoveling rice down my throat. But I couldn't...we had to move on to a bunch of other places, including quite a few shops selling baklava, Syrian ice cream, and a cheese-based dessert called kunafa, which I really liked.


As the night went on, we grabbed an off-the-menu murtabak-like snack at an Egyptian place, ate that koobideh (pictured at the top) at a Persian place, as well as quickly "window shopped" at an Iraqi place whose grilled fish is definitely something that I'll need to come back for (note to self: 45 minute cooking time!). But my favorite of the night by far was this Yemeni Bedouin place called Al Tawasol (Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, 295-9797), where we sat shoeless on oriental rugs and ate with our hands. I would have been happy enough with the fluffy rice alone, but the smoky madhbi chicken on top came along with a plate of green veggies and an unexpected chili sauce that was delightfully fresh and spicy. It was actually a lot like the minced salsa from El Pollo Loco (in a good way), especially when paired with the chicken. But all of it came on top of that awesome rice, which I could have kept eating all night. I think I'd better go hit up Bismillah when I get back to Singapore.


Mitchell Glaser said...

This post is a perfect example of why your blog is my absolute favorite. Pray continue!

Iftikhar said...

What was the name of the Koobideh place? It looks awesome.