Mudra “poshnoms” Mcfoy– After an unforgettable food experience in the UAE, our guest cook (like she likes to call herself0 decided to throw it down in her home kitchen by making an Emirati feast! Brace yourselves for this mouth watering menu with an explosion of spices! You can almost taste it from your screen. Instagram/Twitter: @poshnomsng
Dubai is definitely the perfect place for a food adventure. Middle eastern cuisine has always been a favorite of mine- so tasty and vibrant. The food is as rich as the culture and history and just as passionate. My trip was with my sister and long time friend. The hotel staff were very helpful and hooked us up with a tour guide. Our tour guide, Ali, was really great. Food ever on my mind, I asked him about the traditional desert food and he offered us the tastiest Falafel I’ve ever had. Falafel is a chickpea-based, deep fried savory ball of goodness. My experience with it has always been poor. The ones I’ve had were dry, too oily and bland. This one was of life and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Later, we were treated to the very traditional Flatbread, Hummus, Eggplant Dip, a Salad and Grilled Lamb Kebabs and Chicken Wings. Pardon the photo quality, I was hungry!
Back home, I decided to work on the great food I tasted on my trip to Dubai. I made an Emirati Feast which consisted of homemade, from-scratch elements to a traditional Emirati Spread.
HOMEMADE FLAT BREAD: So easy, delicious and versatile. A must in almost every meal I ordered in Dubai. Here’s how I made mine:
4 cups plain wheat flour, unsifted
1 teaspoon salt
3.5oz / 100g butter
1½ cups coconut milk
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
Melt butter in milk. Mix flour, salt, butter and milk. Knead till smooth. Add extra flour if too sticky. Rest at room temperature for a while. Dust work top, cut dough into pieces, roll into balls, then flatten. Pour olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Lay flatbread in the pan, cook for around 1 minute – it should bubble up – then flip and cook the other side. Continue till all done.
HOMEMADE FALAFELS: These are the ultimate street or fast food in the Middle East and Dubai had a lot to offer. Lol! Great vegetarian option too. These Falafels were so yum! My first experience of Falafels was in this dingy little cafe in Edinburgh. In retrospect, what was I possibly expecting in wanting Falafels in Edinburgh! Perhaps, at the very least I should have saved my adventurous taste buds for the trip to Bradford later that week. What I got was dry, oil soaked, tasteless mush. It was terrible! And I had nothing to compare it to. Disappointed, I steered clear of them until I decided to try again in Dubai.I used:
2 cups chickpeas (kept some whole for texture and crunch)
small onion, chopped
flour to bind
scotch bonnet pepper, minced
1salt and black pepper
vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
DIPS: I made a nice selection of traditional dips or accompaniments. Middle Eastern food is always about a variety of flavors, textures and the eating experience is so cosmopolitan and interactive! Here are the dips I made. Yes, from scratch. Hehehe.
– Homemade Muhammara (Hot Pepper Dip): Muhammara is eaten as a dip with bread. It can also be used as a spicy dip with kebabs, grilled meats and fish. Delicious! I used:
1 medium onions, finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup breadcrumbs blended with cold water to a purée
2 tablespoons paprika
3 scotch bonnet chillies, pulsed to rough texture
a pinch of ground cumin
Using a deep skillet, sauté the onions gently in the oil until soft and golden. Add the breadcrumb purée, the chillies, the cumin and salt to taste. Continue to sauté gently on a low heat until the ingredients are well blended.
– Homemade Hummus:Everyone knows this! The most common thing that identifies that the food is indeed Arabic or at least Middle Eastern. It is made with Chickpeas. And great with bread or vegetable batons such as carrots or celery.
25 g (4 oz) chickpeas
Juice of 2 lemons
3 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, (crushed add more if you like)
Grind the chickpeas in a blender (or food processor) with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and the oil. Bring it to a soft creamy consistency. Serve and garnish with a dribble of olive oil, a dusting of paprika. I topped mine with crispy deep fried chickpeas for texture!
– Homemade Tahini: Tahini is a paste made from roasted sesame seeds with a very strong and distinct flavor so use sparingly. Tahini is eaten as a dip and is readily available in some supermarkets. It is also very easy to make your own. All you need:
Spread the sesame seeds on a shallow pan and roast, shaking frequently, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Do not brown. Cool.
Put the sesame seeds in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the oil. Process to a smooth paste, about 5 minutes. Add more oil if necessary, to bring the paste to a thick pouring consistency.Tahini will keep stored in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for several months.
– Tabbouleh: This classic Middle Eastern salad is served with most meals. It is fresh, fragrant and I FORGOT TO ADD MY COUSCOUS! Lol. Don’t forget yours. Bulgur or quinoa are acceptable variations.
1 cup couscous salt
fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
chopped flat-leaf parsley
chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, thinly sliced
– Homemade Baba Ghannouj: I love this dip! So creamy and rich with a smoky and tart undertone. Eggplants/Aubergines take center stage here.
1 large eggplant (aubergine)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
4 Tbs lemon juice
Smoked sea salt (is what I used for extra smokiness)
Cook the eggplant in a hot oven or on a fork over the flame of a gas stove. When it is well cooked through and the skin is blackened, douse with cold water, peel and chop into small pieces. Mash two or three cloves of garlic to a paste with about the same volume of salt. Add eggplant, mash to a smooth consistency and blend in lemon juice. Serve in a bowl with little olive oil on top and garnish with a dusting of red pepper.
– Al-Machboos or Kabsa:Chicken and rice cooked in a medley of spices! Flavor overload! Humble looking but a must have and most times it is very elaborate with all the garnishes, saffron etc. Al Machboos has become a popular dish of Dubai and UAE. Originally chicken and rice are the main ingredients but in the UAE it has also been made with lamb and shrimps. I kept mine original with chicken.
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 chicken pieces
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves,
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
grated peel of 1 orange
3 whole cloves
Salt and Pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup long-grain rice
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted almonds
The chicken was cooked in boiling water bath with all spices and vegetables like onions, tomatoes. This mixture is cooked on low flame for short period of time till meat tenderizes. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes. Stir rice into liquid between pieces of chicken. Or remove chicken, stir in rice, then return chicken pieces to skillet. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes longer or until rice is tender. Garnish with raisins and almonds to make it more traditional.