Doobee, doobee, Dubai, Hey!

2010-03-27 00:00

IN eight days I did it all …

From spices to gold, and from fish to fruit and vegetables, I took in the souks, or marketplaces. My overall impression was perfection in quality and abundance in quantity. I also indulged in a dhow cruise, a camel ride and a desert safari — not to forget a fantastic meal at the Burj al Arab, the only seven-star hotel in the world. I visited in-store attractions — the ski slope, ice rink, aquarium as well as the trendy name-brand shops. Lucky lady!

The purpose of my trip to Dubai was to help with the Gulfood 2010 Exhibition, which included the Emirates International Salon Culinaire. Some 1 500 competitors from around the world demonstrated their culinary talents over four days. Ice carvings, three-tier wedding cakes as well as aspic-dipped five-course gourmet menus were on display and it was enlightening to observe how many chefs were hungry for competition. There was a plethora of talent, creativity and enthusiasm under one roof. Truly inspiring!

Food in Dubai caters for the diversity in nationalities. Most hotels have buffet-style restaurants. The presentation includes prawns, lobsters, clams as well as sushi, butter chicken, nachos and Indian curries. All cooking stations are interactive and allow for continuous movement so there’s no queuing for food.

Every restaurant I visited included hummus (chickpea paste), baba ghanoush (a Middle Eastern puree of eggplant), tzatziki (Greek dip of cucumber and yoghurt), tabbouleh (Lebanese salad of bulgur wheat and vegetables) and fattoush(Levantine salad with toasted pita bread) on the menu. All were served with pita bread and accompanied main courses of chicken, lamb and or/fish. Dried limes and spices were the norm as were goat’s cheese, eggs, olives, honey, fruit, almonds and dates. A favourite of mine, the most popular dessert in the UAE, was UmAl i, which means “queen of puddings”. Scrumptious!

With its rich and creamy flavour camel’s milk is increasing in popularity. It is nutritious, non-allergenic and high in vitamin C as well as insulin.

As a tribute to those living in the UAE, I have taken these popular dishes and made them my own. The simplicity of the meals is appealing and breaking bread with friends and family over a bowl of hummus is hospitality at its best.

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. Jackie Cameron (Head Chef: Hartford House — 033 263 2713)

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