Finally, we’ve reached another country on our food journey that we’ve actually been to before: the United Arab Emirates. Between us, we’ve seen the inside of Dubai airport more times than we’d care to count, but we actually ventured out into the searing heat for a few days in April 2012. Dubai is a curious city of simultaneous excess and restraint, which can actually probably be summed up by our two most memorable eating experiences there: all-you-can-eat brunch, and chicken shawarma.
This week we had the pleasure of sharing our culinary journey with Ash’s sister and her boyfriend. In fact, thinking about it, they had a pretty varied weekend of food up in the big smoke. Ash made a very British cottage pie on Friday, we had Italian (ish) paninis for lunch on Saturday, we went to a French-Mauritian fusion restaurant on Saturday night, Cheryl and Miranda visited the Turkish Food Centre on Sunday morning and then we had a go at Saudi Arabian kabsa for Sunday lunch. That’s multicultural London for you!
Kabsa cheats a bit, because apparently it is indigenous to Yemen, yet is considered the national dish of Saudi Arabia. It’s very similar to curry house staple, biryani, only with Middle Eastern spices rather than Indian ones. And there are certainly plenty of spices! The recipe we used contained a dozen. Fortunately we seem to have a collection of all the spices of the world somewhere in our kitchen (having them is one thing; finding them is another), so we were pretty much set – apart from the dried limes, which is where the Turkish Food Centre came into it. We have no clue whether we should have bought the black or brown dried limes, but given that the black ones looked like they’d gone off, we opted for the brown… Continue reading