First things first, thank you all for wishing dear Ari for his Birthday. I heard from Sis that he had a cute little party with kuttus( toddlers) and got some new car toys as well.
Continuing on the same lines, today’s post not about nephew but where he lives- the Middle East. When Sis was expecting A, I visited Dubai for the first time to spend a few weeks with her. Even with Ari in the tummy, she managed to show me the entire emirates. Last year, I had a chance to show N all those gorgeous things about the Middle east when we spent the summer there.
It is not just going to be recipes but also a short tour of the Emirates for this post. Emirates actually consists of seven states, hence the name the United Arab Emirates. Of those seven, apart from Saudi Arabia and Oman, we visited Abu Dhabi, Dubai (Truly a shopping paradise), Sharjah, Ras-al-Khaimah and Fujairah. And we visited the much talked about Palm-Jumeirah as well. That was the main place N wanted to see. And I wanted to show him the Gold Souk (Gold Market) 😉
Palm Jumeirah (Top view from Wikipedia)
Palm Jumeirah is the man made Island on the Persian Gulf, and the land on which the islands stands is obtained by Land reclaiming process.
Atlantis is the resort at Palm Jumeriah. The route to Atlantis is a road that is made by digging into the sea- ie., a tunnel that connects land and the resort standing in the middle of the sea. Once reaching the car park, there is a free shuttle service to the Atlantis resort.
Magnificent is the only word one can use to describe the feeling. Standing in front of the resort, one can see and hear the waves crashing on to the walls of the resort and then looking around it hits us that ” Gosh, we are actually standing on the sea”!!
Atlantis was our last stop and at that time, the Holy Month of Ramadan was starting and the decorations on the palm trees were amazing. Once inside, you can get the feeling of royalty. Every inch of the resort is well planned and built and it shows the richness from the lights to the interior decorations. And it does not cost much to stay in Atlantis too, it costs roughly $100/person in holiday season(when we visited)
We also saw the Burj Khalifa (Burj-Pearl),the tallest building in the world. You can see it from anywhere in the Sheikh Zayed Road. And there is a dancing fountain right in front of Burj which by far is the largest dancing fountain I have seen.
But there are also other attractions: Have you ever seen a Ski resort, filled with snow from snow machine, in the middle of a mall, in the middle of a desert? Sure there is one in Dubai. How about a cafe made with ice as walls and floors? Or an aquarium as the base of a building with penguins saying Hi?
You think I am joking? Then how about this. Can you make a mountain green? Seriously, a existing stony mountain in Al-Ain(The Garden City) has been turned in to a green mountain with plants and grass- totally man made. If you visit Al-ain you will never think you are in a dessert, it has got trees on both sides of the roads and it is so pleasant to travel. See the difference for your self, the mountain getting green from the foot to the top.
And I still have things to write about. the diamond studded Blackberries and gold veils in the Gold Markets, dates hanging from the palm trees on both sides of a high way, Beautiful Dubai Creek, Shopping festivals, The Spa’s (Sigh) and so on and so forth.
I guess I will take a quick break now to grab some food from the Middle East. Whenever I visit Sis and BIL, I come home with goodies that last for atleast a year. Freshly harvested dates, dates stuffed with almonds(yum), Fresh Cashews, Almonds, Pistas and the aromatic Iranian Saffron.
For a Vegetarian, Middle Eastern food has lots of options : Falafel, Hummus,Baba ghanoush, Biryanis and Koftas. Dates have a good water content in them, that by munching a few every day you won’t feel thirsty, isn’t that a good one for the dessert?
To beat the heat, there is a very simple drink that is sold like a soft drink in a can, called as Laban. Very creamy and natural, Laban is made out of yogurt. N loved it so much that he was finishing off a can every 10 minutes.
This is how you can make Laban at home:
Ingredients (Makes one glass)
Yogurt- 3/4 cup
Chilled water- 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Sugar- a pinch
Flavors: Depending on taste, either Mint, Cilantro,Lemon, Cumin seeds or ripe mango.
Ice Cubes- few
Whichever flavor you choose, grind it to a powder or a paste in a blender. Then add the yogurt, water,salt and sugar and give it a quick blend till it is smooth and creamy. Transfer to a glass and serve chilled. You can top it with ice cubes if needed too.
I am also reposting Egg Kofta Biryani (Usually made with meat, mine is a veggie version)
and Veg Seekh Kebabs
for Joanne’s Regional cuisines- Middle East event.