Exploring Abu Hail in a Frying Pan
Have I mentioned how much I adore exploring hidden food gems with the Frying Pan team? No? Well I do. I have been on 6 of their tours (including this last one on Wed) - two of them in "Beta". This means that they have already been tried and tested by Arva and her Frying Pan supporters but not made the official list of her tours. In addition to all the attention to detail, these are a great way to explore not only your palate, but hidden parts of Dubai that are on NO tourist map. The enthusiasm of the Frying Pan sisters - both Arva and Farida - make the tours entertaining and informative. There are anecdotes galore and a bit of theatre in various kitchens. I posted about all of my tours (except the Fish one I think which sadly did not make the official tour list). Anyhow, while I was on her Breakfast tour, Arva talked about a new 'beta' tour - Marriage of Meats. Of course, my eyes lit up. It was a private tour and I am very grateful to these other Frying Pan supporters for letting me join the tour. We were 7 of us (in addition to Arva). The weather was gorgeous so in addition to all the eating, there was a fair bit of walking at a leisurely pace of course. The tour had two places that I had already been to before - Al Ammour for the feteer (though this time around we had the one with basturma (sort of like pastrami - a tad salty) rather than cheese and honey) and Tajin and Tanjiah that has now become a family favourite especially for the lamb Tanjiah. I was rather excited about the two new places I went to - Al Khettar for some Gulf food and Al Habasha for some Ethiopian food.
At Al Khettar we started with chicken liver in pomegranate molasses (one of my favourites of the evening if I had to pick one), Jarjir (rocket leaf) salad, salad with feta and green mango (so we did have some greenery) followed by Saudi-style camel meat kabsa cooked with tomatoes, spices and rice. I don't know what I expected of the camel meat but it was tender and delicious and could well have been just mutton. We finished here with some Emirati-style gahwa (coffee) served with mechassef (dates bread). This place is open from 8am for breakfast on all days apparently - so I am really looking forward to going back.
The last place of the evening provided a bit of excitement. Arva ordered the Ethiopian doro wat (traditional chicken leg and egg stew cooked in a gravy of onions and berbere spice), misir (lentils) and kitfo (raw beef served with false banana called ‘enset’). In Arva's words, the kitfo was something new for her too and what she called her 'kumbaya' dish. The whole meal was served in a communal platter lined with a special bread made of tef (a grass) that just melted in your mouth with additional bread. The owner showed up and showed us how to eat the meal. In true Ethiopian tradition (where the hostess feeds her guest herself), the lovely Sara Aradi fed us all. It was eye-openingly delicious, nicely spiced and definitely one that I will return too. I have to say I was really taken with the texture of the bread. I could eat that with anything. There was some Ethiopian-style coffee (served traditionally with popcorn - no idea why) but I opted out of that.
If you are adventurous and want to give your guests something new and different to try, make it a point to go on one of her tours. Its will make you go back for more. Trust me.