Sunday, 13 November 2011

Middle-East eats

Not being very familiar with middle eastern cuisine, I did try some during my short visit to the Persian Gulf countries recently.

Arabic coffee, not to be confused with Arabica which is a coffee specie, is brewed coffee flavoured with cardamom.  When I was first served this, I thought it tasted weird until the aroma reminded me of chai - then bingo! Cardamom!  Don't expect Starbucks sizes for Arabic coffee though - it's usually served in a cup which is similar to the Chinese tea cup and meant to be sipped.  It can be an acquired taste especially if you're not used to the cardamon flavour, but being used to Indian spices I rather enjoyed drinking it.  It probably uses very light roast because the coffee has a light green tinge to it - not the usual dark brew that we're used to seeing.

A meal will normally start with mezze - Arabic mezze is what tapas is to the Spanish.  There's usually a basket of bread, hummus (chickpea dip), baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad), fatoush (green salad with pieces of pita), olives.  This is probably the most basic of mezze, and I'm told it can be as elaborate as 40 dishes or more.  Not being very partial to fatoush, I devoured the dips with gusto. 

Bread and dips at a neighbourhood restaurant


Courgette stuffed with rice

tabbouleh

A jaunt to Souq Wakif in Doha led Y and I to Tagine Restaurant - as the name suggests it serves Moroccan cuisine.  It must have been football night; it was packed and we were led to the rooftop for our table.  Being a newbie at this, I left the orders to Y.  There was complimentary olives with a chilli salsa and we ordered vegetable couscous,lamb tagine and a green salad to start.  The couscous was very fluffy, and just right to absorb all that lovely juices from the lamb tagine.  And the lamb was so tender, it was falling off the bone. 

Morrocan dinner

We wanted mint tea without sugar which shocked the waiter to no end. No sugar?! Are you sure?  Yup - the tea is served so very sweet.  I bet dentists do a roaring trade here.  Shisha is popular and you'll see local men enveloped in a haze puffing great clouds of the sweet cloying smoke.
mint tea
It wasn't all just middle-eastern food though, there are other cuisines available especially in the malls.  I just had to add this in for variety :)  croissants and capuccino at Paul's.

breakfast at Paul's @ Villagio

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