Dubai is often described as a cosmopolitan, international city of the future, with little cultural relevance to the region around it.
The Dubai Food Festival, however, aims to rectify this misconception with a series dedicated to Arabian food. Fatafeat Kitchen, a two-day affair at the Dubai Mall this Friday and Saturday, features workshops and demonstrations by Arab and international chefs as well as competitions, question and answer sessions, and tasting events.
Nine chefs are confirmed, including the Italian-American Lidia Bastianich and Arda Turkmen from Turkey, says Channel Director Darine Al Khatib. Making her debut is regional Kuwait’s Sadiqa Ismail, who joins her compatriot Waffaa Al Kandari.
To whet your appetite, GN Focus picked the brains of three of the region’s best-known faces to find out what they’re doing at the event this weekend.
Syria: Mohammad Orfali
My DFF action plan: “I will be doing a cooking demo with my Hakawi show partner chef Tarek Ibrahim, where attendees will have the opportunity to taste my food and ask me their questions.”
What we’re cooking: “We will be preparing Arabic dishes with a modern twist. On the first day of the event, we will do a very authentic dish but with a modernised technique: Freekeh risotto with braised veal cheeks. On the second day we will prepare Mont Blanc Tabbouleh, which is made from kale, dehydrated fermented yoghurt and topped with flat iron steak. The dishes are practical for home cooking because while I present the modern recipe we presented in a modern home cooking version that can be implemented at any home.”
Jordan: Da’d Azar Abujaber
My DFF action plan: “Though I love to cook various international dishes, I always take the opportunity to introduce Jordanian traditional historical dishes that originate from the desert and villages of Jordan as a way of reviving such recipes, seeing that they are slowly being forgotten from our collective memory.
What I’m cooking: “I chose two sweet dishes of Jordanian heritage: Lazagiyat, a simple wholewheat bread saturated with ghee, olive oil and sugar. To that, I am adding my own twist: a mixture of molasses and tahini, two ingredients that are used sparingly in Jordanian dishes. The second dish is Agrass Eid, delicious sweet bread prepared during religious festivities. The reason I choose these two dishes is to spread them to a wider audience and because I think they are delicious.”
Egypt: Salma Suleiman
My DFF action plan: “I’m a self-taught chef who loves simple food that caters to the hectic and complex lifestyles we now lead. I’m at Fatafeat Kitchen for the second year. Meeting fans to answer their questions about cooking is just the icing on the cake; I really have the greatest job in the world.”
What I’m cooking: “I’m doing two demos. One is a salad, [where] avocado, greens and spiced almonds combine to represent my cooking philosophy: The idea that a simple dish can act as a whole meal. The other recipe is an almond honey cake, which should please all foodies, even those who avoid gluten! These dishes are fantastic because they are easy but at the same time bring a sophistication and subtlety to two classics everyone loves: salad and cake. I also love that they can be prepared by about anyone, and you won’t need to buy extra ingredients!”
Need to know
Fatafeat Kitchen takes place at Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet, The Dubai Mall on February 26 and 27. It is free to attend. More information is available at