As part of Hazza Al Mansouri’s eight-day itinerary at the ISS, the UAE’s first astronaut will have the opportunity to host an Emirati food night for his colleagues in space, serving up delicious madrooba, saloona and balaleet. GN Focus shares a couple of these traditional Emirati recipes that will allow home chefs to cook up a storm in kitchens this weekend.
Braised lamb and vegetables
Prep time: 1 1/2 hrs
1 lamb shank
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 tsp Arabic spice mix
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 pcs dry lemons
1 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tomato, chopped
6 cardamoms whole
½ tsp black pepper powder
¼ of a yellow zucchini, diced
¼ of a green zucchini, diced
¼ of a medium-sed carrot, diced
Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
Wash the lamb shank well and place it on a large skillet. Add water and the other ingredients, except zucchini, carrots and leaves to the pot. Season. Cook over medium heat until the meat is well done.
Add both zucchinis, and carrot to the stew, leaving it to boil for five minutes.
Garnish it with chopped coriander and parsley.
Recipe courtesy of Mezlai, Emirate Palace Abu Dhabi
Balaleet muhamara with fried eggs
Prep time: 10 Mins
3 tbsp clarified butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp cardamom, crushed
Pinch of saffron, soaked in one tbsp milk
½ tsp cinnamon powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Heat the pan, add half the clarified butter (ghee). Sauté vermicelli in ghee until you get a golden brown colour.
Add water and cook vermicelli for three minutes. Strain and keep it aside.
Heat a separate pan with the rest of the ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the beaten eggs and scramble them for a while. Season.
Add the vermicelli to the fried eggs and finish it with crushed cardamom, saffron, cinnamon and sugar.
Cover and let the flavours infuse the dish. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and serve hot.
Recipe courtesy of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
Two well-known culinary experts talk Emirati food and the best places to sample this unique cuisine
Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Executive Oriental Chef, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
My cooking style
My style focuses on two things: simplicity and timing. The ingredients that we cook with speak for themselves so I focus on making sure that everything is done at just the right time to ensure quality and flavour.
The majority of dishes at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray have some elements that have been inspired by Emirati cuisine.
I love the way spices are used in Emirati food and how each family has their unique spice combinations. We roast them up to their preferred mix and then blend for added flavours. Everything about Emirati cooking is about freshness, so you’re guaranteed the highest quality of taste and flavour.
The majority of dishes at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray have some elements that have been inspired by Emirati cuisine. While we’ve got many restaurants serving different cuisines, it’s my objective to ensure that Emirati influence is apparent throughout the menus.
Two must-try dishes for visitors
It’s so difficult to narrow it down to just two, but if pushed, I’d recommend the Lamb Harees and Chicken Machboos. I’m hungry just thinking about them.
Favourite restaurants for Emirati food
My favourite restaurant other than my kitchen is Al Mashowa at City Walk. This has an Emirati menu, serving traditional food with simple presentation. For fine dining, my favourite is Al Iwan in Burj Al Arab. It has simply amazing views, featuring a beautiful selection of dishes. I love going there.
Ali Ebdowa, Executive Chef, Mezlai Restaurant, Emirates Palace Hotel
My cooking style
I prefer traditional, comforting homestyle cooking that brings back memories of my mother’s kitchen. At Mezlai, we present traditional Emirati food with a modern twist.
A burst of flavours
Emirati food is a mix of bold flavours, where every spice imparts a distinct aroma and taste.
At Emirates Palace, we introduce new dishes every month, create Arabic-themed nights, and promote selective Emirati dishes of the month extensively to allow our guests to explore the flavours of the local cuisine.
Promoting Emirati food
At Emirates Palace, we introduce new dishes every month, create Arabic-themed nights, and promote selective Emirati dishes of the month extensively to allow our guests to explore the flavours of the local cuisine. We also use our communication channels to keep our in-house guests and visitors posted on what’s new at the restaurant.
Mezlai has a vast menu steeped in the heritage of the UAE. Camel Tannour is a highlight on the menu. Here we marinate camel meat with a special spice blend, roasting them following the old traditions. Lamb Medfoun is another wholesome dish on our menu. Medfoun is a traditional Emirati way of slow-cooking meat wrapped in banana leaves in an earthen hole. We have a special oven where we can replicate this cooking technique. Our slow-cooked camel chops are equally enticing.
Favourite restaurant for Emirati food
Other than Mezlai, the heritage village In Abu Dhabi is the place to go for Emirati cuisine as well as for a traditional experience.