Tasting the Diversity of Dubai

Written By // Evie Gerontis
Recipes Provided By // Adam Kreisel

The Arabs have a beautiful saying “daifallah,” meaning guests from God. This might explain their kind and generous nature. Enter any Arabic home and you will be welcomed, fed, fed again and welcomed back again and again. For Arabs, hospitality lies at the heart of who they are. The insistence to ensure their guests eat, and eat well, before them is deeply embedded.

Dubai, once just a land for wandering Bedouin who welcomed guest into their tents to enjoy aromatic meals and spiced teas, is now a thriving multicultural city full of flavors, colors, customs and life. And the consequence to the diversity in this great city: endless culinary options that await you.

ESTERO would like you to experience some of the warm and wonderful flavors of Dubai and shares with you these delectable recipes. Enjoy!

Grilled Zucchini/Summer Squash with Mint Oil and Labneh

Ingredients

.5 oz fresh mint leaves picked and stemmed
1-2 medium zucchinis or summer squash (ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise in “tongues,” approximately ¼ inch thick)
3 oz. homemade or store-bought fresh labneh
2 tbsp. whole fennel seeds, toasted and cooled
1-1.5 cups grapeseed oil
canola oil
1 tsp. ground black cardamom
sea salt (fleur de sel, grey sel de guerande)
ground black Telicherry peppercorns TT
pinch of kosher salt
small mint leaves for garnish

Procedure

Mint oil: Place mint, grapeseed oil, and pinch of salt in high-speed blender. Blend mint and oil on high speed until the outside of blender feels warm. Remove the minted oil immediately to a cold bain-marie, or water bath and stir gently using a rubber spatula until the oil is completely cooled. (Make a cold bain-marie by filling a medium-size mixing bowl partially with ice, then setting a smaller mixing bowl inside it.) Place the cooled oil into an airtight container and place in freezer overnight. Remove the following day and allow oil to come to room temperature. Once at room temperature, strain oil through a fine mesh sieve lined with a piece of cheesecloth and discard the filtered solids. Place oil in a squeeze bottle or other container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Zucchini: Rub zucchini slices lightly with a bit of oil and season slightly with salt and pepper. Gently grill the zucchini slices over medium heat on a grill plate, or charcoal or wood grill, making sure to get a nice crosshatch pattern from the grill on each side of the slice. As the zucchini is coming off, place on wire rack, small sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Be careful to lay the slices out flat in single layers separated by more parchment paper as necessary. Lightly crack/crush the fennel seeds with the back of a sauté pan and reserve.

Assembly

Using a rubber spatula, fold the black cardamom into the labneh and reserve. Roll each zucchini “tongue” into a roulade and place in an offset row on a plate. Drizzle with the mint oil, sprinkle with a few granules of sea salt and a pinch of the toasted fennel seeds. Place a small dollop of labneh inside each roulade, sprinkle with a few small mint leaves or a bit of mint chiffonade (thin ribbons), and serve.

Carrot and Galangal Bisque with Toasted Pinenuts (or Hazelnuts) and Chives

Ingredients:

½ cup coconut oil
1 cup sweet onion, medium-diced
¼ cup minced galangal (floral Thai ginger)
¼ cup minced regular ginger
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp. grated fresh turmeric (may substitute dried if necessary)
1 tsp. ground allspice
½ cup white wine
2-3 quarts vegetable stock or cold water (stock preferred)
1-2 cups Yukon gold or other waxy potato, medium-diced
6 cups carrots, medium-diced
3 sprigs summer savory or Mediterranean thyme leaves picked and stemmed
kosher salt
ground black Tellicherry peppercorns TT
agave syrup or honey as necessary/desired
toasted pinenuts/hazelnuts for garnish
minced fresh chives for garnish

Procedure

Pour coconut oil in a deep saucepot or stockpot set over medium-high heat. When the oil’s surface becomes shimmery (just before smoking point), add onion, galangal, ginger and garlic and sauté. When mixture starts to caramelize, add the turmeric and allspice and toast them with the onions for another one to two minutes. Add the white wine, followed immediately by your vegetable stock, potatoes, carrots, and fresh herbs. If it appears that the stock is insufficient, cold water can be added. Bring entire mix to a simmer and add a couple pinches of salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the mix until the potatoes and carrots are very tender, but not mush.

Remove the pot from the stove, allow it to cool. Once cooled, begin to puree in batches in a high-speed blender. Make sure to run the blender through 2 to 3 full cycles with each batch of soup to create a velvety texture. When finished blending, season to taste (adding agave nectar if you need/like a bit more sweetness) and place in the fridge to marry.

This soup can be served chilled or warm with equally delicious results.

Penne Pasta with Chickpea Sauce

Ingredients

90 oz. drained cooked chickpeas (2 #10 cans)
6 cups cold water
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
4 small dried chile peppers, crumbled (can substitute with 2 tbsp. red chile flakes)
12 garlic cloves, chopped fine
4 large yellow or white onions (2 pulsed to a mush, 2 fine diced)
10 tbsp. minced Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme
75 medium-size basil leave (roughly chopped)
4 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
18 whole peeled stewed tomatoes, seeded and chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper TT
5# cooked good quality penne pasta

Procedure

Remove two cups whole chickpeas and reserve. Puree the rest of the chickpeas with the water and process until smooth. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat with the crushed chile and garlic until garlic is just translucent. Add onion, parsley, rosemary, thyme, basil, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for about 6 to 9 minutes until everything is stewing nicely in the oil. Add the whole chickpeas, pureed chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring every 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the amount of liquid in the mix as it is cooking. You may need to add a small amount of water if the sauce is reducing too much. After 30 minutes, remove from heat, remove bay leaves and discard them. Allow the sauce to cool for storage.

For service the sauce may be served on its own or with bay shrimp for a slightly different version. Heat a pat of butter in a sauté pan and add a small pinch of shallot. Sweat briefly, then deglaze with a touch of extra dry sherry. Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to the pan and add your cooked pasta. Toss to coat and reduce the amount of liquid slightly to infuse the pasta with the flavor of the sauce and make it a bit tighter. If using bay shrimp, add the shrimp when sweating the shallot, then finish the recipe in the same manner already described. Garnish with some chopped fresh herbs.