Last week i was kindly invited by a team at the UAE Food Explorers for a food tasting at Global Village. It was the first time i had ever been to Global Village out on the Emirates road and i could not believe how busy it was! There are stalls from several different countries, mostly Arabic but Indian and African and Asian too, selling ornaments, clothes, jewellery, knick-knacks, and food. The idea was for me to taste a few chosen dishes from different countries and to comment on them on video. The dishes were chosen by the team and they included nuts and baked sweet potato from Egypt, tamahindi – a tamarind juice from Syria, Roti from Sri Lanka and halwa, a desert from Oman.
First i tried an array of different nuts from Egypt, almonds, cashews and peanuts coated in honey and sesame. My favourites were the praline almonds! Next it was onto the sweet potato snack…
The sweet potato was baked and was served with a white bean dish called Tirmas which was a crunchy bean with dash of lemon juice and pepper. This is a particularly great snack in the winter as it is healthy, warming and comforting! Strangely it is also a winter snack in Japan and can be bought from street vendors! I particularly liked the tirmas, i don’t think i have ever tried anything similar and it is always exciting to find something new. All so simple but delicious! Next it was onto the tamahindi!
This talented young man did an elaborate show of throwing and catching the little glass before he poured the juice into it from the silver caddy he is carrying on his back! He could easily qualify as a cocktail barman anywhere! The tamarind juice was interesting! It was brown in colour and at first it seemed refreshing until the sweetness kicked in! Unfortunately it was way too sweet for me but there were some definate takers amongst the group! Next we were off to Sri Lanka….
There were several types of roti and we tried them all. I always find it fascinating watching experts make food like this,I think its the speed and the skill, its great entertainment! The dish i tried was a mixture of vegetables, carrots, cabbage, onions ginger, garlic with chicken and an egg to bind it all. It had a slight kick from the chilis which i loved. again so simple, quick, healthy and delicious. Infact, totally forgetting about desert I ate a little too much of this! Next off to Oman…
This is Omani halwa, which of course means sweet in Arabic and yes, it is indeed very sweet! This is a very traditional dish served on all occasions, happy and sad, religious and festive. It’s main ingredients are starch, sugar, eggs, water, saffron, cardamom and nuts. Well, this was certainly something new! I was asked to give it points out of 10, 10 being the highest score and i really wanted to give it a 5 as its a dish probably very special in many families with unique recipes handed down from generations but unfortunately i could only manage a 3. My teeth and my tongue were actually giving it a 1 but that’s just rude!
It was a great evening out and i would like to say a huge thank you to the team at UAE Food Explorers, check out their great website with all sorts of restaurant critiques, www.uaefoodexplorer.com and to Bruce from Standard Chartered Bank for sponsoring it. Global Village is open till the end of Feb and if you are looking for something different to do one evening its well worth a visit, entrance fee only 10 dhs, bargain!!!!