Indian food bears a Middle Eastern stamp

Image Courtesy Khaleej Times

Food is the ingredient that binds us together – words that hold true when it comes to the culinary relationship between India and the UAE. No wonder, the food platters from the UAE resemble those from India, and the treats from India bear a Middle Eastern stamp.

Samosa vs. Sambusa

The fried (nowadays baked) pastry with a savoury filling is said to have originated in the Middle East and not in India, as many believe. On Indian streets, you can grab a hot samosa with tamarind chutney and a chai outside every office building. The Indian version of the crisp triangle snack is stuffed with spiced potatoes, onions, and peas, however, Dubai foodies prefer Sambusa or Sambousek – spinach and Feta cheese or minced meat (lamb/chicken) filling. At Logma, BOXPARK, choose between Samboosa Cheese (served with spiced Oman chips) or Samboosa Beef (with pomegranate molasses). Order a Samosa Bite chai combo for Dh10 at FiLLi’s (across 18 locations in Dubai).

A biryani, please

Every region of India has its own traditional style of making biryani with each claiming theirs is the best. Think: Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Bombay, and Malabar Biryani. Add to it competition from its Middle Eastern counterparts – generous use of dried fruits and nuts and a hint of zafran. Gazebo, Biryani Pot, Shiraz Golden Restaurants, and Student Biryani are some of the easy-on-pocket stopovers for biryani lovers. Head to Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar and Ashiana by Vineet Bhatia for a fine dining experience.

Everyone loves chickpeas

In both countries, you fill find a jar of chickpeas on the kitchen shelves. The chefs swear by the cream-coloured pearl-like versatile ingredient. It features in dips, soups, curries, salads, and more. What’s a mezze platter without Hummus, Falafel or Tagine? Similarly, an Indian meal is incomplete without Chana Chaat, Chole Bhature or Chana Masala. Sample the spicy Chana Bhatura at Bikanerwala (across seven locations in Dubai). At Falafel Farm (across two locations in Dubai), savour the deep-fried snack (prepared with ground chickpeas): Classic, Egyptian, Spicy, Halloumi, and Labaneh.

Sweet ties

And then, of course, there is the Halwa – the Middle Eastern quintessential dense sweet treat. The flour-based version of the dessert is popular in India. Plus, there is Luqaimat, the deep-fried sweet dumplings covered in honey and syrup. Don’t be surprised if it reminds you of the desi gulab jamun. Sweet shops across the city stock up these treats.

Hungry for History

Lemongrass, the culinary and medicinal herb

Lemon-scented with a hint of rose fragrance – lemongrass is a common plant to grow in home herb gardens

. The herb is native to India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. Today, India produces the largest quantity of lemongrass oil in the world.
. It is grown commercially in China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. China produces up to 1,00,000 kg a year.
. The oldest known text about lemon grass oil was found from the Philippines in the 17th century. Today, it is used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industry.
. It is used to make a medicinal drink called fever tea, which can treat diarrhea, stomach cramps, headaches, and sleeping disorders.
. The herb can be added to a wide variety of dishes, be it soups, stews, curries, marinades, and roasts.
. In India, dried lemon grass, mixed with other ingredients, is used in making writing and printing papers.
. To thrive, lemongrass requires bright sunlight for most of the day with times of light shade.
. Buy a stalk and place it in a glass of water. Once the roots form, it can be transplanted into a pot. When the plant grows, which is very quickly, it can be split apart to make multiple plants.



Read More on Khaleej Times

Leave a Reply