Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Travel post to Dubai + an Oriental Spinach salad and Daoud Pasha Meat Balls

Dubai city of Magnificent Skyscrapers and Creative Designs
There are days, weeks or months were you are just not inspired. Maybe feeling also a bit down. It could be the weather, international events or just some unresolved issues. I have not written anything on my blog for more than two month and felt miserable. I took a lot of pictures, cooked a lot and had a thousand stories in my head, but nothing came out on paper. 

One day chatting with my dad on Skype he suggested I visit him in Dubai. 
A trip to Dubai ! My first ... what a thrill. I was beyond excited to discover this part of the world and be reunited with my dad and sisters who are expats there. So I packed my swimsuit, my camera, my laptop and left the Canadian snow for sunny Dubai. Leaving my girls for two weeks was hard, but I needed some time alone. Some "me" time, well deserved. I am sure lot of moms out there can relate. 

Ali Baba shoes, bronze lanterns and vases, varied and very original spices are among some of the beautiful items you can purchase at the Old Dubai souks.
In the old part of the city lots of building are built with lime stone and coral.  Next to the textile souk I entered a very unusual store where they sell old fabrics dating hundreds of years.

I took all above pictures at the Old Dubai and souks. For more info visit: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/city-guides/dubai-walking-tour-3/
When I landed in Dubai 14 hours later I was quite amazed by the tall building and the magnificence of the city. Everything seemed a bit out of proportion, so new, so grand. I was so happy to see my family and spend time with them. I loved visiting the old parts of the city where you can wander through the different souks such as the textile souk, the spice souks or the gold souk. Dubai is a one of the biggest ports of this area. Lots of trading is done there too. So you can find lots of rare spices, amazing pieces of fabrics and so much more. I was quite inspired and bought some great spices to use in my dishes such as some Iranian saffron, beautiful green pistachio slivers and zereshk (Berberies).

The landward side of Dubai Marina has a beautiful 7 miles (11km) long waterside promenade. 
Beautiful Dubai night views from the sea while eating jumbo shrimps @ Aprons and Hammers

Christian Louboutin @the Dubai Mall -  Or a copy of a Celine bag @ the Textile Bazaar

Inside the Dubai Mall
A Botero Statue with a view of the Armani Hotel; The Aquarium at the Dubai  Mall
Stunning sugar confections @ the Dubai Mall
Back home, I was inspired to create a warm spinach salad with these ingredients  which I am sharing the recipe with you here. The Zereshk tastes a lot like dried pomegranate kernels. It has a sweet and sour berry smell and taste that I enjoy immensely. For the main dish I thought that a hearty Daoud Pasha (Oriental meatball dish) would be just the perfect pairing. The use of cumin and dry onions gives the meatballs a great taste. The sauce should be velvety. Perfect when served over white rice. 
In the winter my family used to serve this dish on week days as it is easy to prepare and always enjoyed by kids. You can use beef instead of lamp. It will be equally tasty but not the same. 

Impressive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
If you visit Abo Dhabi have lunch at the lebanese Abdel Wahab Restaurant  and enjoy the views of the mosque from there. Food was amazing.
Arabesq Sweets at the Dubai Mall: Best Syrian mastic ice cream. So thick it is cut with a knife.
At Burj Al Hamam restaurant with the view on
the Armani Hotel, Dubai Marina and Water Fountains
Yummy treats at the Wafi Gourmet (the Dubai Mall)

© Places I visited in Dubai and that I recommend:
  • The Dubai Mall: Where you have the Ice ring and the Aquarium 
  • The Emirates Mall: Where you have the ski slopes
  • The Dubai Port and Souks (such as the Fabric souk, Spice souk or Gold souk)
  • A unique Bar and lounge: The 360
  • Burj Al Hamam restaurant (with the view on the Armani Hotel, Dubai 
  •  Marina and Water Fountains
  • Dubai Fountains in front of the Armani Hotel & Dubai Mall (many surrounding restaurants have a view on the fountains)
  • Souk Madinat Jumeirah: typical oriental decor; lots of high end shops, great restaurant, bars and much more.
  • JBR Walk (where you find lots of ocean front restaurant, cafés, galleries and shops)
  • Dubai Marina Mall: Nice shops for a small mall
  • Lebanese restaurant Café Blanc at the Marina Mall: Great mezzés and modern Arabic decor. 
  • Arabesq @ the Dubai Mall: Best Syrian ice cream in town

You can find zereshk (Berberies) online@: http://www.kalamala.com/products/barberry-zereshk-1lb-sara

Zereshk and Spinach warm salad

  • ¼ cup zereshk (found in Iranian/Oriental stores) could be substituted by dried cranberries but won’t be the same
  • 1 bag of fresh baby Spanish
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • Good olive oil or sunflower oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Slices or slivered pistachios
Soak the zereshk in warm water for ½ an hour till tender then drain well. 
Blanch the spinach for 2 min in simmering salted water and then rinse with cold water.
Warm the olive oil on a pan then add the saffron and cook for 1 min till the oil has a golden orangey color and becomes fragrant. Add the zereshk and blend well. Remove from the heat and let stand 15 min then add it to your spinach. Squeeze the lemon juice and add some salt. Remember to taste to adjust the flavours. You can add some paprika or Tabasco if you like some heat. Add the slivered pistachios and enjoy!

Daoud Pasha (0r oriental meat balls)

  • 1 kilo of fresh minced meat (preferably low fat lamb)
  • 1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp Salt, pepper and paprika
  • 1 medium golden onion; thinly minced
  • 1 sachet of onion soup (or you can use ¼ of a cup of dried onion)
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ Aleppo red pepper powder (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Some bay leaves

Serve with steamed or fried rice.

Put the flour in a big bowl and add the salt, pepper and paprika and mix well. Form small balls of approx one inch and roll the balls in the spiced flour till well coated.

Put some olive oil in a medium pot and then add a batch of meat balls and let them cook undisturbed till they become golden and detach easily from the bottom of the pot. Then you can stir them to brown all sides. Do not over crowd the pot or the meat balls won’t brown well and will become soggy. When they are well browned removed them and reserve. Add another batch of meat balls and continue the procedure till all your meat balls are well browned. Remove all the meat balls from the pan but keep the yummy bits on the bottom of the pot. 

Add a bit more olive oil and the minced onion. Cook the onions for 1 minute then add the spices and pack of onion soup powder. Brown for 30 seconds then add the stock. Stir well then add all the meat balls to your pot as well as the bay leaves. Cook on medium heat for about ½ and hour till the liquid has thickened and the meat balls are well cooked. Your sauce will become creamier. Remove from heat and serve over the white rice. Enjoy!


  1. c est bon tout ca je vais le faire :)

    1. Merci Djenane. Je suis sur que tu vas aimé la salade tiède aux épinard. Bonne Appetite.

  2. Hi Karine, I enjoyed your reading your blog. The recipes sound so homey tasting:) and I sure will try them.
    Great job with the photography. Have you written more blogs? Please keep me posted if/when you do.

    1. Hey Yasmine. So glad you enjoy the blog. Some recipes are less homey.
      It all depends on my mood. The Daoud Pasha is very homey for sure. A staple in our family. It is very easy to make. A no brainer. :) Enjoy.

  3. Hope someday I get to visit the place too!

    1. Dubai is such a interesting and diverse city, Kankana. I am sure you would enjoy it. The food served in restaurants is really good and the markets are a must see. Thank you for your comment. Love your blog by the way.

  4. Food Photographer Dubai A big thank you for your article post.Really thank you! Fantastic.

    1. Your so welcome. Thank you for your comment.

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