Middle East on a plate

The Middle Eastern Food Fest at the Crowne Plaza in Kochi offers dinner which is a fusion of Moroccon, Lebanese and Syrian dishes.

Eating out has become a very popular fad in Kerala. Proving this are the various eateries that open each day, serving cuisines from across the world. While Chinese cuisine is a hot favourite, Middle Eastern food like hummus, crispy falafel and shawarma are also extremely popular. After all, which Malayali does not have a Middle East connection? Enjoy the flavours of Middle East at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Kochi which is organising a Middle Eastern Food Fest for dinner till August 7.

The much decorated Master chef behind some of the very popular dishes served here is Taha Abosamra from Riyadh. He has flown all the way to Kochi to introduce the lovers of Middle Eastern food to some exotic dishes. Middle Eastern food encapsulates a whole variety of dishes which is an amalgam of Arab, Persian, Syrian, Lebanese, Israeli etc. Middle Eastern cuisine is healthy with abundant use of vegetables, fruits, lean meat, fish and nuts. Aromatic spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and hot peppers bring out subtle flavours and have a close similarity with the spices used in Kerala.

Chef Taha has come up with recipes that are a fusion of Moroccon, Lebanese, Jordan, Emirates and Syrian traditional food. He says, “I want to surprise the food lovers with homely cuisine. We have a lot of guests from the Middle East who like the lamb mandi and Kabsa served here.”

Salads, main dishes and desserts complete the wholesome dinner menu which has veg and non-veg dishes with dishes changing every day. Some of the popular food on offer is potato with saffron, smoking rice, grilled chicken, Fatteh Djaj, Kharouf Mahshi, Manakeesh, Tabouleh, Fattoush, Moutabal, Umm Ali, Baklava, Masgouf, Mudammas, etc

Talking about the Kerala cuisine, Taha, who is a Syrian, says, “Kerala cuisine is a bit spicy for my taste, but I like it ;especially the chicken biriyani and tikkas. The flavours and spices are fresh and wholesome.”

Taha mentions that he got his culinary interest from his father- in- law.

Taha is currently in awe of Kerala. He adds, “The moment I landed at the airport, I was shocked to see so much of greenery. The spices, vegetables and meat here are very fresh, so the flavours of the dishes are enhanced. The ingredients I use here for the dishes are the same but the food turns out tastier because of the freshness.”

Tabouleh salad

Parsely flat- 1kg
Tomato chopped- 300gm
Burghul- 60gm ( dried cracked wheat)
Onion chop-20gm
Mint leaves- 10 gms
Olive oil-100ml
Lemon- 4 no
Salt- to taste

Soak the burghul for half an hour and keep it separately.
Chop the parsley and mix with tomato, onion and mint leaves.
Strain the burghul and mix with chopped vegetables.
Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and mix well.
Garnish with lemon and chopped parsely.

Grilled Chicken

Chicken- 1 whole
100 ml youghurt
50 ml vinegar
20 gm garlic
Lemon- 1
Salt- to taste
Black pepper powder- 5 gm

Garlic- 5gm
Tomato paste-10gm
Chicken stock-15ml
Cumin-1 pinch
Cardamom whole- 2
Vinegar -5ml
Lemon- 1
Olive oil- 5ml

Cut the chicken into half Marinate with youghurt, lemon, salt, pepper and garlic. Keep it for at least 5 hours
Grill the chicken in a grill or charcoal slowly and cook on both sides for 8 to 10 minutes

Heat the olive oil, add chopped garlic and tomato paste and saute.
Add cumin powder, salt, lemon juice, cardamom and vinegar.
Add chicken stock and boil.
When the sauce thickens, serve with chicken

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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