Eat­ing in the heat

Friday - - Leisure -

mimic any Pan-Asian menus cu­rated by Nor­we­gian chefs at zil­lion-star ho­tels. “If you don’t like Ara­bic mezze, cheesy blan­kets of fragrant Le­banese pizza, Ira­nian ke­babs, crisp falafel and but­tery Ye­meni meats, you may as well turn around now,” she said. Luck­ily, all work for me!

Arva ex­plained we’d be eat­ing four cour­ses at four restau­rants. Was this to pack in as much va­ri­ety into our four-hour tour as pos­si­ble? No. “I ate like this all the time in New York. For me it’s to­tally nor­mal to dart from place to place for each course,” she said. Sounds like high­main­te­nance din­ing to me, but per­fect if you get fid­gety eat­ing a whole meal in one place. And it left us open to lots of va­ri­ety.

Be­ing new to Dubai from Lon­don, I de­cided to go on the tour as a way to see an area of the city off the beaten track. And as we sped down the high­way the change of land­scape was im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. The skyscrap­ers seemed to shrink and evap­o­rate with ev­ery kilo­me­tre and the land vis­i­bly opened up – even ex­pos­ing a tree or two.

The minibus dropped us out­side a neon-lit take­away joint on Mu­raqqa­bat Street, called Sultan Dubai Falafel (sis­ter restau­rant Qwaider Al Nabulsi is just next door). It’s ap­par­ently the go-to place for Egyp­tian falafel (it’s thought falafel orig­i­nated in Egypt, but this topic has stirred up de­bate for cen­turies).

Egyp­tian falafel is made with fava beans, not chick­peas, and the ones we tried were stuffed with fresh chilli – the real Egyp­tian deal.

We braved the heat to sit out­side and devour freshly made, pip­ing hot falafel mahshi, hum­mus with a green tangy sauce and to fin­ish, ku­nafa na’ama, which is a sweet Pales­tinian cheese pie. Arva talked us through the recipes for each dish, coax­ing us to try more and lis­ten­ing to any ques­tions we mum­bled through hot, tasty mouth­fuls.

Mo­ments ear­lier she’d warned us this was a marathon not a sprint – that it was es­sen­tial we paced our­selves. “You shouldn’t be I must say at this point, th­ese are de­signed to be walk­ing tours – so you can re­ally soak up the neigh­bour­hoods be­tween restau­rants and give your stom­ach a wel­come rest, al­beit for five min­utes.

But dur­ing the in­tense heat of sum­mer (I at­tended in Au­gust, I know we shouldn’t have been out­side at all!) when it’s too hot to walk any­where, we were fer­ried around in the cool minibus to save us from melt­ing on to the pave­ment. Arva said it gave her the op­por­tu­nity to take us to places fur­ther afield than she’d nor­mally go on foot – like Al Am­mor in Abu Hail, but more on that later.

Our next stop was Iraqi restau­rant Bait Al Bagh­dadi on Al Mu­teena Street, Deira. It’s one of the only places in Dubai that spe­cialises in Mas­gouf – a tra­di­tional Iraqi method of bar­be­cu­ing fish (al­ways carp), which had been cook­ing for us while

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