5 dishes that shaped my life: The Dubai Chefs Collective edition
The Dubai Chefs Collective is a brainchild of lockdown. Chefs based in the emirate created a digital platform to connect, share ideas and–most importantly–support one another.
Five of its members reveal the dishes they turned to during the recent quarantine:
Sourdough Focaccia — Robert Stevens, head chef, Intersect by Lexus
My love of bread started early. Growing up in Finland we ate dark, delicious, 100 percent rye sourdough. I had never tried making it until we were in lockdown, where it was the perfect time to improve my baking skills. Making sourdough is very time consuming, but it’s also rewarding. It’s amazing how something as simple as water, flour, salt and time can turn into something so delicious.
Chicken Musakhan — Mohamad Chabchoul, executive chef, Grand Millennium Business Bay
This is a Palestinian chicken pie, with crispy skinned chicken, red onions, za’atar, lots of Sumac powder and crispy puff pastry with olive oil. The dish is simple to make. The legend goes that in the olden days, Musakhan was a dish used by the Palestinians to determine the quality of olive oil pressed on their farms that season. If you have a good batch, your dish wouldn’t be bitter when the ingredients are added together. This was the perfect dish to bring my Lebanese family together over dinner and bond over the lockdown as well.
Grilled Octopus with Quinoa and Beetroot Dressing — Roberto Segura, culinary consultant
You can’t not love seafood if you’re from Peru. I’ve been trying to get my two-year old son, Lucca, to try it. But to my dismay, he absolutely hates it. Pulpo, as it’s known in Spanish, is a delicacy and can be served as an appetiser or as a main dish. Every month I try different variations of Octopus dishes for him to try. But despite slaving in the kitchen for this dish, I couldn’t get over his expression after he removed a piece of tentacle from his mouth. I’m going to keep trying until he loves it. This recipe is a mix of Peru and the Middle East, and the beetroot tahini dressing adds just the right zing to it.
Papaya salad — Yusuf Sujee, Executive Sous Chef, ME Dubai Hotel
I’d never really heard of a papaya salad until I went to Phuket a year ago. It was an incredible holiday— I went my wife on the trip. Since we’ve not been able to travel at all since the start of the year because of the pandemic, I thought why not make a dish that reminds me of the very best travel adventure we’ve been on. This was the dish we ordered at our first dinner together at a busy street side restaurant in a crowded Phuket market. Little did I know, it’s actually Thailand’s most popular dish!
Mango, cardamom and burnt butter crumble — Nickola D’Souza, cake stylist, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay
Growing up, the highlight of my summer holidays would be gorging on mangoes. I’d also spend most of the summer in the kitchen with my mum baking away. It’s perhaps where I found my love for everything to do with baking. Making the most of the down time in recent months, I thought it would be the perfect activity with my daughter to bake a delicious cake, which combines Indian spices and French technique. If you are Indian, you’d know that mango and cardamom make a fantastic pairing.
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