Oct 292014
Restaurant Review: The Cycle Bistro, Dubai (UAE)

  Total Salads Rating: 8/10 – The Cycle Bistro is a Paleo restaurant located inside a bicycle shop which serves honest, wholesome, tasty food. They offer a variety of creatively made dishes to work around the Paleo dietary requirements (ie. ‘Vegetable Spaghetti’ made from shredded vegetables and ‘Wraps’ made from coconut flour and eggs). A lot of their delicious Breakfast and Main Course dishes come with a generous salad, so ordering one of those is the same as ordering a salad. They also serve some Bistro Salads but the ones I tried were disappointing compared to other dishes on their menu.   Restaurant: The Cycle Bistro   Location: The Cycle Bistro in The Cycle Hub, Dubai Autodrome Grandstand Shop B6, Motor City, Dubai   Price range: Main course dishes cost between AED32 and AED78; Fresh smoothies cost between AED22 and AED26; Coffees and Teas cost between AED12 and AED16 (see their online menu for details) The [Read more...]

Oct 242014
Recipe: Beetroot and Walnut Dip

      Pink October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international initiative organized by several breast cancer charities to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer. People are encouraged to show support by thinking ‘Pink’. From wearing pink clothes to baking pink cupcakes to buying the iconic pink ribbon pin, people actively show support for this month.   Of course, the main idea which must not get lost amongst this flush of pink is that women should remember to get checked by a medical professional for breast cancer and also to learn how to regularly check themselves.   In honor of Pink October, I decided to make a healthy screaming pink Dip, packed with foods which are good for your body such as walnuts, beetroot, garlic, lemon, tahini and extra virgin olive oil. Blend everything together and you get my delicious ‘Beetroot and Walnut Dip’.       BEETROOT and [Read more...]

Oct 192014
Restaurant Review: Baker & Spice, Dubai

  Total Salads Rating: 10/10 – Baker & Spice’s delicious salads made from mostly fresh local organic ingredients and their laid-back atmosphere makes this one of my favorite casual restaurants for any meal of the day.   Restaurant: Baker & Spice (Dubai)   Location: 3 branches in Dubai – Souk Al Bahar (8am-11pm) / Souk Al Manzil (7am-11pm) / Marina Promenade (8am-11pm). Baker & Spice also organizes The Farmers Market on the Terrace at Jumeirah Emirates Tower, Dubai (Fridays 9am-1pm during the UAE growing season, which is roughly November to May).   Price range: Plate of 4 Salads from the Counter (300g) – AED58; Shakshouka Matboukha for two to share  – AED 95; organic teas and coffees – AED15 to AED22; fresh squeezed juice and dairy-free smoothies – AED18 to AED38 (see their online menu for details)   I am finally writing a restaurant review on Baker & Spice, easily one of my favorite places to [Read more...]

Oct 142014
Recipe: Beetroot and Nectarine Salad with Hazelnut-Rosewater Dressing

    If you’re the sort of person who likes to control everything, here’s something you should try.   I recently ordered a box of organic fruit and vegetables to be delivered to my house by the local UAE company Greenheart Organic Farms. I know people have been ordering boxes from them since 2012, but I keep hesitating to place my order for one reason and one reason alone: I am a control freak and I like to know exactly what I’m getting.   I try to buy seasonal organic produce as much as possible, but I have always preferred to go to a shop myself to choose what I buy (and how much) rather than order a box packed by someone else. You see, I’ve got recipes in my head when I’m grocery shopping and I need to make sure that I get the right amount of ingredients to make those specific recipes.   Last week, I decided [Read more...]

Oct 052014
Recipe: Almond Crumble with Seasonal Fruit

    There is scientific evidence that hugging is good for your health. It increases oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’ which promotes relaxation, trust, and a feeling of stability) and reduces blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone).   A Japanese company called UniCare has created the “tranquility chair”, which is essentially a soft larger-than-life fabric doll built onto a rocking chair. The doll has a soft hat, friendly smiling face, and long arms that wrap around the user in an affectionate hug. Although anyone can use the chair, it has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the rising elderly population in Japan. It is currently being sold for JPY46,000 (USD420).   In the foodie world, the equivalent of a “hug” is a warm seasonal fruit crumble fresh out of the oven. Fruit crumble is so easy and versatile, and as long as you keep a few staple ingredients in your kitchen you can decide to make it on [Read more...]

Sep 212014
Product Review: Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Eataly (Dubai, UAE)

  Eataly, the Italian chain which opened its doors in Dubai in December 2013, is a ‘restaurant – cafe – grocery store – kitchen supply – emporium of all things Italian’. Sounds like a lot? It is. But don’t worry, there’s an information desk inside to help you find your way around if you get overwhelmed and find yourself wanting to go everywhere at once.   I have enjoyed visiting Eataly many times, just wandering around and tasting my way through. Last week, though, I went with an agenda. I was meeting Eataly’s regional food and beverage buyer, Stephanie Lerouge, for a lesson in olive oil tasting.     Stephanie, who used to live and work in Italy in the food industry, told me that she had always been very impressed by how passionate the olive oil suppliers she dealt with were. It made her want to learn more about [Read more...]

Sep 072014
Recipe: Figs and Pomegranate in Cardamom and Clove Spiced Syrup

    It’s early September, and I can’t find any figs in my supermarket. Last week there were lots of lovely tiny ones which you could finish in one bite, but this week nothing. Fig season is from July to October, so I’m hoping I will still manage to bag a few of the season’s last figs before it’s too late.   Pomegranates, on the other hand, are plentiful. Pomegranate is a winter fruit, and grows in the Northern hemisphere from September to February and the Southern hemisphere from March to July. The ones in my supermarket are from India, where pomegranates grow the whole year round.   My usual recourse with figs is to eat them plain or to prepare them as Figs with Mascarpone and Honey, but last week I decided to use my stash of figs for something different. Here’s my recipe for Figs and Pomegranate in Cardamom [Read more...]

Aug 312014
Recipe: Potato, Caper and Dill Salad

  Have you ever done a search in Google Images for ‘Potato Salad’?  Well, I recently did and I was really surprised by what I saw. On page 1, I was bombarded with thumbnail images of insipid, pale, squidgy-looking potato salads. Half of the images could easily have passed off as scrambled eggs or mac ‘n cheese. From page 2 onwards, it slowly starts getting better. Every once in a while, you can actually discern the shape of the individual potatoes and even see colors other than custard-yellow.   It made me wonder why there is such a visual monopoly online of just one style of potato salad. Although the squidgy-mayo-laden-eggy potato salad certainly has its place, there are so many other ways of making a potato salad. Potatoes are so versatile and the variations are endless. Adding mayonnaise is not the only way to dress a potato salad. Vinaigrette and [Read more...]

Aug 222014
Recipe: Bulgar Wheat and Herb Salad with Two Cheeses

  Last week, I walked by the cheese section of my supermarket in Dubai to pick up my usual weekly suspects: parmesan, cheddar, feta and goat’s cheese. I usually also add a cheese from a rotating list in my head – tomme, appenzeller, or brie. But I felt like I wanted to try something different this time.   I have to admit that I have been quite bad about trying the local cheeses from the Middle East. Sometimes I will pick up a local halloumi or labneh, but that’s the extent of it. I wandered over to the section where the local cheeses were displayed. There were two cheeses there which caught my eye immediately, possibly because they were the first ones visible. One was called ‘Bulgary Cheese’ and the other ‘Chtoora Bulgari Cheese’.   I asked the obvious question to the lady behind the counter, “Are these from Bulgaria?” “No [Read more...]

Jul 102014
Recipe: Seasonal Vegetable Pakoras (Chickpea Flour Fritters)

    OK, I’m going to be the first one to call myself out on this. This recipe is not a salad at all. It’s not even particularly healthy. BUT, it is a healthier version of an unhealthy treat. It’s what I make when I am just dying for the savory moreishness of pakoras – when nothing else will do.   Pakoras originate from South Asia. They’re spicy fritters made of chickpea batter (gluten-free) and studded with onions, coriander leaves and fresh green chillies. If you buy them off the street, more often than not they have been fried to within an inch of their lives and are really greasy and often too spicy. Home-made versions tend to be less greasy so if you’re lucky enough to be offered pakoras at someone’s house, be sure to try them (you won’t be able to stop at just one).   I’m really not [Read more...]