Arabic cuisine Buffet

Taste of Arabia - The Market at the Ritz Carlton

Friday, May 15, 2015Me! In words

I have always loved Arabic food... perhaps because I happen to be one of those "Gulfie" kids, born and brought up in Kuwait with memories of large community platters at the neighbouring Palestinian family's home or my Palestinian babysitter who on a down day would come up with her version of a simple meal of Taboulleh, Hummus and home baked kubbus and Dolmas. 

So when the invitation to partake of the Taste of Arabia festival at Ritz Carlton came along, I was more than happy to relive those delicious childhood memories. The festival, sponsored by Air Arabia will be on at the Market at the Ritz Carlton, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and will have Chef Rami Almaket from the Ritz Carlton Dubai at the helm of culinary affairs. 

The personalized menu for the bloggers table was a nice touch and promised an interesting meal. 

It was interesting to see the level of planning that went into this festival, with the menu featuring representation from different parts of the Arab world. By the time we were done with the meal, we had tasted a bit of Syria, Morocco, the Levant Countries and Egypt. Not bad for a single meal. We started off with the Syrian Spiced Tea with Walnuts. Primarily served in the winter season, Chef Rami explained that in Dubai he doesn't really have the opportunity to serve the drink and was happy to do so considering how Bangalore's climate has been playing confused soul these days.

The modern day Samovar for the tea

Members of the staff were dressed in the traditional Thwab and a version of the Agal, which was fun to see. The buffet tables too were set up to display an Arabic touch. 

The tea was followed by a selection of starters and a gorgeous Lamb Harira Soup - This soup can be a meal in itself, so fair warning to all ye who venture. The soup has a heavy tomato base and is loaded with shreds of lamb, vermicelli, vegetables and chickpeas. The delicate spices from cinnamon and turmeric bring in the long distance connection with Indian spices and makes this Maghreb delicacy a great one. The vegetarians have a Lentil Soup option to choose from. 

One of the joys of eating Arabic food is the emphasis on community eating. While I would have loved the experience here as well, the more delicately plated platters enabled a part of it. Served with pita bread (I missed the Khubbus), we had flawless hummus, the babaghanoush and the beetroot dip enhanced with toasted black and white sesame and nuts. My pick of the platter were seedless green olives tossed with zattar. I even ended my meal on them. 

The Shawarma and the Falafel. Do make it a point to ask for the zesty garlic dip to go with this. 

Though not on the menu, the Chef brought out the Arabic version of the Dal Makhni, which is dry, had caramelized onions and can be that bowl of happiness you need at the end of long day. 

Also among the starters was the Fatta Chicken, which chunks of chicken and croutons all doused in a yogurt dip that has garlic in it and topped off with what I think is Ras el Hanout seasoning. 

The Vegetarians have a Chickpea version of the same 

Among the main courses was a Samak (Fish) main course which the Chef created from locally sourced white flaky fish. I know its not basa, but shame on the coastal girl I am, I am not able to recognize the fish. 

An assortment of grills and skewered meat, hot off the grills was also on the cards.  

And to end the meal, in Chef's words, the Umm Ali or the Arabic Bread Pudding dish with just about "40,000 calories", not much. This was a decadent dessert made of croissant pastry, soaked in sugared milk and rose essence, layered with whipped cream and baked. 

The Taste of Arabia is a great way to sample the variety that the Arab region has to offer. I definitely missed dolmas on the menu, but perhaps I could nudge the Chef if he comes back again. The festival is on till the 17th of May. Breakfast is Rs 1000 + taxes, Lunch, Rs 1500 + taxes, Dinner Rs 1600 + taxes per person. 

Address: #99, Residency Road
Phone: 080-4914 8000
Cuisine: Buffet
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Valet

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