Muttabal

This classic Middle Eastern dip, usually served as meze (starter), is similar to another eggplant-based dip, baba ghanoush. Recipe courtesy of Tarek Ayad, head chef, Awtar restaurant, Grand Hyatt Dubai.

Ingredients:

2 pounds eggplant
10 1/2 ounces sesame paste (tahini)
1/2 ounce minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon salt
3 1/2 ounces plain yogurt
Olive oil

Directions:

Pierce the eggplants, coat with olive oil and bake in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 30-40 minutes, rotating occasionally. Let cool.

Remove the skin and the tops of the eggplants. Chop the eggplants into a soft texture. Mix the remaining ingredients well, add to the chopped eggplant, and mix thoroughly. Serve cold with Lebanese bread.

Salt-Crusted Baby Hammour

The hammour is the most eaten fish of the gulf region and is part of the grouper family. You can substitute sea bass for the hammour. Recipe from Adam Melonas, chef de cuisine, at the Burj Al Arab’s Al Mahara restaurant.

Ingredients:

1 whole baby hammour per person
Rocksalt
Dried, sliced seaweed
Crushed garlic

Directions:

Mix the salt with seaweed and moisten with water. Dab the fish dry and fill the belly cavity with the crushed garlic. Cover fish with the seaweed-salt mixture and shape into the form of a fish. Bake in oven at 400˚F (200˚C) for 18 minutes. Serve after cooling for five minutes.

Servings: Serves one per fish

King Prawn Tagine With Braised Fennel

Gulf seafood is delivered fresh to Dubai restaurants and this dish combines excellent local prawns with a Moroccan classic. The recipe is from Nourdine Akalai, head chef, Almaz by Momo.

Ingredients:

5 large or 8 medium raw king prawns
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 1/4 pounds fresh tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, and diced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 pounds fennel bulbs, sliced thickly lengthwise
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaved parsley, chopped

Directions:

Remove the shells from the prawns but leave the tails intact. Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and fry the prawn shells and heads on high for 2-3 minutes. Crush the prawn heads with a wooden spoon to extract the most flavor.

Filter the flavored oil into a clean frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic on low heat until slightly colored. On medium heat, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until reduced (about 8-10 minutes). Set aside.

Steam the fennel slices for eight minutes, pour a second teaspoon of olive oil into the pan, season the fennel, and sauté over medium heat until golden. While the fennel is cooking, heat the last teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the prawns with a little salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes on high heat, turning once. Drain and place one-third of that oil in a heavy-based frying pan, and sauté the slices of fennel over medium heat. Season the fennel and braise gently (both sides) until golden.

Place the tomato mixture in a large heated tagine (casserole dish with cone-shaped lid) and arrange the dish by alternating the prawns and the fennel slices in a star shape on the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the fresh coriander and parsley. Cover tagine and serve immediately.

Servings: Serves four

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