I was absolutely NOT expecting to eat the best felafel of my life the night I partook in Arva Ahmed’s Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai.
I can still taste it, and it’s been months since that wonderful, memorable night.
It might not look all that special, but trust me, it was. It’s possibly due to it being made and cooked merely moments before tantalising my taste buds, and it’s also possible it’s because it was a sultry night in Dubai and I was starving. Whatever the reason, I’m never buying pre-cooked felafel from the markets again. Ever.
When I mentioned my few days in Dubai on twitter, and asked for recommendations, the overwhelming suggestion (bordering on insistence) was that I do one of the Frying Pan Adventure food tours. Thank you to everyone who suggested it!
As a food tour lover from way back, of course I booked in. I chose a tour that focused on Arabian food – other choices were Indian and African foods, prevalent in Dubai – but I wanted to eat as authentically local as I could. I didn’t have a full appreciation for the enormous variety of foods available!
Arva immediately made me feel at ease when we met. It did help we had been chatting on twitter for a few weeks in advance! She keeps her tour size small so we can all chat and get to know each other. I was surprised to find that I was the only real tourist – everyone else was an expat who had been living in Dubai for a few months to almost twenty years. A lovely group who were happy to share their experiences of Dubai with me.
We were advised to turn up hungry, as we had many stops for food. Anyone would think I was a food tour rookie given how many felafel I ate – on our first stop! Silly me! I really should have known better, but I could have eaten that and nothing else and been very, very happy.
As well as the stunning felafel, we also tried:
- Palestinian falafel mahshi (chickpea falafels stuffed with chilli paste, parsley, sumac and onions)
- hummus with a capsicum/green chilli pepper/garlic/lemon sauce called tatbeela
- foul (Egyptian slow-cooked fava beans)
- kunafa (Palestinian cheese pastry) cooked in cow’s milk clarified butter – seriously divine
- Egyptian feteer (a sort of tossed crepe-like pastry) with veggies, two types of cheese – cow’s milk mozzarella and a goat’s milk Turkish cheese – and basturma (beef pastrami) with spicy sauce
- shorbat adas (lentil soup)
- Emirati chicken machboos (chicken cooked in an Emirati blend of roasted spices or besar and with the rice simmered along with the chicken)
- laham salona (lamb curry with the traditional blend of Emirati spices) served over rice
- harees (meat and wheat porridge)
- many, many sweets including gahwa (Arabic coffee with cardamom), karabij (pistachio cookies with the soapwart cream), ma’amoul (spiced date cookie) and warm bukaj (the cashew nut-stuffed baklava pouch).
No wonder I rolled back to my hotel!!
Have you been to Dubai? What was your favourite food experience?
Frying Pan Adventures, Dubai
Tours run by sisters Arva and Farida Ahmed
Disclaimer – I paid to go on this tour and am writing this (somewhat belatedly!) as I loved every moment and want to share the love by supporing fellow small business owners and food lovers. Thanks again Arva, it was fabulous.
Note: This post is part of Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures’ A – Z Guidebook Travel Link Up, a monthly get together where bloggers get to navigate the alphabet, talking about the one special place and photo that best represents the nominated letter of the month. This month is D. And I’ve just realised I’ve broken the one photo rule. Sorry Fiona!
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