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Delicacies from Arab world delight foodies

October 28, 2018

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One of the stalls at the Arab food festival held at a hotel.—White Star
One of the stalls at the Arab food festival held at a hotel.—White Star

KARACHI: With a befitting ambience, the Arabic Food Festival opened at the Avari Towers on Friday where diverse flavours of the Arab world were presented to a Pakistani palette.

Comprising a rich cultural and traditional history, the flavours of the Arabic food incorporate a lot of local ingredients from spices, herbs, dates, rice and of course the meat. According to the organisers of the food festival, the aim is to highlight how over time Arabic food has become among the more popular cuisines of the world.

Arabic food is distinctly rich and the dishes presented to guests were also thus. The spread began with the Middle Eastern mezze platter; Lebanese Fattoush salad, mutable, rich and delicious hummus, tangy, thick, creamy yogurt cheese called labneh served with lots of olive oil and plenty of olives. The starters, mostly vegetarian, were beautifully served and delicious to taste.

According to executive chef Mohammad Naeem, who has served for several years in the UAE’s food industry, the festival incorporates dishes from around 24 Arabic countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. “Most Pakistanis have travelled to countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia and so they are familiar with Arabic cuisine to a large extent. This is why we decided to have this food festival, so people could taste the true flavours of Arabic cuisine.”

Some of the popular dishes of the night incorporated rice and meat. Bukhari Rice, known in Arabic as Ruz Bukhari, was a hit as was the Mandi. Shish taouk, a traditional marinated chicken shish kebab of Middle Eastern cuisine, lamb chops and lamb kebabs were also devoured very quickly. Bamya bil Lahme, which is okra with meat stew was an Egyptian dish. Another Egyptian dish was the flaky layered pastry Feteer meshaltet. Stuffed crab and prawns were also served. And of course there were plenty of shawarmas.

According to Naeem, “Arabic cuisine is very nutritional as it is usually made from olive oil which is very healthy. Also, they use very limited spices especially those that cause problems such as heartburn.”

However, Arabic cuisine incorporates very heavy desserts in their diet. And the dessert section at the festival was a rich celebration of Arabic cuisine.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2018

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