Visit to Kerala (Part 2)

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Kerala’s herb and spice trade dates back hundreds of years and even today the international market for these ingredients is a key driver of the regional economy. Locally grown pepper, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, tamarind and curry leaves are highly prized both for their flavour and beneficial medicinal qualities.

Everywhere we went we had to reassure anxious waiters that, contrary to popular belief, many Europeans do like spicy food, so please bring it on! Tasty, with spice, rather than hot with chilli was our experience of the Keralan vegetable and seafood dishes we tried. (more…)

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On the Indian food trail

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Dubai is full of glitzy, expensive restaurants but there is another side to this food-loving city that is easy to overlook. Old Dubai, is crammed with Indian street food sellers, artisan food producers, family–run restaurants and ethnic grocery stores, offering authentic regional specialities at bargain prices, but where to start? We have made tentative inroads to this other world but knowing where to go and what to order requires some serious insider knowledge. Enter Frying Pan Adventures, a small, local tour company started and run by two food-loving sisters, Farida and Arva Ahmed. (more…)

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It’s beginning to look a little like Christmas

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It was about this time last year that we had a conversation about what our Christmas in Dubai might look like. Should we take the Christmas decorations with us? Surely not. Likewise, the oversized fake tree that comes down from the loft every year? No, that would be ridiculous too. Wise decisions. Without all the familiar festive paraphernalia to hand it is easier to break away from convention and adopt a fresh approach. Deep down, I think the attempt to simply replicate what we usually do in this very different location would make me feel a bit sad.
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Pick and Mix Christmas

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I never dreamed that I would be able to achieve my idea of a perfect Christmas whilst living in Dubai but it is shaping up nicely to be just that. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the rest of the hideous panic buying that makes the countdown to December 25 a nightmare in the UK, is not happening here. It probably is at some level but that is my point, really. You don’t have to take part in all that if, like me, you hanker after a calmer lead up to Christmas. (more…)

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Take me back to the China Sea

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I have been ‘fancying a Chinese’ for quite a few weeks now, mainly because Tim has been raving about a particular dish he tried one lunchtime at Dubai’s China Sea restaurant and has been promising to take me there to share the joy.

The stars aligned and here we are, outside a beacon of red and gold illuminated kitsch that signals this is going to be a memorable dining experience. Every Chinese adornment, from fringed and bobbing lanterns to rampant mythical beasts, is on show at this Dubai institution and then some. (more…)

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Jordan’s hidden wonder

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‘You are welcome’. This simple phrase, usually just a reflex response to thanks, when used at all, doesn’t usually catch my attention. It took a journey to Jordan for me to appreciate the real meaning of these words when spoken by a Jordanian. Everywhere we went it seemed that ordinary people were genuinely delighted to know that visitors were in their midst and this oft repeated greeting was their way of communicating their pleasure. (more…)

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Letter from Lebanon

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I can still hear the worry in your voice, echoing in my head from several months ago when I first dropped Beirut into the conversation. Well, Mum, I went, I survived and I’m back safe and sound. I would have rung you by now to tell you all about it but since we can’t have those conversations any more I thought I would write down what I would have liked to share with you about this trip. (more…)

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Open door for Iftar

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You don’t have to be here very long to notice that expats in Dubai vastly outnumber the local Emirati population. A recent BBC radio report states the current statistics are 1 in 9. The cultural mix from around the world is rich and diverse but perhaps because of that, aside from the very obvious social protocols, the customs and religious traditions of the UAE can be somewhat hidden. (more…)

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