Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

Chef Eats: Ahmad Jamil

The young chef Ahmad Jamil shares us the beloved dish that reminds him of home and a must try for any avid Middle Eastern cuisine lovers.

Chef Ahmad Jamil 1

On his tenth month spell at Al Nafoura of Le Meridien Jakarta, Chef Ahmad Jamil is more than keen to promote the cuisine of his home country – Jordan. His homeland; which lies on the crossroad between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine; benefits from the cultural exchanges with these countries over the years and even way before.

There’s a degree of similarity between the names of cuisines in Middle East countries but usually, the difference lies in the process and composition of the dishes. Above all, there are several particular fares deemed as the most traditional in the country. One of which is maqluba, dear to all Jordanians and Chef Ahmad in particular.

“Usually we are having this after the Friday prayer for lunch. Friday is the start of weekend in many Middle Eastern countries and maqluba is always available in every Jordanian household that day”, explains the chef.

Maqluba has all the richness you would seek from a combination of chicken, rice, vegetables, and authentic Middle Eastern spices. The rice owes its flavor from the stock and then later combined with the chicken itself. Vegetables included in the rice are such as potatoes, cauliflowers, and eggplants. The one unique thing is that this casserole is served upside down after the cooking process. Hence the word ‘maqluba’.

Chef Ahmad’s cookery skills do not entirely owing to his academic and professional backgrounds, it came actually straight from home.

“I usually become our family’s second cook if my mother’s busy with work”, confesses the young chef.

After spending some time abroad in Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Russia, and Malaysia for his professional career, his first time in Indonesia and living in Jakarta is actually a surprising experience for the chef. As we all know, our beloved city is downright busy and crowded – unlike the countries he’s been at.

Judging from his wonderfully made Jordanian dishes, which we also enjoyed that day, we suppose he will have no quarrel with all Jakarta’s hustle and bustle.

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Nov 2015 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

QuikSkoop™: Nagasari Curry House – Malaysia

Nagasari Curry House is dear to many fellow Indian food lovers of Kuala Lumpur, including one of its top lifestyle referral magazine. Which is why I decided to task myself with this endeavor and find out why.

Yes, I will tell you the name. Time Out Kuala Lumpur. That’s the name of the publication that I mentioned earlier and Nagasari is so dear to them and that it received several awards from the magazine.

As an ex-Time Out Jakarta (in memoriam), I felt the urge instantly to come here (and it takes only a short walk from Bukit Bintang, apparently). In a leafy neighborhood where several traditional eateries found as well, Nagasari opens its door for 24 hours every day for those who seek full-fledged Indian food, nasi kandar, or iced pulled tea to beat the heat.

It was 3pm and nowhere near dinner obviously. That’s why I got the whole restaurant for myself. Service was very attentive and the menu got everything you need from local fares, Indian, and some of Thai cuisines. Inside, the self-service nasi kandar counter is at your disposal, but I decided to share tandoori chicken with my wife.

Nagasari 1

The cooking process took some time and I wondered why. When the dish came, it was a grand treat even for both of us! Nagasari literally gave out well-cooked and chopped whole chicken alongside rice and three side dishes from the nasi kandar counter. Additionally, my wife ordered one serving of huge garlic naan and it was accompanied with three types of curry.

Well, that was a feast, but my plan since the beginning was to share it with my wife (who apparently that time was not really too hungry). Nevertheless I dug in and I found joy. The tandoori chicken was good, rice was nice, and each ingredient support one another. However, I have to agree that it was not entirely too rich, in a way that Indonesians would want to have for their taste buds.

Nagasari 2

We could have actually finished the naan but we decided to take away the remainder of it for our night time snacks back at the hotel. In all, Nagasari was an interesting choice and there might be a next time whenever I am at Bukit Bintang and looking for good deal of lunch.

Upon my next visit in the future, I would really like to try the banana leaf Indian food. If you happen to have your favorite in the city, do let me know! 😉

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NAGASARI CURRY HOUSE
Halal-friendly
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians

Address:
Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia

Opening hours: Daily, 24 hours

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Halal Eat Out: ABM Restaurant – Singapore

Singapore makes me always in need to be in motion. Where ever I am, it’s necessary to absorb as much culture and other advancements unseen in Indonesia. Singapore in particular, has plenty coming in from India – as we all know.

Food naturally becomes the pivotal part of my adventures here as you would grow tired and hungry from all those walks. During my visit recently to Mustafa Center (as always), ABM became my choice for the late night dinner.

Six years ago, ABM became a memorable place for me and my colleagues with its dinner and drinks. Now, it is my time with the wife.

Previously, we had a really nice experience back at Komala’s but of course, it would be a waste to not try something new for her. ABM itself is bustling with customers and at around 10pm, it started to ran out of what I was looking for through its menu.

ABM Restaurant 1

Again, I was ‘forced’ to order the biryani and chicken this time. The guy behind the bar was quick to serve my requests – from piling up the rice, the chicken, and the achar and up to brewing our iced horlicks and pulled tea.

The price was very friendly, as expected, and the taste was also decent. The downside of it is that the rice was a bit cold, but I was pleased to see that everyone of many nationalities around were enjoying their dinner.

We came back home quite content, but our dinner back at Komala’s was still more memorable. Perhaps next time.

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ABM RESTAURANT
Halal-certified
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians

Address:
136 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore
T: +65 6299 2723

Opening hours: Daily, morning – 11pm

Website

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3 types of bread from the Middle East (via Aquila Style)

Get acquainted with three kinds of bread that lie at the heart of many cultures.

Breads from the Arab World_Aquila Style

The region known more popularly as the Middle East is home to many different countries and people. It houses a diverse range of cultures and religions, each of them bearing striking similarities as well as differences. However, breads of many textures, sizes and shapes have been made, served and eaten for thousands of years here. Despite differences within the region, bread lies at the very heart of every one of its culinary cultures.

1. Pita

Breads from the Arab World_Aquila Style

Sources: Healthy Recipes and Veronica’s Cornucopia

The mother of all Arab breads is by far the most prevalent: the pita. Famous for its inner ‘pocket’ and wide range of uses, this soft round bread is known worldwide. Pita bread starts off as flattened rounds of dough that is then baked at very high temperatures, causing the dough to expand rapidly, separate in the middle and puff up dramatically like a balloon. The layers remain separated even as the pita bread is removed from the oven and left to cool and flatten.

Cut the bread in half to reveal the ‘pocket’ inside and try filling it with hot falafels, your favourite salads and strips of barbecued meat to turn it into a mouth-watering pita pocket sandwich. Pita bread and ice cream sandwich anyone? The soft and pliable pita is also used to pick up meat and vegetables and is perfect for tearing into small pieces and dipping into yoghurt spreads, hummus or tahini.

Get even more creative!

Why not turn your pita bread into a delicious pita pizza by throwing on some of your favourite pizza toppings, sticking it in the oven and wait for the cheese to melt? You can even use a stale pita to make your own pita chips by cutting the bread into triangles and baking it again. Pita chips make for a healthy and delectably crunchy alternative to potato chips and can be eaten with just about any spread or dip.

2. Lavash

Breads from the Arab World_Aquila Style

Sources: Joe Pastry and I’m Not a Cook

Lavash, a very thin flatbread of Armenian origin, is widely consumed throughout the Arab world. Like pita bread, you can do just about anything with lavash! The bread is soft and flexible when fresh and can be served alongside kebabs, cut into small pieces and eaten with dips, or used to make sandwich wraps with various fillings such as herbs and cheese or shawarma.

Bake the dough for a longer period of time to make bread crackers, best enjoyed with hummus, or top your lavash with goat cheese, lamb, spinach, tomatoes and olive oil to get a Persian-style pizza.

The thin bread dries out quickly and becomes hard and brittle over time. However, unlike most breads, lavash can be used for long term storage and then easily rehydrated with a little steam to make it soft again.

3. Sangak

Breads from the Arab World_Aquila Style

Sources: Turmeric and Saffron, I Live in a Frying Pan

Sangak, a wholewheat flatbread made from sourdough, is considered the national bread of Iran. What is special and unique about this bread is the way it is traditionally baked. Sangak, meaning ‘little stones’ in Persian, starts off as thin sheets of dough before it is baked on a bed of hot river stones in an oven. These stones shape the surface of the bread, giving the bread its trademark appearance. Sometimes the bread even comes out with small holes and some charred areas!

Sangak has a marvellous spongy texture and a hint of sourness. It is usually served warm, goes great with any cream or cheese and makes an amazing accompaniment to kebab. How about some thick yoghurt to go with your metre-long Iranian bread?

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Written by Layla Maghfur Usman

Taken from Aquila Style

Halal Eat Out: TAJ – Singapore

Visiting the Chinatown area in Singapore is a must-not miss opportunity, especially for foodies.

Previously, I had my share of breakfast at one of the oldest kopitiam in the city. Quite recently, I learned that the Chinatown is actually not all about the Chinese, but it is also a melting pot of people with religions such as Islam and Hinduism.

It’s cool to actually feel the all Chinese atmosphere around with the lanterns and typical Oriental-style trinkets and souvenirs around, but to also witness a huge Hindu temple and the oldest masjid in Singapore was another wonder for me.

After visiting the Masjid Jamae Chulia, the cravings for good lunch started to kick in and looking at TAJ on the intersection of Mosque Street with all the halal food offerings suddenly draw us in further.

Entering TAJ was probably the best decision we ever made in Singapore. Although at one point we were unsure of the price since there’s no menu around to be seen, but the owner ensured us indirectly with words such as “halal” and “affordable”. Now becoming surer than ever, we ordered another good deal of nasi biryani with lamb curry for my wife and two huge garlic naan for me.

While we were waiting, we looked around and see how underrated this place is since no one was there yet perhaps or we were too early. TAJ is clean, air-conditioned, neat, and very strategic. We were about to taste their Northern Indian offerings in a minute but I felt already comfortable with everything.

It’s probably because the food is presented like in a canteen and you can choose anything you want from what we always order in Singapore to tandoori, dal, and other good looking Indian food.

Not long, the food started to come and we dug in heartily. It was really good! After all, I slightly preferred this over Mufiz, perhaps because TAJ is air-conditioned and made it more comfortable for us to stay and dine.

The naan was also exceptionally delicious. We thought that it was too much for both of us but we managed to finish everything, squeaky clean. Lastly, the big surprise was that everything only cost around USD 15!

We would be very happy to visit TAJ some other time because of everything that we had experienced. However, it would be better if we scour Singapore for another interesting Middle Eastern and Indian eateries somewhere else. Let’s find somewhere else that could beat TAJ (or perhaps none in the end?).

Let’s find out about it!

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TAJ
Halal-friendly
Some dishes are suitable for vegetarians

Address:
214 South Bridge Road (on the corner of Mosque St.), Singapore
T: +65 6226 6020

Opening hours: Mon – Sat, 11.30am – 8pm

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