These days, Latest Recipe, the restaurant at Le Meridien, has literally taken to the concept of ‘Athithi devo bhava’ (the guest is equivalent to God). With the city witnessing a huge inflow of Arab tourists after the holy month, the hotel is serving authentic West Asian flavours for the guests to make them feel at home.
The ongoing Arabic Food Festival offers a delectable spread whipped out by Chef Mohamed El Saber who has specially flown down from Doha to take the foodies here on a gastronomic journey.
“I will be making traditional Arabic food for the festival. The cuisine includes a mix of delicacies from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Lebanon and Egypt,” says Chef Mohamed.
The West Asian dishes which are less spicy compared to our Kerala cuisine is a rich mix of fresh herbs, spices, meat and veggies.
Start off the lip-smacking journey digging into the ‘Mezza’. “Mezza is a spread of appetisers which includes a selection of salads or small foods,” explains the chef.
In the buffet, one can go for the popular mezza like baba ghanoush, hummus, samboosak, fattoush, carrot Lebaneh, Lebanese potato, mutabal, green and balck olives with vinaigrette dressing, aubergine salad among many, which goes along with Arabic breads.
“Hummus is made from chickpeas. Fatoush is a famous mixed salad with a sour taste while samboosak will resemble your samosas but stuffed with cheese or chicken or lamb. Samboosak can either be baked in oven or fried in oil,” says Mohamed.
Most of the salads use olives, olive oil and lemon juice. “Falafel is another famous dish which we usually have for breakfast. In the Lebanese variety, chickpeas are used while the Egyptian falafel is made from broad beans. It can be had as a starter,” says Mohamed who has been tickling the tastebuds of foodies for the past 22 years.
After having the flavourful salads, sip into the piping hot cumin lentil soup or chicken vermicelli soup.
Explore the main course spread, starting with Kofta kebab, which is a minced lamb preparation marinated in cinnamon powder, parsley and Arab spices. “Shish Taouk is another must-have dish. It is marinated in the mix of onion, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil,” he says. For the fish lovers, one can have the ‘Hara fish kebab’.
‘Ouzi’, a lamb preparation is another chef-recommended delicacy from the platter. For the vegetarian lovers, one can go for veg couscous which reminds our wheat upma, accompanies well with veg salona.
Arabic desserts are always a treat to the tongue. And one can have the famous umali and baklava from the spread. “Umali is easy to make if we have any kind of puff pastry at home. In a tray break the puff pastry.Add nuts and raisins. Then add milk and fresh cream, enough to soak the mix. Then put the tray in a oven for 10 minutes,” the chef ends with a sweet note.
The festival from 6.30 pm to 11 pm will conclude on August 23.