Take a gastronomical trip to the cradle of civilisation.
There’s a general misconception about Middle Eastern cuisine — it’s bland. But the truth is far from it. It’s rich in spices, but it does not burn your insides leaving you gasping for water. You may test it for yourself at the Middle Eastern food fest that’s on at Arena in Taj Deccan.
First comes the Turkish coffee made from roasted and then finely ground coffee beans boiled in a pot or (cezve) and served in a cup. Then follows the mezzes, or the starters.
Now there are cold and hot mezzes. Hummus bi tahini is a cold mezze which is a Lebanese speciality. It’s a combination of chickpeas and sesame puree which you have with pita bread. The bread also comes in varieties: those with sesame seeds sprinkled on top, another with Za’attar, which is a mix of herbs. For the hot mezze, there is sambusik, a pastry with minced meat in it.
For the main course you have grills called meshwi. There are basically three types: samak mehsi (charcoal- grilled fish cubes flavoured with turmeric, ginger), sheesh touk (mild flavoured char-grilled chicken cubes,with garlic aioli), and rubian meshwi (Arabian prawns flavoured with saffron, onion juice). And if you think you can handle all the three, you may go for the mixed meshwi platter.
Among rice dishes, Machbous ala dijaj comes the topper — spiced chicken rice. It looks like biryani, but the taste is different reminding you distinctly of tomatoes.
The deserts comprise Basbousa, which is Egyptian cake made of semolina, served with a scoop of rose petal ice cream, and Muhallabia, rice flour pudding.
So if you want to try something different, you know where to go. The fest is on till July 25.