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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dubai Food Tour - How to Get Off the Tourist Trail and Into Its Hidden Secrets

Jordanian falafel mahshi on the Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai

Skycrapers, gold and shopping malls. That's what most people think of when it comes to Dubai. It can hard to find the "real Dubai" on a fleeting stopover, but it's there. You just have to know where to look for it. 

The easiest way is to head straight to a local expert. Arva Ahmed is a Dubai local who grew up in Deira, one of the oldest districts in Dubai. She started Frying Pan Adventures three years ago, sharing her favourite food haunts of Old Dubai to tourists as well as fellow locals. It's an eye-opening glimpse into the throbbing, warm-hearted and diverse immigrant community that makes up Dubai, a world away from the clinical skyscrapers and air-conditioned malls that most tourists end up in.

Arva Ahmed, founder and General Manager of Frying Pan Adventures in Dubai
Arva Ahmed, founder and General Manager of Frying Pan Adventures

My recent trip to Dubai, hosted by Dubai Tourism, included an annotated version of one of Arva's famous food tours. Her tour groups are limited to a maximum size of eight and they book out early. She runs a Middle Eastern tour (AED415 or AU$125pp for 5 hours) and a Little India tour (AED350 or AU$105pp for 4 hours). Tours include pick-up and return to the Mall of the Emirates.

Arva is bright, bubbly and full of chatter. And she really knows her stuff. She is full of facts regarding food history and origins, all presented in an engaging manner. She's a mini tornado of efficiency too, handing out headsets so we can all hear her regardless of traffic noise, and dispensing tour bags containing water bottles, bottle coolers, wet wipes and a handy food glossary.

She asks that we don't publish the names of the restaurants we visit so that others can enjoy the tour as a surprise. We're guessing it's also so she doesn't lose future business, but that's fair enough. She's worked hard to curate these tours.

I can tell you that our tour starts at the Philippines Supermarket on Murraqqabat Street in Deira. It's a leisurely walk that takes us through several blocks, bordered mostly by Al Muraqqabat Road, Al Rigga Road, Abu Baker Sidiqque and Maktoum Street.

Where did we go? Come along for the ride...


Jordan

Jordanian falafel wraps during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Jordanian falafel wraps

We started in Jordan where we gazed with wonder as falafels were made fresh on the spot, before hitting the deep fryer with a mouthwatering hiss and sizzle.

Jordanian falafel wraps during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
It's essential to squash the falafel by hand to release the flavours

As we watch customers trail in to order falafel wraps, we're told that squashing the falafels flat is vital to release its flavours. It also ensures that each mouthful has equal amounts of falafel filling.

Adding tahini sauce to Jordanian falafel mahshi during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Adding tahini sauce to falafel mahshi

Falafel mahshi are a specific type of falafel found in Jordan, made with chickpea and herbs sandwiched around a thin middle layer of chilli and onion paste. It means that when you bite through that golden crunchy exterior, you meet soft fluffy chickpea filling as well as a spicy red sauce. It was amazing.

We sat down to enjoy a mini Jordanian feast including a special dish of mansaf, lamb cooked in fermented goat yoghurt.


Syria

Syrian baklava platter during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Baklava platter

Next stop a Syrian dessert house where we drool over mountains of baklava and huge trays of the most incredible kenafeh, a syrup-soaked semolina slice filled with a soft white cheese that's gooey.

Syrian baklava platter during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Filo pastries with nuts and sugar syrup


Lebanon and Turkey

Lebanese baklava during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Lebanese baklava

The sugar hit continues at a Lebanese bakery. They have every kind of baklava you could imagine plus shortbread biscuits, pastries and more.

Lebanese shortbread with pistachios during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Shortbread biscuits with pistachios

Lebanese boukaj baklava during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Boukaj baklava

Arva Ahmed serving tea during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Arva pouring us tea

Lebanese kunafa cheese pastry with sugar pastry on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Kunafa cheese pastry with sugar syrup

Sweet Lebanese pastries with ashta clotted cream and pistachios on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Sweet pastries with ashta clotted cream and pistachios

Lebanese baklava tower on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Baklava tower


Syria

Syrian ice cream maker on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Posing with the paddle used to make dondurma stretchy ice cream

Need ice cream? Another Syrian dessert house stop includes a look at their dondurma ice cream paddle, used to pound stretchy ice cream made from salep, a special orchid root.


Iraq

Iraqi masgouf carp grilled vertically on wooden stakes on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Masgouf giant carp butterflied and grilled vertically on wooden stakes for 3-4 hours

There's a brief foray into an Iraqi restaurant where we stare mesmerised at the firepit, used to grill whole butterflied carp, a traditional dish known as masgouf.

Egypt

Making fateer Egyptian pizza on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Making fateer or Egyptian pizza

And we could have watched the pizza tossing show for hours, as dough was kneaded and tossed in the air to make fateer, a type of Egyptian pizza.


Yemen

Bitter greens and chilli sauce in a Yemeni restaurant on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Bitter greens and chilli sauces

We stopped for a proper feed at a Yemen restaurant. Men and women eat in separate dining rooms here, but you can also book a family room, furnished like a Bedouin tent with rugs on the floor and wall hangings. Take your shoes off and sit cross-legged on the floor like a true local.

Yemeni mandi chicken and lamb cooked in a tandoor oven on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Mandi chicken and lamb cooked in a tandoor oven

Mandi refers to meat that's cooked in a tandoor oven, and the chicken and lamb that arrives is aromatic and meltingly tender. Arva gives us a less in how to eat with our hands too - it's messy but fun, and does give you a greater appreciation of flavour and texture.


Iran

Iranian seeds, nuts and fruits on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Dried seeds, nuts and fruits from the Iranian spice shop

An Iranian spice shop provides an up-close look at just some of the dried seeds, nuts and fruits used in cooking. It also prompts me to buy some zereshk or barberries later on in my trip. They're delicious in pilafs but also make great partners with dark chocolate in desserts.

Bamieh fried dough dessert from Iran on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Bamieh fried dough with rosewater and saffron syrup

There's a whole display cabinet filled with sweets too.

Cushion seating in an Iranian restaurant on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Cushion seating 

Our final stop is at an Iranian restaurant, loud and happily chaotic with a live band and a room full of families clapping along in unison.

Making sangak traditional Persian bread on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Making sangak, a traditional Persian bread

We're more distracted by the bakers oven, churning out fresh loaves of sangak, a traditional Persian bread.

Making sangak traditional Persian bread on a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Sangak bread was a key food supply for the Persian army

The dough is kneaded out and then dimpled using wet fingers, creating little indents across its surface.

Baking sangak Persian bread on stones during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Sangak bread in the oven lined with stones

The dough is cooked in an oven lined with small stones. Sangak actually means little stones.

Freshly baked sangak Persian bread during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Freshly baked sangak Persian bread

Freshly baked sangak Persian bread with pebbles during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Sangak means little stones - they often stick to the bread during cooking and must be removed

When the baked bread emerges, there are often small stones that have become caught in the dough. These are removed before the bread is hung up to cool.

Whole sangak Persian bread during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Whole sangak Persian bread being hung to cool before eating

Feta cheese, walnuts and herbs for sangak Persian bread during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Feta cheese, walnuts and herbs for the sangak Persian bread

We tear apart fresh lengths of bread and eat these like the locals do, with feta cheese, walnuts and an assortment of herbs. The bread is soft with a slight crisp to the edges.

Baghali rice with broad beand and pilaf rice during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Baghali rice with broad beans and pilaf rice

We finish up with slow-cooked lamb, baghali rice with broad beans and pilaf rice with barberries.

Biscuits and bamieh rose syrup donuts during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Biscuits and bamieh rose syrup donuts

And of course there's always room for a little dessert too.

Arva Ahmed during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Our intrepid host, Arva Ahmed


Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant

Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai

On our own adventures around Dubai, Billy and I hit the ground running, keen to delve into Dubai's underbelly of deliciousness.

Panipuri shells at Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai
Panipuri shells ready to be filled

Billy led me to Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant, a spot popular with locals that he'd noticed on his last trip to Dubai.

Filling panipuri shells with sauce at Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai
Filling the panipuri with sauce

There's a proper restaurant inside but we approached the snack bar window instead where a smiling chef was ready and waiting for our order.

Panipuri with coriander and green chilli sauce at Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai
Panipuri with tamarind, coriander and green chilli sauce

We start with a round of panipuri, each one prepared individually. I knew we'd ordered four and was wondering why he paused after the first one. I didn't realise he was waiting for me to eat it before he started the next until Billy nudged me in the ribs laughing.

The crisp panipuri shell is filled with water flavoured with coriander, tamarind and green chilli. You place the whole thing in your mouth and feel the entire thing collapse, an explosion of crunchy shells with cool water spiked with chilli. It's only when you finish eating and return the tray that the chef prepares your next panipuri.

Panipuri with tamarind and sev fried noodles at Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai
Panipuri with tamarind chutney and sev fried noodles

Our next one has less liquid, filled with a tamarind chutney and a top layer of sev fried noodles. It's sweeter and tangier and I relish the extra crunch.

Vada snacks with mashed potato at Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai
Vada snacks made with mashed potato

We finish up with vada, a deep fried snack made from mashed potato mixed with green chillies, ginger and mustard seeds.

Vada filling of mashed potato and green chillies from Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant in Bur Dubai
Mashed potato, green chillies, ginger and mustard seeds inside the vada

It's creamy, spicy and just hits the spot. A perfect series of snacks for about $AU3 each.


Shake Shack - Mall of the Emirates

Shake Shack at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai
Shake Shack at Mall of the Emirates

So Shake Shack doesn't exactly constitute authentic Dubai cuisine, but if you haven't included New York or London on your itinerary, it's worth hunting down if you're in need of a burger fix.

Shackburger from Shake Shack at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai
Shackburger AED25 or AU$7.35

We checked out the Shack Shack at Mall of the Emirates, a huge shopping mall featuring over 400 retail stores. There are two huge food courts and Shake Shack is a hive of activity.

Red velvet concrete from Shake Shack at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai
Red velvet concrete frozen custard AED21 or AU$6.15

The ShackBurger is good but doesn't seem as tasty as the one I had in Madison Square Park. The red velvet concrete is so sweet it makes me wince, and we're a little surprised that the prices are as high as they are too.


Ski Dubai - Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai
Ski Dubai indoor ski resort inside the Mall of the Emirates

Not far from Shake Shack, you'll find a glass window that gives a view into the Snow Park at Ski Dubai. Ski Dubai opened in November 2005, featuring an 85m tall indoor mountain with five slopes, including the world's first indoor black run.

Body slide at Ski Dubai inside Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
Body slide inside the Snow Park at Ski Dubai

It's surreal to see ski fields and snow in Dubai but kids can't get enough of it. The Snow Park has ski lifts, places to make snowmen, toboggan rides and even a circular body slide that resembles a mini luge.

The temperature inside is kept at -1C during the day, dropping to -6C when fresh "snow" is artificially produced.


Shake Shack - Dubai Airport

Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, Concourse A
Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport

And guess what. There's a Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport, good news to anyone transiting through and in need of sustenance.

Double ShackBurger from Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
Double ShackBurger AED45 or AU$13.20

Shake Shack is right down the end of Concourse A of Terminal 3, near Gate 11. It can be a fair walk if your gate is down the other end but travelators do make the journey slightly quicker.

Cheese fries from Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
Cheese fries AED25 or AU$7.35

Billy goes for the Double ShackBurger this time. The cheese fries are ridiculously more-ish.

'Shroom burger from Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
'Shroom burger AED30 or AU$8.80

I have the 'Shroom burger instead, a hefty portobello mushroom that's stuffed with meunstar and cheddar cheeses, crumbed and deep fried.

Melted cheese inside the portobello 'Shroom burger from Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
Melted cheesy goodness

Whoah baby. Who needs beef when you've got this much cheesy awesomeness?

Shack Attack concrete frozen custard from Shake Shack at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3
Shack Attack concrete frozen custard AED25 or AU$7.35

Round things up with a Shack Attack concrete and you'll be hyped up with enough sugar to keep you buzzing until boarding time.


Textile Souk

The Textile Souk in Bur Dubai
The Textile Souk

The Textile Souk, also known as the Old Souk, can feel heavily touristy, especially as shopkeepers cajole you with offers of pashminas, cheap saffron and imitation Rolexes.

Indian street snacks from Al Shaab Restaurant near the Textile Souk
Indian street snacks from Al Shaab Restaurant near the Textile Souk

Keep going and you'll find a couple of Indian stalls. The actual dining rooms are tiny but most locals just stop and buy a few deep-fried snacks from the stands sitting out on the street.

Samosas and fried Indian snacks from Al Shaab Restaurant near the Textile Souk
Mini samosas and Indian street food snacks

Nothing is labelled and there aren't any prices, but point at what you want and they'll cheerfully make you a grab bag of treats to eat on the run. They'll often try and get you buy more than you want, so don't be shy in telling them when they've packed enough.

Mirch pakora fried green chillies, an Indian street food snack from Al Shaab Restaurant near the Textile Souk
Mirch pakora - battered and deep fried green chillies

The mirch pakora, battered and deep fried green chillies, were a highlight. We spent about AU$7 between the two of us and feasted like kings.

Masala vadai fritters Indian street food from Al Shaab Restaurant near the Textile Souk
Masala vadai fritters


Dubai Fish Market

Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Giant fish purchase at Dubai Fish Market in Deira

If there's one thing you must do in Dubai though, it's visit the Dubai Fish Market. We landed in Dubai at 5.15am and I had no other thought in my head than to check in at our hotel and then head straight on over in a cab while we had free time in our itinerary.

Fishmonger filleting fish inside Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Cleaning and gutting shed where purchases can be cleaned and filleted to order

The main fish market in Dubai is in Deira, separated from the Gold Souk and Spice Souk by a major freeway. It's a huge complex that is strikingly free from tourists. If you want to mingle with locals like a local, this is the place to be.

Customers at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Fish market customers present their purchases for cleaning and filleting

We stumbled upon the filleting station first, a tiled building echoing with shouts, orders and conversation. It's here that customers come to after buying their fish next door. The fishmongers will clean, gut, fillet and slice your fish however you please for a minimal fee while you wait.

Fishmongers cleaning and gutting fish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Fishmongers in action

Fishmongers filleting fish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
There are close to 100 fishmongers all working on cleaning fish for customers

Fishmonger gutting fish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Cleaning and gutting fish

Cleaned and diced fish ready for pickup at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Cleaned and diced fish ready to be picked up by a customer

Seafood at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
The main fish market area

A covered outdoor shed plays host to the main fish market area. There are dozens upon dozens of seafood stalls here. I notice that the stall holders are all men, and customers are 90% male too. I feel conspicuous but not uncomfortable, and we're struck by how friendly everyone is towards us, keen to sell us their seafood, but also happy to pose with it even when we explain we have no kitchen or stove to cook any seafood.

Fresh fish on ice at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Fresh fish on ice

Stacked prawns in basins at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Neatly stacked prawns

Fresh lobster at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Fishmonger keen to pose with a lobster from his stall

Neatly stacked fish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
All the seafood is displayed tidily and with pride

Weighing fish on scales at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Weighing fish using old metal scales

Local crawfish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Local crawfish

Fishmonger at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Fishmonger mid-prep

Fishmonger posing with fish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
You call that a fish? *This* is a fish

Giant prawns at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Giant prawns

Fishmonger holding giant prawn at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Seriously big prawn

The fish market was my favourite place in Dubai. Just remember to bring covered shoes and revel in the morning hubbub.


Butchery

Butcher next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Butcher cutting up a lamb

Adjoining the fish market, you'll find the butchery, accessed by thick PVC door flaps. There are two narrow corridors to enter, lined each side with small butchers.

Butcher and hanging meats next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
There are about twenty butcheries alongside the fish market

You won't find styrofoam trays filled with sliced fillets and covered in plastic wrap. This is old skool butchery with whole carcasses hanging by hooks, cows heads in buckets and all kinds of offal for the appreciative.

Butcher and shoppers next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Meat for sale includes beef, lamb, mutton and goat


Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market

Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Fresh fruits and vegetables

Go back out into the fish market and keep on going and you'll stumble into Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market. There are noticeably more female customers here, and the displays provide a contrasting riot of colour compared to the fish market and butchery.

Local shopper at Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Local shopper 

Stall keepers are eager to provide taste tests in anticipation of a sale. There's an abundance of fruit and vegetables, although much of it is imported from overseas.

Dates at Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Dates abound

If you're looking for the real taste of Dubai, it would have to be the date. The medjool date is probably the most common date exported around the world but it's not the only one. Did you know there are more than 2,000 varieties of dates around the world? 

Local buying dates at Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Local buying dates

The variation across dates is incredibly noticeable. We tried several types of dates from our friendly stall keeper and noticed how they differed in juiciness, sweetness, chewiness and texture.

Safawi dates at Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Our favourite date after extensive taste testing AED30 or AU$9 per kilo

Billy and I were unanimous in our preference. We liked the safawi dates the best - not too sweet and slightly dry and chewy. They weren't the most expensive date but they were still cheap by Australian standards at about AU$9 per kilo.

Zadi dates from Iran at Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Zadi dates from Iran AED10 or AU$3 per kilo

Dates at Al Hamriya Fruit and Vegetable Market next to Dubai Fish Market in Deira
More dates than a single girl could ask for


Daily Life in Dubai

Fruit and vegetable juice stall in Deira, Dubai
Fresh fruit and vegetable juice stall

It's easy to dismiss Dubai as another commercial city devoid of soul but there are definite pockets of local vibrancy if you're prepared to scratch beyond its surface.

This is my final post on Dubai - I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did. Here are a couple of pics I snapped throughout my trip of daily life in Dubai.

Iranian mosque with blue mosaic tiles in Bur Dubai, Dubai
Iranian mosque with blue mosaic tiles in Bur Dubai

Delivering tea in the Textile Souk in Meena Bazaar, Dubai
Delivering tea in Meena Bazaar

Delivery cart in Meena Bazaar, Dubai
Hand-pulled delivery cart

Delivery carts and locals in Meena Bazaar, Dubai
Paved streets within the textile district 

Cyclist in Meena Bazaar, Dubai
Cyclist returning home

Grab Your Fork visited Dubai as a guest of Dubai Tourism, including attendance of the Frying Pan Adventures tour. All other experiences in this post were independently organised and personally paid for. 


Dubai Fish Market
Deira Corniche, Al Khaleej Road, Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Opening hours: Daily 6am - 1.30pm and 4pm-11pm

Puranmal Vegetarian Restaurant
Meena Bazar, Bur Dubai (opposite Dubai Museum), Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 (04) 351 3803/1466
Open 7 days 9am-11.30pm

Shake Shack - Dubai International Airport
Terminal 3, Concourse A, near Gate A11
Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Open non-stop 24 hours, 7 days a week

Shake Shack - Mall of the Emirates
1st floor next to West Food Court
Al Barsha 1, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 (04) 347 5513
Open daily 10am - 12 midnight

Textile Souk
Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street, Bastakiya, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Open Saturday to Thursday 10-1pm and 4pm-8pm; most closed Friday but some open after 3.30pm


Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Dubai 2014: Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and camel milk chocolate
Dubai 2014: How do they make airplane food? Emirates Flight Catering tour

31 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/27/2014 01:23:00 am


31 Comments:

  • At 4/27/2014 8:49 am, Blogger Neil Chung said…

    So so so so lucky. With all those sweets at the beginning, I might have left my a few more cavities than I would have liked.

     
  • At 4/27/2014 10:12 am, Anonymous Gareth said…

    Epic post and what a fantastic place to experience. Who knew there were so many varieties of dates. Great photos, but one question, in the photo with the caption 'local buying dates' what are the brown/green curved 'sticks' propped up against the stall?

     
  • At 4/27/2014 1:58 pm, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Oh wow those platters made me feel like you went to baklava heaven!

     
  • At 4/27/2014 2:11 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    I am trying to be honest and true! But I cannot think of another food adventure such as this! Thank you, Helen!!One would have to be crazy not to have wanted to walk alongside you . . . what depth of learning! Have departed the world of 'reposting' for lack of time . . . but surely, tomorrow, or . . . one shall make time! Too good!!!!

     
  • At 4/27/2014 2:26 pm, Blogger CQUEK said…

    wonderful experience to explore. That looks like such a delicious meal.

     
  • At 4/27/2014 2:31 pm, Anonymous Lawrence @ FightTheCraving said…

    Oh man. Oh mannnnn. Baklava towers, falaffel mahshi, tulumba and even Shake Shack?! You're the luckiest person alive.

    Also is the Egyptian pizza anything like manakish or pide, Helen?

     
  • At 4/27/2014 6:21 pm, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    I'm really tearing my hair out at the fact that I didn't explore Dubai like this when I visited. Another visit is most definitely in order. Will definitely sign up for one of those food tours!

     
  • At 4/27/2014 6:21 pm, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    I'm really tearing my hair out at the fact that I didn't explore Dubai like this when I visited. Another visit is most definitely in order. Will definitely sign up for one of those food tours!

     
  • At 4/27/2014 7:12 pm, Anonymous Cara @ Gourmet Chick said…

    This looks much more interesting than just hanging at the five star hotels in Dubai. Sounds like you really discovered there's a bit more to the place.

     
  • At 4/27/2014 7:12 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    That looks like such a great tour - and such a contrast from the malls and hotels that Dubai is famous for.

    And the baklava tower! *swoon*

    xox Sarah

     
  • At 4/27/2014 8:56 pm, Anonymous Trent @ Food Assault said…

    What an amazing experience and incredibly epic post.

    Talk about a foodie experience of a lifetime.

     
  • At 4/28/2014 10:56 am, Blogger Down To Feed [DTF] said…

    Great post Helen such awesome pics! Dubai looks like an amazing place to visit!

     
  • At 4/28/2014 2:40 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    checking out the street food in a different country is always the best experience :)

     
  • At 4/28/2014 4:05 pm, Blogger Amy zhong said…

    what a feast for the eyes! i would love to do a locals tour if i ever hit up dubai!

     
  • At 4/29/2014 11:18 am, Blogger Alice Lau said…

    As always Helen I love reading your delicious exploits & antics! So so hungry for those amazing breads baked with the little stones. Plus falafels, the sweets and those pakora-type chillies. As for more dates than a single gal could as for, v cute! ;)

     
  • At 4/29/2014 11:12 pm, Anonymous LisaKK said…

    Amazing, Helen! I love reading your write ups on travels and food. Gives me inspiration for my next trip!

    Please, if you ever visit Istanbul, take a back streets food tour with Istanbul Eats. We had the most amazing food experience with a guide called Angelis who took us through the back streets of the spice markets to hole-in-the wall places that had been there for generations and foods we wouldn't have tried or found ourselves. Istanbul is of course an amazing place too! I'd be interested to see what you think!

     
  • At 4/30/2014 12:53 pm, Blogger Roo Food said…

    Definitely taking me back to when I lived there. Will never forget the indoor ski park - I'm sure there are not many that can say they have had a skiing injury in Dubai - 2 months on crutches and 4 months in therapy! :)

     
  • At 4/30/2014 1:46 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    After reading this, I can't wait to book a trip to Dubai! The baklava display looks glorious! And hello Shake Shack!

     
  • At 4/30/2014 3:51 pm, Anonymous Chocolatesuze said…

    Looks like an amazing trip, tasting all the varieties of dates would've been incredible!

     
  • At 4/30/2014 9:24 pm, Anonymous Iron Chef Shellie said…

    Oh my goodness Helen!!
    So much in this world my stomach needs to experience. and HOLY MOLY that's a SERIOUSLY BIG PRAWN!!

     
  • At 5/01/2014 2:16 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Gareth - They're from the date palm trees. We asked about them and apparently they're just used to decorations.

    Hi Lawrence - Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to try the Egyptian pizza but I hear they do a delicious version with cheese! I think it's more like a gozleme.

    Hi LisaKK - Thanks for the info. I've been to Istanbul before but I'd love to visit again to really get to know their street food.

    Hi Roo Food - Wow that is a story! Glad you recovered ok!

    Hi Iron Chef Shellie - lol it was crazy huge!

     
  • At 5/01/2014 1:54 pm, OpenID mrdleu said…

    Omgsh you are soo lucky!! That bread oven is so awesome.. i just hope no stone is left in the bread haha

     
  • At 5/01/2014 9:51 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    Epic post! I like how you visited all those Shake Shacks! Can't go wrong with them :)

     
  • At 5/02/2014 3:00 pm, Blogger Pearls of Style said…

    Oh my, I'd be so happy to tuck into all of this. It looks INCREDIBLE!

    Krissie x - http://pearlsofstyle.blogspot.com.au

     
  • At 5/02/2014 6:41 pm, Blogger Melanie Y said…

    I guess I knew there was more to Dubai that shopping centres and hotels but I had no idea it was so interesting...I'm keen to do it as a stopover sometime...and to do this tour!

     
  • At 5/02/2014 11:27 pm, Anonymous Leona (sprinklemyday) said…

    Helen you are so lucky to try all this authentic food really starting to crave falafels, baklava and indian food and totally missing frozen custard @ ShakeShak in NY.

    Zomg, indoor ski resort???? do they actually wear ski outfits?

     
  • At 5/05/2014 11:05 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    What a wealth of information, thank you! I have sampled baklava in a weekend market and it tasted really awesome.

    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

     
  • At 5/08/2014 11:32 am, Blogger Sarah Shimmy said…

    This post is very helpful, thank you! I will be using this as a reference guide when I finally get to Dubai :)

     
  • At 5/10/2014 10:17 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    It's gorgeous the amount of effort and care you put into these Dubai posts. So lovely, dear Helen! Take me with you next time, yes.

    Now... salep dondurma ice cream chewy goodnessssss! LAND OF PISTACHIO AND ROSEWATER!! Panipuri with tamarind and crunchiesssss yes!

     
  • At 5/10/2014 6:52 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Leona - It's -1C in there so yes there are ski suits available for hire!

    Hi Hannah - Only if you take me on your next gallivant around Canada and the US :)

     
  • At 6/16/2015 3:22 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These are from the date palm. I found a link which explain it very well:
    http://www.enhg.org/alain/phil/spathe/spathe.htm

     

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