When I graduated from International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA, Dubai), the only real opportunity that presented itself at that time was a job offer to be a commis chef. A year later, I really didn’t expect such a wide spectrum of opportunities within the world of desserts would be revealed. I remember driving into school on my first day thinking, nothing in the world would make me happier than to find a way to share the food I loved with people. Though, a fairly broad ambition, I now realize there are so many ways to go about achieving this.
I write and photograph the food I make on a daily basis for my blog and social media. I get to work with enchanting creative people from the world of food and design and develop new recipes to share with friends and family. I am able to cater to parties big and small using the skills I have learnt to perfect over the year and everyday come closer to the dream of sharing the food I love with more people. However, nothing comes close to one of my favourite projects this year, a collaboration with an up and coming restaurant, The Meating Room on their dessert menu.
The Meating Room is the new kid on the block. It sits rooted in the heart of Old Dubai, Karama in one of the spunkier Al Wasl properties. As you drive to the restaurant, almost every old recognizable landmark from Sana signal to Sheikh Rashid Colony have rapidly made way for the new. The restaurant pays tribute to the old while firmly setting foot in the new and modern by way of its interiors and food.
Run by Abdul Hakim, Jacob George & Kieve Pinto , The Meating Room (@themeatingroomdxb) is where you can find affordable gourmet dishes inspired by flavours from India, Middle East and Southeast Asia. Their menu claims to have something for everyone – whether you are a meat lover, a vegetarian or you have an insatiable sweet tooth. Week after week they are filled to the brim with customers who are willing to vanquish traffic for 40 mins to get into this bustling part of the city for a table. Not only are people specifically asking for dishes like the Keema Pav and Lamb Chops but are now asking for the desserts too. Such an incredibly proud moment for me as weeks of effort put into finding the right ingredients and flavor pairings have paid off. I wanted the desserts to not only live harmoniously alongside the extensive menu but be individualistic enough to stand their own.
The desserts – Spicy Pineapple Jalebi, Gulab Jamun Cheesecake & the Chilli Chocolate Brownie each have a unique story and the inspiration for them is told beautifully through film and pictures below by Gaya (@gayamusic) along with original music composed by Reiner Erlings (@reinererlings).
Spicy Pineapple Jalebi
It’s almost always hot in Dubai and I really wanted to create a dessert that would remind people of what it felt like to be at the beach, sipping on a cold tropical beverage bursting with flavours of coconut and pineapple. The taste of salt in the air and sweltering heat all around but when you dip your toes in the ocean and have a sip of your drink it’s all you’ll need in that moment. This dessert needed to be hot, cold and have all the ingredients for a tropical flavour burst in your mouth.
A perfectly sweet and tangy crisp pineapple fritter was paired with the classic Vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a decadent freshly made spicy caramel sauce. It’s garnished with whole cinnamon, star anise and a dusting of toasted coconut to complete this rich dessert.
Gulab Jamun Cheesecake
My granddad would always say there are some Indian classics like old movies, songs and food that are best left undisturbed. I found myself thinking about these words one summer afternoon with the curtains drawn, the harsh light bounced off the rose bushes in the garden and filtered these strong sentiments and sounds giving way for a softer more contemporary feel where the best of both if combined could be enjoyed in a more whimsical yet equally evocative way.
Inspired by the traditional Indian Classic Gulab Jamun, this dessert is infused with flavours of rose and pistachio in a soft pillowy cheesecake with a sweet hidden jamun center. The dessert is then completed by laying it on a buttery biscuit base, drizzled with rose syrup and a sprinkling of dried rose petals and pistachio nibs.
Chilli Chocolate Brownie
As essential as Chocolate is on any dessert menu it can also seem very commonplace if done in the same way as the restaurant next door. We needed an original take on a dessert menu staple with an unexpected flavour that worked well with the festive flavours of the rest of the menu. The Chocolate and Chilli pairing has been around for centuries and have been passed down from the Mayans and Aztecs and has found its way into newage gourmet food. The dessert uses dried red chilli flakes combined with 55% dark chocolate to give it a full bodied flavour.
The ooey gooey Chocolate Brownie infused with the heat of red chilli flakes is baked in a mini cast iron skillet. Served pipping hot with a dollop of Salted Caramel ice cream and a sprinkling of red chilli flakes on the top. The dark chocolate and spicy flavours come through at every layer of this enigmatic dessert.
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