Sorry for the hiatus- for those of you who actually enjoy my rambling. Ramadan has been really hectic, with work and Ftoor gatherings and the general state of lethargy.
Yesterday, we had a guest in town from the States, who wanted to eat Mandi, and wanted it to taste as authentic as possible. So, a couple of Whatsapp messages and a Zomato search later, we were enroute Maraheb, in Rashidiya.
The minute we arrived, we knew we picked the right place. How so? Because the locals were eating there. My culinary guru / celebrity crush Anthony Bourdain always says Eat where the locals eat. And so I shall, oh Wise One. So. I. Shall.
This place is not intended for tourists. There were no frills and there was no staged theme to it. It was the real deal. You can choose to be seated on a table, or do things right and sit yourself on the floor where a plastic soofrah (disposable tablecloth) will be laid before you for your food to be placed on. We obviously went for the latter as we wanted the full Yemeni experience.
Before the menus were even brought to us, a small assortment of rocket, carrots and onions were placed before each of us. Next, we were informed that they were out of the soup that is customarily the first course of your meal. That was a major bummer, as that soup is my favorite part of the meal anyway.
We ordered a Chicken Mandi, a Chicken Madhbi. Lamb Madfon and Lamb Hanith (shoulder, as they were out of the ribs). The Hanith was oozing fragrance of cardamom and all spice and both the lamb dishes were so tender that it was literally falling off it’s bones and melting in your mouth. The Mandi was ok, then again I’ve never been a fan of Mandi. I like food that is screaming flavor. And that Chicken Madhbi was just that. I love Pakistani style Chicken Tikka and this tasted exactly like that. Spicy, barbequed, and delicious!
These dishes were served with a refreshing tomato sauce called Doggus. They also had a spicy variant of this sauce and it was actually spicy(!!!) – much to my delight of course. What a rare treat, to find actual spicy food in an Arab restaurant.
Another thing M loved was that these guys were super generous with the portions of the meat. At first glance we saw the rice is less than what we expected and (like a typical fasting Muslim), feared it wouldn’t be enough. In the end there was- but of course- rice leftover. One major disappointment though, was that they seemed to have a standard template for the rice, and spooned the same rice onto every dish, regardless of what you ordered. Traditionally, each of these dishes has very different an very distinct tasting rice. This was not the case here.
For dessert we wanted Ma3soub but they were all out of that too. M, who is a Ma3soub crack addict, was immensely disappointed. So we ordered Fatta. This is basically made of ground up bread and bananas, and drenched in honey. It wasn’t executed to the best of it’s potential, because the bread had clearly been ground to a powder, prior to making the dessert. Traditionally, it’s supposed to be a little granulated and textured.
The meal ended with steaming cups of Yemeni tea that has been slow cooked for so long and packed such a strong punch of cloves that by the end of my cup my tongue felt a little numb. And i enjoyed every sip of that warm awesomeness!!
It really was a delight to visit this place. What I love most about Dubai is that it’s a bustling cosmopolitan that offers such a wide diversity of people, cultures, and most importantly, of authentic international cuisines- Yemeni being no exception!