Falafel is vegetarians’ answer to meatballs. These deep-fried orbs made out of ground fava beans, chickpeas or both, are crunchy balls of pleasure from the land of Middle East.
These falafel balls packed within flatbreads like lafas or pitas make one of the most amazing comfort food that Middle Eastern cuisine has to offer.
Falafel smothered with tahini and hot sauce, along with yummy toppings of pickled vegetables and salads has the potential to make even a hardcore meat lover drool! So just imagine what it could to a vegetarian?
The Copts of Egypt deserves special thanks from all the falafel lovers, for discovering these yummy balls as a substitute for meat during the time of Lent.
Eventually, the culinary goodness of this dish spread throughout the rest of Middle East, and it slowly evolved as one of the most popular street food in this part of the world.
Apart from ruling the streets, falafel also makes its appearance in the daily meal or meze as well as in iftar or the dinner spread served to break fast during Ramadan
No matter when you have falafel, be prepared to be welcomed by a delightful contrast of crispy coating with soft, spicy and overtly delicious interiors.
So set the usual croquettes and fritters aside and enjoy a slice of Middle East with falafel.
Ingredients in Falafels
Makes: 20 balls
· 1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
· 6 tbsp all purpose flour
· 5 garlic cloves
· 1 small onion
· 1 tsp baking powder
· ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
· ½ cp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
· Oil for frying
· 2 tsp ground cumin
· 1 tsp ground coriander
· Dash of chilli flakes
· 1 tsp salt
· Add the chickpeas to a food processor, along with garlic, onions, cilantro as well as parsley and pulse them into a mashed mixture.
· Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the spices and salt, one after another.
· Stir them all together and then add the flour as well as the baking powder.
· Mix them thoroughly yet again, into a uniform mixture, cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or more.
· Take small portions of the mixture in your hands and shape them into small round balls.
Best local designers UAE
In an exposé regarding the top emerging fashion epicenters of the world, Savoir Flair touched lightly on the conditions that are giving rise to powerful fashion industries in five countries. The continuation of this series has concentrated on South Africa, Brazil, India, and Australia, and this week we are discussing the factors and fashions that are putting the UAE on the map.
In the past several years, the UAE has become a topic of many feature articles regarding the country’s rapidly growing fashion scene. Most recently, Imran Amed of Business of Fashion penned an op-ed after his visit to Dubai entitled Can Dubai Really Become a Global Fashion Capital? – a subject which was further explored in a long-form essay by Robb Young called Momentum in Dubai, Middle East’s Fashion Mecca. While it is always encouraging to see high-level journalism applied to the question of the region’s growing fashion status, what both of these pieces failed to mention was the actual designers who are putting the UAE on the map. While the region’s luxury purchasing power is extraordinary – accounting for over $300 billion in luxury purchases per year, a figure which is growing at an annual rate of five percent – the GCC’s success story goes far beyond the figures. In fact, it is the talent of regional fashion designers that have attracted the attention of major luxury retailers like Moda Operandi, who now see the UAE as a valuable resource when it comes to scouting emerging talent.
Beyond that, the government of the UAE is keen to support new fashion designers, which is indicated by the construction of Dubai Design District, and the launch of The Dubai Design and Fashion Council in 2014. Further support is given to regional talent by Fashion Forward and Abu Dhabi Fashion Week, which bring an international audience to the UAE to witness the collections of our talented designers.
Read on for a breakdown of the top 11 UAE-based designers, and why they’ve landed on our list.
Madiyah Al Sharqi
Madiyah Al Sharqi‘s eponymous brand is based in Fujairah and was launched in 2012. She is known for her exquisite, lavish designs, and uber-feminine aesthetic which is usually translated by a palette of dreamy pastels and luxurious fabrics. Her work quickly caught on regionally and internationally and is now stocked at retailers the likes of BySymphony and Moda Operandi. Recently, Al Sharqi has expanded her vision beyond confectionary eveningwear to include a smart, stunning line-up of daywear, and she has been experimenting with a more earthy palette. The results are nothing short of astonishing, and are at the top of our list when it comes to Fall/Winter 2016 collections we’re looking forward to getting our hands on.
Nathalie Trad is without a doubt one of the region’s best fashion success stories. Since the launch of her eponymous clutch label in 2013, she has been heaped with international acclaim. Dozens of celebrities – like Olivia Palermo, Solange Knowles, Sienna Miller, and Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz – have not only named her their favorite clutch designer, but proudly sport her wares on the daily. Her sculptural, glossy aesthetic results in clutches that are works of art, and her latest collectionis one of the most stunning we’ve ever seen in person.
House of Nomad
Ever since House of Nomad was launched by Ahmed El Sayed and Saleh Al-Banna, the brand’s sleek, minimalist designs have been the choice of the region’s best dressed. With several design awards under their belt already, House of Nomad decided to take a more sophisticated turn for Fall/Winter 2016, with a muted, neutral palette and luxe fabrics, with options that are created for both men and women.
Rami Al Ali
Couture designer Rami Al Ali has amassed legions of loyal fans via his pristine, lavish designs. Fans of his work include regional influencers like Diala Makki and international celebrities like Beyoncé Knowles, Chanel Iman, and Kerry Washington. In addition to his celebrity clientele, Al Ali has also gained global recognition due to his presence at Paris Couture Week. Recently, Al Ali has decided to expand beyond the couture category to include ready-to-wear looks, much to the delight of women around the world who love his flattering, feminine silhouettes and his hand-crafted embellishments.
Nafsika Skourti first landed on our radar at Fashion Forward, where her energetic, youthful collection reinforced the idea that streetwear has a viable voice in the UAE. Her cleverly crafted collections resonate deeply with the politically and culturally savvy, and have helped garner the young designer international recognition in major fashion publications globally. In addition to helming a rapidly growing brand, Skourti has also been recognized as a regional trendsetter, and was recently part of Burberry‘s Art of the Trench project.
When the rest of the world thinks about Middle Eastern fashion, they instantly think of hijabs and abayas. For that reason, it can be quite challenging to rise above perceptions and expectations of what Middle Eastern fashion should be. Faiza Bouguessa is one designer that is revolutionizing the way the rest of the world sees fashion in our region, and she is doing it by cleverly reinventingthe abaya. In fact, her designs are so compelling that even Beyoncé Knowles is a fan. What sets Bouguessa‘s work apart is her impeccable tailoring and rich fabrics, which make her menswear-inspired designs hang beautifully on the body.
Reemami, the brand launched by Reema Al Banna in 2009, is one of our favorites because of its strong, feminist stance. Reemami is known for its quirky, whimsical prints, but behind each artistic scene is a message about the strength of women (her boxing-themed collection is an excellent example). While Savoir Flair was in Paris for Fashion Week, we visited Al Banna at her showroom where were treated to a sneak preview of her Fall/Winter 2016 collection which includes some of her best work to date. We are more than excited to see her brand grow and reach a new audience as the young designer continues to expand her creative reach.
Although Taller Marmo was launched in October of 2013 by designersRiccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea, results were fast for this young Dubai-based brand. In two short years, the excellence of their work was recognized by the International Woolmark Prize when they won the regional portion of the competition, and flew to New York City to represent the UAE with a gorgeous six-piece capsule collection. Modernity is a driving force behind their aesthetic, leading them to update traditional suiting with festive prints, or tufts of feathers, thereby providing a unique and luxurious wardrobe for the working woman of today.
While a flirty, youthful silhouette acts as a support structure for Ayah Tabari‘s Mochi collections, it is her kaleidescopic prints and embroidery that have really carved an identity for her brand. Her designs are inspired and named for locations that Tabari has visited, and her travels act as both a signpost for her work and a resource for finding artisans to help craft her clothing. What is so unique and interesting about the way Tabari conducts her brand is the timeless nature of each collection – each one is “seasonless” and always available. This means that if you go to her site, you can still purchase and wear past collections like ‘Jaipur’ , ‘Thailand’, and ‘Hungary’.
As an artist, photographer, and designer, Nadine Kanso‘s primary concern is in showcasing and reflecting the identity of the contemporary Arab. This thesis is found throughout her work, but nowhere as strongly as her Bil Arabijewelry line. Every piece that she creates carries with it a message, with rings and earrings that come in the shape of Arabic words or letters. These pieces are both exquisite works of art and identity signifiers that everyone from the local fashion lovers to Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner love to wear.
Regional “It” girl, Lilian Afshar, sought fulfillment from the world of fashion, and in 2014 she solidified her status as one of the region’s best designers when she launched her gorgeous box clutch label L’Afshar. Her marble and bug designs were instant hits, but as the brand has grown, so has Afshar’s artistry. We viewed her most recent work at her showroom in Paris and instantly fell in love with her whimsical forthcoming collection in which each delightful clutch was named for a character in a Wes Anderson film. While some local designers never make it further than the UAE, Afshar is stocked around the world and has been recognized in international fashion publications.
Legoland has officially launched in Dubai, so we sent our mini reviewers round the six zones – Factory, Miniland, Lego City, Kingdoms, Imagination and Adventure – ahead of its opening.
The Big Shop
As you arrive, you walk under the giant Legoland sign and through to Factory, the first of six themed zones in the theme park. Here is where you’ll find The Big Shop, which stocks the largest selection of Lego bricks in the Middle East!
Lego characters, various areas
Different Lego characters roam each of the six zones and pose for selfies with the children. “The kids could identify with the Lego they have at home, which they were really excited about,” says Carolyne Allmark, Nina and Darcy’s mum and Time Out Kids staff writer.
The Lego Factory
Watch how a real-life Lego brick gets made, from start to finish, and even get your very own custom-made brick to take home.
It took two years to create this tiny city of famous landmarks made of Lego. “We felt like giants walking around the mini versions of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Metro, which are made from millions of shiny Lego bricks!” says nine-year-old Nina.. “They’ve even made the Burj Al Arab, with the little helipad on the side.”
Build A City at Miniland
“I loved trying to copy the big buildings with the bricks at the build station,” says six-year-old Darcy. “I need to go back to finish mine!” (In fact, it was pretty hard to tear her away in the first place!)
4D cinema experience
The Lego Movie 4D The New Adventure is exclusively shown at Legolands worldwide and now right here in the UAE. The 12-and-a-half-minute show combines 3D computer animation with real-world effects such as wind, water and fog and it’s set after the events of the hit blockbuster movie. It runs throughout the day in the Imagination zone.
Dodge the water blasts on Wave Racers in the Adventure zone. Here, you can also launch 15 feet upwards on Beetle Bounce and head to an ancient temple to recover stolen treasure in Pharaoh’s Revenge. The whole family can join the Lego divers for a underwater submarine adventure, too!
This medieval-themed zone is home to The Dragon roller coaster and the smaller Dragon’s Apprentice ride (for littler people not yet big enough for the scarier ride). There are also loads of fun stalls, where you can play games and hopefully win giant cuddly toys. “It was really fun to try and win the massive fluffy bears.” says Nina. “They had the biggest, softest tigers, too.”
Lego City Airport
In the Lego City themed zone kids get the chance to fly planes at the airport, as well as join the crew on-board in the Seaport. They can even battle “burning buildings” at the Fire Station (with the help of Mum and Dad). “You feel like a real pilot moving your aeroplane up and down,” says Darcy. “Mine was definitely the fastest.”
The Dragon coaster
At 16 metres high, this ride in Kingdoms zone reaches speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour and weaves through the Legoland Castle. “Oh, wow, the Dragon ride is so cool!” says Darcy. “We got to wave at Merlin made of Lego with the longest beard!”
Similar to the classic tea cup ride, the Technic Twister in Imagination spins round and round, inviting squeals from our excited reviewers. “I held on really tight when we went faster and faster and closed my eyes a bit,” says Darcy. “It was good!”
Grab a bite to eat back near the entrance in Factory, although there are more restaurants dotted throughout the park (including the delicious-sounding Granny’s Apple Fries in Kingdoms). It’s nearby The Big Shop and also where you can pick up your family photos that have been taken as you wander around the theme park all day.
The Driving School in Lego City
“You can get your Lego driving licence,” says Nina about the Driving School, where kids can ride around in electric Lego cars and actually get a “licence”. “It’s brilliant! It feels like you’re driving on actual streets like where you live. I enjoyed this the most.”
Legoland Water Park
The water park, a whole separate theme park, opens on Tuesday November 15. It has more than 15 water slides, including a family raft, body and tube slides. There’s also the Lego Wave Pool, Duplo toddler play area (with specially-designed slides just for the smaller kids) and an area where you can build your own custom raft.
Master Builder Academy in Imagination
A giant Lego Einstein haed can be seen in front of the Master Builder Academy. Here, kids can become mini engineers and learn new techniques with hands-on tuition from the professionals. They can even build their own model.
Most Luxurious Hotel in Dubai
If there’s one thing Dubai has a lot of, it’s eye-wateringly-fancy hotels – and the emirate’s resort game is about to get even hauter, with a Bulgari Resort and Residences opening later this year on Jumeirah Bay Island (which yes, is a brand new island).
Oh, and that’s not all, when it opens later this year, the Bulgari hotel will be Dubai’s most expensive hotel: “You can count on the fact that they [the hotel room rates] will be by far the highest in the market,” Bulgari’s executive vice president Silvio Ursini told Gulf Business.
“We think the facilities here, the beach and vicinity will justify that, but also the size of the rooms which will be very generous.”
If the rooms are “by far” the most expensive, the price will have to outstrip the Burj Al Arab:as an example, we just searched for a room on February 1 at the Burj, and the cheapest room is a touch more than Dhs10,000 a night.
SO WHAT WILL WE FIND AT THE MEGA-PRICEY HOTEL?
– It will be smack bang in the middle of Jumeirah Bay: a six million square foot mixed-use island being developed by Meraas (the people behind City Walk, The Beach etc).
– Jumeirah Bay will be accessible from Jumeirah Beach Road, via a new 300 metre bridge.There will be homes on the manmade island, as well as the hotel. Here’s where it’s located (as you can see, it’s basically directly opposite Mercato Mall):
– Back to the resort: it will stretch over a whopping 1.7 million square feet (which is more than a fifth of Dubai Mall’s internal space, just as an example).
– Restaurant-wise, there will be six restaurants along the marina promenade, as well as a sushi restaurant with a capacity for just eight people (now that’s exclusive: what, will Jiro of Dreams of Sushi fame be the chef there?).
– The resort will have 101 rooms and suites in the main building, as well as 20 hotel villas (which we imagine will be off-the-charts pricey).
– Want to live on the island permanently? Well, there will be 165 apartments on the manmade seafront spot, eight penthouses and 15 mansions. There will be six apartment buildings with apartments ranging from one- to four-bedrooms.
We’ll keep you posted when we know more – but if you want to get an idea of what the vibe at the resort might be, take a look at the other Bulgari resorts around the world, there are currently Bulgari hotels in Milan, Bali and London.
Here’s what the terrace of one of the villas at the Bali one looks like…