Dinner @ HATAM, Burjuman

So as me and my son are back in Dubai and we thought taking our son out for a walk would be ideal as he feels like an alien already and seemed like he misses sri lanka. So we drove towards Dubai mall and met up with a humongous line up of vehicles waiting to enter the parking. It was no wonder as the weekends are always jam packed in many malls so we decided to head over to Burjuman. It was my husband’s idea and was less crowded. As we walked around Burjuman heading towards the food court looking for somewhere to sit and eat. Yes Burjuman centre had a very nice food court in their new phase which had upstairs as well.
I wanted to sit up in one of those cabins and eat in style after all it’s my first weekend out in Dubai after my vacation. So we decided to go for grills and chose to dine at HATAM. Am not sure what cuisines they serve but it sure is Arabic food. There menu was awesome. I asked the manager to get us a seating upstairs and he straight away rejected saying “no ma’am, we don’t give upstairs seating”, is that it? Well I saw the opposite restaurant masala house served food upstairs for the customers. I was disappointed. They might or might not have a proper reason for not providing upstairs dining but it was very impolite. Anyway as they were the only ones who had a grills option we decided to sit and eat though not hungry.
The person took the order in a few minutes and went away.
Serving was quick and we were in no time digging into our plates. The portion was fine. Even my 9 month old enjoyed the piece of rotti 🙂

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The salad was good and I loved the kebabs. It was a mixed grill with rice.
Finally as we finished our meals and paid for it we walked out towards the parking taking pictures as any tourist would do and finally I remembered that we were not served hot water as I requested and they even forgot to provide Bavaria as ordered. It was good they dint charge for it though. Anyway the first weekend in Dubai dinner was good :

My First Dates Cake

My Dates Story

I love date cakes and who doesn’t,  dates are so rich in iron and are naturally sweet. During my third trimester of pregnancy I had gestational diabetes and had to cut down sugar intake completely. As a sweet lover it was difficult but as a food blogger it was fun. I gradually started enjoying the natural flavours of the food I ate while I started forgetting it was sugar free tea and coffee. You can experience the real taste of coffee and tea when there is less sugar but I was not a fan of muesli and had to have weetabix for breakfast.  As a person who has never tasted it I thought it must be like rusk and bought a large pack of weetabix. I was so disappointed by the taste of weetabix.  It was so bland and had no flavour at all so I had to add a few dates to my breakfast cereal.  Although worried of the natural sweetness in dates I had to eat for my baby.
We usually have dates in sri lanka when its ramazan or if someone brings from abroad.  But since moving to dubai I have been having it very often as  my husband likes to have a few dates with his weekend biriyani or rice and curry. Its delicious try it.
So dates is always available at home in dubai while its the same story back in sri lanka. My dad gets dates from friends while he also buys them, he too enjoys having a few dates every now and then. So I’ve always wanted to make some dates cake with the extras and last week I decided to finish off a pack of dates that was laying on the shelf for the past three months. My dad got a box from riyadh and we had more leftover after sharing.

I was browsing through my recipe books for a dates cake recipe and couldn’t find one specifically for dates cake. I decided to go through some rich fruit cake recipe and used the ingredients as an inspiration.
I’ve learnt a dates cake recipe at my cake decorating school during my basic course yet I decided to keep it for later and create my own recipe.

So here is how I made my first dates cake.
2 eggs
75 gm wheat flour
75 gm sugar
125 gm margarine
150 gm dates deseeded
A handful of mixed nuts I used almonds and cashew nuts.
4 pinches of baking powder

1. Beat margarine and sugar.
2. Stir in eggs one at a time with the 4 pinches of baking powder.
3. Blend the dates and nuts to a coarse paste.
4. Stir in to the egg mixture.
5. Fold in the flour.
6. Butter and flour a baking pan and spread the batter.
7. Bake in a moderate oven according to normal baking timings.
8. Serve warm with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

I made a small 6 inch cake with the above ingredients double the quantity to increase size, if you dont like the nuts to be a bit chewy blend it into a fine paste.
Add flour little by little and if the mixture is too runny add a few tablespoons of flour to obtain the correct consistency.
The correct consistency is the normal cake batter but with a bit thickness due to the nuts and dates.

Healthy option for diabetes patients;
Substitute the sugar with 1/2 a cup kithul treacle or honey.
You can even use stevia extract, add just a table spoon instead of 75 grams.





My first recipe book was my very own recipe note-book from my first ever cookery school. I travelled around South India and went over to “landmark” which I will call as the one stop shop for all your needs. It has a section of books that can make some bookworm lost. I was a fan of novels until a few years ago.
I used to browse on all books by my favourite authors while I never ignored those lovely cook books that beautified the shelves with delicious images. During my last visit before the wedding shopping I went over to the cookbooks section and selected a few books which I left over without buying as my parents already checked out the stuff and left the store. I still feel sad for missing that golden opportunity. I never came across that book until now even on logos hope the worlds largest floating book store.
My second cookbook was 100 cakes which I bought at odel Colombo when I was 21. I have turned the pages of the book many times when i feel like looking at some recipes but never tried any recipes. I always thought that glycerine and liquid glucose was some kind of a medicinal ingredient.  As a person who have never tried cake decorating with fondant it was kind of alien words. As I say that I agree that I’ve always been addicted to watching television programs that demonstrate the delicious art of cooking. I used to keep a note-book and write down some recipes and through television demonstrations is which I learnt how to make pooris and wadeys.

As time passed on I adopted my moms habit of cutting down recipes from newspapers and collecting them. I was a bit advanced in this field and had been collecting cooking related tips and notes too. I still treasure those articles in a file. now many years have passed by and I have started buying magazines and cookbooks which i believe is essential and I felt that am spending unnecessarily as all recipes are mainly available online and why spend money and space to pile up recipe books.
It all becomes a very bitter thought when I think of the pleasures of turning through the pages of a recipe book.
Inspired by them I’ve created many recipes of my own. I now have started to believe that nothing is wasted as long as you have a passion for it. The passion for cooking is in my blood and that’s why I buy books whether I try the recipes or not is something related to experience.

Why I started this post is because of the many questions that flooded in my mind every time I see my books and browse the internet for recipes.
Why do I need books when I can search any recipe I want on the Internet?
But then I dont search the internet for recipes which are available on my books.
So I only need recipes that I don’t have which I can get free.
Do we have to pay money and waste on buying more books?
Well I know books are totally different. You feel the recipe in hard or paper back. we spend hours admiring the images. We aim at recreating the dish to resemble the images from the book and we are inspired, while the ingredients may be substituted and the dish will have our own simple touch and we become inventive or creative.
We learn from those cookbooks and these cookbook authors are our mentors.
We di need some good cookbooks on our shelves to flip through while sipping a cup of coffee on a rainy day when there is no eggs to bake a cake or laziness takes over ourselves and calls us to bed with flem and cup of chicken soup.
Oh yeah, I remember those days when I used to borrow my friends chicken soup book thinking its a chicken soup recipe book and din’t return it until I read a few inspiring stories.
So there are many points that I can list down to say why we need recipes or cookbooks and so does other people have their own story to say why they buy cookbooks and now you might know that buying cookbooks are not a waste of money.
If you are not sure about it yet read on and find out what others who enjoy food not just by eating it but exploring the history of food.

As an experienced cook I guess for me trying recipes from recipe books is some kind of a beginners job but not while baking or cooking up a meal from a different cuisine am not familiar about. I agree with many of my fellow foodies and bloggers from my favourite group in Dubai as they go on to comment on my post for the questions asked –

Hi friends
Am doing an article on cookbooks for a project.
I want to know the opinion of the members in fooderati arabia as this is a food bloggers group and I am sure there is no other place from which I can get the perfect answer.

  1. 1. Do you buy cook books often?
  2. 2. Do you follow the recipes in your cookbook or do you take the recipes in your book as an inspiration? (I do it more often)
  3. 3. Do you think in this generation where recipes are available online, buying cookbooks are a waste of money?

Mafaza Haleem

These questions aroused in my mind after I started thinking as buying cookery books are a waste of money. The thought lasted only a week and later on I started to think of the benefits of owning a few cookery books.
Here are the comments and thoughts of my fellow foodies ;

Allz Ahmad Mukhtar I never bought a recipe cook book, but yes sometimes I do browse through some recipes in Borders cooking book section. I wouldn’t call it waste of money as books are always useful when u want to make something similar. I usually look out for recipes online mostly as it’s just available on my fingertips.

Allz Ahmad Mukhtar blog : http://houseofallz.blogspot.ae  House of Allzz    houseofallz.blogspot.com

techno foodie

following recipes from the tb is easy but we should make sure the screen lock is off or else thats when i get nuts and think of books. imagine opening the phone screen with water and flour or wasting water to wash hands just to make sure the smell of the onion and fish doesn’t spoil the phone…

Nielouphar Abdurahiman 1. I do buy them, but not often.
2. I’ve done both.
3. For me, cook books are never a waste of money. …See More

Nielouphar Abdurahiman Blog – www.neelusjournal.com.

prompt answer

Huma Kalim used to buy books previously but now I think twice before buying as most of the recipes are available on the web.

she going through my mindset

Rupal Bhatikar Love books, I have a little library at home now with food and travel books. Nothing beats stained pages of familiar books and running thru pages. If I need a recipe quick, I use the internet sometimes. If you are a reader, I guess books will never be a waste of money


she is right

Foodie & Fabulous

Eat.. Travel.. Love.. And Eat some more!

Sally Prosser 1. Yes 2. A bit of both 3. No – and sales of cook books bear me out. The best-selling non-fiction category

simple, sweet and delicious

Irini Savva 1. Yes 2. No, mostly use as inspiration 3. No, difficult to answer this one. There must still be a demand if bookshops still stock them I guess.

we do think alike till answer number 2, I’ve never thought of number 3 🙂

Sarah Allenby What Nielouphar says. I used to only but Jamie Oliver’s books, but in the past few years have widened my reading list. I follow recipes and sometimes have that ‘aha’ moment where I’m inspired by an ingredient the writer has used, or a part of a recipe.
Cookbooks, any book is never a waste of money. I scour second-hand book shops & charity shops for bargains.

Sarah Allenby Http://atouchofrosting.blogspot.com  A Touch of Frosting and other things  atouchofrosting.blogspot.com

oh she is a fan of my husbands favorite chef

jamie oliver makes cooking look easy…. 

Saloni Jolly Banga 1. Yes
2. I use cookbooks both as an inspiration and follow recipes if it’s from a cuisine or if it uses a technique I have not tried previously.
3. Cookbooks or books in general can never be a waste for me, in fact it’s my secret indulgence. I look for cookbooks wherein authors have given vivid description, side notes or stories to go with the recipe. Blog : http://tastecharades.com/

Taste Charades
tastecharades.com When hunger strikes, I set a table for two.

she spoke her mind out I  agree to the points

Try those different techniques from the books you’ve got, you will sure be happy to have spent a penny to buy the book…

Ritu Chaturvedi 1- Yes, I am very active reader of all kinds of Books,2-I use cookbooks for inspiration & some plating options sometimes different nationality cuisine, It is always useful. 3-Because I love reading, so books or cook books cannot be out of culture for me, Though Internet is quite handy but we keeps books as a treasure, buying books cannot be waste of money. Explanation of the dish is better in the book than internet.

answer number 3 is so thoughtful and she is correct

Debbie Steedman I love cook books, who doesn’t ? I check book sales etc

I was like her before and am still same glad 🙂

the best time to buy cookbooks is when there is a book sale 🙂

Kari Heron We are cookbook fiends. We buy them in print. We have a highly treasured collection of culinary tomes as well as more homely books. We have books on different cuisines and are still collecting. We also give and receive cookbooks as gifts. We both use them in our work and at home but we often buy and read cookbooks for inspiration and support.
Chef and Steward
(by Chef and Steward)

she speaks for the entire bloggers and foodies in the group lets like it together:-)

we sure are cookbook worms so are we food bloggers and we are proud of it aren’t we???

Anjana Chaturvedi Well i don’t buy cookbooks anymore , however when i had started cooking i used to buy cook books as it was definitely more convenient in those days where we din’t have handy Tablets to look into , however now there are so many good recipes of all cuisines online for inspiration . Moreover i don’t thinks young girls of this generation will prefer to buy cook books as i can see my daughter as a living example who uses Google for all her recipe needs . My Blog : http://maayeka.blogspot.ae/

she is experiencing my question

even my 8 month old wants a touch phone, millenium kids are obsessed with tech stuff and depend on it.

Debbie Steedman That’s the thing I buy books then I Google

same here:-)

double check for the perfect outcome 🙂

Nielouphar Abdurahiman I agree.. we can get tons of recipes online.. but there is something about books. #nerdalert

I agree with her

owning a book is a nice feeling!!!

Huma Kalim you are right Nielouphar Abdurahiman i have few oldie cookbooks where there are classic recipes not found today. there pages have tainted but my love for them has not. every time I go back home, tell my mom to take care of them. promising once I have my place in India, I will take it. count me crazy but I have emotional attachments to my cook book.

same pinch

when the world in moving forward with traditional recipes being overtaken by modern day junk food i hope these recipe books will help our kids to enjoy a nice family meal with their kids and some story time 

Dinusha Jayatillake I don’t buy cook books purely for the recipes (or with the intention of trying them out) – I find it relaxing to browse through them. Like Saloni mentioned, love those that come with stories and not just recipes and pictures. Books are never a waste of money in my opinion.

books are indeed mans best friends too 🙂 

each recipe should have a story….

Prachi Grover Okay as i type this I am on way to starting a support group called cookbook collectors anonymous. So answer to question no. 1 is yes I buy cookbooks. I own more than a 100 last i counted. I buy food memoirs too. It could be to read about unfamiliar cuisines, ingredients, stories behind the recipes, cooking techniques, writing styles plus all of them make great bedtime reading. 2. I use them for both inspiration and following especially when trying out something the first time and when baking. 3. Books for me can never be a waste of money. Together between DH, me and my little chefling we can open a library with 1000 plus books and I love that there are days when she opens my cookbooks and spends an hr with it seeing each picture and then asks me to cook from there…something that Google will never allow us Blog : http://orangekitchens.blogspot.ae/

will she be my friend? She’s got 100’s of book?

Wow I wanna visit her with a nice cake made by myself 🙂 just to borrow some cook books:-)

Brenda F. Abdelall (1) I buy a ton of cookbooks (2) I use them for inspiration. I only follow a recipe if it’s for baking, or a type of cuisine I am not as familiar with (like Iranian, Thai, etc.) (3) Never waste of money. I love the pictures, the touch and feel of a cookbook.

clean bowled I like the 2nd answer cos I do the same 🙂

learning new cuisines from a recipe book is fun i love it

Shaima Al T 1-all the time 2 not at all, unless it’s dessert and baked goods because I just can’t figure out the chemistry of baking. Unlike normal cooking, I use the recipe as a guideline and I tinker away with my own version. 3- cookbooks are classic. They are never a waste of money and always a good source of tangible inspiration.

I am not a dessert person like her and this is when we need a few cookbooks 🙂

Ishita Saha 1) I buy cookbooks almost all the time; 2) No, I don’t follow the recipes at all (I know it’s shocking) however I take in nuances from it. 3) Yes for most of my friends. No, for myself. I love the smell, the feel, the texture of books – love the smudges, the sprinkles, the folds – I read cook books or books on different cuisine, history of food, culinary travel at bedtime – dream of travel and food and wake up with a smile!

she is so foodilicious 🙂

thats what you need to learn from those recipes books pilled up in your shelves….


I wanted to make the comments more fun to read which is why I have added some comments below each commenters comments highlighted with back quotes.

Hope you enjoy this post and found some answers to your questions.
Now lets start buying a couple of cookbooks together and stir up a feast 🙂


A master of sugar craft – (passion and destiny)


I believe 20 is the best age a child can be trusted on to take a decision of their studies by themselves. I started on to dream of being a teacher at the age of 5 and began teaching my imaginary students after school and my siblings during our school vacation.
As I grew up to be an ordinary level student I began to think teaching school kids is not what I want and later on moved on to study computing.
At the age of 20 I was inspired by a television drama in hindi to be a journalist.  I started my first move with a scholarship request and was successfully selected.  Due to many problems at home I was unable to join the batch and had to do a diploma in cookery. Although I learnt the lessons with not much of interest I started practicing the recipes and became more involved due to the successful dishes and appreciation I received. Thats when my passion for food started yet I had the greed to get myself involved into the media due to my interest in getting famous.
Ofcourse I should agree that seeing my name next to an article is the only thing I most wanted in my early 20’s.

Experience is the best teacher

So the saying is very true. I herd someone mention on a radio programme that “not every human being does what they are most passionate about”
Some work to keep their family runnning.
While some do tbe job as they dont have any other options out of which only a very few are those lucky ones who do a job which they enjoy.
Same way it goes with students who are deciding on their higher education. 1-Some follow the marks,
2- some obey their parents and start pursuing a qualification to please their parents
3- while a few are indecisive and do what they feel like.
4- A very few are inspired by the celebrity and work hard to achieve their goals.
I fell into the 4th category. I was inspired and worked hard. I had a lifeline which was the age barrier for admission into journalism college was not above 25 years. So I spent my 21st birthday studying culinary arts. At age 22/23 I reapplied to journalism college and again my house condition restricted me from attending college. I decided to stay home with no studies for the next one year and spend my life enjoying my spinster-hood. I believed that a diploma or degree in journalism will make me become a published writer and succed in my ambition. It took which is why I assumed my last Chance to pursue a career as a writer was my 25th birthday and decided not to give up this last chance no matter what and thats when destiny entered my life.
I was arranged to be given in marriage and I gave up once and decided to be a normal housewife and take things as every normal girl would want and I totally forgot my ambition. Married life took over my ambitions and I started enjoying the migration. Travelling around dubai and experiencing the culture and food of dubai I was so involved in food related field for my surprise my husband was also totally enjoying my passion. We watched the same food channels and programmes. Thats when I started my blog as shoppaholicstraveldiary on WordPress and enjoyed posting everything about dubai and my life in dubai.
The days I started blogging is when I discovered that food and travel is my passion while I didn’t need a degree to get published. I learnt through experience that experience is what I needed to write while becoming a writer doesn’t mean I have to write for a paper. Its the wonderful experience that helped me discover my passion for food. As a foodie who likes taking food pictures I enjoy writing recipes and all things food while being addicted to cookbooks and food programmes.

Three Golden Years

The past three years mean so much to me that the three years helped me discover my passion.
The three years have bought out the foodie in me and encouraged me to become a published blogger.
The experience of the three years that passed has taught me something new thats none other than the art of sugar flower making. I mastered the sugar flower craft and has found a new art. Cake decorating has broadened my imagination and creativity. I am so excited to start creating and share the new found art with my readers and fans while keep on practicing the craft.



Zataar and cheddar pizza

Am nuts about zataar?
That’s what you might think if you have been following my posts for the past month. Of course I am excited to try new recipes and create them on my own as I have a large stock of zataar in my pantry. So when I heard of the carnival at British school in Colombo I was even more excited and reserved a table for myself to put up a game. My idea was to share the food made with zataar to the public and get their opinion while introducing the Arabian spice to the Sri lankan public. At the British school in Colombo Christmas fair there was a multi cultural society as most of the expats in Colombo sent their kids to the British school in Colombo. It’s a posh school and many students I cane across were from China, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Africa and many more countries.
I was so glad to hear their comments.
I wanted to have a guess the ingredient game and set up my table with a bowl of zataar and cheddar pizza and a lot of gifts.
There was a small kid who asked what’s on my table and I explained that it’s a game which they gave

My first customer was a Japanese from high school and when I asked her if she liked to try some zataar she was so curious to know more and inquired what it is and I started my introduction. All she said after my introduction was ok let me try some out.

My second customer was a Pakistani lady with a baby in a carrier. She was with a lankan lady and as I asked her if she liked to try some arabic pizza she asked me, what’s that? Whats inside it? I explained all over again to her the ingredients in zataar and when I mentioned cheddar was added to the topping she raised her eyebrows and was excited to try I guess she is a cheese lover. She tried it in front of me and told “mmm, its delicious 🙂 with a wide grin of satisfaction.

The next were three little elves.
Wondering if Sri Lanka has elves?
Well, please stop. I am talking about three little 5th graders I guess. They were half my size and yea they were on a budget. Parents do give money for them to spend on what they want at school fair and these kids were great at taking care of what they bought. I sold my arabic pizza to them and sighted another three pairs of satisfied eyes with a slight grin.

Another three musketeers were my next customers.
I told them about my pizza and they asked to have a look finally they bought it and they too tried it in front of me while buying some stuff from the table opposite mine. They were 8th or 9th graders who were free of responsibility and enjoying their teens. Teens are basically those who like to try new things and introducing zataar to them was fantastic. They gave a very cheerful expression with a bid grin and one gave a thumbs up.

Next was a 5.8 tall and slim lady with short hair who looked like a Korean but am not good at guessing the nationality by their looks. As I introduced my pizza she asked me the origin of the spice and I mentioned I got introduced to it from Dubai. Soon as I mentioned Dubai she started going back into a very formal conversation and was telling how hot is Dubai. I then realized how people think middle east means a very hot country that’s how I thought of middle East before I moved into Dubai. Only after I lived there until winter I was happy to experience the winter season. As a person who dreamt of living in a country like london which I imagine as always cold and beautiful. Now I prefer Dubai though I cannot stand the heat in summer and the cold winter but Dubai has given me a whole new experience.
Getting back to my customer number 8 she asked me if the zataar was spicy as she is a Japanese and don’t like eating spicy food.
So next was my 9th customer who was short and fat, looked a bit sad. As soon as I asked him if he like to try some pizzas and its arabic he said “let me see it” in a sad tone. As I opened my pizza box and showed him he said “no thank you”. He was standing there looking at me after he said so which made me ask him why he dint wanna try?
He replied “because am not in a mood to eat anything from this carnival”. I was controlling my laugh while thanking him for the time. I guess he has lost his appetite.

Next I met a couple elderly Sri lankan ladies who asked me what I had to offer. I introduced my arabic pizza and they were excited to taste the pizza. The first lady who tasted in front of me took a bit and replied “your pizza dough tastes different, I like it very much” with a grin and haste to take the next bite.

My last customers were two little sisters who looked like 3rd graders. I sold 4 pizzas to them by encouraging to take home and share with their mum for which they agreed nodding their head happily as if this idea was super and they carefully took the pizzas wrapped in a tissue.

A guess the ingredient game turned out into a pizza sale.
What I gained by this is not something I can describe by just plain words. As a blogger who always keeps taking pictures of food and travel to share and write about this carnival sale experience has been unique. While I earned some cash to pay for my space I also got the opportunity to hear the comments for my zataar and cheddar pizza from 5 different nationalities and I met 12 different people who all had different taste buds. All the comments and compliments made my day.

Finally it was time to pack up after shopping for some achcharu at the achcharu kadey stall and some marshmallows and a lollipop which was imported from Dubai. Finally I managed to have not lost anything but gained a whole new experience.
One main tip based on my experience is that you need to talk to sell what you have and unless you as people to try nobody will bother to ask.

So here is my recipe to the zataar pizza topping.

1 tablespoon zataar
4 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper as required
A handful of grated cheddar

Mix all together and spread over a pizza dough.
Need some extra cheese? Grate on top. Bake until the crust is cooked and cool before cutting.
Serve hot with a ketchup or choice of chicken soup.

Pizza dough from refer my zataar keema pizza recipe.

Alright how this pizza got its name as arabic pizza.
Okay this is how I named it arabic pizza.
I told one person it’s zataar pizza and they were not familiar with it so I had to mention the ingredients used in zataar. But if I say its arabic pizza I don’t have to list the ingredients but only have to mention the origin of the pizza. Another reason why I named it arabic pizza is when I say “arabic pizza” people are excited and eager to have a look or try it out.
So the name arabic pizza helped me sell more.
As this spice zataar is from the gulf I decided to call it arabic pizza.

Hope you enjoyed my story.
Let meet soon with another recipe using my mystery ingredient.



Revisiting memories; first time on print and first ever coffee and cook workshop attended

As a new expat in dubai I was so lot of activities to keep myself busy apart from the daily chores at home.  So when ever I am free I stumbled over many websites and magazines that were freely available online.  One such magazine was the aquarius a publication of the gulf news in dubai. I was asked to sign up for the membership in order to be eligible for a seat at the coffee and cook workshop. I was not very sure if I really was able to go due to event being on a weekday. Although am free at home I had many worries like if I’d be able to go so far to festival city alone in a country which I’ve been only for six months. Anyway I was so excited to attend the event and started researching on the metro routes, time and the bus routes. I am really amazed to think that I was so courageous to  travel so far by myself.
I have travelled by metro  to meet my husband whose office was in deira before they mived into al barsha. But I have never travelled in a bus all alone. This was my first experience.  Reaching al rashidiya metro and talong a bus to festival city was so exciting.  The bus had only a few passengers and the ride was bumpy that I almost rolled over to my seat while getting in. Getting off at the festival city and facing an isolated garden which had only vehicles that delivers goods to the shops I walked in hastily in search of jashanmal store. It was a very long walk. Having finally reached the store and meeting the editor of aquarius was an unforgettable experience. Meeting chef andy was even more fun as he was a friendly person. He welcomed any questions and answered with patience and passion. I can say that he was one of the few who inspired me into food blogging.  The recipes he demonstrated were really different and new for me and he even offered me his own copy of the lemon tart recipe. It was my first ever public appearance and the first time I was been interviewed so my hands were shivering while I struggled for words to mention my experience of participation in the coffee and cook workshop.
I received a free copy of the aquarius magazine and many more gifts apart from the new experience.
The event was held just a day before my birthday and the goft I won was like a pre birthday gift.
The two months later an article was published with pictures of the coffee and cook workshop.  It was my forst appearance on a print media. I cannot express the joy and happiness I felt on seeing it. As a person who always wished and wanted to get articles published on a magazine an appearance was even more joyful.

A peek into the pictures on the magazine-




Food Story : Cake of the fortnight

Buying recipe books is not easy as it seems when they are affordable at a place like the floating book shop logos hope. The price made me grab all book on cake and baking. The 100 cakes book encouraged me to try put a cake a week which is why I ended up trying the third cake from this book. It has 100 cakes and I have no idea how I will be able to try them all out. Its kind of challenge to me. I have a basic cake recipe which is soft and delicious that calls for equal amount of flour, sugar and butter. But many recipes I’ve come across in books call for different measurements on each ingredient. That’s the key reason why I wanted to try all the 100 cake recipes from my recent cake book. So this cake is the 3rd recipe I tried out of the 100 cakes.
This recipe has a different flavor as it contains Nutella and almonds.
I tried Nutella very recently only after visiting Sri Lanka. Though I’ve seen many offers on nutella in Dubai I’ve never got the urge to try it out. I am now a fan of nutella, for those who have not yet tried nutella please try soon ,its chocolaty and delicious. Use it as a topping for cakes, cookies, éclairs and doughnuts.

I was not so sure on how the cake might turn out which is why I tried baking the cakes first and they were really good with a bit of crunchiness from the almonds and sweetness from the nutella with a chocolaty flavor.
ice cream
I was so lazy to make the topping which was also from nutella I cut the cup cake vertically into half and topped each half with a scoop of fruit and nut ice cream. It was so delicious and went together very well. The crunchiness of the almonds and softness of the cake added an extra taste to the fruit and nut ice cream.

Chicken BBQ and Foccacia – Food Story & Recipe

Food Story

I have never done or seen a BBQ live in my life until I met my husband and we moved into dubai. The first year in dubai, winter appeared in just six months since I moved into dubai. All supermarkets were stocked with winter clothes and BBQ items from charcoal to BBQ grills and many offers on Chicken. I was so excited to have a BBQ and finally my husbands office had a BBQ party to which I was also invited. It was a family get together as well for office staffs and the boses birthday so the party was held on the 31st of December night which was planned to go on till early in the morning of january 1st.
I reached the party and had a warm welcome. After spending some time chatting with Co – staff employees wifes and the boses family I was so distracted by the sight of wine being served for guests who preferred to drink and later on I made up my mind as these things are common and we can never stop whats on around us unless it’s our residence.
Similarly if we are at a hotel, we do not leave without eating just because the hotel serves alcohol for the customers who as for a drink, do we?
No we dont.
so I was feeling a bit comfortable and planning to have the first BBQ which was being grilled live in front of my eyes.
I was with my hubby’s cousin and his wife who was a person who cover her face. She hardly drank or ate anything and they were in a hurry to leave as we were supposed to attend another bowling party at a bowling centre in mirdiff.
I was so wanting to eat the BBq which I agreed to eat a few pieces soon as I was served waiting for none except the heat to cool down. We quickly ate the BBQ which I learnt later that it was not chicken but duck meat.
Soon as we left the party in haste to beat the new year outing Traffic and reach the bowling centre in time to play and celebrate the new year. So this is my story of trying oyt a BBQ live for the first time in my life.
Later on in mid winter I and my hubby got together and had a BBQ night on a weekend.
And we also had a good get together amongst my husbands friends and cousins.
After having all these fun in dubai I was sincerely reminded of my family back in sri lanka. They are same as myself have never tried a BBQ live and tasted at home. So I decided I will try this out with them and let them experience the joy of winter food.
On my recent vacation to sri lanka I went shopping for a instant BBQ grill and got some chicken meat marinated with nothing special but the normal spices at home.
It was a bit drizzling outside while I tried to light the instant grill inside the courtyard of our house.
It took a few unsuccessful attempts and finally ended up adding a bit of kerosene into the grill and the chicken meat hardly got cooked. Fimally I decided to place the chicken on top of the gas flame and get it grilled. The kitchen was filled with mild smoke and I was sweating due to the heat. The chicken was finally cooked but there were more to be cooked. I was so tired and exhausted of struggling to do a BBQ and failing I decided to get the rest of the chicken baked. Finally I was having chicken done using two different methods grilling over medium flame and baking in a moderate oven.


The presentation

I wanted to serve the three elements individually on a plate but decided to assemble it in top of each other and make it more easier to eat and appetising for the eyes.
So finally I cut and placed the foccacia bread in a tray and topped it with a slice of capsicum, tomatoes and a piece of the chicken.
I served each one a set of these with one being flame grilled chicken while the other being oven baked chicken.


The Foccacia Bread

This was none other than my very own recipe inspired by jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals. I never measured any ingredients and I usually add them according to my experience and knowledge.
Refer my pizza dough in zataar keema pizza and am sure you’ll get all your bases perfect.
fdocca cia

My BBQ Recipe

500 gms chicken
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon chillie powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
Salt to taste
Method of preparation
1) Clean, wash and pat dry the chicken.
2) Add all the ingredients and mix well.
3) grill over a BBQ grill until done or bake in a moderate oven according to the time required for your oven and until cooked evenly.

Serve with a choice of bread, rice or rotti over a spread of some humus, raw vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicum, onions and lettuce or even any other green vegetable.

Serve with humus and flat rotti to give the dish an arabian twist.
Drizzle some extra olive oil to give it an Italian twist and serve with foccacia.
For an indian taste serve with sambar and plain rice or some cumin rice.

Hope you enjoyed this post.
(C) travelandfoodworldwide mafaza haleem

Arabian Twist Recipe Contest

It was a rainy tuesday noght when I came across the note on Facebook about a revipe writing contest.
The challenge was to create a recipe with any middle eastern ingredient and find out why it makes a difference. I was having a lits of zataar in stock and some ideas pouring in to me which I quickly tried out on Wednesday the 30th of October.  Clicking from everyside using my brothers dslr as an amateur food photographer I was keen on taking a perfect image.

On the 31st of October late in the evening I posted the document with my recipe and images.

Eagerly waiting for a winner to be announced with fingers crossed if I will be able to win Suzanne Hussains cook book “when Suzanne cooks”.
It was again a Wednesday night, rainy with lightning when I checked my bligs email and found a message from the recipe contest host starting with congratulations. My heart was beating and I was overwhelmed with joy and full of smiles.
We can lways buy a recipe book which can be affordable at times but when o
You win a book its something special.  Words can never describe the joy of winning a book. When the book you won is something you’ve wanted in a ling time the happiness is double with the relief on thinking that “its great you dint buy when you felt like it ” which would have made your house with two books of the same sort. Let alone the second hand book stores where you might be able to sell one if there is any spare books.
So am now a few mikes off fron being the owner of when Suzanne cook’s.
I can wait to try the recipes fron the book.


The contest on facebook. Discoverspice.net


The book I won.


The most awaited email.

A link to my recipe is found below or search for zataar keema pizaa on my search bar –


Zataar keema pizza


Arabian cuisine has always encouraged me to try new dishes. Zataar was introduced to me through manakish at man2ooshe and I fell in love with the spice. As I saw the zataar on display at Carrefour I quickly grabbed a little and came home. Once I was home I started to stumble online for recipes and finally decided to introduce the zataar with meat to my Sri Lankan family. Usually a keema is done with a mix of various spices but I got a delicious keema with just only zataar and pepper powder. I myself am really amazed how the Arabian flavor has enhanced the keema curry with the help of those dried herbs and sumac. This experiment has encouraged me to try new recipes using zataar.


Pizza Dough


3 cups flour
Salt to taste
2 teaspoon olive oil or margarine
2 teaspoon yeast
Water as required


Mix all ingredients together and knead into a smooth and soft dough.
Leave aside to rise for an hour.
Roll into a flat circle and place on a tray.

Meat keema


1 cup meat

1 medium onion (chopped)

1 teaspoon crushed pepper
2 teaspoon zataar spice
2 teaspoon zataar with sumac
Salt to taste
1tablesoon olive oil or melted butter


Cheddar for topping


Clean, wash and boil the meat.
Sauté meat and onions in a pan over high heat with teaspoon of olive oil or margarine

Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the two zataar mixes.
Spread over the prepared dough.

Grate and sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and bake at 150 degrees C for 20 minutes on a pre heated oven.

My images



zataar keema topped

zataar keema topped



cheessy on top ofkeema

cheessy on top of keema