English Stew in Dubai Winter

I remember when I was a kid loving the site of snow on movies, I used to watch home alone every school vacation with my brother and we would wake up early just to watch holiday movies. Mostly in December is when I love watching home alone. It just gives the holiday spirit with a winter touch and decorations all around. Although in sri Lanka we never experience snow or a very cool climate especially in colombo except during rainy days watching these movies that shows snowing scenes gives me a mere pleasure. I literally enter the movie as a viewer and experience the event and that’s why I love watching movies with snowing scenes or atmosphere.
Having moved to Dubai in June it was very hot and the beginning of summer in June 2011. It’s been 3 and a half years now and I’ve experienced 3 winters in Dubai. I just love the winter in Dubai and believe it’s better than snowing weather. I hardly can bear the cool weather yet I really really enjoy it. Like the movies I watched I see the interior and food fill the shops and stores in Dubai with winter goods and decorations. I just love roaming around here especially during the evenings as I enjoy the bright lit roads of Dubai.

“They call it Christmas, I call it winter”. mafaza haleem

According to me one other thing related to winter or makes me feel so like winter apart from the weather is food. Food plays a major role in winter. That’s when making large pots of stew at 4 pm in the afternoon make the house warming. Having hot chocolates over a movie and dinner is something I just love about winter.
It was a very cool evening as I opened the window and the house was filled with the aroma of my beef stew cooking on my pressure cooker at a very low heat.
I checked online for some British stew recipes and found felicity cloakes article on the guardian very informative. she had a detailed post on the basic ingredients used on a British stew and how they helped enhance the flavor of the stew. she has researched through many cookbooks on making a British stew. the article highlights the basic ingredients which were meat, onion, carrots and some vegetables. she also mentions barley or dumplings also can be added depending on the author. after reading this article it reminded me of the soup we make in sri Lanka. it’s like a traditional in our family ad some functions we have lunch which we call “soup and rice” as basically the best part is having rice with soup though there will be 5-6 varieties of curry and vegetables served along with the rice and soup.

usually the soup we call is like a stew, very thick but we preserve some extra liquid so we can pour on our rice and drink the remaining. basically our soup which has a stew like texture is made with the leg part of the cow or goat and some vegetables which we also call “soup badu” or “soup stuff”. In the local market if we ask for soup badu they with give a bag filled with  a slice of cabbage, a few leeks, a carrot, a potato, a radish and some green beans. we also use barley and dhal as a thickening agent and once I tried substituting broken wheat instead of barley which had no difference in the texture.  we season the soup with some salt, pepper and turmeric and some cumin powder.

so making this British stew was a different experience as I used some stew mix which i had on my shelf and needs to be used up before I leave for my vacation in sri Lanka. although my soup and British stew were having a similar texture they both are two different dishes because a stew is slow cooked while my soup id fast cooked or pressure cooked. though i used my pressure cooker for the stew it was cooked for nearly an hour on a very low flame which only released 2 whistles in that 1 hour.

I believe I have unlocked the British stew successfully and is moving onto some German food. lets get back with another food story until then have a nice day.





all images and words used on this blog are completely mine and please leave a comment if there is anything or email me at therecipewriter@gmail.com


mafaza haleem


Italian Cuisine World Summit Dubai 2014

Italian main course master class

I believe that I have done enough justice to Asian cuisine and I can’t stop loving them, from Chinese food to Indian thosa and soft idly’s I’ve tried, tasted and written a lot and I will never stop cooking sri Lankan food nor blogging about it. I love trying different food and I enjoy learning new skills so this month I decided to peep into a different cuisine especially the Italian cuisine when Dima Sharif announced she was going to send 6 bloggers for 6 sessions on the Italian cuisine world summit master class I jumped in with excitement and said I am in. voila I was lucky to get the place at the basics in Italian cuisine master class with chef Walter Potenza who is now my favorite Michelin star chef. He is the first Michelin chef I’ve ever met in my foodie journey until today. I had to think four times if am going or not reason I had a naughty toddler who is fond of pulling things and still underage according to myself to stay at a daycare, myself being a unpaid food blogger I had no reason to send him to a daycare for just one day and decided to let him join in the fun.

In Sri Lanka we get classes for Indian, Chinese and Pakistani but Italian cuisine I am not sure if it will be the real Italian. Is there anything better than learning from the Italians themselves?  Well it’s best if its Italian Michelin chefs and this is one opportunity which none should miss, especially if you’re a hardcore foodie. You don’t have to be a chef but a passion is all you need to explore the world of cuisines.  Italian cuisine is another art which i understood the way the chefs did every step of preparation and presentation.  Cooking is an art truly and you need some patience to master the art. Chef Walter Potenza introduced himself to the audience and started off with a brief on what the days lesson is gona be like and what are the subjects that will be covered.

He mentioned 3 main techniques which will be demonstrated and explained for the day. Those three techniques were braising, poaching and frying. He gave a very good explanation on how the three techniques are used and why they originated. While talking about braising Chef Walter mentioned how the European farmers were literally forced to utilize different cuts to make ends meet as it was very rare. We were shown how to make a brasato which is done using the braising method and braising meet is usually a long period of cooking. The brasato was marinated for 24 hours and cooked for 8 hours. I was mesmerized in the way chef Walter explained how braising is usually done using tough and cheap cuts of the cows leg portion which he playfully showed his leg mentioning that he dint have a cow at the auditorium to show J  another dish we learnt using the braising method was osso buco which was also slow cooked for several hours with vegetables and stock and of course alcohol was called in the recipe but that’s the way Italians cook so you can change things to suit your culture everything can be changed and substituted in food.

I learnt that braising meat is very popular in the north and South America as well as the central Europe. The brasato originated from the piedmont region in Northwest Territory of Italy and they use a very special kind of alcohol to prepare this dish. Trust me the chef respects the culture and tradition of Dubai they all do so they never used it on the food they served us so no worries if you don’t consume alcohol you can enjoy the master class and maybe substitute the wine with something else and follow the recipe.

I love the braising method and can’t wait to try it out soon. The osso buco was so delicious, tender and juicy and I say it’s the best beef dish I have ever tasted with no curry powder or masala and it will be my favorite.

Moving onto the frying chef Walter mentioned how the Italians like frying their vegetables and seafood. We were told that the next chef who was chef lionello cera will demonstrate the pouching and frying techniques.

We had a coffee break with Chef Walter who also got my baby a croissant which was so nice of him. I was listening to the audience at this break and was so happy to be a part of this summit. There was an Italian chef who works at a leading hotel in Saudi Arabia who has flown down especially to attend the master class at the Italian cuisine world summit in Dubai and he also received his certificate of completion a few days ago. Isn’t that awesome. I wish I did it too maybe next time in sha Allah.

After the break we were greeted by chef lionello cera who gave a brief on what’s he going to demonstrate and how. He seemed to be the master of poaching and frying and I understood he had a great passion in doing the two techniques. The poaching of seafood was the recipe which had a long name and I am going to call it a soup kind of thing which had the real seafood flavor intact to it without extracting or evaporating even a tiny bit out. J It was raw and I got to taste clams for the first time in my life.

The third technique is frying and are you wondering if there can be something special in this method? Do not think you need to learn and taste it to know the difference. I have know that batter or egg dipped and bread crumb coated fried stuff are crispy and tasty but now I know that egg or batter is not the only way to make the breadcrumbs stick to the fish or whatever. The Italians used alcohol but I am thinking can we substitute by using malt drinks like very strong “Bavaria”?I will try it and let you now or you try and let me know, chef lionello used non alcoholic wine.

The outside of the fried onions and egg plant was so crispy and I could feel the strength of it.

Earlier chef Walter explained how the Italians like crispy fried stuff and chef lionello demonstrated that adding salt after frying can helps the flavor enhancement. I hope the photos will speak how fun the Italian cuisine main course session was and   I recommend you to try it out before it over head down to dimmasharif.com to learn more

Gourmet Pink BakeOff

the gourmet pink bake off, hosted by the Ahlan gourmet magazine last month at the dubai mall was a challenging task. it was a contest for 35 dirhams and I just wanted to be a part of the contest. I really wanted to win the taste test but unfortunately I didn’t it’s not that it was not tasty but it was too simple.
here is a glimpse of the event.

in order

1. my cake send for the entry

2. the cakes i took for the bake sale

3. my first customer (she was standing near my desk and asked her mama to buy this cake) oh am so happy that my cake attracted this tiny sweet girl. these little things matter a lot to me when there is no appreciation for hard work by close ones.

4. she was ann and she won the fastest selling contest and she was so helpful and kind enough to reach out and promote which helped sell 15 of my cakes.

5-13 then some of the contestants and their lovely cake

14. that’s the winner in pink eliza and next to her is me

15. our group picture with the ahlan team

16. the final bake off challenge for the 2 winners was to decorate the papa rotti bun with a topping

Weekly Photo Challenge : Dialogue


This weeks photo challenge topic is something that i like as i have a picture taken yesterday as a coincidence on our sons first visit to the beach.

I can touch a top the burj khalifa my fingertips :-)

I can touch a top the burj khalifa my fingertips 🙂

Claypot Shawarma

20140822_211751_Richtone(HDR)I have to admit that shawarmas have played a nice role in my life. In sri lanka you get the wraps which are very thicl and the filling is very spicy. My mum loves it and we often had it for dinner. In dubai the shawarmas are very thin with a mild filling that has a very nice texture as you take every bite. I recently read that shawarma is the meat filling and not the wrap. I know its a shame I dint know that before but trust me it takes time to explore the food as the world is too small yet each country has it own way of serving some things that makes the food world too big. It takes a lot of time when you try exploring various cuisines if you really want to know the originality. So it took me time to get married and move to dubai to know whats an original arabic shawarma like and yea even they have some differences yet they are all so delicious that am a shawarma fan.
So when i browsed the shelves at the supermarket And found that maggi has a shawarma mix I just grabbed it thinking and was thinking what to serve it with.
I then decided i will make a claypot shawarma as I love to cook on a clay pot.
It’s actually something like an experiment.

The recipe at the back of the pack called for fresh chopped tomatoes and yogurt which I didn’t have so I decided to substitute tomato paste instead of tomatoes and used the sweet apricot yogurt as I had no plain yogurt.

And yes the recipe ask for baking so i cooked it on the claypot making it a claypot shawarma recipe.
The aroma of tempering onions on the claypot was so nice that I was so excited.

I served this with some chapatti and sprinkled some pomegranates on top of the shawarma curry just to give it an arabian touch.

How I did the shawarma curry in my clay pot –
1. Cleaned, washed and drained boneless chicken beasts.
2. Add the shawarma mix, 100 grams tomato paste, 2 teaspoon apricot yogurt and mix the chicken wwell to coat.
3. Temper half an onion chopped in 3 teaspoon olive oil.
4. Add the chicken with the marination and leave closed for 5 minutes in a low heat.
5. Add 2 cups of water and cook until the chicken is tender.
6. You can choose how much gravy ypu need and turn off heat.
7. Serve hot with chappati.

The flavour was so good and delicious.

Weekly Food Stories

From Dubai

Its been three weeks since I am back in dubai and I’ve had many different experience and experiments with food. I have taken loads of pictures and posted on my instagram but never got a time to write a proper blog post. After all the pampering and help I got in sri lanka for the past 10 months, living alone in dubai has made my life busy giving me no time to sit and write a nice blog post. I love blogging and thats what I enjoy in my free time so I guess my future posts would be short of words and more images.

my week in pictures

i won suzanne husseini’s when suzanne cooks from delna prakashan of disoverspice.com on the recipe contest. i was so looking forward to get my hands on the book and was eager to try some recipes out of it.

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it was a good signed copy 🙂


so as i was looking for some low carb options this recipe attracted me having got all the required ingredients i started preparations and this is how it looked…


having used pomegranates for the recipe i wouldn’t have if i dint try this wonderful way of deseeding the pomegranates. its such a wonder and make deseeding pomegranates easy as ABC. I bought a meat tenderiser from sri lanka and my husband said he dont like eating beef or mutton anymore, i was so worried how i am gonna use it but now am glad i brought it here instead of leaving back in sri lanka. i used it to deseed the pomegranates.

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made a sugar free sweet rice kichchadi with kithul treacle and raisins. it was good with those dates.

made a sugar free sweet rice kichchadi with kithul treacle and raisins. it was good with those dates.

am not a beans fan but i really liked fava beans better than baked kidney beans. i think it tastes better.

tried fava beans for the first time with paratha i say its a good low carb option.

tried fava beans for the first time with paratha i say its a good low carb option.

made some toast with home made bread, kithul treacle and cinnamon powder from sri lanka bought at the g

made some toast with home made bread, kithul treacle and cinnamon powder from sri lanka bought at the good market



1/2 a baguette or 4 slices of home made bread

1 table spoon kithul treacle

1/3 of a cup of low fat milk

1 egg

a pinch of cinnamon powder

butter to coat the pan

cooking instructions-

  1. mix together the milk, kithul treacle, egg and cinnamon powder.
  2. cut the bread into bite size pieces.
  3. coat the pan with butter.
  4. dip each piece of bread in the egg batter and cook all sides until golden brown.

serve warm as it is.


tried making some cakes on a macaroon sheet which i ordered o ebay long time back.


these organic cinnamon powder mixes by ma’s are so aromatic and just pinch is enough for an egg.


tried making some cakes on a macaroon sheet which i ordered o ebay long time back.

these sponge cakes were made with flour which i dono the expiry date of but they tasted good.

the ones i made on macaroo sheets are still in my fridge waiting to be transformed into a dessert -)

the sponge cake ad macaroon cakes

the sponge cake ad macaroon cakes


making a kofta is made easy with these knorr kofta spice

making a kofta is made easy with these knorr kofta spice

i just enjoyed preparing them.



using up those green that accompany the grilled chicken.

using up those green that accompany the grilled chicken.




a handful of arugula

a few mint leaves

2 tablespoons of feta cheese

half a cucumber chopped

2 teaspoons of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

4 slices of tomatoes

half an onion chopped

preparation instructions

  1. chop the basil and arugula
  2. sprinkle the chopped onions and feta.
  3. spread the cucumbers.
  4. season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  5. place the tomatoes on top and serve with rice or bread.

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 :