I still remember one of my first breakfasts in Dubai. It was an early summer morning, but still boiling hot outside. Desperately wanting to get into air conditioning, I quickly ducked into a café and ordered my cappuccino and croissant. The staff told me they only had zaatar croissants left. Hmmm… Zaatar I thought. I was intrigued by the name and excited to try something new. I asked what zaatar was, and the the staff just giggled. After realizing I was serious, they finally said, “Arabic spices madam. You try.” I did and it was delicious. I soon found out zaatar is a blend of dried herbs such as thyme and oregano, sesame, sumac and salt. It can be used to flavor vegetables, breads, and meats.
After living in Dubai for almost 7 years and seeing zaatar on nearly every menu in the region, I understand why the café staff thought I was crazy for not knowing what it was. Although I have eaten it countless times, I never imagined I would be cooking with zaatar in the middle of a crowded mall! But there I was in Burjuman, on stage at the Teka Chef’s Theatre.
I was lucky to be a part of a blogger masterclass, one of the many events put on by Treat, the Burjuman World Food Fest 2012. Our masterclass was led by Executive Chef Ron Pietruszka of the Ritz Carlton DIFC, and I was among a group of bloggers cooking Zaatar Marinated Lamb with Crushed Lemon Potatoes.
|Chef Ron Pietruszka in action|
Initially I was a bit nervous standing in my little Teka cooking station, but the dish was surprisingly simple, made even easier by the pre-measured ingredients, my own personal kitchen assistant, and Chef Ron’s step-by-step instructions. The final dish was both beautiful and delicious. (Recipe is below).
|My final dish. Not as pretty as Chef Ron’s, but delicious nonetheless!|
|Chef Ron’s beautiful Lamb|
Treat – The BurJuman World Food Fest 2012, running from September 11-22 2012 has something for everyone. The events are all free of cost and run by leading food industry experts and chefs from Dubai’s top hotels. Some highlights are: a series of masterclasses, cooking demos, dining etiquette workshops, audience competitions, cupcake decorating for the kids, exciting gift giveaways, and much more. Treat culminates with the BurJuman Junior Chef 2012 Competition and a fantastic gift hamper giveaway worth 25,000 AED.
For more information on events and timings,
Zaatar Marinated Lamb with Crushed Lemon Potatoes
INGREDIENTS for Lamb:
6 pcs Lamb Rack
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup Olive Oil
½ cup Tahini Sauce
½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2-3 tablespoons Zaatar (if you can’t find zaatar, check Middle Eastern supermarkets)
Pomegranate Seeds for garnish
PREPARATION for Lamb:
1. Marinate Lamb in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for at least 1 hour.
2. Sear lamb in hot pan; use tongs to sear all sides.
3. Brush tahini on all sides of lamb.
4. Combine panko and zaatar. Roll lamb in panko mixture.
5. Bake lamb in a 190C (375F) oven until desired doneness.
INGREDIENTS for Crushed Potatoes:
2 large cooked potatoes, skins on, crushed (can substitute any potatoes of your choice)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of ½ lemon
1-2 Tablespoon Butter
PREPARATION of Crushed Potatoes:
1. Melt butter in pan. Add garlic and cook until soft and aromatic.
2. Add cooked potato, lemon juice and zest.
3. Mash with fork to desired consistency.
To plate dish, first add a serving of potatoes. Add lamb rack on top. Garnish with few pomegranate seeds if desired.
**Thank you to the organizers of TREAT for the recipe, which I modified a bit based on my experience in the masterclass and also for some of the images on this post.