Sunday, August 3, 2014

All or nothing: When a free cooking class demands perfection

Soup Nazi Arab cuisine cooking class Dhahran Saudi Arabia blog

I hope everyone's Eid went well! I took a little break so that's why you haven't heard from me in a while. You'll be seeing an upcoming post on my adventures! But before we get into that, let's take a completely unabashed look at food shall we? Or is everyone completely sick of food at this point? Probably. Anyways. Poor timing, but read on anyways if you thought Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" was funny.
A couple weeks ago my friend invited me to an Arabic cooking class. Participants sat in as two professional chefs prepared main course dishes and desserts.

Chefs Saudi Aramco Dhahran Saudi Arabia blog

We were given the recipes and the chefs told us how to make them as they cooked. There were three main dishes and two desserts. I came in late so I don't really know how to prepare the first two dishes, (Daoud Basha and Kibbeh in Yogurt Sauce).

Mousakan Daoud Basha Kibbeh Dhahran Saudi Arabia blog
Chicken Mousakan on the left, daoud basha in the middle, and the different stages of kibbeh on the right.

It doesn't really matter because the conversations between chef no. 1 (the guy wearing the chef's hat, not the du-rag type thing) and audience members were hilarious:

Audience member: This recipe calls for Arabic spices. Where can I buy them?

Chef: Nowhere.

A.m.: ...Nowhere?

Chef: You cannot buy them here in Saudi. They mess it up. I don't know what they put inside it. It's Indian spices.

A.m.: Well where do you get your Arabic spices then?

Chef: I buy them from home and bring them here.

A.m.: Oh ok... Thanks?

Sous chef Saudi Aramco Dhahran Saudi Arabia blog

Me: I'm going to assume that I can't buy sumac here, but can I substitute it with anything?

Chef: No.

Me: So not with lemon or lime or anything else sour?

Chef: No. You either cook it with sumac or you don't cook it at all.

Me: So it's an all or nothing kinda deal then, huh?

(Ensuing audience laughter...)

Chef Saudi Aramco Dhahran Saudi Arabia blog

And my two favourite quotes of the night

After getting asked many of the same questions as to the availability of certain ingredients 

  1. Chef: Ok listen. You want to make Arabic food? You need Arabic ingredients. You want Japanese food, you go to a Japanese restaurant. You want Lebanese food, you go to a Lebanese restaurant. You want seafood, you go to an Australian restaurant. Trust me, I would know.
Outback Steakhouse it is!

     2.  Chef: I don't know who wrote these recipes. These are wrong.

(The ones that I've hyperlinked are the most similar recipes I could find, that seem to have the right measurements for the ingredients.)

Znoud Al Sit Maamoul Saudi Aramco Dhahran Saudi Arabia blog
Znoud Al Sit (translated to lady's arms... don't ask) on the left and Maamoul on the right.

Because I stayed after everyone left to take photos of the food for you, dear reader, I was last in line to get the food so I missed out on the chicken mousakan. Everything else tasted pretty good though! I was hesitant to try the maamoul as I've had dry ones in the past, but this batch was moist and delicious. Maybe because it was fresh?

Anyways, what do you think of these recipes? Are they similar to the ones you've used before and/or do you have better ones? Let me know in the comments section below!

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