TCS>>Food & Dining>>Dine in Style

Sheherezade; The Arabic Adventure

Dilanka Mannakkara

2011-05-23 14:54:00

The middle eastern and Arabic cuisine has been exotic, rich in texture...

But the chefs over the years have made sure to keep the ingredients simple to give the authentic Arabic flavor to it. I have been a great fan of Arabic, middle eastern cuisine although I have only savored kebabs,naans,shawarmas in non – Arabic restaurants. I wanted to try out the authentic, traditional Arabic cuisine and the place was none other than Sheherezade, the only exclusive Arabic restaurant in Sri Lanka.

The exotic, Turkish décor, the soft Lebanese music and most importantly the spicy cuisine of Lebanese recipes, dating back to a thousand years, is perfected on the sizzling stoves at the Sheherazade, and is presented on a buffet of delicate, and aromatic spread of fine Mediterranean dishes.

The Sheherezade is well equipped with “hubbli bubbli" at the Garden Terrace which brings out its true Mediterranean authenticity and is only open for dinner from 7pm to 11 pm. Lebanese gastronomy is a rich mixture of various products and ingredients coming from the diverse Lebanese regions. Olive oil, herbs, spices, fresh fruits and vegetables are commonly used, as well as dairy products, cereals, fishes and meat.

The Mezze, an elaborate variety of thirty hot and cold dishes, had made the Lebanese cuisine renowned worldwide.A typical Mezze may consist, of salads such as the Tabboule and Fattouch, together with the caviars: Hommos and Moutabal, and some patties such as the Sambousseks and finally the stuffed grape leaves.Chef Ananda who has over 10 years of experience in this wonderful restaurant told me about the essential dishes of Arabic cuisine which are three starters namely Hummus,Muttabel and Tabbouleh.

Hummus is a dip/spread that is made from chickpeas.According to Chef Ananda in fact, hummus is the Arabic word for chickpea and is one of the oldest foods dating back to ancient Egypt. If you frequently visit Middle Eastern restaurants and eat the hummus, you know that hummus tastes different everywhere as some types of hummus have a strong lemon flavor, some have an overwhelming garlic flavor, and some hummus has a spicy tone. This had a tangy lemon flavor to it and tasted great with the crisp, freshly baked Naan.

Muttabel which is another famous appetizer is prepared with grilled eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic; tahini, chopped tomato and green pepper as well. More frequently, eggplant is mixed with yoghurt, olive oil and garlic. Chef Ananda who gave the information told that Arabic spices are added to this exotic starter and it tasted wonderful with the egg plant flavor which was evident.

Originally from the mountains of Syria and Lebanon, tabbouleh has become one of the most popular salads in the Middle East. In the Arab world, but particularly the Greater Syrian region, it is usually served as part of the mezze.

These three appetizers are must tries at Sheherezade for all you diners who love middle eastern food.

The chicken shawarma which is another signature dish here was oozing with flavors.The chicken was grilled to perfection and the secret Arabic spices and the 24 hour marination did wonders to this authentic dish.

Another one of my top picks was the chicken kebab which was juicy, succulent and bursting with flavors In English, kebab with no qualification generally refers more specifically to shish kebab served on the skewer or döner kebab served wrapped in bread with a salad and a dressing.

In the Middle East, however, kebab includes grilled, roasted, and stewed dishes of large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls. The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and taboos, it may now be beef, goat, chicken, pork; fish and seafood; or even vegetarian foods like falafel or tofu. Sheherezade had juicy beef,Chicken and the original Lamb Doner kebab and almost on all days the kebabs are served alongside the buffet.

The buffet had popular Arabic desserts like Honey bread,Turkey bread and also caramel pudding,Mouse and fruits.But the standout was Umali,a hot dessert which is similar to a bread pudding.This has become one of the best known desserts in the UAE and quite literally means 'the queen of puddings'. A particular favourite during Ramadan according to Restaurant Manager Anil and was not overly sweet.It included puff pastry,milk,various kinds of nuts,cream,rasins and cinnamon and was scrumptious.

A strawberry flavored Shisha which I smoked for 45 minutes but still coudnt finish wrapped up a perfect Arabic dining experience for me at Sheherezade.The other flavors which are available include grape,mint and also regular.

So all of you please make a date at Sheherezade by calling them on 0112 544 544 to enjoy an Arabic experience as much as I did.