Understanding the Emirati culture at SMCCU

We recently finished Eid Al Adha*, which is a big celebration for muslims.

*”Also called the “Festival of Sacrifice“, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr), and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. But, before Ibraham could sacrifice his son, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is retained by the family.”

Understanding the festivities of muslim people brings you to understand they culture.
I had the opportunity to visit and have an Emirati lunch at Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding SMCCU .

The beautiful place is located in one of my favourite areas, Al Fahidi neighbourhood in Bur Dubai. The whole area is a recreation of an old Emirati village by the Creek. But this little museum bring you to the heart of the old Emirati houses.

We started the journey inside the house in the majilis or gathering space where we were all seating in the floor, as they normally do when they gather with the family and friends.

Ms. Fathayah, a young and lovely Emirati woman walked us through the secrets of the Emirati culture starting with the coffee traditions.

It’s a lovely Arabic custom, sitting with friends and family in the evening, and over several tiny cups of steaming coffee poured from a dallah,  discussing the day’s events. It is a custom that has, for several centuries, enabled conversations within a community, with family and people from the neighbourhood. Traditionally, and even today, it’s a sign of enduring Arabic hospitality, to invite people to come sit and chat, possibly munch on dates, and have a cup or two – no one’s counting. That’s the beauty of sitting in the majlis and sipping gahwa. It’s kept Emiratis together.

Cardamom, cumin, cloves, saffron are also added to add another dimension to the already exquisite taste of fresh coffee. After preparing the coffee, it is served in small cups to the guests. The person serving the coffee to the guests or family members (muqahwi) must be a mature one, at least 15 years and above and not a child so he’s able to speak well with the guests and not risk spilling coffee onto the clothes of guests as he serves them. “The muqahwi should hold the dallah in his left hand and about three small cups with no handle on the right,” he said.

“He should serve the coffee starting from the person sitting on the right of the majlis and should not skip anyone. If there is a very important person in the majlis, like a Sheikh or a religious scholar, he should be served first. The muqahwi should then serve others starting with the person on his right.” After drinking, the guest gently shakes the small cup to show the muqahwi that he’s done. The muqahwi always remains standing until all guests have finished drinking the coffee. And it is prohibited to serve coffee while people are eating food. (More)

She explained us about the Emirati clothing.

Man wears Kandura, a long white cloak. The color of the garment originates from Bedouin culture, as it is perfect to reflect the sun’s rays. Browns and grays are also worn more in the winter months. It is common for Emirati men to own over 50 Kanduras and to change them throughout the day, in order to keep their look crease-free and fresh.

Men also wear the Guthra, a headscarf. The most common colors are white or white and red checks. The Guthra is also an item originating in Bedouin culture, as it protected men against the sand of the desert. The Guthra can be worn in different ways to indicate status and importance.

Women in the UAE traditionally wear the Abaya. This is a long flowing black gown and can be plain or decorated with impressive designs. It is worn as a sign of modesty. However, it’s common for women to wear completely Western outfits under their Abayas.

Women also wear a headscarf called the Shela, to cover their hair. This is normally black and made of very light material. Many women opt for designer scarves, such as Givenchy or Dior, which can even be matched to their handbags. For more traditional women, the Gishwa is an option. This black veil covers the entire face; it is thin enough to see out of, although nobody can see their faces. A third option is the Burqa, which only shows the eyes. Together these women’s garments are known as the Hijab, which essentially means head covering.

While taking with Fathayah we starting eating the traditional #food !
By the way she is very open, and you can ask her anything (curiosity) that you have

Emiratis, as most of the muslims eat seated in the floor and with the right hand.
We had some delicious food:

Chicken biryani: lavoured rice with lot of meat or egg or vegetables. The main ingredients of biryani are rice, spices, herbs, vegetables and non vegetarian products.

Veal Machboos: is a very popular dish cooked in a large pot. It consists of rice, onions and meat, seasoned with spices, salt and dried lemon. This dish is prepared by cooking meat, spices, dried lemon, and seasonings in boiling water until they are very tender. The meat is taken out and the rice is added to the rest of the ingredients and cooked together.

Vegetable OR chicken salona  it’s a slow cooked stew, mixed with a lot of vegetables and spices. In that case was vegetarian but chicken is as well very popular.

Lugaimat: (I think I was waiting the whole day only to eat Lugaimat!) Crunchy on the outside, soft and airy in the middle, luqaimat are often dipped in date syrup and served garnished with sesame seeds. An Arabic word that literally means ‘bite-sized’, it is a traditional dessert popular amongst ancient Bedouins for its ease of preparation; the luqaimat is a firm favourite at Iftar experiences during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

We spoke about history, about traditions, about the importance of their leaders and how the system works in United Arab Emirates.

Was a lovely morning that brought me near to the culture of the country that I call home for the last 4 years and of which I’m so grateful and happy to be!

We could as well try their traditional cloths, here I share with you a nice picture of me with Abaya and Shela!
I highly recommend you to visit the center and walk through the old Dubai.

Sushi: What it is and how to eat it!

The history of sushibegan around the 8th century in Japan. The original type of sushi was first developed in Southeast Asia as a means of preserving fish in fermented rice, so they used to salt the fish and wrap it in fermented rice to preserve it, as there was no refrigeration.

In the Muromachi period, people began to eat the rice as well as the fish, this new way of consuming fish was no longer a form of preservation but rather a new dish in Japanese cuisine.

During the Edo period, vinegar than lacto-fermentation was used to sour the rice, so both rice and fish could be consumed at the same time, and the dish became unique to Japanese culture.

Nowadays you can find Sushi all over the world, from street fast food restaurants to the most refined and selected restaurants where starred Michelin chefs cook for you, but do you know which is the original way to eat sushi? And do you know the difference between the sushi types ?

Here I’m sharing with you some good tips about the above.

BASIC TYPES OF SUSHI

Sashimi: Very thin raw fish or seafood without rice.

Nigiri: “hand pressed sushi” consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses between the palms of the hands to form an oval-shaped ball, and a topping (the neta) draped over the ball. It is usually served with a bit of wasabi; neta are typically fish such as salmon, tuna or other seafood.

Maki: “rolled sushi” is a cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat known as a makisu . Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori (seaweed), but is occasionally wrapped in a thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber, or shiso (perilla) leaves. Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitutes a single roll order.

Uramaki: “inside-out roll”  is a medium-sized cylindrical piece with two or more fillings, and was developed as a result of the creation of the California roll, as a method originally meant to hide the nori. Uramaki differs from other makimono because the rice is on the outside and the nori inside. The filling is in the center surrounded by nori, then a layer of rice, and optionally an outer coating of some other ingredients such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. It can be made with different fillings, such as tuna, crab meat, avocado, mayonnaise, cucumber or carrots.

Temaki: “hand roll”  is a large cone-shaped piece of nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters (4 in) long, and is eaten with fingers because it is too awkward to pick it up with chopsticks. For optimal taste and texture, temaki must be eaten quickly after being made because the nori cone soon absorbs moisture from the filling and loses its crispness, making it somewhat difficult to bite through. For this reason, the nori in pre-made or take-out temaki is sealed in plastic film which is removed immediately before eating.

I personally love Sashimi, as you can enjoy the full flavour of the raw fish, but of course, the quality has to be top TOP !

Here I share with you a clear and fantastic picture of how to eat sushi, I’m sure you will discover things that you didn’t know before!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that will be helpful for you to order is your next visit to a Sushi Restaurant!

Which is your favourite sushi?

My recommended Sushi Restaurants in Dubai.

3 Fills tuna and uni imported from Japan every Wednesday, the sashimi is my favourite in town, amazing place, staff and chef!

Tomo located in Raffles hotel, the head chef is Japanese and the Nigiri is delicious!

Zuma located in DIFC, a fine dining experience with premium products.

Nobu in Atlantis the Palm a world class brand ! Stunning venue and food.

Okku a contemporary Japanese Restaurant.