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Loyal readers of this page will remember my love affair with Arabian food and my previous adventures with it. Every time I have had the fortune of trying any aspect of the cuisine has managed to surprise me.
From my near-daily dalliances with the shawarma sellers near Adliya’s Block 338 to my occasional detours down Haji’s alley in Manama for breakfast, every place’s preparation, even of the same item is extremely unique. And that in itself speaks to Bahrain’s reputation for attracting migrants from every corner of the world, especially across the Arab world and of welcoming them and their culinary tastes with open arms.
So, when we were invited to try the Pearl of Arabia feast at Crowne Plaza’s La Mosaique restaurant, I jumped at the opportunity and took yet another deep dive into Arab cuisine.
Arab cuisines are often centuries old and reflect the culture of great trading in spices, herbs, and foods.
And when we spoke with Crowne Plaza’s executive Chef Janardan Das and La Mosaique supervisor Abutaleb Kazi, they told us that the buffet included dishes from all across the MENA region including Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Bahrain, I knew our bellies were in for quite the road trip.
And the main stop in this road trip was a massive dish called Ouzi, which I still haven’t quite mastered the pronounciation of, because it has that nefarious guttural ‘gh’ at the beginning.
Ouzi is a rice based dish served with very slow cooked lamb, roasted nuts, raisins and served over rice. It is usually prepared by stuffing the whole lamb with rice, vegetables, spices and nuts and slow cooking it. In some places in the Middle East it is buried in a pit containing burning coal or charcoal to get the smoky flavour.
The meat ends up being incredibly tender, practically falling off the bone and incredibly flavourful. I had tried this dish once before (without knowing what it was even called) and La Mosaique’s Ouzi was somehow even more flavourful and rich.
On the side, I piled on a healthy portion of tabouleh and beetroot salads from the salad bar and the chicken nashif, a chicken and vegetable stew with olives (I know, I was intrigued too). And within five minutes, I had devoured my entire plate.
For my next round of the buffet, I tried the Lamb Fasolia, a lamb and bean stew and the Chicken Molokhia, a unique spinach based dish with very fine shredded chicken floating in it. While both dishes were completely alien to me, I definitely did enjoy my respite with them.
Meanwhile, my colleague enjoyed the deep-fried sadek fish from the fresh fish station.
It looked heavenly, with a flaky soft interior and a crunchy fried exterior. And our vegetarian photographer enjoyed the fresh falafels prepared by sous Chef Abdul Nabi.
Of course, no Eating Out is complete without a very unhealthy serving of dessert. This time, I sacrificed the usual cake spread as soon as I tasted the kunafa.
Even though I have been lucky enough to taste numerous varieties of it, this, by far, is the best. It’s served in easy to eat, semolina swirls, with just the right amount of cheese and the secret ingredient? Saffron. It has that perfect amount of crunch, soft, sweet and spiced flavour. I would go back just for the kunafa and the ouzi.
La Mosaique’s Pearl of Arabia is available every Friday starting at 7pm. It’s priced at BD15net inclusive of soft beverages and vimto. Select beverage packages are available for an additional BD5 to BD7net. Call Crowne Plaza Manama at 17531122 for more details
Scan the QR Code below to watch a video of our Arabian Adventure!