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GCC Construction Ongoing Projects Overview – June 2014; Zawya Projects Insights


The construction sector in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar is expected to record average growth of 9% in 2015, industry heads told Zawya Projects.

The UAE market will see a spate of projects moving from design to construction stage by end of 2014, while Kuwait, where a slew of projects are planned, has yet to fulfill expectations due to domestic politics. Oman and Bahrain will remain flat in 2015. read more

 

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How to make Red Lobster Biscuits – almost


Though I have eaten them just once, the aaah moment of discovering Red Lobster biscuits remain in this foodie memory. Copycat recipes are all over the net. I thought I would try DamnDelicious ‘s recipe (uses sugar in her version and melts the butter – avoid).  But other experts (Natashaneagle) urge you to use really cold butter bits and the crumbing method to get flakier biscuits. As usual, I combined two recipes and then gave it the Nomad Nri touch. Substitute, substitute, substitute with what your larder reveals :)

So instead of kosher salt, I used coarse crystal sea salt. Added a spoon of chilli flakes. Finely chopped fresh coriander and mint instead of dried parsley for the topping. Above all, I had leftover garlic paste from an Iftar street foodie raid at the local Al Reef  Bakery. So used that aromatic yumminess (instead of garlic powder in the original recipe) and blended it well into Laban-up (UAE’s  favourite buttermilk)..  Heaven can wait…

 

Red Lobster biscuits - the dough

Red Lobster biscuits – the dough

So mix well(after preheating oven to 450)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt powdered
1 Tbs chilli flakes

Use two knives and work 1/2 cup of roughly cubed butter into the flour mix till it gets crumbly (bits of cold butter left intact make yummy biscuits – so dont overdo mixing).  Add 1 cup grated cheddar cheese and toss till cheese gets coated with flour. Pour blended 1 cup buttermilk (Laban-Up) and 2 teaspoons garlic paste  (Al Reef Bakery or Union Coop) into the flour and cheese mix and mix only for a minute.  Drop mix on a baking sheet 1 inch apart.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes – by now your kids will emerge from their Friday slumber with the aromatic garlic fragrances wafting through your air-conditioning vents. When the biscuits turn golden brown, take them out and put a generous topping of this blended mix  —
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves
1 large dollop of garlic butter

 

Red Lobster biscuits - copycat final

Eat the cheesy-garlicky yumminess asap as they taste divine when warm. What would I do different next time? Maybe blend the coriander and mint into the dough and not as topping. Take it out at exactly 20 minutes and then put the topping. My biscuits were mildly crunchy and slightly browned at the base (multi-tasking Mom brushed butter on the foil and took it out at 25 minutes).. Needless to say, my daughter loved them..  Asked if she could take it to a friend’s home… Joyyyyy!!!

 

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Recipes

 

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Sinful Beetroot Chocolate Coffee Ganache Cake with olive oil (butter free)


My daughter loves red velvet cake but I hate food colouring. I discovered this recipe http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/beetrootchocolate-cake-1273 and had beetroots in my kitchen. Hate vegetables but liked the idea of sheep disguised in wolf’s clothing for a change. Note – chop beetroots and mince in food processor. Squeeze out all the juice by hand (drink it asap) so that the beetroot is dry and does not sink to the base of your cake pan.

But as usual, one ingredient was missing – corn oil and the fridge yielded a small lump of butter. Too lazy to call the grocery (a hidden luxury in Dubai) who also delivers very late, I tried the net for a substitute to both.

Beetroot Chocolate cake with chocolate coffee ganache

Beetroot Chocolate cake with chocolate coffee ganache

Voila. The joy of discovering that olive oil is a good substitute and actually enhances the taste of cocoa!!!! http://thewhiteramekins.com/2013/03/27/beetroot-chocolate-olive-oil-cake/. Yet scary – what if I had a disaster cake tasting like a Med salad? Decided to take the plunge..

The cake turned out well –dense and dark – around 50 minutes at 180. But check around 40 minutes for doneness since fruit cakes start to burn suddenly.  Very healthy cake.. Now for the sinful part..

Shameless promo – I love my own icings; seconded by anyone lucky enough to eat my cakes whenever I make one in two months… https://sona217foodie.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/old-fashioned-chocolate-cake-with-galaxy-dark-chocolate-icing/.

Then again, I was short of Galaxy dark chocolate – had two bars. So I substituted the other two with three bars of Galaxy smooth milk chocolate and a teaspoon of coffee (Nescafe Gold) beaten into the icing during the whipping stage. Took off the brown sugar since I wanted a pouring type of ganache..

Packed a huge chunk for my friend who dropped in for dinner (warned her not to tell her family of new ingredients for a reality check). She said that her brother (one of my biggest cake fans) asked for more. Likewise with the rest…Now go and eat your beets…..

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Recipes

 

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2014 and GCC construction opportunities; Dubai awaits EXPO 2020 win


Around USD 3.45 trillion worth of projects are in the design, bid or construction stage until 2025 in the GCC, according to Zawya project tracking data compiled in November 2013. Should Dubai win the bid for Expo 2020 on November 27, the UAE market will see a flurry of big ticket projects, said industry experts polled by Zawya, who foresee double-digit growth within the emirate in 2014.

To date, UAE still retains pole position in the GCC with USD 1.38 trillion worth of ongoing projects, followed by Saudi Arabia (USD 1.02 trillion), Qatar (USD 420.12 billion), Kuwait (USD 326.55 billion), Oman (USD 189.90 billion) and Bahrain (USD 104.74 billion). http://www.zawya.com/story/UAE_leads_GCC_with_USD138trn_projects_awaits_Expo_2020_win-ZAWYA20131125065017/

 

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The contextual Dubai Expo 2020 Master Plan – 32 days to go


 
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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

The Flying Feteer show – Street food, Dubai


Despite living in Dubai for so many years, I had yet to experience the melt-in-your-mouth cheese and honey feteer from Al Ammor, Deira. My foodie forays had uncovered many hidden gems in Dubai in the last 19 years, especially, during Ramadan and Iftar time. A true foodie knows that if you want to really understand the real character of a city, then you have to try out its street food or the smaller restaurants and bakeries. Where the reputation is built up by word of mouth. Not exotic ads.

So one day, the famed Arva Ahmed of the Frying Pan Food Adventures (food tour guide par excellence) asked us to come to Deira. The bakers entranced me with the way they swirled and stretched the feteer, filled, folded and threw the bread into a 24/7 ready oven. A year later, after a short intensive course in filmmaking, I decided to capture the essence of the feteer process as my first short. I went back and spent some days with my Canon 60D…

The taste? Layers of flaky hot bread and melting cheese melding with the honey in your mouth. The dusting sugar leaves a sticky, powdery trail on your shirt and jeans. Who cares? Despite a choice of fillings, the cheese and honey remains my favourite..

Every story has to start with a once upon a time. Here goes. An ex-lightman with the RTA television channel in Egypt, Zayed Shouki came to Dubai to seek his fortune many years ago and started as a humble baker making feteer at the then famed Al Fanoos Khaimah near World Trade Centre. His salary? Dh 1,200 per month. It was his dream to start his own business. Circa 2001, he finally saved up money and started the first Al Ammor in Hor Al Anz (Deira). It nestles outside the left facade of a mosque. “He is a very humble person who dresses like his staff, might still clean tables and will take orders. His staff adores him because he lets them eat anything they want at work. He is also known to distribute free food to staff from neighbouring shops while Dubai Municipality sweepers can take free water or soft drinks from his bakeries,” said Mr Najja, who runs the Al Ammour in Karama. Today there are seven outlets in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. Goodness pays.

Any secret recipe? “The dough is the usual mix of flour and water. But before I start kneading, I mix some salt and sugar in the water (but never use yeast). The dough is left to rise for 15 to 20 minutes,” said Fathy Afeefi, one of the bakers in Karama. “I learned the basics from my older brother in Egypt. But I perfected the art of making feteer after coming to Dubai and working with Mr Shouki.” He has been in the profession for 14 years.

Prices? A mouthwatering cheese and honey feteer costs around Dh 15 and can be eaten by up to three people. The meshaltet, an Egyptian family favourite is either Dh 25 or Dh 50 depending on the size. In ancient Egypt, it was known as Feteer Maltoot and offered to the gods. Can see why.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Foodie reviews

 

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Mumbai Police film review – daringly different


Amnesia has been a great way to start a movie. Mumbai Police, the taut Malayalam thriller written by Bobby-Sanjay and directed by Rosshan Andrrews takes this subject and delivers one of the finest movies, not just in Malayalam, but Indian cinema. The entire movie is seamlessly stitched together in a way that a viewer would forget to eat her caramel popcorn or his nachos.
From the moment ACP Antony Moses aka Rascal Moses (Prithviraj) wakes up with amnesia after an accident, he leads us into a labyrinth of unexpected and unfortunate incidents within his life that unravel like a thousand-petalled lotus. Except that the awakening is never pleasant but leads into a further chakravyuh. For the accident happens just before he could name a murderer. Therein, lies ensconced the heart of the mystery that rivets you to the screen.
Through Prithvi’s eyes, the viewer realizes that his senior, the Police Commissioner Farhan Aman, played brilliantly by the once-upon-a-time chocolate hero Rahman, is his brother-in-law. For reasons unknown to us, the enigmatic Farhan forces Moses, despite his amnesia, to single-handedly figure out the name of the murderer who shot their mutual friend Assistant Commissioner Aaryan; a role ably played by the talented Jayasurya. Both, Rehman and Jayasurya, play well-rounded characters that leave an indelible mark  on the viewer.

Prithvi rules
But it is Prithvi who steals the thunder yet again – scene by scene. His confusion, his fear and anger, his shock start becoming part of your psyche as you watch the plot unfold. Being an unabashed fan, my favourite list of his movies includes Chocolate, City of God, Anwar, Urumi, Arjunan Sakshi and Kerala Café and I have always admired his choice of eclectic roles over the years; even his dreamum wakeuppam wakda dance in Aiyya. But it is in Mumbai Police, that Prithvi breaks the barrier of convention and attempts a role that has never ever been attempted by a Malayalam hero. The best parts of the movie are whenever Moses figures out that the Moses before the amnesia was not a very likeable person. And each time, when he brushes away a part of his past with a good deed, a new and ugly truth starts to unravel its ugly head.
Like a compass that has gone haywire, the twists in the tale turn the needle of suspicion towards one direction and then another. The cinematography by G. Diwakaran is brilliant and well-supported by the tight editing. Produced by Nisad Haneefa and co-produced by Nivas Haneefa and Niyas Haneefa, the background score is composed by Gopi Sunder. The tension in the plot could thankfully develop in leaps and bounds due to the marked absence of any songs – item numbers or otherwise. One must also commend Kunjan and Aparna Nair for their excellent character roles. The tale of three friends finally culminates into an unexpected turn that will leave the auditorium shocked; but no spoilers here.

New age Malayalam cinema
I must add that Mumbai Police together with Trivandrum Lodge, Kerala Café and Chappa Kurishu are harbingers of a new age in Malayalam cinema that does away with tharwad tales, sobbing mothers and overaged actors dancing with young arm candy. This new list of movies catapults Kerala into its new reality. Where the Onam sadya is now ordered as a parcel andwhere the tharwad home has been demolished and sold for the wood; now reinstated as a wing of  a heritage hotel. While the NRI abroad buys banana leaves and sambhar podi and clings to nostalgia of a past that ceased to exist eons ago.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Movies

 

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