I love Dubai but not just for its glitzy shopping malls, desert safaris and glamorous lifestyle. I love Dubai because in between the dazzling skyscrapers the wind picks up the desert sand and hurls it around, reminding you that this visionary city has humble foundations built by migrant workers from Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. While the working and living conditions of an estimated three million migrant workers is highly contentious, their food culture is not. A melting pot of cuisines can be found in the United Arab Emirates and thanks to a little guidance from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, we found ourselves in the Pakistani restaurant, Ravi. Established in 1978, this restaurant is popular for good reason. A mix of Indian, Far Eastern and Middle Eastern cooking, Pakistani food uses simple ingredients to build complex flavours in dishes like, biryani, mantu and tandoori chicken. However, it was Peshawri chicken that really got us hooked on Pakistani food. Luckily for me, I have friend in Adelaide who’s from the region of Peshawar who very kindly shared her recipe for Peshawri chicken with me. Kiran learned most of her cooking from her mother, but she is also a fan of Bajias cooking, a famous Pakistani cook residing in Brisbane. Well I’m sure Bajias has great recipes, but it is Karen’s Peshawri chicken recipe that has brought back fond memories of eating Pakistani food in Dubai for me. Thanks Kiran.
- 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 chicken, cut into quarters
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 cm piece ginger, crushed
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, ground
- 2-3 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp tumeric
- salt to taste
- 1 green chilli, finely sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chicken pieces, onion, crushed garlic, ginger and cumin and fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
FYI: Karen uses a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, ginger and cumin together – you could also use a small food processor.
Add tomatoes and salt and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes break down becoming a thick sauce.
Add tumeric powder and continue to cook on low for 10-15 minutes until the oil separates from the sauce.
At this point you can add water to make a gravy or leave it thick.
Serve with green chilli, coriander and fresh naan. We enjoyed it with rice, minted yoghurt and a green salad.