Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inspiration - roast and sides

potatos are missing from this scene, but I did make some mashed potatoes to go with the roast leg of lamb. Apart from the zucchini, all of these ingredients are quite western.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

inspiration: fruit

I have always believed in the social power of food. Food brings people together, whether we are talking at the level of communities or to go along with the mingling of friends. I was with family the other day, having various discussions until pretty late at night, over trays of fruit. Various forms, all ready to eat. And what wrong can come from overeating of fruit? perhaps over the long run, some harm will come out of excess of anything, but we are typically deprived of fresh produce in our industrialized lives. Here was a chance for a collective packing of minerals and vitamins, along with some green tea and arabic coffee. A ritual that is one I am quite proud of, one that I truly enjoy. Cornucopia symbolizes the bountiful, the plentiful; this came pretty close.

inspiration: thai produce

This is usually how I start preparing for a meal. Go to the market, get what's fresh then just lay everything on the table and start grouping. I may have some ideas, some things that needed long prep times, but most of the dishes emerge as they're being put together. Here we have kale, bok choi, lemongrass, galangal, kafir limes, baby eggplants, oyster mushrooms, jelly fungus, mange-touts and kafir lime leaves (ascending order). Made a curry and some side dishes.

Friday, February 24, 2012


ek-il is obviously a transliterated word.
i intended for this stie to be ek-il, as in food (noun) أكل, not ik-il, as in eat (2nd person command) إكل.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

21st century dessert

my obsession with Asian desserts led me to a series of experiments. this is one of them. The consistency of the coconut milk could have been thicker, but here is what's in this dessert: gnocchi, black jelly fungus soaked in thai berry syrup, black beans and, i think, some tapioca. Mostly things that don't go into dessert but they worked so well. Especially after some very spicy food, this dessert is both really tasty and vegan.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies @ November

My sister has a food/event/gift institution called November. Please check out their website, www.thenovembercompany.com - they have been kind enough to mention this website, ek-il, as one of their favourites. November generates lots of new ideas every day, but like any institution it has classics that will stand the tests of time again and again. The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is one of those classics. With the oatmeal, the moderate sweetness of the chocolate chips and a slight saltiness, a harmonious balance is created that is surely addictive.

PS the packaging is older, but going through my photos, I thought this was one I really should share.


I started liking bresaola when i was a teenager visiting my aunt in italy. Every time she comes back to kuwait, i ask her to bring me some really good parmesan, bresaola and pesto. to me, these are quintessential italian flavours. And as in most food in italy, you use the combinations of ingredients that have gone together for centuries. Here is how I learned to put together bresaola, and I typically don't like it in any other form, except maybe in a good panini or in the form of the salad on a good thin pizza. Bresaola + rocca + parmesan + oil + balsamic is the winning combo for me.

More plates that make me happy

There are quite a few steakhouses in Kuwait, most of them are fairly decent sometimes. The Terrace Grill at JW Marriott is, to me, the most consistent. Plus they have something that makes me generally happy and that is venison. Although a few days ago, and a few other times i've been, they've been out of stock of the venison, they stated that the supplier didn't supply. When they don't have venison, I like their steak more than the other places, but if the venison is in stock, then the venison is what I go for.
Perfectly grilled to a nice medium rare, served with the sauces and sides you'd expect from a good steakhouse, the venison makes my day. It's tasty, has a beautiful flavour that I enjoy perhaps more than beef... i could eat this very often.

UPDATE: since I posted this, venison has been removed from the menu at the Terrace Grill due to inconsistent sourcing from vendors. dammit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Plates that make me happy

This always puts me in a good place. Green curry with baby eggplants at Pataya, which is still one of my favourite places to eat in Kuwait. I know I have reviewed some restaurants in Kuwait and my opinion of some have changed since I wrote about them, but not Pataya. Pataya beach remains strong to this day.

The green curry is aromatic and, to me, the viscosity of the coconut milk and its reaction to the rice is vital and, here, done just right. The grains should remain distinct, each coated with a soft thick film of curry. The eggplants and chicken should be properly cooked to be soft yet distinct. Hints of holy basil and lemongrass uplift the dish, especially if it's a bit spicy. This is a dish i could eat often, very often.

Asian desserts - Malaysian / Singaporean

In Rasa Sayang, Chinatown, London, I had some remarkable food. While a bit disappointed with their beef randang, I had a great spicy vegetable and tofu curry and a great sago dessert.
The sago was served clumped in a cup with condensed milk and a strong coffee syrup. It capped the spicy meal very well. As I broke up the sago and let them float in the sweet coffee / milk, i was entranced in the ritual, i couldn't stop.

I don't know why I'm fascinated with asian desserts these days. It started in Japan, in Kyoto. i saw some strange looking green tea wobbly things. I tried one and I was hooked, it made sense for a dessert not to be that sweet, to be made of elements that I would expect in a salty dish. I then fell in love with thai coconut milk and sticky rice desserts, chinese dumplings with sesame and ginger, and I continue to explore and learn.

Is one enough?

Sometimes you have in front of you a box of chocolates. That box has a lot of different chocolates. Sometimes, you can eat the whole box, but sometimes the chocolates are so dense and packed with flavour that you can only savour one at a time. This was the case with this collection of Paul A Young chocolates I got in London recently. These chocolate craftsmen are very inventive with their flavours and aromas. Salted caramel was brilliant, but they had a version with cigar infused onto the outside to give a warmth and a sensation to the lips; the mandarin bonbons had a creamy filling with multiple layers of mandarin, from the juice, with hints of lemon, lime, and rinds. These are complex chocolates and they were great. However, while there is a place and a time for them, sometimes you want more than one chocolate, and it would be a shame to do that with these.