Tag Archives: UAE

Going Spicy

It’s rather too late to edit my New Year’s Resolution now but I am bent on adding one more on my list and that is:  Using more herbs and spices for better health!

When I used to work in Dubai in the late ’90s, I always raved eating everything Indian and this passion stayed up to the present where cooking curry is part of my culinary calendar.  H always gets excited everytime it’s curry weekend and we even make it a point to buy pita bread to complete the Indian feast.

However, our month stay in Dubai has taken me into a gastronomic re-discovery of Indian cuisine.  My sister cooks great Indian food and my brother-in-law treated us to the best Indian restaurants and the most mouth-watering take-away meals.  And in most of our sightseeing stints, H and I unrelentingly sat in the most humble snack bars in Deira and raved about their most ambrosiac samoussas and other concoctions dipped in “to-die-for” coconut sauce spiced up with cardamon and mustard!

This whole gastronomic experience got me more curious about Indian spices so I did a lot of research and discovered that they are not just there for flavour but also for their abundant health benefits.  As I’ve rambled about in my earlier posts, H and me spent majority of our time in Dubai nursing the flu virus which I contracted in Paris and eventually passed on to him.  That time, I wondered why nobody seems to be ill in that city.  We have been all over the place walking, dining, sightseeing but not a single soul coughed nor sneezed!  Has the desert dust blowing around rendered their lungs pollution-resistant and more immune to virus? 

Now I got the answer:  it’s the spices!

Take for example the cumin, its health benefits aid digestion, piles, insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils and cancer.  Cardamom’s medicinal uses range from relieving stomach dyspepsia, increasing appetite, soothing the mucus membranes, relieving gas and heartburn.  Cinammon can lower cholesterol.  Turmeric is a potent natural anti-inflammatory, clears toxins from the body and relief from sore throat, runny nose and blocked bronchial tubes.  Need I say more?

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Here are the spices I brought home from Dubai. Our kitchen may now reek of Indian smell but who cares? It’s our health and dining enjoyment (or vice-versa) that counts!

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These dried pink rose blossoms is great for tea. I made some last night after dinner and we slept like a log!  My research says rose petal tea  has an uplifting effect on the nervous system and can relieve insomnia, depression and fatigue.  Cool!

Bastikiya – Dubai’s last frontier

One place that we almost missed exploring, thanks to my Dubai colleague Joe who suggested that we go there and curiously indeed we had a great time, is Bastikiya. It is the one last historic village in Dubai that is still left standing and perfect for tourists and residents alike who are in search of something artistic and cultural at the same time traditional. It providentially escaped demolition to make way for another shopping mall (or skyscraper, possibly), thanks to the pleas of a few residents who begged that their ancestral homes be spared.

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The narrow lanes of the old Bastakiya district give the visitor a fascinating glimpse of old Dubai albeit in a sanitized environment.  The old charm is somewhat gone because of over-renovation…..

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Wind towers are typical of traditional Middle Eastern homes

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This is a wind tower or “wind catcher”, so called, because it catches the prevailing wind, brings it down the tower, thus cooling the interior of the building.  The number of wind towers a house has indicates the wealth of the owner family.

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Courtyards like this are prevalent in Middle Eastern homes, not only as a place to cool off but also to provide outdoor living in utmost privacy.   

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Bastikiya is a maze of covered pathways and courtyards.  You walk through a series of corridors and you can easily stumble upon a small courtyard.

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And in every corner, there is always something that will catch your attention. 

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There are galleries showing photos of the Middle East in the old days. 

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My dream house?  it must have a courtyard, then I can fully express all my artistic self.

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Melted candle art – fantastic!

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The rooftop is also a maze of stairs and open spaces looking down to the courtyards.  In the burning summer, residents prefer to sleep here as it’s cooler.

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Bastikiya houses a Coin Museum…

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…some restaurants and a hotel

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and a gift shop with eye-catching decor

Wild Wadi

It’s the Disneyland of water parks, and the view is fantastic!
Yeah, we went to Wild Wadi today to see why my sister and her son are raving so much about it, and I am not disappointed! Not only that the rides are out of this world, it is also set between the two icons of Dubai, the 7-star Burj Al Arab hotel and the Palm Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

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Just when we were entering the theme park, we saw this helicopter hovering above the Burj Al Arab’s helipad.

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This family in the inflatable boat just came sliding down the zigzaggy water tunnel.

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Burj Al-Arab as seen from the water park

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The hanging terraces of Palm Jumeirah

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This pool stirs with artificial waves every few minutes

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There’s also a pool for those learning how to surf

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