I may have inadvertently started a trend. I was doing a radio interview the other day about Modern Mezze ahead of my participation in the Emirates Literary Festival and as I was flicking through my book, I remembered that I had included roasting chickpeas as a way to supplement a home-prepared mezze and I wondered if the roasted chickpeas that I have been seeing on menus in the last couple of years or more did not have their inspiration in the photo and quick recipe below. It sounds presumptuous I know and I am sure there are people who wrote about roasting chickpeas before I did — must check in Rayess’ book, also Ibrahim Mouzannar‘s. Also it may well be that the trend for roasted chickpeas came from somewhere else because they are a heatlhy snack and chefs are more and more concerned about offering healthier choices.
Three years ago I was in Dubai filming a food/travel TV show for Abu Dhabi TV with the wonderful Tariq al-Mehyas. And the first thing I did when I got there was to spend 3 fabulous days in Sharjah as the guest of the brilliant Sheikha Bodour al-Qasimi who organised for me to cook with, or to be more accurate watch a group of lovely Emirati ladies cook Emirati dishes including the scrumptious lgeimat (saffron-flavoured fritters served drizzled with date syrup) you see in the picture above in the Sharjah Heritage House.
And here is my favourite of all Iranian breads, sangak, a large and very thin loaf that is pointed at one end and square at the other mainly because of the way the baker stretches the very wet dough as he lays it on the floor of the oven which is covered with hot pebbles. You often find sangak bakeries attached to restaurants, either dizi or simply kebabs like in this post about such a place in Dubai — there is an important Iranian community in Dubai and as a result great Iranian food. The bakery in my pictures is in Tehran, at the back of a wonderful dizi restaurant where the owner stopped looking at fashion in the late 60’s, early 70’s. He was dressed in a white and black suit with flared trousers and wore a hat. Quite unexpected in a place where everyone looks rather drab (on the street) because the women have to cover their hair and hips and most men are in grey or dark suits.
Just back from the United Arab Emirates where I had a great time, seeing friends, eating delicious food and getting close with lady camels at a wonderful camel dairy farm where they produce the milk for the chocolates I wrote about in this post and where I finally tasted the milk properly — it is pretty delicious. Again, I was lucky to be with Jason Lowe who took the lovely picture above of me and my new best friends, feeding them perfect carrots imported from China. And what is interesting is that each camel has a different hump. I am now seriously considering the possibility of producing camel hump lardo, and all because of a comment by Jonathan Gold some time ago following my exciting camel hump adventure.