How to make harissa (spicy North African red chili paste)

Photo Jul 05, 21 42 02Harissa – a red chili paste made of peppers, oil and spices like caraway – is one of the most popular condiments across North Africa. In Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, harissa is served as a dip alongside just about everything, from fish to cous cous to French bread.

For more on this amazing Maghrebian wonder sauce, see here.

Although it’s possible to find homemade (and squeeze-tubed) harissa in many grocery stores in the United Arab Emirates, it’s just as easy – if not better – to make it at home.

Here’s a simple recipe for very thick and very spicy harissa. Continue reading

How to find ‘Trees Can’t Dance’ in the Middle East

TCD-Sauces-72dpiFor Trees Can’t Dance lovers in Abu Dhabi, there’s good news and bad news.

First, the good news: this boutique brand of chili sauce is available to buy in the United Arab Emirates. Which is perhaps surprising, given that it’s produced in a small town of less than 4,000 people in northern England. Trees Can’t Dance hails from Haltwhistle in Northumberland (at the northernmost chili farm in the world), which isn’t exactly the type of tropical climate where chili peppers are able to grow let alone thrive.

Trees Can’t Dance produces several varieties of the fiery good stuff.

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Cantina Laredo: the best Mexican salsa in Abu Dhabi?

Photo May 22, 13 22 29

It’s easy to find bad Mexican food anywhere in the world. Less-than-fresh so-called Mexican is ubiquitous from Bali to Mali, found often in airport lounges, mall food courts, and even roadside stalls in the middle of nowhere. Each typically serves some combination of stale chips, bright orange nacho cheese, rubbery chicken, and canned jalapeno peppers. The worst offender is usually a dollop of sweet tomato salsa freshly-poured – out of a bottle.

Good Mexican food, however, is much harder to find, especially as you get further from Mexico itself.

But if you’re craving a Mexican fix in Abu Dhabi, look no further than Cantina Laredo, located on the first floor of a downtown mall. It may surprise you, and not just because its ceiling is decorated with old Cinco de Mayo flags. Cantina Laredo uses only the freshest, most authentic ingredients to capture the real flavors of Mexico.

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Spicy ‘zhug’ burns at Happy Yemen

imageIn the United Arab Emirates, fresh hot sauce can be hard to find. Unless, of course, you’re headed to Happy Yemen restaurant in Abu Dhabi, which proudly serves mouth-watering, Arabian-style spicy salsa.

Not that finding Happy Yemen itself is easy (see map below).

Happy Yemen is no-nonsense and utilitarian, and at first glance it seems like a take-away joint. But squeeze past the refrigerator and the cash register, and the space opens into two small rooms, with additional family-style floor seating up a narrow flight of stairs.

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