Hi, welcome! I'm Lidija. If you've stumbled upon this blog, you'll soon find out that it's all about food and the pleasure it brings to life. I'm always on the hunt for inspiration, and in the process, I hope to offer some in return.
If ever there was summer in a glass, Oh My Coconut would have to be it. Since the coconut is widely used throughout India, it makes total sense that one of MASTI’s signature drinks pays homage to this versatile fruit. Oh My Coconut lives up to its name as it proves to be a refreshing and elegant twist on a traditional daiquiri.
Oh My Coconut (makes one cocktail)
20 ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
40 ml Takama Coconut Rum
60 ml Coconut Water, 30 ml Fresh Lime Juice
15 ml Sweet Coconut Cream.
To garnish: Coconut Coating of the glass, Viola Edible flower
A Margherita glass acts as a blank canvas as we paint coconut cream from stem to the rim, and then “glue” on desiccated coconut. Although nearly every component of the drink contains coconut, it’s the exterior rim that introduces the first of many coconutty layers you’ll come across once your lips brush against the glass.
We add lime to the shaker, followed by coconut water. A little coconut cream adds thickness and a creamy note. Our coconut rum and Bacardi come in next, and for good reason. There’s just something about the synergy that exists between rum and coconut. It’s hard to deny the sparks that fly between them – especially in a cocktail.
We add our ice, it’s time to shake, strain, and pour. The presentation is an amazing brilliant white that’s as pure as the driven snow! Bright edible flowers add a contrast in color,
Oh My coconut certainly lives up to it’s name! It’s smooth and balanced, with just enough sweetness to make it the perfect summer drink to add this to your cocktail repertoire.
Italy meets India in this insanely visually intriguing drink the T-groni, one of MASTI’s five Gin Room Negronis, is a tea-infused take on the Florentine classic. The ingredients in a typical Negroni – Campari, sweet vermouth, and gin – are separately macerated with specific teas depending on flavor profiles. Oolong with Campari, Assam tea with sweet vermouth, and Lapsang with gin. All three tea/liqueur combinations are macerated separately for at least an hour, before they’re merged together in a barrel until ready to serve. (Recipe and quantity below).
We decant our T-groni liquid into a crystal canister, stirring it swiftly with ice to start the chilling process.
As we place a big block of ice into our glass (an essential component of a classic Negroni), Jeet tells me that the bigger the cube, the slower the surface area will melt. Not only does this mean that the drink stays cold until the end, it also keeps it from becoming watery and weak. The signature ice stamp comes next, complete with a bronze MASTI logo. I firmly press it into the cube.
When it’s time to pour, I’m told to start by holding the canister close to the glass, then to gradually lift it up high so that the liquid pours in a long, smooth stream. I’m pretty impressed at how quickly I get the hang of this. My cockiness is put to the test as my drink ricochets off the ice and splatters onto my dress! It was a humbling moment to say the least.
We garnish the drink with a smoked tea flower and the oil from an orange zest. It looks beautiful and ready to taste.
Think we’re finished? Think again! The real fun began when we put our T-groni into its serving chamber. As Jeet pulled out the smoking gun (literally), a dense haze filled the air. Applewood smoke permeated through our chamber, swirling around our cocktail and infusing an amazing aroma throughout.
When procrastination gets the best of me, I make every excuse in the book to justify my laziness! At the request of several of my readers readers who are just as dessert obsessed as I am, I’ve been meaning to share a lemon recipe for months now, and finally got down to writing it this morning. A spin on the passionfruit meringue tart recipe I wrote for Harper’s Bazaar Interiors last summer, – this is the quintessential summer dessert that’s as bright, easy, and breezy as the perfect June day. Bon Appetit!
*you will need a kitchen blowtorch to brulée the meringue
Lemon meringue tart (makes six mini tarts, or one 8 inch tart):
For the pastry:
250 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams unstalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
80 grams icing sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons water
Put flour in a large bowl and combine with salt. Add the butter and sugar. Using your hands, lightly combine all the ingredients together
Put your butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a standing or a handheld mixer, mix the ingredients until just combined. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Gradually and half the flour, pulse to combine. Add the water, and the remaining flour. Pulse until the mixture holds together.
Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat your oven to 180
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until approximately 1/8thof an inch thick.
Carefully divide the dough amongst your tart moulds, while pushing the pastry onto the bottom and sides of the moulds. Use a rolling pin to cut off the excess pastry on the rim.
Prick the bottom of the dough several times with fork. Line the tarts with aluminum foil or parchment paper and baking beans or rice. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil or paper and the beans, and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes until lightly browned. Set to cool before filling with the curd and meringue.
1 cup fresh lemon juice
6 large egg yolks (keep 3 egg whites for the meringue, recipe below)
6 whole eggs
1 & 1/2 cups caster sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whisk all the ingredients together in a heat=proof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot filled a quarter of the way up with simmering water (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Stir the egg yolk lemon mixture constantly until it starts to thicken. Be careful not to over cook or you will be left with scrambled eggs!
Remove from heat. Quickly stir in four tablespoons of butter.
Strain the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
Place a piece of directly plastic wrap on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature before filling your tarts.
The curd can last well covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
*you will need a candy thermometer and a small chef’s blowtorch
1 cup + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
¼ cup water
3 extra-large egg whites
Heat the water and 1 cup of the sugar over high heat until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees Farenheit (104 celcius)
Meanwhite, whip the egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, and continue to whip until soft peaks form. In a slow steady stream, gradually add the sugar syrup. Continue to whip the egg whites until they are thick and glossy and have cooled to room temperature (7 to 10 minutes).
Assemble your tarts:
Spoon the lemon curd into each tart shell. Pipe or pile meringue on top. Carefully brulé the meringue until it lightly golden.
Chef Benjamin Wan has generously shared his recipe for Coya’s King Crab with Aji Rocoto and Peruvian Avocado. This has to be one of my favorite dishes, and for good reason. King crab, coconut, and chili nestled underneath sliced avocado and caviar? It’s light, healthy, and I can’t think of anything more refreshing to enjoy on a warm summer night.
King Crab with Aji Rocoto and Peruvian Avocado – serves 2
100 grams cooked king crab meat
1 small finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon chopped dehydrated rocoto chili (substitute red chilli of your choice, consider the heat and adjust the quantities depending on what you’re using)
2 teaspoons chopped coriander
1 Peruvian avocado (substitute any ripe avocado)
1 diced peeled cucumber
½ teaspoon lime zest
Coriander oil (optional)
½ cup coconut milk
20 grams rocoto chili (see above for substitutions)
100 grams coriander stalks (optional)
Togarashi pepper (click the link and substitute ingredients accordingly, you want smoked peppery taste)
Curry oil or spicy pepper infused oil
4 grams Oscietra caviar (you can substitute with a fine quality caviar)
In a saucepan over medium heat, reduce the coconut milk with coriander stalks and rocoto chilli to a thick consistency – about 15 minutes.
Strain through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.
Blowtorch the diced cucumber until lightly charred. If you don’t have a blowtorch, just use fresh cucumber.
Combine the cooked crab meat, chopped shallots, peppers, chilli, coriander with a little reduced coconut milk. Season with salt, lime zest, and coriander oil.
Thinly slice the avocado and brush with coriander oil.
Arrange 2 slices on a plate, spoon the crab mix on top.
Arrange 3 slices over the crab.
Sauce the reduced coconut milk around the plate.
Spoon the diced cucumber over the avocado.
Lightly season with togarashi pepper.
Drizzle with curry oil and finish with coriander cress.
During my recent culinary spotlight at Ninive, I had the pleasure of learning the process behind Chef Gilles Bosquet’s version of a classic Moroccan pastlla – a delicate pastry that brings sweetness into a savory dish. Chef Gilles prepares his pastilla in individual portions, which gives it a serious “crunch factor” the moment your teeth rip into the cinnamon-dusted pastry. Instead of using pigeon as in the traditional Moroccan dish, this version is filled with shredded chicken, eggs, and ground almonds. Kissed with orange blossom water and a touch of honey, it’s the ultimate marriage of sweet and salty that is wrapped up in the simplicity of the perfect pastry package.
Chicken Pastilla – makes 4 portions
Ingredients for chicken:
1 kg chicken thigh
4 sweet medium onions
5 tbsp butter
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tsp umeric powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp stick cinnamon
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Ingredients for almond mixture:
140 g blanched almonds
20 ml orange blossom water
35 g honey
20 g cinnamon powder
20 g sugar
20 g icing sugar
10 to 15 phyllo dough sheets
Get all the ingredients ready.
Chop the onion and parsley. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
Spread almonds in one layer on a shallow baking pan.
Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.
Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pot. Add the chicken pieces, and braise on all sides for a few minutes, then remove.
Add the onions with the spices — ginger, cinnamon, saffron.
Return the chicken to the pot, add ½ cup chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper, cover and gently simmer over low heat for about an hour.
Remove the chicken.
Reduce the chicken sauce until there is almost no liquid remaining.
Add the eggs to the sauce and stir constantly on low heat until it reaches a creamy consistency. Remove from heat.
Remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers.
Set both the shredded chicken and the creamy egg “sauce” aside until you are ready to prepare the pastilla.
Assemble the pastilla
Thaw the frozen phyllo completely in the refrigerator for 24 hours and bring to room temperature before using it. Note that the dough can be gummy if thawed too quickly outside the refrigerator. Make sure that your hands are dry when handling the phyllo dough.
For the Stuffing
Cut the phyllo sheets with a pair of scissors in half. Wrap one half well with plastic wrap and then into a zip-lock plastic bag.
Lay one phyllo sheet on a flat surface (chef suggests using a silicone liner under the phyllo) and brush with a line of melted butter.
Fold it in half and brush the two sides.
Use a sharp knife to cut off a 2 to 3 inch wide strip of phyllo dough from one end.
Line a baking sheet with silicone liner or parchment paper and place a buttered ring on top (chef uses various sizes, from 2 to 6 inch diameter). You can also do this free form without the tart ring, as pictured below.
Lay one strip of the phyllo on a tart ring, repeat the process 3 to 6 times times, each time laying the strips at different rotation points.
Add a spoonful of the almond mixture to the phyllo. Fill with a few tablespoons of the chicken and egg mixture.
Sealing the pastry
Fold the pastilla into a triangle – fold the dough over the filling to form a triangle.
Continue folding in triangles until all the edges are sealed (it is like folding a flag).
Brush some melted butter over the end strip so that when you give it the final fold it stays shut.
*At this stage, you can freeze the wrapped pastilla in a plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F / 205 °C.
Heat a pan until hot (this will ensure that the pastilla stays crispy once baked).
Place the pastilla in the oven for 20 minutes, remove the tart ring, then flip it over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
To serve, turn the pastilla out onto a plate and dust with icing sugar and cinnamon.
Chef suggests eating it while it is warm and the phyllo dough is still crispy. Serve either on it’s own or with a simple green salad.
I had the pleasure of preparing this simple yet succulent recipe during a recent culinary spotlight at Ninive. Inspired by a classic Omani dish, chef Gilles Bosquet uses a French baby chicken that he has deboned, flattened, and gently massaged with za’atar, chili, paprika, and olive oil. After the chicken has been cooked, it’s placed on a serving platter and topped with a pomegranate tabbouleh, which chef uses to add freshness to the dish. Tender and full of flavor, it defines Arabian comfort food which can only mean that it is at it’s very best when shared among family and friends.
Grilled Baby Chicken with Tabbouleh – serves 4 small portions (or two hungry humans)
For the grilled baby chicken:
500 grams baby chicken, deboned
10 grams fresh za’atar leaves
1 fresh green chili, sliced
2 grams smoked paprika powder
1 teaspoon pepper paste
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
20 ml corn oil
2 grams each Salt and pepper
For the preparation of the chicken, make sure that it’s marinated with all ingredients above for 24 hours.
Preheat a charcoal grill or a grill pan over high heat. Cook for until browned on each side (about five minutes per side).
*Chef Gilles practically flipped the chicken in mid-air before tossing it over mile-high flames on the charcoal grill. I do not suggest you try this at home!
While the chicken is grilling, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Transfer the grilled chicken to a heat proof skillet and finish in the oven until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes).
For the tabbouleh:
1 chopped spring onion
20 grams chopped parsley
10 grams diced cucumber
10 grams diced tomato
5 grams pomegranate seed
5 grams cooked bulgur
100 ml olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Toss together all the ingredients (spring onion through bulgur). Season with lemon juice and salt. Set aside until ready to plate.
Place the grilled chicken on the plate and add the tabbouleh mix on top.
When I found a crate of perfectly ripe strawberries last week, I knew that besides grabbing them by their stem and devouring them whole, I had to make a luscious dessert to showcase their beauty. Turns out that a light, pastry cream filled strawberry tart was just what the doctor ordered. This recipe was inspired by my mother-n-law Ferial’s beautiful tartes-aux-fruits, which she rolls out every summer when fresh berries are abundant and at the peak of ripeness (those of you who know Ferial will agree that she holds the title of the queen of tarts – and of our hearts!). Trust me when I say that this is one killer dessert…
The biscuity tart shell can be baked up to two days before you wish to fill it. Feel free to use any combination of berries you like. Kiwi, pineapple, and mango work beautifully as well. You can skip the apricot gaze if you like, but bear in mind that if you plan on keeping the tart for more than a day, I suggest you give the fruits a light glaze to finish to keep them luscious.
Makes one 8 to 9 inch round tart shell (or six individual tarts)
For the PastryIngredients:
250 grams all-purpose flour
1/8th teaspoon salt
110 grams unsalted butter (about 1 stick), cubed and at room temperature
70 grams icing sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
First, put your flour in a large bowl and combine with salt. Lightly combine all the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
Meanwhile, put your butter, sugar, and salt in another bowl and mix the ingredients until just combined using an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Gradually add half the flour mixture, and pulse to combine. Add the water with the remaining flour. Pulse until the mixture holds together.
Wrap your dough tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rest for thirty minutes, and up to one hour.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350 Fahrenheit).
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit until it is pliable. Roll until approximately 1/8th of an inch thick on a lightly-floured surface.
Carefully place the rolled dough on top of your mould and push the pastry onto the bottom and sides of the moulds. You can use your rolling pin or a blunt knife to cut off the excess pastry on the rim.
Carefully prick the bottom of the dough several times with a fork and line the tarts with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Line the foil with baking beans or rice and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the foil or paper and the beans. Bake the shell for an additional 5 minutes until it is dry. *Remember that your crust will bake again so you do not want to brown it at this stage.
Remove foil and beans, and let cool completely prior to filling.
For the Pastry Cream:
5 egg yolks
2 cups full-fat milk
110 grams caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons softly whipped cream (use full fat whipping cream)
A vanilla pod, split leghnthwise seeds removed (optional)
A few punnets of fresh berries
2 tablespoons apricot jam, heated and strained through a sieve
1 pastry case, baked and cooled (recipe below)
Place the milk, vanilla pods, and seeds into a saucepan. Heat until scalding (approximately 165 degrees F if using a candy thermometer).
While your milk is heating, beat the eggs for one minute with an electric mixer. Slowly add the sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture develops a pale yellow color. This should take about five minutes.
Add the cornstarch to the egg mixture and beat on high speed for one minute.
Add a ladle full of hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk. Pour that mixture into the remaining milk. This is your pastry cream. Cook the pastry cream on medium low heat, stirring constantly (I mean CONSTANTLY (unless you want scrambled eggs). Use a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula do stir.
Once the mixture starts boiling (you’ll see thick, popping hollow circles forming in the pastry cream) continue to cook for about one minute or until thick.
Strain the pastry cream into a bowl using a fine mesh strainer.
Let cool to room temperature. Whisk in the whipped cream. Spoon into your cooled tart shell.
Add your berries (be as creative as you want!), then brush with apricot glaze.
When I first discovered MASTI, it was the intensity of color that attracted me the most as soon as I walked through the door. Signature shades of emerald-green & peacock-blue are intermixed with touches of yellow, pink, and orange. It’s a far cry from the dark velvety interiors associated with most traditional Indian restaurants. MASTI’’s space is light, airy, and open – the ultimate fit for its breezy beachfront location.
It’s hard not to notice the colorful Murano chandeliers, made of hand-blown glass, dangling from the sky-high ceilings, especially the one in an ultra violet so deep, you could swear it came straight out of Prince’s “Purple Rain” video.
Designed by Studio Lotus and winner of the prestigious UNESCO Prix Versailles for best restaurant interiors in the Middle East and North Africa, MASTI’s design elements have a distinct Indian connection. “What we tried to stay away from is your typical approach to Indian restaurants,” says Eddie Ghazal, “We decided to go in the opposite direction, inspired by trends in fashion, art, music, and all of these things that are coming out of Urban India and see how that translates into an Indian restaurant. We really wanted to look at modernizing the Indian perception and flipping it on its head.” And did they ever flip it.
On the walls are framed portraits of people in traditional dress representing different walks of life and who embody the vision of a globalized India. It’s cool, timely, and reinforces the urban appeal behind MASTI’s founding principles.
The first floor
Before exploring the dining room on the ground floor, I’m greeted by a little statue of a monkey at the entrance. I’m not sure what to make of him, he’s cute, and I like him. I would later find out what he symbolizes.
Chef Gilles of Ninive shares his recipe for beef Fatayer, a savory pastry filled with ground beef, cinnamon, pine nuts, and raisins. Served with a light salsa, the fatayer is delicious, comforting and an ode to the flavors of the Middle East.
BEEF FATAYER – makes approximately 8 to 10
For the dough:
1 kg flour
50 ml water
10 grams active dry yeast
fat pinch of salt
For the beef mixture:
500 grams Minced beef
150 grams Chopped onion
40 grams Garlic, minced
50 grams Fresh chopped chili
40 grams Tomato paste Turkish
300 ml Veal jus (or any rich beef stock of your choice)
10 grams Chopped parsley
100 grams Chopped coriander
60 grams Roasted pine seeds
60 grams Golden raisin
1 tbsp Cinnamon powder
3 pcs Cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 tbsp 7 spice powder
Salt and pepper (to taste)
For the dough:
1 kg flour
50 ml water
10 grams active dry yeast
fat pinch of salt
For the salsa:
Mix all ingredients together and let stand for a few minutes to the the flavors macerate.
For the dough:
Proof the yeast in warm water until it gets foamy. Combine flour and salt, mix well. Add the water/yeast mixture to the flour. With using an electric mixer with a dough hook or by hand, start kneading your dough until it’s smooth and elastic. about 7 minutes. Cover and let rest for at 15 minutes while you prepare the beef filling and are ready to bake the fatayer.
For the beef:
Sauté the onion and garlic together for 10 minutes until soft (do not brown).
Add the minced beef and cook for 10 more minutes .Make sure that you stir the mixture well. Add the chopped chili, spices and tomato paste. Stir for 5 minutes and add the veal jus or stock.
Cook the meat on low until the sauce has been absorb by the meat.
Remove the pan from the fire and add the roasted pine nuts ,raisin and herds.
Let cool down completely to room temperature.
Build the fatayer:
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius and place the rack in the center.
Dust the counter with flour and remove 50 grams of dough per fatayer. Roll the dough into a thin round. Cut small eight slits around the dough periphery of the dough. Spoon the cooled, spiced meat mixture towards the center of the dough, avoiding the slits. You will see the raisins peeking through the meat, all plump and luscious from swirling around the ground beef and veal jus.
Cover the beef with the slitted overhand, and pinch to seal.
Preheat a large pan lined with parchment paper. Don’t be tempted to skip this step as your pastry will be soggy if you do!. Place the fatayer onto the hot an and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Place each fatayer onto a plate. Spoon the salsa into the center of each dish.
Garnish with pine nuts and pomegranate and serve immediately.
What if I told you there lies a secret garden nestled within Dubai’s skyscrapers – an urban majlis overflowing with lush vegetation, Moroccan-inspired woodwork, and lighting so romantic that you can’t help but feel you’ve been swept into a story reminiscent of One Thousand and One Nights? You would have to believe me, because outside of the tales of Arabia, this place most certainly exists.
Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and it’s link to the ancient Arab world, Ninive – named after ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh – sits suspended within Emirates Towers on a sprawling terrace overlooking Dubai International Financial Center’s skyline. A sanctuary juxtaposed against the glass towers that rise from the background, Ninive’s terrace is open, inviting, and maintains a certain degree of privacy at the same time.
Majlis-inspired seating in colors that harmonize with the surrounding greenery is in perfect synch with rich, dark woodwork, and hanging amber lanterns. Ninive is where the simplicity of a Bedouin tent converges with the magic of Moroccan design.
Lounge under the shaded area of the majlis as you sip on afternoon tea – Arabic and Moroccan of course – while nibbling on sweets inspired from the region.