#Sufra refers to a programme curated by Mufaddal Hussein and myself for Frying Pan Adventures. It was a collection of limited edition experiences which went beyond our regular food tours. It included food walks along new routes, taste battles to find the ‘Best of…” something delicious in the city, culinary road trips and more. Our team was constantly researching and collaborating with the broader food community, so that our participants could savour unique foods, cultures and communities nurtured in Dubai and the neighbouring Emirates.
Sufra was created with the focus of fostering collectivism amongst a group of individuals who were curious and passionate about culinary history in Dubai and the UAE.
The programme was created for people who were looking for something that dug deeper into specific niches and beyond the mainstream radar, for those who already knew about the not-so-secret “hidden gems” in the city. We wanted #Sufra to be a space where individuals could meet other intellectually curious members of our community over a common passion for food, culture and exploration. They wouldn't just be listening to a tour, their involvement in discussions and movement would be integral to the journey.
#Sufra would be a way to engage collectively and authentically not just with the city, but with each other.
Below are some examples of #Sufra tours that Mufaddal Hussein and I co-curated:
Our journey meandered through a path peppered with food and history, from paper-thin crepes with eggs and anchovy sauce served in an 100 year old heritage home, to gooey saffron halwa from the 1930s. At each historic stop, there was a hidden UAE flag waiting to be discovered and delicious prizes to be won.
We ventured out to listen to Ghaya Al Dhaheri, an Emirati historian and storyteller recount the history of Gahwa and life in the oasis as she prepared a ‘dallah‘ of royal coffee fit for a Sheikh at a traditional coffee ceremony hosted in the majlis of the Zayed Central Library, alongside a breakfast of regag and luqaimat prepared by Emirati cooks.
We set off on a road trip to the UAE’s Eastern Coast for a guided tour of the Middle East’s first shellfish farm. While we can learn how oysters get their “manicure” onshore, we needed to take a quick boat ride and an optional dip (weather permitting) to witness how the oysters live underwater. Our adventure ended with a seafood feast set against a backdrop of stunning views of the sea.
We bonded with fellow explorers over soupy noodles, molten cheese and crunchy fermented cabbage. We compared these specialties between a 22-year old Korean restaurant and a recently born Uzbeki restaurant while debating authenticity vs. evolution. As an optional digestive after our two meals, we will drive down to a Korean gourmet supermarket to explore the moreish condiments that give Korean food its depth of spicy and umami flavours.
We compared the flavours and diversity of Chinese cuisine and its major influences, steering away from stereotypes of Chinese take-out and relish tastings from lesser-known regions. We explored the umami flavours of the East, the mellow notes of the Cantonese region, and the hot and spicy flavours of the Sichuan province.
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