This song is the most adequate to start this post with :)
Donned in her evening gown, her earrings swinging, she clutched her… clutch, walking determinedly in her high heels though they slipped in the sand. She could hear the Bedouin camp’s music, the smell of musky incense drawing her in as she came closer.
She held her phone to her heart, her only resource to secretly document every manoeuver, mistake and perfection. Finally, she pulled back the silken flaps of the camp, heavy gold cords holding them loosely shut to immerse herself in the world of rich wines and exotic foods.
Ok, no, I was not wearing an evening gown or high heels (though I was wearing nice earrings :D) nor did I tramp through any sand and pull back curtains on a tent.
No, ma famille et moi, we strolled on Darling Harbour and it was beautiful. The ambience, the atmosphere, the everything was magical. Even more so at night :)
**Note: I apologise in advance for the lack of lighting in photos, especially for my brother’s dish and the falafels!
On arrival to Kazbah, we were surprisingly early even though it was 7pm booking. Dimly lit lights, a very Moroccan-Persian style mix of an interior, with silk curtains leading to an entertainment area, a Hookah casually sitting and the atmosphere actually made you want to relax and fine dine.There was also soft, Turkish music playing in the background, setting the mood even more. All in all, the interior was just very impressive.
On being seated, I loved that each plate was a different style, adding a little warmth to the dinner table as opposed to clean cut, pristine white plates. There was a candle, of course, and crayons to draw with on the huge paper-but-feels-silky table cloth. It is definitely a huge plus!
Or should I say drinks? The whole evening, one of my main points of fascination was the stunning jug. Calling it a jug makes me want to hurl, it was so beautiful. So I will call it a pitcher. Not much better but it will do.
A sprig of mint in each pitcher, the water was refreshing and the perfect temperature (not too hot, not too cold :D). The design of these pitchers is such that when you pour, it will never, ever spill. See for yourself (this is my clumsy brother pouring for me so I promise you, anyone can ;))
My brother (good on him :P) and I stuck to water for the evening, but my parents indulged in the lovely cocktails they offered. They had gorgeous names like ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ and ‘Turkish Delight’ :D
Dad opted for the Lychee Martini. A mixture of vodka, lychee liqueur and lychee juice, it was sweet and slightly pungent but with a fabulous kick at the end. How do I know this? Because I took one sip (with permission!) :) – I also loved the little lychee lying at the bottom of the glass!
Mum, she went all out for the Strawberry Mint. This was a combination of strawberries, mint (no joke), strawberry liqueur and crushed lemonade. Definitely my favourite (oops ;)), it had a lovely aftertaste and obviously my mum enjoyed it so much, she even ate the mint leaves!
We had four different ones to get a taste of each.
Firstly, the traditional Dips and Bread plate. We got maybe four or five different varieties of bread – toasted, grilled, fried, soft. It was all there. And with five beautifully presented dips. Without a doubt, everyone dug into the Babaganoush with gusto and the hummus, though my personal favourite was the Tzatziki which was very refreshing. There was also Carrot and Taramsalta (which contained fish).
Then came the Fried Cauliflower. It was soft on the inside, but perfectly crunchy on the outside, lying on a bed of eggplant jam which was so delicious, it melted my insides and went perfectly with the vegetables.
Our second last entree was the Falafel Fritters plate. Cannot possibly go to a Turkish-Moroccan-Persian restaurant and not try this. Sacrilige ;)
Beautiful fried, with no hint of over-oiliness, these were exquisite, the hummus and lettuce with pickled onions acting as the perfect side.
Lastly, we ordered corn on cob gone gorgeous. It was char-grilled with their own exotic butter and rolled in Haloumi cheese pieces. The flavour just burst in every bite and I could actually eat it forever if I desired.
My mum, she ordered the Seven Vegetable Casablanca Tagine with a side of rice. It was so hot and steaming as the lid was removed, the sauciness overwhelming in a good way :). There was a side of chilli jams and pastes which even gave our Indian tastebuds a run for their money (a good sign!) and the slightly fried rice worked beautifully with the soft vegetables. *Sighs remembering it*
My dish? Of course you want to know :D
I ordered the Mougrabieh of Roast Vegetables with Creamed Feta and Olive Tapenade. Oh. My. God. Not to get all Janice-like on you but one bite had me literally over the moon. The feta and tapenade (and this is with me, a hater of olives) was impeccable, giving a beautiful saltiness to the roasted vegetables. So creamy, so perfectly made and delicious. 11/10. No joke.
**Mougrabieh = A form of rolled semolina, similar to couscous but much larger
Then came the Kebab-Men.
Dad ordered the Lemon Bharat Chicken which according to him, was moist, saucy and delicious. Yeah, he doesn’t say much in description but his face was ecstatic. It lay on a beautiful bed of pilaf and was drizzled with a Moroccan pesto and capsicum creme freche. Nice one :)
My brother ordered the Lamb Kafta kebabs, because according to him, you cannot go to a Turkish restaurant and have kebabs without lamb :P He claims that the meat was cooked perfectly, dry but tender the way he likes it. This was served on garlic crushed mashed potatoes *drools* and olive chackchouka, drizzled with hummus sauce.
We also had a side to our main meals (yes, our family is crazy, what of it? :D), this being the Hand-Cut Kazbah chips. Soft, pillows of potato generously slathered in a slightly chili seasoning was the perfect side to every dish we had on the table :)
After our generous meal, we were so so full, we could not move for a couple of minutes. Then they came offering the dessert menu, we declined. I declined. Yes, I know. The world tipped upside down. But you know what? While watching the belly-dancing which happens every Saturdaya (so exotic, wish I could dance like that!), I figured I had to come back to Kazbah for dessert, a decision set in stone. For at least two desserts. Maybe three ;)
But you can’t get too mad at me. After all, we had a Velour Chocolate Cheesecake and Hazelnut Hot Chocolate from the famous Lindt Cafe. for afternoon tea… but that is a review for another day and age (but not life!) ;)
General Overview: Kazbah, Darling Harbour
- Fantastic service – even though we were there early, it was easy to see the waiters were quick in bringing out meals and drinks, everything being more efficient – they were also very sociable which was cool
- The serving size for every dish was wonderful – not overly huge but filling and allowed you to sample more than one item
- True, it was expensive as a dinner but for a special occasion, it is truly the place to go
Address & Contact Details:
Harbourside Shopping Centre
Number: 9555 7067
Inspired by this amazing dinner, I decided to try and make a Turkish specialty that my dad, my brother and I find unbeatable.
A gözleme, also known as a savoury handrolled pastry usually stuffed, sealed and pan fried :)
Now, I had had this recipe sitting in my closet for 2 months eons and decided that enough was enough, perfect time to try it, so let’s do it. But looking closer at the photo given with it, it was not a gözleme. Oh no, gözlemes are stuffed inside, then rolled out thinly before being drizzled in oil, cooked on a griddle and then chopped into triangles, squirted with lemon.
And then I knew it. It was a pide, which is the Turkish equivalent of pita bread, but gone badboy with its delicious fillings and frying which mirrors a gözleme. No harm done though right? It was Turkish and inspiring so that is how I came to be making the wannabe gozleme ;)
The recipe was gorgeous. A warm, delicious spinach and cheesy filling which came out of one very flaky and delicious pastry. It was a wonderful eat but there was one problem. The pastry was a little too flaky and soft so it easily broke and in cooking the pides, we actually used at least double the oil necessary because otherwise the bread would not cook well. No harm done of course ;), but if anyone has some tips on not making such a flaky pastry, I would love to hear it :D
That way this can be made and enjoyed and a more daily basis :)
Gozleme Wannabe – Spinach & Feta Pide
Source: Good Food Magazine
Serves: 4 dinners or 8 appetisers (cut in half)
- 2 cups Self-Raising Flour (originally published as plain, which was a typo! Sorry about that!)
- 1/3 cup olive oil + extra for frying
- 1/4 tsp (generous) table salt
- 2/3 cup full cream milk
- 1 Spanish onion, peeled
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
- 250g mushrooms, sliced
- 150g baby spinach, washed and drained
- 100g Danish feta
- 50g Tasty cheese, grated
- Sesame seeds
- Place flour, oil and salt in a large bowl
- Slowly stir in milk with a wooden spoon until a soft and sticky dough forms
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently till smooth
- Shape dough into a ball then divide into 4 equal portions
- Work each ball at a time, covering the others with a teatowel so they do not dry out
- Make the filling:
– Heat 1 tbs oil in a saucepan over medium heat
– Chop onion and garlic finely
– Cook till translucent (2 minutes) then add mushrooms and cook for further 2-3 minutes to soften
– Add in the spinach and cook for 1 minute until wilted
– Transfer mixture to a colander to drain
– In a separate large bowl, combine both cheeses, crumbling the feta
- Using a floured rolling pin, roll the first portion into a disk with 20cm diameter
- On half of the side, leaving an inch or 2 from around the edges, place one quarter of the spinach mixture and then top with cheese mixture
- Fold other half of dough over the top and crimp and seal the edges
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds
- Heat a frypan on medium low, adding in 1-2 tbs of oil generously
- Cook the pide, 1-2 minutes for a light colour or 2-3 for a darker colour on each side, pressing lightly before transferring to a plate with a paper towel
- Repeat with remaining three portions
- Squirt with a lemon wedge or two and dig in!
- Here are the ingredients for a lamb pide for you meat lovers! Just replace all the filling ingredients with:
– Keep onion and garlic the same
– Add in 250g lamb mince and cook for 4-5 minutes or till browned (break all lumps)
– Add 1/2 cup canned tomato, pureed, 1 grated carrot (I am sure zucchini would work well too) and 1/2 tsp cumin to the mixture
Then just continue with the recipe as usual :)
Still no dessert? Well not really much but I remade a batch of my secret Choc Chip Uru Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe but with white chocolate chunks and macadamias – check out the pictures, these cookies are undoubtedly the best!
Just before leaving, I just wanted to say thanks to Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella who recently made and posted about my 5 minute self saucing banana butterscotch microwave pudding. She has added her own twists so check it out here :)
A good note to say good night on my friends!