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Real Housewives Don't Know About Dubai's Favorite Food
And, tips for treats, savory and sweet
My understanding is that the cuisine of the Caucasus is extremely herb-heavy - like, you could get your servings of vegetables in through them. I find this inspirational and have been putting darn near a full cup of fresh herbs on every serving of pasta, and it’s great. (There is often also bacon.) (Dried thyme tastes like dirt, do you agree?) Anyway, go nuts with herbs, I think you’ll like it. In dessert news, see below for some Key lime pie tips. -Katherine
If you haven’t become a paid subscriber yet, please consider it. The money goes straight to paying freelancers a good rate - much better than most publications. And if not that, click on the heart icon above so I know you’re reading! Please enjoy the article below by Samia Qaiyum.
Chips Oman, Dubai’s Culinary Supporting Character
By Samia Qaiyum
Today marks day six of living on soft, moist foods that are as easy to chew as they are bland and flavorless. Yes, I'm two years late to the world's most depressing party and never have I been more in need of a comforting Chips Oman sandwich that, admittedly, would feel like hot gravel going down the gullet. But more on that later. For the uninitiated, Chips Oman originated in (you guessed it) Oman back in 1983, but nowhere is this tangy snack more beloved than in my birthplace of Dubai, across the border.
Ah, Dubai – a city that's riddled with decadence and unapologetic about it. Here awaits everything from otoro and kaluga caviar toast for an eye-watering AED 1,200 ($327) to a vanilla sundae composed of truffles from Italy and rare ambrosial saffron from Iran for a price tag of AED 3,000 ($817). We've even laid claim to the world's first gold-dispensing vending machine. And yet, third culture kids like myself – especially those raised in Dubai in the 1990s – continue to seek out the humble Chips Oman, even if only due to nostalgia for simpler times. Yes, the city was drastically different from what you see on “The Real Housewives of Dubai.” It was barren. It was boring. And weekends rooted in boozy brunches simply didn’t exist. But we were content in a way that now feels foreign.
A look at the list of ingredients – potatoes, paprika, chili powder, salt – suggests these wafer-thin chips are unremarkable. The manufacturer, however, would beg to differ, rather boldly declaring them “the most popular product of its kind in the Sultanate of Oman and the entire Gulf region.” And few would disagree, especially if their prevalence on menus is any indication. Widely considered the country’s unofficial dish, the Chips Oman sandwich is sold at literally hundreds of nondescript cafeterias and features a scattering of crushed Chips Oman, a layer of cream cheese, and a splash of hot sauce, enveloped in a hot, flaky Kerala-style parotta.
Elsewhere, they star in the Cheesy Chips Oman sushi rolls at Moshi, serving as the filling and the topping. They're paired with vegetables and coriander chutney in South Indian pancakes at Yummy Dosa. They're packed into a crispy chicken burger at Burger28. They crown the savory Omani Churros at Churros Cone Cafe. And they're drenched in butter in Chips Oman Popcorn at VOX Cinemas. On the sweeter end of the spectrum, Chips Oman sit atop the mini doughnuts at Donuts Time and are stuffed alongside Nutella into an Emirati take on a crepe at Al Labeeb Grocery. Regardless of the mash-up, the result is layers of texture - sometimes nutritionless, always delicious.
It's not often that they’re consumed out of the bag and unadorned as an afternoon snack, but their ability to steal the spotlight from other ingredients is undeniable. Emirati visual artist Fatma Almulla even designed a kaftan and phone case to celebrate this culinary icon back in 2017. “Chips Oman was always a part of my childhood,” she recalls. “I wanted to design products that can carry the memory as well as the pop culture aspect of how much it means to a lot of people in my generation.” 🇴🇲+🇦🇪
More Food Reading:
The USDA has long denied benefits to Black farmers even when doling them out quite liberally to white farmers. Now steps are being made to rectify that … and some white farmers are really struggling to understand it.
Are you watching The Bear? I haven’t gotten around to it. The inevitable food writer episode will surely hurt my feelings.
Paul Hollywood has published a baking cookbook and I feel it is correct to savage it as appropriate - after all, turnabout is fair play (that’s British, yes?). So I like the way Eater approached reviewing it, with different people trying the recipes. However, in the Key lime pie section, Dayna Evans is lying and I will be reporting her to the Food Writers’ Tribunal immediately: making one of these is very easy, but it takes the opposite of “very little time” - start making it at least 24 hours in advance. Needs a ton of fridge time. The baker Nicole Rucker is mentioned in the apple pie review, but I want to say that her lime pie recipe is faaaaantastic and always a crowd-pleaser. Try it and be happy.
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