Jeddah city’s diverse cultures are reflected in its array of local and international restaurants, one of which is Zgni Eats, a new option that offers Eritrean cuisine with a modern twist.
If there was one dish to embody the restaurant, it would be “zigni,” a typical traditional dish consisting of either beef or chicken, vegetables, and a special hot spice called “berbere,” simmered for a long time to develop a deep flavor.
Eritrean food is well known for its giant, pancake-like flatbreads called “injera,” made of gluten-free sorghum flour, and used as an edible plate.
“Sheero” is another authentic dish, a vegetarian option made of a thick chickpea stew, that can be spread on injera, while rich curries with boiled eggs and green salads also play a central role in the restaurant’s menu. For dessert, its delicious caramel pudding is particularly good.
You can find more information via Zgni Eats’ Instagram account, @zgni_eats.
Pop stars, key workers gather for BRIT Awards in London live music return
Updated 12 May 2021
LONDON: Some 4,000 people watched singers Dua Lipa and Arlo Parks triumph as well as perform at the BRIT Awards this week, in the first major indoor music event with a live audience held in London in over a year.
Britain’s pop music honors, for which the audience did not have to wear masks or socially distance, took place at the O2 arena on the River Thames as the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.
The ceremony, during which Billie Eilish and The Weeknd were also winners, is part of the British government’s Events Research Programme aimed at establishing whether big events can be held in closed environments without social distancing.
The audience, of which 2,500 were key workers with guests, were sat in rows, looking down on two stages - one for presenters and another for performers. Nominees sat at distanced tables.
“This evening we look forward to a brighter future,” host Jack Whitehall said. “We have an audience ... we have pop stars, we are back.”
Ticket holders had to show proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue, which has a capacity of around 20,000. They will also need to take a test afterwards and provide contact details as part of the UK’s COVID test and trace system.
“It feels surreal because it’s been so long,” Zunaira Faiz, who works at a north London hospital, said upon arriving at the O2. “It almost feels like I'm experiencing something nostalgic because we haven’t been able to do this for so long.”
Like elsewhere, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down music events with live audiences in Britain. Under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s phased roadmap out of lockdown, entertainment venues can re-open their doors next week.
Lipa, who won two awards - female solo artist and album for “Future Nostalgia,” said she was dedicating her performance to key workers.
“I feel very grateful to be sharing this evening with them,” she told Reuters.
While some performances were live, including those of Lipa, breakthrough artist winner Parks and Olivia Rodrigo, others were pre-recorded.
Wanting to embrace the community spirit and kindness seen during COVID-19 lockdown, winners were given two awards and encouraged to share one.
American songstress Taylor Swift became the first female artist to be honoured with the Global Icon award. David Bowie, Elton John and Robbie Williams were past recipients.
“I’m really proud to be a part of this musical community especially in a year when we all needed music so much,” Swift, who traveled to London for the awards, said, also paying tribute to frontline workers.
Harry Styles won British single for “Watermelon Sugar,” while Little Mix became the first female band to win British group.
Eid treat: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou’s chocolate chip krachel
Updated 12 May 2021
DUBAI: Moroccan chef Nargisse Benkabbou is on a mission to demystify her country’s cuisine for international foodies, especially those in the UK where she lives.
Here, she shares her recipe for chocolate chip krachel to sweeten up your Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.
60g unsalted butter
2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp dried active yeast
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp warm water
300g plain flour, plus extra if needed and for dusting
1 tsp aniseed
½ tsp salt
80–120ml warm full-fat milk
1 ½ tbsp orange blossom water
100g dark chocolate chips or chunks
1 egg yolk, beaten
1. Melt the butter, then leave it to cool. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, mix the dried yeast with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sugar and the measured warm water using a fork. Leave the yeast to activate for about 5 minutes.
3. Mix 2 tablespoons of the toasted sesame seeds, the remaining sugar, the flour, aniseed and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, yeast mixture, egg, 80ml warm milk and the orange blossom water together until smooth. Combine both bowls and mix to form a soft dough.
4. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic and add the chocolate chips. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.
5. Divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces and shape each into a ball. Place them on a baking sheet, leaving about 5cm between each ball. Cover with cling film and leave the buns to rise for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the buns with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Bake for about 17–20 minutes.
Renowned US authors Tayari Jones, Brent Weeks join Abu Dhabi Book Fair lineup
Updated 11 May 2021
DUBAI: Renowned US fantasy author Brent Weeks, US author Tayari Jones, Emirati writer Eman Alyousuf and Kuwaiti writer Taleb Alrefai are all set to participate at the upcoming Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.
Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the 30th edition of ADIBF will see the participation of more than 800 exhibitors from 46 countries around the world, and will comprise more than 104 virtual and physical sessions.
Dr. Ali bin Tamim, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: “Despite the challenges we have faced in the wake of the pandemic, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is committed to ramping up its efforts to support the publishing industry and to promote cross-cultural dialogue. We are proud to host this event which reinforces our position as one of the most prominent intellectual and literary forums in region, and gives us the opportunity to highlight Arab literary output while simultaneously celebrating the pioneers of arts and culture from across the world.”
As part of its cultural programme, the fair will feature the artistic and literary works of authors and artists from multiple fields. Among those will be American author Tayari Jones, considered one of the most important writers of her generation, who will hold a session to discuss her latest work. In another session, the fantasy great Weeks will talk about the importance of science fiction novels in transporting readers away from the monotony of their daily lives. Providing a regional perspective, Kuwait’s Alrefai will participate in a dialogue with Emirati writer Alyousuf, to discuss how the pandemic has encouraged reading.
British television presenter and historian Bettany Hughes will join a conversation about the impact of plagues and pandemics on civilisations, while Emirati writer Sultan Al-Amimi will speak about with the importance of short stories and their role in enhancing literary diversity. .
Review: Kate Winslet exudes quiet brilliance in sleuthing series ‘Mare of Easttown’
Updated 11 May 2021
CHENNAI: British actress Kate Winslet has dabbled in period pieces, rom-coms, dramas and everything in between, but in her latest outing in “Mare of Easttown,” set to stream on OSN in the region, she absolutely dazzles as a detective in a small, conservative town in Pennsylvania.
In bleak, deprived small-town America, everybody knows everybody and working as a cop is not easy for Winslet’s character Mare Sheehan.
Mare, who rarely smiles but is not grumpy or snappy, carries her own demons. She is tired and weighed down by grief over a family tragedy. Add to the mix a wayward ex-husband (played by David Denman) and a cagey daughter (Angourie Rice), and it seems her personal life is enough to fill a drama series on its own.
But this is a murder mystery, and soon our protagonist is faced with the unsolved case of a 19-year-old missing girl and more. The girl had been gone for a year, and her mother is a friend of Mare’s, which makes it difficult and personal for the detective. And it seems like a hard bolt from the blue when Erin (Cailee Spaeny), a single teenage mother, is found dead in the woods one night after townsfolk had gathered for a party.
The people of Easttown, used to leading uneventful lives, are not pleased with the ramped up police presence — including the intrusion of a county detective, Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) who is brought in to assist Mare — and it is into this tense atmosphere that Brad Ingelsby, who created and wrote the series, tweaks the formula to add a romantic angle.
Mare meets writer and guest lecturer Richard Ryan (an intelligent, witty and charming Guy Pearce), who is visiting the town.
The writer turns “Mare of Easttown” from what could have been a dull and boring story into something that leaves us thirsting for more at the end of each twisting episode, where every detail matters.
It is a fantastic study in both police work and, more interestingly, the effect a brutal crime has on a community. The series is ably led by director Craig Zobel, who builds a convincing narrative style.
Of course, his eyes are on the star of the series, and it is remarkable to see Winslet so engaging.
US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York
Updated 11 May 2021
DUBAI: US actress and business mogul Jessica Alba showed off a pair of dainty heels by Lebanese designer Andrea Wazen and accessories by part-Arab jewelry designer Ana Khouri while out and about in New York last week.
The actress — who is also the co-founder of the billion-dollar home care business The Honest Company — was in New York to visit NASDAQ headquarters for the IPO of her company.
Later, she was spotted walking in Manhattan and even appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” wearing a pair of dainty rose-colored mules by Wazen.
Alba showed off the Denver mesh mules in pink, which feature a translucent upper, thin ankle strap and elegant pointed toe shape. The heels complemented a dark sage green bag by Celine and a greige trench coat-and-sheath dress combination.
Wazen isn’t the only Arab designer Alba flaunted while out and about in New York. She attended the IPO of her company wearing chunky gold statement earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri.
New York-based Khouri has seen her pieces worn by everyone from Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron to Karlie Kloss and Alicia Vikander.
Wazen is also no stranger to celebrity fans, and has seen her designs sported by the likes of actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, model Ashley Graham, Katy Perry, Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lopez during her “It’s My Party World Tour” in 2019.
The shoe designer is fresh off a win at the Footwear News (FN) Achievement Awards in December, nabbing the Emerging Talent prize.
“What a feeling… I cannot explain the joy and satisfaction I am feeling,” she wrote at the time, before thanking Michael Atmore, chief brand officer and the director of the event, for recognizing her as this year’s emerging talent, stylist Jill Jacobs for presenting her with the award and her team, who she said she couldn’t have “accomplished any of this” without.
“Last but not least, I would like to dedicate this award to my beautiful city, my source of inspiration and my home Beirut,” she wrote.