Award-winning Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi looks to reinvent Gulf cuisine

Award-winning Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi looks to reinvent Gulf cuisine
Tala Bashmi is the chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 12 August 2022

Award-winning Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi looks to reinvent Gulf cuisine

Award-winning Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi looks to reinvent Gulf cuisine
  • The chef patronne at Fusions by Tala trained in Switzerland at the Michelin-starred Prisma
  • She was recently named Best Female Chef in the Middle East and North Africa by 50 Best

TORONTO: For 33-year-old Tala Bashmi — chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama — modernizing Bahraini and Khaleeji cuisine feels like a “responsibility.” 

Bashmi grew up in Bahrain, and actually began her career at the Gulf Hotel, before heading to Switzerland to train at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and the Michelin-starred Prisma. 




Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama. (Supplied)

She returned to Bahrain in 2014 and worked her way up through the ranks at the Gulf Hotel to eventually head Fusions by Tala, where she’s determined to reinvent Gulf cuisine. She was recently named Best Female Chef in the Middle East and North Africa by 50 Best.

“I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,” Bashmi tells Arab News. “I want to compete on a global scale by elevating our cuisine technically, visually, and flavor-wise,” she says. 

Here, Bashmi offers some advice and a delicious fish recipe to try at home.




Tala Bashmi's Seabream Carpaccio. (Supplied)

What’s your top tip for amateur cooks?
Don’t rush things. For the first two years of my career, I wasn’t even allowed to cook. It was purely preparation. I believe all young chefs should start that way and not jump the gun. When you rush things, you end up burning something. You (eventually) want to combine perfection and speed, but speed alone is not beneficial. 

Also, there’s nothing more dangerous than a dull knife. A dull knife will slip and, most likely, cause injury. So, invest in a good quality knife and keep it sharp. 

What's one ingredient that can instantly improve any dish?
I can think of a few. There’s olive oil. And invest in good salt — not iodized table salt! Whenever I travel, I always get salt that’s local to the region. I’m a firm believer in the fact that the simplest local ingredients can elevate or transform a dish.

What is your favorite cuisine?
Currently, it's Korean. The entire experience of making your own Korean barbeque is fun. With its fermented and pickled elements, it relies heavily on the traditional umami taste, which I enjoy a lot.

What is your favorite dish to cook?
I really enjoy cooking seafood, especially when it's fresh from the market. I love clams. I make a type of curry that has clams and local crabs in it, which you leave to simmer on the stove. When you cook all day, every day, you want to make your meals quick and tasty. 

What’s the most difficult dish you prepare?
Desserts at the restaurant have a lot of elements and are relatively time-consuming. There is the cooking, chilling, setting, assembling, and layering. I’d say my lavender dessert — lavender sponge, blueberry jelly, white-chocolate mousse, and lemon crème brûlée — is the most difficult to prepare.

What are you like in the kitchen? Are you a disciplinary or are you more laid-back?
I was lucky enough to work under a second chef who showed me that you can be kind, gentle, and forgiving in this environment, without being disrespected. So, I follow his example. I don’t like to put people down because everyone learns differently. I want my team to feel happy, comfortable, and confident when they come into the kitchen. Patience and learning to deal with different personalities are important. 

RECIPE: Chef Tala’s pan-seared faskar with vine leaf risotto

Ingredients

90g Faskar fillet; salt; pepper; 30g butter; 3g thyme; turmeric (optional); 150g of Arborio rice; 20g onion (finely chopped); 70g vine leaves; 10g lime juice; 10g parmesan cheese; cooking oil; vegetable stock or water

 

Instructions (fish):

Pat your fillets to dry them. Season with salt, pepper, and turmeric (optional).

Heat a non-stick pan to almost smoking point. Add 2 tbsp of oil per fillet.

Place the fillet (skin side) with a weight on top.

Cook for one minute, until skin is golden-brown. 

Turn the heat to low, add thyme and 10g of butter. 

The residual heat will finish cooking the fish (time depends on thickness of fillets)

 

Instructions (risotto):

On low-medium heat, melt 10g butter in a pan, add onion, sauté until translucent. 

Stir rice into the mix.

And one ladle of veg stock (or water) at a time, making sure broth is fully absorbed.

Meanwhile, blanch the vine leaves in hot water for one minute or until softened. Finely chop.

Cook risotto for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. It should be al dente, but creamy.

Add remaining butter, cheese, vine leaves, salt, and lime juice. 

Serve hot.


Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup

Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup
Updated 28 November 2022

Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup

Qatar Creates, CR Runway announce fashion show at FIFA World Cup

DUBAI: Qatar Creates and CR Runway announced a fashion show, featuring more than 150 designers from 50 countries, set to take place on Dec. 16 at the FIFA World Cup.

The event will feature performances by the likes of DJ Snake, Kadim Al-Sahir, Khaled, Nancy Ajram, Ozuna, Zakes Bantwini and more with the proceeds going to Education Above All, a Qatari charity that aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for vulnerable and marginalized people, with a focus on the developing world.

A poster for the event. (Supplied)

Twenty-one Qatari brands will take part in the show, which will be made up of four choreographed runway presentations.

The show will feature an opening act with national ambassadors representing the 32 countries in the World Cup, all sporting customized jerseys. Then, two local Qatari brands — Aliya Al-Obaidly and Harlienz — will put on a performance entitled “Where the Sand Touches the Sea,” inspired by Qatar’s traditional practices of pearl diving.

The second act, titled “The Fashion World Tour,” will showcase works from designers from six continents. The third and final act, “One Night in Qatar,” will showcase haute couture and eveningwear created exclusively by international designers and brands for Qatar Fashion United by CR Runway.

The Qatar-based brands participating in the event are 1309, Al-Dukan, Aliya Al-Obaidly, Tamader Al-Sultan, Drizzle, Ghada Al-Buainain, Hairaat, Hamadis, Harlienz, Kaltham’s Pavilion, Lorenaa Michelle, Maryam Al-Darwish, Mhefhef, Muna Saad, Naila Al-Thani, Trzi, TIIYA, WAAD Designs, WADHA, Wit Noiz and Yasmin Mansour.


Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot

Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot
Updated 28 November 2022

Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot

Bella Hadid shares behind-the-scenes snaps from Swarovski shoot

DUBAI: US Palestinian Dutch supermodel Bella Hadid has given fans a behind-the-scenes look at her latest campaign for Austrian jewelry label Swarovski.

Hadid, who was announced as the label’s brand ambassador in May, took to Instagram to share photographs from the set of her latest shoot. In the snaps, the model is dressed as a bedazzled fairy, complete with a set of delicate wings.

The model shared behind-the-scenes shots from her latest shoot for Swarovski. (Instagram)

The 26-year-old catwalk star took to Instagram earlier this year to share the news of her brand ambassadorship with her 56.4 million followers, writing: “Extremely honored and excited to be the new face of the iconic Swarovski.”

“Bella Hadid sums up the individualistic and transformative attitude of a new global generation,” said Engelbert in a statement at the time. “She is a multifaceted character who evades the boxes of rules and conformity. She goes from sporty to glamorous while remaining the same girl — the same Bella — with confidence and authority.

“Today, crystals are a dynamic part of our everyday wardrobe: A way of accentuating your individual style in a way that can be as casual as it can be elaborate. Bella is the poster girl for this state of mind,” added Engelbert.

Meanwhile, Hadid said she was “very familiar” with the “timeless and iconic brand” before the partnership.

“I love the new collections and what the brand has been doing, especially these past two years under the creative vision of Giovanna, and I really see Swarovski as the contemporary jewelry brand of the future,” she said- in a released statement. “Jewelry is about expression and celebrating individuality — Swarovski celebrates all people and the idea of modern glamour, and I love that.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SWAROVSKI (@swarovski)

 

Hadid was recently named British GQ magazine’s “most stylish person on the planet” for 2023 in a statement that mirrored Swarovski’s sentiments regarding the model’s ability to traverse various fashion styles and pull them off with aplomb.

The magazine commended Hadid for her  “ability to make menswear, womenswear, smartwear and even wavywear work.

“Hadid does menswear better than most men — and she can still wear everything and anything else. Tailoring. Prada loafers. Big denim jackets. There was even a tie at one point. It’s wavy, classic and uncomplicated all at once,” the magazine added.


The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize

The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize
Desiree Bollier in the Chair and Global Chief Merchant of The Bicester Collection. (Getty Images)
Updated 28 November 2022

The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize

The Bicester Collection launches MENA edition of Unlock Her Future entrepreneurship prize

DUBAI: An international retail firm has launched the MENA edition of a prize for first-time women entrepreneurs that would allow them to set up or develop their startup businesses.

The Middle East and North Africa edition of The Bicester Collection’s “Unlock her Future Prize” was announced for enterprises that drive positive environmental, social and economic change, according to the company.

The Bicester Collection is a group of 11 open-air shopping destinations across Europe and China, which includes the Bicester Village outlet mall in Oxfordshire, UK. They launched the initiative in 2021 as part of their DO GOOD platform and have now expanded to the Middle East. 

“We’re delighted that in its inaugural year, the Unlock Her Future Prize will launch in MENA with the support of our partner Ashoka Arab World,” Chantal Khoueiry, chief culture officer for The Bicester Village, told Arab News.

“As an Arab woman, I believe I can speak for all when I say how committed we are to driving women’s empowerment and cultural progress. We recognize that if you have diverse voices, you can transcend anything. This is the essence of what we hope the Unlock Her Future Prize MENA edition 2023 will provide on behalf of Arab Women — the voice and support to build a progressive and sustainable future for people and the planet.”

Khoueiry added that applicants with an innovative idea, and those who have been operating for under five years, are invited to apply between Dec. 5 and Jan. 31, 2023.

An international committee of experts will review the applications and shortlist eight finalists who will be invited to pitch their ideas in Bicester Village, UK, to a panel of judges from the MENA region. Three winners will be announced on International Women’s Day next year.

“The winners will each receive a financial grant of up to $100,000 plus human capital support from a fantastic assembly of global experts.” They will also have access to an education and knowledge program with the prize’s regional academic partner, New York University Abu Dhabi, said Khoueiry.

  


Review: ‘The Guardians of Galaxy Holiday Special’ brings festive cheer to MCU

Review: ‘The Guardians of Galaxy Holiday Special’ brings festive cheer to MCU
Updated 28 November 2022

Review: ‘The Guardians of Galaxy Holiday Special’ brings festive cheer to MCU

Review: ‘The Guardians of Galaxy Holiday Special’ brings festive cheer to MCU

LONDON: Viewers over a certain age may find that the phrase “Holiday Special” sends a shiver down their spine, but fear not — James Gunn and the Marvel factory are here to cleanse your palette. Gunn, recently announced as the new head of the DC cinematic universe, still has one more Marvel movie on the horizon, but before “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3” hits cinemas in 2023, the director has reunited with the ragtag group of heroes for a seasonal one-shot on the Disney+ streaming platform — the latest in Marvel’s series of Special Presentations after October’s “Werewolf by Night.”

In an attempt to cheer up fellow Guardian Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Mantis and Drax (Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista) set out to give their friend an Earth-style Christmas, complete with lights, decorations and gifts. Except that their idea for a gift is to journey to Earth and kidnap actor Kevin Bacon, star of Quill’s favorite childhood movie, “Footloose.” Cue a series of comic interactions between the superhero Guardians and Earth’s population as they chase down and abduct Bacon and whisk him into space.

Unlike the now infamous 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special,” this festive “Guardians” installment is as slick as the wider cinematic universe. For starters, it has excellent production values, appearances from all the Guardians (including Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Vin Diesel as Groot, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, and Maria Bakalova as new member Cosmo), and a story that, while light and throwaway, still fits into the wider MCU narrative. If anything, this is more of a scene-setting exercise for “Volume 3” than a seasonal cash-in. Gunn, and his ensemble cast, have clearly grown to love these characters as much as anyone, so there’s a feeling of playful reverence about this “Holiday Special” — not to mention a welcome sense that, while it’s silly and festive, this is as important to the Marvel timeline as any of the big-screen movies.


Concert calendar: This week’s major concerts at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 

Concert calendar: This week’s major concerts at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 
Lil Baby will perform in Qatar on Dec. 3. (File/ AFP)
Updated 28 November 2022

Concert calendar: This week’s major concerts at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 

Concert calendar: This week’s major concerts at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 

DUBAI: For fans making their way to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, here are this week’s major concerts set to take place alongside the football festivities.  

Monday, Nov. 28: The ARAVIA festival will feature performances by Scooter, Vegie and Sokkary. The Arcadia Music Festival will kick off with Hernan Cattaneo, Miss Monique, Argy, Jonas Saalbach, Alfa Romero, Mark Knight, Tita Lau, Ferry Corsten, Nervo, ATB, Martin Jensen, Cedric Gervais, Burak Yeter and Joselito.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MDLBEAST (@mdlbeast)

Tuesday, Nov. 29: Rae Sremmurd, Dabous and Laymoon will take to the turntables at the ARAVIA festival, while the Arcadia festival will host Gorgon City, Argy, Jonas Saalbach, Alfa Romero, Citizen Kain, Vidal Rodriguez, ATB, Nervo, Burak Yeter, Ferry Corsten, Cedric Gervais, Martin Jensen, Burak Yeter and Mark Knight. British DJ Pete Tong will meet his fans at Bud World Club, while Canadian singer Nora Fatehi will perform at the FIFA Fan Festival.

Wednesday, Nov. 30: Gordo, Dabous and Laymoon will perform at the ARAVIA festival as the Arcadia Music Festival hosts Sebastien Leger, Argy, Citizen Kain, Jonas Saalbach, Alfa Romero, Vidal Rodriguez, Nervo, Ferry Corsten, ATB, Cedric Gervais, Mark Knight, Burak Yeter, Martin Jensen, and Block & Crown. Spanish singer Omar Montes will meet his fans at the FIFA Fan Festival as Colombian singer Ryan Castro opens the Qetaifan Beach Festival on Qetaifan Island North in Lusail.

Thursday, Dec. 1: Sebastian Ingrosso, Against Celebrities and DJ Leen will take to the stage at ARAVIA, while Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike, Nervo, Ferry Corsten, Gorgon City, ATB, Cedric Gervais, Mark Knight, Burak Yeter and Block & Crown perform at Daydream Festival in the Doha Golf Club, Al-Egla. Brazilian singer Ludmilla meet her fans at Bud World Cup and US singer Trinidad Cardona’s gig will be at the FIFA Fan Festival.

Friday, Dec. 2: Against Celebrities and DJ Leen will perform again at ARAVIA along with US rapper Tyga. The Daydream Festival will feature performances by Armin Van Buuren, Sam Feldt, Ferry Corsten, ATB, Mark Knight and Burak Yeter. DJ Aseel will be at the FIFA Fan Festival.

Saturday, Dec. 3: ARAVIA will feature Benny Benassi, Sin Tek and Sheiq. Arcadia will host Sebastien Leger, Ae:ther, Armonica, Vidal Rodriguez, Joselito, ATB, Ferry Corsten, Cedric Gervais, Burak Yeter and Mark Knight. Lil Baby will perform at the Bud World Cup zone, while Gims will hit the stage at the FIFA Fan Festival.