Where We Are Going Today: Athr Cafe in Riyadh offers gourmet coffee

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Where We Are Going Today: Athr Cafe in Riyadh offers gourmet coffee
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Updated 31 March 2023

Where We Are Going Today: Athr Cafe in Riyadh offers gourmet coffee

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If you like reading books while enjoying a beverage in a cozy atmosphere, you should visit Athr Cafe. Located in the center of the Al-Malqa district in Riyadh, it is a terrific spot to study, unwind, or get together with friends for a drink.

The genuine motorcycle next to the door, which gives the coffee shop a modern classic atmosphere, will catch your eye as soon as you arrive.  

One of the most well-liked study spots for undergrads, this student-focused cafe has a ton of study spaces.  

Athr Cafe offers gourmet coffee, speciality coffee, a selection of fresh baked goods and a variety of cold beverages.  

The library area, along with the extremely comfy luxury sofas and the cafe's warm and welcoming yellow lights, are what make this place unique.  

You can browse the selection of books, pick one you like, and relax and spend hours reading it in a serene environment.  

A spacious sitting space with tables, a more intimate outdoor seating area with cushions where you may gather with friends or family to enjoy after indulging in some delectable sweets, and the library area make up the seating area at Athr.  

Once inside the cafe, you'll feel as though you've embarked on a story that will transport you between its classic books and stylish, modern design.

Small business owners and locally produced commodities, including water, coffee beans, and baked goods, are supported by the coffee shops.

Visitors enjoy coming back frequently because of the staff's friendliness and professionalism, as well as the fact that every sip of every beverage is prepared correctly.  

For a more focused drink, you may add a shot of espresso to their speciality — Athr Mojito —  which is an extremely refreshing mojito made with berries or peaches.

The shop has a lot of natural elements, like wood and plants, that make you feel at home and entice you to remain longer.  

The most expensive drink the cafe offers is the signature one, which costs $6.40, making the price rate relatively fair for a neighborhood cafe.

 

 


What We Are Eating Today: Wister, the ultimate crispy chicken sandwich

What We Are Eating Today: Wister, the ultimate crispy chicken sandwich
Updated 09 June 2023

What We Are Eating Today: Wister, the ultimate crispy chicken sandwich

What We Are Eating Today: Wister, the ultimate crispy chicken sandwich

When it comes to finding the best fried chicken sandwich in Jeddah, nothing beats Wister.

It’s a big Saudi chain with a big Saudi taste. And the chicken is crispy. It’s tender. It’s juicy. It’s fast food done the right way.

Opt for a burger and choose original, spicy for more zing, or plump for the speciality and watch as your chicken arrives slathered in golden maple sriracha sauce. 

Add a slice of cheese, some crisp salad, a dollop of tangy coleslaw and … perfection.

What more could you want? Well, the spicy French fries with cheese sauce might tempt as a side, or maybe some spicy crinkle fries instead. Extra chicken strips? Jalapenos? Cheese sauce? Maybe not all at once. 

If that’s not enough, Wister has a selection of themed offerings including the crunchy Cheetos and Taki burgers. 

To cool off, grab a slushy with flavors including lemon, watermelon and blueberry, or head to the ice cream station for a swirl of the strawberry and mango. 

A “unicorn” flavor of red and blue berries is available seasonally, and comes recommended.

For the kids (and kidadults) every order comes with a fun sticker with slogans in Arabic and English that can be used to brighten up any surface.

The chain has also teamed up with WarnerBros to offer meals themed on superheroes and villains including Batman, the Joker and Iron Man.

Wister has 11 branches in Jeddah, Makkah and Riyadh. For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/wister_sa/?hl=en.


Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette

Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette
Updated 07 June 2023

Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette

Recipes for success: Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna offers advice and a guide to tasty paneer rosette
  • The chef currently heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna in Dubai
  • He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants, been a James Beard Award nominee, and written written more than 25 cookbooks

DUBAI: It’s hard enough to attain success ‘just’ as a chef, or author, or poet, or filmmaker. But Vikas Khanna has somehow managed to successfully be all of those things and still find time for philanthropy, effortlessly navigating the realms of creativity and compassion. 

The celebrity Indian chef has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, been a James Beard Award nominee, written written more than 25 cookbooks, several of which have won awards, has hosted several seasons of “MasterChef India,” “Twist of Taste,” and National Geographic’s “Mega Kitchens.” He has also been a guest on “MasterChef Australia,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” and many other shows, and has been featured on the covers of Forbes Life, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health, GQ and many more. 

He currently heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna in Dubai. Here, he discusses the beauty of bread, why cream is great, and following your heart in the kitchen, and shares a paneer rosette recipe. 

When you started out as a professional, what was the most-common mistake you made when preparing a dish? 

When I first started cooking professionally in South India, I realized that one of the most common mistakes people from my hometown — in the North — make is not roasting spices properly. I struggled with this technique, and also with coconut, which is not commonly used in northern cuisine. It took me years to understand why roasting coconut and spices to that level was necessary for dishes in southern India or Sri Lanka.  

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?  

It’s important to remember that cooking is a very free form of art — many of the greatest dishes we eat today were actually mistakes. All great chefs understand the power of making mistakes and owning up to them, and constantly working to improve. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They can lead to new creations. Use recipes as a guideline, but also follow your heart. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?  

I know some people might be surprised, but I think adding cream can really elevate a dish. I appreciate French cuisine for the way it can transform a dish just by adding butter and cream. It brings a whole new dimension of flavor and richness to your palate, almost like a happiness factor.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

It’s difficult to say, because I believe that people in the business are generally doing their best and criticizing them too much can be unfair — and even unethical. When I go out to eat, I try not to focus too much on the food. Spending time with the people I’m with is more important. One common mistake I see in restaurants is that they wait for all the dishes to be ready before serving them. I think this is a mistake. I believe that it’s more important to prioritize the enjoyment of food and company over following strict rules. 

When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine? 

It changes constantly. However, since I primarily live in New York, there is one restaurant that I consider to be one of my biggest comfort places: Veselka, which serves Ukrainian cuisine. I have been going there for more than 23 years and I absolutely love the ambience, the staff, and everything that comes out of the kitchen. The food makes me feel like I’m eating a meal cooked by an elderly grandma, and to create that kind of experience in a restaurant is epic. When I was studying, it was the only place that was open at night when I couldn’t sit in a heated room and use free internet. But even after all these years, I’m still absolutely obsessed with their cooking style. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly? 

Whenever I need some comfort and have the desire to totally cut myself off from people, there’s a dish that I turn to. It’s multigrain khichdi, which is a form of Indian risotto. I find it so forgiving, like being in grandma’s house where you can break everything and still won’t be judged. There’s so much comfort in that. For most Indians, the kitchen is not just a place to cook dishes, it’s an emotion. And with this dish, you can add any grains and vegetables you have on hand, add a pinch of spices, take it to the extreme or keep it mild, it won’t judge you.  

What request/behavior by customers most annoys you? 

When people come to the restaurant right when we’re closing. If you really want to enjoy the restaurant, you should come a little earlier and give the staff some breathing space. This allows them to perform better. 

What’s your favorite dish to cook and why?  

In Punjab, bread is a staple food, and I take pride in my expertise in cooking Indian breads. It’s an art that requires a great deal of technical skill. Most of our breads are unleavened, made with just wholewheat flour and water. The challenge lies in making them moist, fluffy, and well-seasoned. I find it amazing how bread-making can be so intricate. I learned to make breads from my grandmother, who would pack them for me when I left home for college. Her breads would stay moist for days. I would ask her how she did it, and she would simply reply, “It’s just love.” 

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right?  

In Kinara, we have a dish of lamb chops that we minimally season to allow the meat flavor to shine. We serve it with papaya chutney, which has a sweet and sour taste, and sweet potato puree. The secret to this dish is in the cooking and resting of the meat, which can make or break the dish within a few fractions of seconds. Lamb chops are very delicate, which adds to the difficulty. 

As a head chef, what are you like?  

I don’t like to shout, especially not during service. However, I have a bad habit of not speaking up when I should. Sometimes, after the dinner service, I write a long email with feedback and suggestions. People have asked me to wait until the morning to send it, but I feel that it’s important to address issues as soon as possible. We can’t take our customers for granted. They’re spending their hard-earned money, and we need to give them the best experience possible. And as an ambassador of Indian culture, I feel a responsibility to represent it well.  

 

Chef Vikas’ paneer rosette  

INGREDIENTS: 

For paneer rosette 

150g cottage cheese; 10g ginger and garlic paste; 10g deghi mirch powder; 4g turmeric powder; 10 ml mustard oil; 4g salt 

For red cabbage poriyal sauce 

100g red cabbage; 40g fresh grated coconut; 4g mustard seeds; 20 ml cooking oil; 4 curry leaves; 5g ginger; 1 green chili; 10 ml lime juice; 2g lecithin; 6g salt 

For rhubarb pickle 

60g fresh rhubarb; 10 ml cooking oil; 5g fennel seeds; 4g onion seeds; 5g cumin seeds; 5g salt; 15g sugar; 15 ml white vinegar 

For garnish 

10 ml coriander oil; 5 red-vein sorel leaves ; 5g toasted white and black sesame seeds 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Slice the cottage cheese using a 2mm-thick round cutter. Cut the slices again across the center to make a halfmoon shape. Use the ginger and garlic paste, deghi mirch, turmeric, mustard oil and salt to make a marinade. 

2. Overlap the cottage cheese slices like a trail. Cover in marinade and roll from one end to the other. It should look like a small rose. Keep it in the chiller so that it holds its shape. 

3. For red cabbage poriyal: Slice the cabbage and keep it aside. Fine chop the ginger and green chilies. Add oil to a pan, heat and add the mustard seeds and curry leaf. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, add the chopped ginger and green chilies. Then add the cabbage and sauté until it wilts. Add grated coconut and adjust the seasoning. Finally, add lime juice and mix. Place in a mixer and blend until smooth. Strain and keep to one side. 

4. For rhubarb pickle: Cut the rhubarb into lengths of one inch. Heat oil in a pan. Add fennel seeds, onion seeds and cumin seeds. Once they start crackling, add the rhubarb. When the rhubarb starts sweating add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Remove and place in a dry container. Store at room temperature. 

5. For the garnish: Add coriander oil to a pot and blanch red-vein sorrel leaves for 10 seconds then immediately transfer to ice-cold water. Squeeze all the water out and blend with neutral oil. Strain through a muslin cloth drop by drop and do not disturb the mix. 

6. Place the red-vein sorrel leaves in cold water.  

7. Put the paneer in a preheated oven for 12 mins at 180 Celsius. Coat the edges with black and white sesame seeds. Use a hand blender to blend the red cabbage poriyal sauce with lecithin to make it foamy. 

8. In the serving bowl, pour six tablespoons of sauce, and place the paneer rosette in the center. Place the rhubarb pickle to the side and drizzle it with coriander oil. Finally, use the red-vein sorrel leaves as garnish. 

 


Indulge Thyself — where sustainability is always on the menu

Indulge Thyself — where sustainability is always on the menu
Updated 05 June 2023

Indulge Thyself — where sustainability is always on the menu

Indulge Thyself — where sustainability is always on the menu
  • The region’s first zero-waste private fine-dining restaurant is tackling food wastage with ‘sustainable practices and culinary methods’

JEDDAH: Indulge Thyself is a zero-waste private fine-dining restaurant and catering service established to demonstrate that following sustainable practices need not compromise on quality and taste.

The region’s first such operation, Indulge Thyself promotes innovative environmental solutions by using leftovers and organic waste to create natural compost.

According to the General Food Security Authority, about SR40 billion ($10.6 billion) worth of food is wasted every year in the Kingdom, or about a third of the total produced. It is an issue that requires awareness and sustainable solutions to maintain our planet’s health.

Fermentation and pickling are practices that enable chef hamza and her team to reduce food wastage. (Supplied)

Indulge Thyself is based on an ideology that always keeps the bin in mind. It was conceived from a desire to create innovative and quality dishes while demonstrating respect for the environment.

The restaurant was founded by Saudi chef Yasmin Hamza and her sous chef Hawazen Zahran who believe that there is space for sustainability in the fine-dining culinary world. The restaurant is run by Hamza and her team of female chefs.

On the topic of environmental responsibility, Hamza told Arab News that it “must stem from the understanding that we are nature, when we begin as humans to understand that our separation from our environment is merely an illusion, we can then start to initiate action as we are of this earth.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Indulge Thyself offers private fine-dining experiences and catering service.

• The restaurant’s organic waste and leftovers are composted and turned into plant fertilizer, which is then used in growing produce.

Explaining the restaurant’s sustainability ethic and strategy, Hamza added: “We promote an array of sustainable practices and culinary methods ensuring that we have no waste; like sourcing local farm-to-table produce and using a head-to-tail cooking method, fermentation, pickling, as well as using reusable packaging and more.”

At Indulge Thyself, organic waste and leftovers are “composted and turned into plant fertilizer, which is then used in growing our own fruits and vegetables,” she added.

From the filtered tap water to avoid plastic bottles, to the use of upcycled materials for the interior design, Indulge Thyself pays attention to sustainable and eco-friendly choices.

Indulge Thyself pays attention to sustainable and eco-friendly choices. (Supplied)

The dining experience at Indulge Thyself involves a sequence of dishes that take the guest on an international culinary journey — featuring some of the best cuisines while honoring core sustainability values, such as by sourcing 95 percent of the ingredients from local produce.

Hamza commented on the restaurant’s name, saying: “We wanted to show people that you could indeed ‘Indulge Thyself’ in a fine-dining setting whilst incorporating respect to our produce and awareness of our surroundings.

“We can confidently say that we currently offer the best fine-dining food and beverage experiences and catering services in Saudi Arabia.”

Indulge Thyself pays attention to sustainable and eco-friendly choices. (Supplied)

With a professional background as a fashion designer focused on sustainability, Hamza decided to shift focus toward the culinary industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sustainability remained a core value in that transition: “It was only natural that I would entrain my business’ core value in sustainability as it is truly my passion.

“I worked with my cousin in the kitchen for a day and I was hooked. The energy, speed, creativity, and quick feedback fit really well with my personality. I then decided to expand my culinary skills and work with some of the best fine-dining and Michelin-star restaurants worldwide,” Hamza explained.

Indulge Thyself pays attention to sustainable and eco-friendly choices. (Supplied)

She worked at The Samuel in Copenhagen, Silo London, KOL London, and The Sea, The Sea in London.

Indulge Thyself offers private fine-dining experiences for two people, and also 10 to 20 with three experiences, and the option of five to eight courses. The restaurant also has a catering service.

Promoting sustainable practices also takes center stage in Hamza’s collaborations with other projects and companies. She recently participated in a culinary class for children at the Islamic Art Biennale. There was also a catering tie-up with Cartier, and a collaboration during Ramadan with Kia Corporation and the Waste Lab, a woman-owned composting company based in Dubai.

For the Kia “Cycle of Life” initiative, Hamza hosted a farm-to-table iftar at Indulge Thyself to celebrate the region’s environmental advocates.

Speaking on the collaboration, Hamza added: “Serving iftar to sustainability influencers and seeing them enjoy it and give raving feedback was a highlight in our career.

“To top that off, it was all filmed for the anti-food waste campaign and launched all over the Middle East to highlight our efforts in combating food waste … that was a very rewarding feeling for our whole team.”

 


Where We Are Going Today: Avak - Mediterranean dishes in Riyadh

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Updated 04 June 2023

Where We Are Going Today: Avak - Mediterranean dishes in Riyadh

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  • Avak has been pulling in the crowds for some time now and ratings on popular websites show just how much appreciation there is for the restaurant

Avak was supposed to be strictly Armenian. Then the owners developed a menu with Italian, Greek and Arabic dishes, and called it Mediterranean. And we’re glad they did.

At this northern Riyadh restaurant you’re not limited to just one cuisine — go where the mood takes you. Take a short hop to Beirut with everyone’s favorite tabbouleh as a starter, then whisk yourself off to Italy for some saffron and chicken risotto, beef and cherry tomatoes or maybe a spinach truffle tortellini.

Why? Because you can.

Then order some kebbeh with pine nuts and pomegranate garnishes to bring you back closer to home. Go on, they’re delicious.

But don’t forget the Armenian food, which is always a treat.

Gapama — a huge hollowed pumpkin stuffed with rice, dried fruits and meat, baked, then topped with even more meat — is one of Avak’s most popular dishes. While it’s usually for Christmas, we can dig into this delight any time of the year.

Avak has been pulling in the crowds for some time now and ratings on popular websites show just how much appreciation there is for the restaurant. Foursquare and other sites are filled with great reviews: “The mixed hummus is a must,” “Try date salad 10/10,” “Go for vine leaves fata!” There’s a lot of love.

As for the venue, the general vibes are calming, the seating is comfortable, the dining tables are wide so it’s good for large groups, and the waiters and waitresses are friendly.

The interior is inspired by classic Greek decor, with dark and rich colors adding warmth and coziness.

For more information, visit their Instagram @avak.sa.

 

 


Where We Are Going Today: Afis Table Greek cuisine in Riyadh

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Updated 02 June 2023

Where We Are Going Today: Afis Table Greek cuisine in Riyadh

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  • Mouthwatering plates of grilled souvlaki tawouk chicken are served on top of a bed of vegetables along with crispy fries

The fine-dining Greek Hawaiian restaurant is known for its outstanding BBQs, gyros, and souvlaki meals, as well as its crispy cone fries, including beef and chicken gyros, Amsterdam fries, noodles shaker, poke bowls, sushi burritos and souvlaki grills.

It also serves freshly squeezed juices, including beetroot, detox and energizer, and nutritious smoothies.

The Greek fish burger, a fried fish tempura served with cheese and tzatziki sauce, combined with cocktail sauce served with Amsterdam fries, is one of its signature meals.

Mouthwatering plates of grilled souvlaki tawouk chicken are served on top of a bed of vegetables along with crispy fries.

Try the marinated salmon poke if you enjoy spicy salmon poke bowls with seaweed, beetroot or mango.

Prices are reasonable.

The restaurant has two branches in Riyadh, one in Alfaisal University and the other in Al-Sulaimania.  

https://www.instagram.com/afis.table/