Monday, November 30, 2009

Liyari : the Best Briyani in Dubai?

we went here weeks ago. i overlooked these pictures, as i only took a few - my camera batt ran out! but now that i've stumbled upon them again, it's time to write about, what is arguably, the BEST briyani in dubai.

* * *

liyari restaurant is said to have the ultimate briyani rice in the whole of dubai. google 'liyari dubai' and you only get 'the best' accompanying the name. this pakistani restaurant serves the usuals - briyani with a choice between chicken and meat (mutton), their own brand of dalca and nan bread. come later in the evening, and their grilled chicken and meat are ready to be served.

it is so popular, that it even has its own facebook page! al-tawasol pun kalah ni!

according to its facebook page, it is situated in naif, deira, 'tucked in the right hand corner of florida hotel off nasser square', right next to the bus-stand. it's also close to the famous malaysian-favorite tailor, pulwani.

taken from liyari restaurant's facebook page

it's almost impossible to find any parking space remotely close to the restaurant, so everytime we go, we parked at this murky, low-ceiling parking lot in a building next to the naif police station - which is quite a walking distance from the restaurant.

ok, it's hard to explain in words how you actually get there from where we park, that's why i'm only giving you landmarks, like naif police station, pulwani and the deira bus stand (especially since i'm not good with roads, and most of the time - ok, ALL of the time i would just tag along behind mr. khairul who leads the way!). it's a maze of left and right and going into narrow lanes, passing by small abaya shops and other restaurants - it's complicated!

however, if you ask anyone on the way, they would definitely be able to guide you to liyari restaurant.

mr. khairul tuang nasi dr pinggan kecik ke pinggan besar

mr. khairul said, the interior of liyari restaurant is a reminscent of old penang restaurant - with its marble floor, and thick-wall stairs leading to the family area. the restaurant is brightened only by its lights.

we ordered both chicken and mutton briyani.

now the presentation was a bit new to me - the briyani was served in a very generous portion, in a small hollow plate, and that plate was placed in a bigger hollow plate. so it's like 2 in 1 la. hihi. mr. khairul said the small plate would probably supposed to be where you put your tulang and bits of bunga cengkih and such.

what we did was we pour the rice from the small plate into the bigger plate, and eat from that plate, leaving the small plate of rice for later.

i'm telling you - the portion is huge! you better share the plate if you're not that hungry. each plate of chicken briyani has 3 ketul ayam! the chicken is cooked a bit like curry, and it's placed 'among' the rice, together in the plate. the chicken sort of hides in the rice, so to speak.

the briyani was served with this dalca-like gravy which i love, because it's actually less spicy than the original gravy that comes inside the chicken briyani. in fact, the gravy that they 'pre-put' in the rice was too spicy for me that i would always give the 'already-drowned-in-curry' part of the rice to mr. khairul, and i would take his 'untouched-by-curry' briyani rice!

i know i married the spicy-nut for a reason! hihi.

we ordered the bread separately, but it's a bit chewy and liat. our briyani plates also came with a plate of salad - which probably be the only disappointing part of our liyari experience - it's only cut-up cabbage, sliced onions and carrots! salad and timun pun takde!

this liyari restaurant is so simple, and popular - that it doesn't even need a proper menu. just glance upward, and a 'printed' menu greets you.

briyani sedap gile melimpah ruah, sekali dengan 3 ketul ayam, skali dengan dalcha sepinggan penuh - lebih kurang RM12 - dubai rate. man, it's so worth it!

* * *

the liyari briyani is constantly being refered to as the BEST briyani in town. well, it is no doubt very delicious, especially with its generous portion, and to top it all - cheap! however, my personal favorite, the one i would crown the BEST briyani in dubai is still the one in the restaurant that i called the 'slumdog millionaire' restaurant. read about my fav briyani here.

anyhow, try some briyani today and judge for yourself!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Khaleef's Ol Bike is Kahfi's New Bike

handing down clothes, toys and other stuff baby needs not only saves money, saves the hassle of preparing clothes and items for a new baby, but it's the most practical thing to do. especially for clothes - when your next kid is also the same gender. for us, we bought only a few new baby clothes for kahfi as sort off a 'zero birthday present' or when we see a cute baby do that we just had to have.

since kahfi has already mastered 'sitting down' with a double degree in 'standing' and 'crawling fast', not forgetting nearly completing his doctorate in 'walking' - it's time for kahfi to try out his abang's old bike.

can you guess which one is khaleef and which one is kahfi?

the red 'policeman' bike was khaleef's 1st birthday present from my wonderfully wacky colleague - mohana, dora, jennifer, jo, haida, and my bosses ms e and ms e - way back in 2005. believe it or not, it's still bubble-wrapped up nicely, as it hasn't been open since we brought it from malaysia.

khaleef was the most excited seeing me unravel his old bike, and was even more ecstatic that i told him i'm wiping and cleaning it up for kahfi. he even helped stop kahfi from entering the room i was in, as if it was a surprise!

for a boy's bike, i was glad that it was in mint condition under the carefully sealed bubble wrap. with a little wiping and scrubing, it was as good as new!

kahfi was very curious at first, particularly at its tyres as it went round and round. when he finished inspecting it, khaleef fiercely insisted that it's time to put kahfi on. on the bike, kahfi was surprisingly less enthusiastic than i expected, but he continued to be curious nonetheless. kobek tu kobek ni.

he only sat there for awhile - then he cried and wanted to come down. i took him out off the bike, sat him down next to it, and watched him inspect the bike again. probably not ready to be on the bike yet! but he's fascinated, that's for sure!

* * *

meanwhile enjoy a public service announcement by kahfi, on making sure you have a safe journey balik kampung.

done? good!

* * *

since kahfi showed no further interest in riding the bike - ape lagi - si abang went for it! i think he was particularly happy that he was able to ride a bike inside the house (as his jack sparrow bike is always parked outside the door coz its tyres has accumulated dirt for frequent usage!)

ini budak empat tahun yang xmalu naik bike baby

at the time of writing khaleef is still on the bike, showing the ropes to junior biker kahfi. when kahfi is ready, he'll take over!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dubai Welcomes Winter

bayangkan korang tengah drive tengah-tengah ldp, atau dalam perjalanan ke klcc, dan kelihatan pekerja-pekerja restoran, atau buruh kasar, atau penghantar makanan tengah duduk rilek-rilek, borak-borak - kat divider jalan. bukan lepak kat construction site tengah jalan tau - tu biase lah. ini lepak-lepak, baring-baring kat rumput divider tengah-tengah main road. dan bukan satu-dua gang je. berderet kelompok-kelompok duk melepak sepanjang pembahagi jalan tu!

di dubai, tu tandanya musim sejuk dah nak tiba!

masa mula-mula perasan aktiviti ni, memang tertarik. pelik. kelakar pun ada. bukan duduk-duduk kat taman bunga atau padang pulak tu. tapi duduk-duduk di tengah jalanraya sibuk dengan kereta lalu-lalang saban waktu.

kebanyakannya pekerja dari india dan pakistan. selalunya bila cuaca dah semakin sejuk, angin sepoi-sepoi dingin, mulalah nampak aktiviti ni. ade yang duduk. ade yang baring. ade yang gelak-gelak. ade jugak yang duduk senyap seorang melayan perasaan.

diorang tak kisah ke orang pandang-pandang? diorang tak kisah ke habuk ngan asap kereta? diorang tak kisah ke duk kat pembahagi jalan tu agak bahaya kalau-kalau ade kereta yang hilang kawalan ke ape ke? pihak kerajaan dubai pun rilek je ye?

bayangkan macam dalam gamba ni, kereta lalu lalang, dan diorang duk kat tengah-tengah tu. ramai tau! sepanjang pembahagi jalan ni!

diorang ni tak perlu hiburan lain - lepas penat bekerja, duduk-duduk waktu petang dengan rakan sekerja, borak-borak sambil menikmati permandangan sekitar. balik rumah pun sempit dengan 20 lagi rakan sebilik. keluarga jauh di negara asal. bukannya ada tv mahupun radio. nak ke mall, takde duit nak di belanja.

lansung sinilah hot-spot diorang! bersyukurlah - bila kita balik rumah, suami-isteri sambut, anak-anak peluk, mak-abah senyum, ade sahabat-sahabat gurau ketawa, boleh bukak tv, radio, dvd, x-box, air-cond dan sebagai. main facebook pun boleh!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Beraya on Aidil Adha

my, how time flies! it's my second hari raya haji here in dubai!

no new baju raya for the boys - guna yang dah ade je! kahfi even wore the ones yong gave, the old ones belonging to his cousins haiqal or haqeem! well, the most important thing is to wear our pride traditional wear on hari raya, right!

sembahyang raya, then the makan-makan

the day went as a usual raya morning for malaysians in dubai - solat hari raya at matrade building, followed by a pot-luck makan sessions. most people don't even approach the 'buffet' table - instead, they spent the morning catching up with fellow malaysians, while extending and receiving beraya invites.

it's the first time ever ever ever that my 11 month-old kahfi wore shoes in public! well, the little lazy bone is making an 'effort' to walk now but he enjoys holding on to me while walking so much that he's too lazy to try on his own! so he was 'walking' around the hall - with my help, of course.

but the little tippy-toe does try!

khaleef, kahfi with bro apit

khaleef and kahfi had a fun time just hanging out. kahfi kept wriggling his feet as he sat strapped in the stroller, while watching his abang running around playing with other baju-melayu-clad kids.

* * *

what's raya without snapshots of fellow malaysians yang beraya? interesting to see some malaysians who opted for the arabic traditional garb on this hari raya haji - pakpayne in black, while bro haza had the arabic 'yashmagh' around his neck and shoulders. if you guys notice, i myself wore an egyptian jubah, bought last year from the dubai global village!

sigh. that sampin, again. year in, year out. need i say more? mr. khairul was even thinking of getting the form one 's' size sampin for khaleef by the time he's tall enough...

* * *

let me just say before anything else, that i was surprised by the number of open house invite we received. it was just like hari raya puasa! in malaysia, hari raya haji is a day to go balik kampung, wear baju melayu or baju kurung - basically just hang out with family. it's seldom that people hosts open houses like on hari raya puasa.

not in dubai, though. hari raya haji is just as festive!

our beraya rounds started with the home of bro faisal, or what mr. khairul named him - 'faisal biker' - as he once owned a superbike (sold after an accident). his much-talked about garden was as beautiful as it looked in photos, and the men took advantage of the good weather and lovely ambiance to just sit around and chat over teh tarik and nasi lemak.

kak ziela, kak mira, me, sheila, kak zaida and eiyda

of course there would be pictures of the dubai ladies too! thanks kak mira, for the delicious breakfast of nasi lemak udang and fried chicken!

the kids? the kids were kept busy watching a very popular show in malaysia - very popular to budak and mak bapak budak alike - it's upin and ipin! laughters filled the entire front hall every minute or so!

* * *

with fauziah

noon came and we were due at my dear friends's house - the Fs - fauziah and hubby fairoz. unfortunately, fairoz was so employee-of-the-month that he was working on hari raya! too bad we went beraya at their place without fauziah's other half but it was nice to meet their old friend from penang, the amiable kak anne who came to dubai for holiday.

so, fauziah - what's for lunch?

fauziah's yummy super delicious homemade roti canai

she promised me a homemade roti canai - but there were that, and a host of other dishes! nasi minyak, ayam rempah and roti jala too!

her homemade roti canai was fantabulous! it beats all other yummy roti canai i've bought from the countless malaysian mamak restaurants. and she made it from scratch - from the dough, to the shaping of the roti canai, to the cooking, down to the slapping the cooked roti canai from all sides to make it fluffy.

and oh yes, it's so fat and fluffy! it's seriously good, and fairoz is so lucky that he could just wake up one morning, decides to eat roti canai for breakfast, and his wife can just whip up a few keping - super-fresh, homemade goodness!

it was such an excellent meal, that mr. khairul couldn't resist catching a few winks, and crashed on the front couch. zzz... kahfi pun meragam, so he joined his bapak and had his noon nap too! meanwhile khaleef had his time completely occupied with playing toys with azfar and hanna.

it was such a homely feeling being in the company of good friends, that we just let time flow! while mr. khairul was in slumberland, i spent the entire afternoon boraking with fauziah and kak anne, while fairoz's good friend and colleague ooi joined in later when he came beraya. it was more than words can say about how happy and comfy i was being able to chat in perfect manglish - with malaysians indian, chinese and malay in the room!

i miss home!

when mr. khairul joined in after that relaxing siesta, things got even louder and more festive. add in mr. host who just got off from work - it was a hoot as we continued the noise over hot tea and freshly baked choc cake. there was no end to good food over here at the Fs!

we only got to chat with fairoz for awhile since we have a few other houses to go to, but it was a really wonderful raya with these funny chatty folks. thanks fairoz, and fauziah for fattening us up with delicious food - and kak anne and ooi for the wonderful company.

* * *

for dinner, we have satay and pulut kuning in mind, courtesy of tauke tau foo fah fairus and fadzil (another Fs!) - well, mostly pulut kuning for me as i had been 'bombarding' fairus's facebook status with hints of pulut kuning!

when we arrived i was like, mana bau satay ni? and round the backyard i can see the guys grilling satay - what a sight! i miss pasar malam! hihi. i can't believe i'm eating freshly grilled satay on hari raya haji in dubai!

it was so nice when we crave something, and we got it. perasaan yang tak terkata! hihi. it's been so long since i had pulut kuning, and hers was excellent! paired it up with her own easier-to-make version of rendang meets ayam merah - tasty!

i definitely had seconds. and thirds!

me, tuan rumah siti fairus and kak ziela

thanks fairus for the delicious pulut kuning, and hubby fadzil for manning the satay station for your guests' eating pleasure! it was made double-nicer having it at their newly-painted, newly moved-in house with lovely green walls and spacious lawn for the kids to go crazy with!

* * *

thanks guys, for making our hari raya haji in dubai not only a memorable one, but certainly a yummy one as well!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mr. Khairul in Yemen

mr. khairul was off to another mid east adventure in one of his business visits. this time it's to yemen, the country before this known only to me as the place chandler went to get away from old-clingy annoying ex-girlfriend janice. hihi.

mr. khairul showed me the pictures of his trip there and yemen is beautiful!

dar al-hajar - imam yahya's palace

this awesome sight of a building, perched seemingly precarious atop a potruding rock formation in suq al-wadi is 'dar al-hajar', belonging to imam yahya who once ruled yemen gloriously but died in a shocking assasination. he built the 5-storey 'palace' circa 1930s in sana'a, yemen. now the palace is a proud symbol of yemen and opened to public as a museum, dedicated to the ruler.

the imposing palace is visible from every angle of suq al-wadi, and upon getting closer, it's really high up and you have to tilt your head far back in order to admire its beauty.

i personally think it looks so cute! really, and i told mr. khairul it looked like a european doll house. really! actually most buildings of yemen has similar characteristics - dirt brown brick walls, windows and edges line-painted in white - beautiful!

best 'full-bar reception area' for doves and sms alike!

this is another interesting spot to mr. khairul, and it's right on top of dar al-hajar, which also doubles as a look-out point for a large part of sana'a. it's an interesting spot because the place where mr. khairul was sitting, was exactly where imam yahya used to release doves to send messages.

a keeper of the musem had a real sense of humor when he said, last time imam yahya used doves, now you people can sit there and send sms!

* * *

mr. khairul ngan pakcik yemen

here mr. khairul took a picture with an elderly yemeni with a dagger strapped at his waist, called 'jambiya'. it's commonly known as an arabic dagger but most associated with people of yemen. mr. khairul said almost all yemenis were seen sporting this jambiya at their waist - even those as young as 13!

nowadays yemenis wear jambiya as an accessory to their clothing, but it's still a weapon. also, jambiya is used in performances and dances during weddings. the sheath of the jambiya is some sort of a status symbol - from plain leather, to a sheath adorned with semi-precious stone.

i'm so proud that we have the keris as a unique symbol of the malays! eh, tapi bayangkan pakcik-pakcik kampung suma selit keris kat kain pelekat diorang? hihi.

* * *

ah nasi mandi. and yemen is the absolute place to have a plate because it's the birthplace of mandi rice! as expected, mr. khairul has only good reviews about the mandi rice there. he really wanted to try one specifically to make his mandi-freak wife jealous! huh! but i'm glad to know that he said dubai al-tawasol's mandi rice is not far-off in terms of quality in taste.

alright, then! phew! so i don't have to fly all the way to yemen to get the best mandi rice in the world! read about my mandi rice addiction here.

* * *

yemeni men selling and buying qat leaves - which must be bought fresh daily to get the best taste

after a hefty heavy plate of rice, the yemeni would indulge in possibly the most popular after-meal 'snack' - the qat. chewing qat seemed to be the main activity as they hang out with friends of just for time being before dinner. macam kita kunyah sireh kot!

the leaves are chewed until all the juices have been sucked out. ideally, one would be in a state of 'ecstasy', while some may even develop hidden super-strength! one old-timer of yemen related a story of how one man was able to lift up a big refridgerator all by himself after chewing qat!

well, mr. khairul said he chewed for hours. he neither felt 'high', nor did he turn into superman!

* * *

first original chewing gum in the world!

in this picture coins are used to weigh a product. and if you're wondering, the crystal-like candies are actually the earliest known man-made mint chewing gum! yup! mr. khairul bought some, which is wrapped in a cone-shaped arabic newspaper (much like if we buy kacang putih dulu-dulu) but i've yet to try any - tapi bau dia memang sedap!

this shop is one of many in 'suq al-milh', a popular market selling all sorts from spices and raisins to pashminas and belts! this market is situated inside the walled up 2,500 year-old city of sana'a (declared one of 'world heritage cities'), and the famous 700 year old main entrance to the walled old city is called 'bab al-yemen' - or gate of yemen.

* * *

it is said that the best honey in the world is produced in yemen. who in their right mind, goes to yemen and not buy honey? well yes, dubai global village is already open and one can get similar yemeni honey over there. (read about our honey-purchase at dubai global village here.)

however, nothing beats the real, original, non-imported thing, right? ok, i'm off to eat some spoonful of honey with buttered waffles!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Karipap Just Like Mak's

i made *karipap!

*curry puff

i made it just like my mak used to make, strictly based on observation, because i never made it when she was around. now that i was thinking of a good karipap to munch, i thought of how she used to make it. and it turned out pretty yummy!

for the meat filling, you only need onion (for sauteing), potatoes (diced real nice), minced meat (mak dulu insisted on potong daging from scratch. kata mak lagi sedap dari minced meat) and the curry powder.

i don't have any particular number of potatoes used, sizes or how big or small you should dice it. nor do i have the measurement of how many spoonfuls or even which spoon to use when you add in the curry powder. you see i'm making this based on my memory of how mak used to do it!

i only know i need 'em! agak-agak sendiri ok!

all ready? follow these simple steps to make your meat karipap filling. just remember it's onion first, meat next, then the curry (mixed first with water) and potato last. mix, turn, flip and stir until ingredients dry up in a juicy mixture of yummy meat filling, ready to be stuffed inside a karipap!

now, remember that i made this karipap totally based on my memory of what mak used, how she mixed 'em all in, and how it should look like when mixed together.

so i don't have any particular measurement, even for the dough. i just did it as i remember it. my only indication that the dough won't ended up hard or too flaky after frying is the result of mixing flour with butter.

i clearly remember mak saying after you mix flour with butter, the mixture must fall from the tip of your finger like grains of sand. ok mak didn't exactly use the term 'grain of sand' but i remember mak showing to us how it should look and feel like to the touch.

when she's done mixing flour with butter, she would grab a palm-full of the mixture, and let the bits drop through her fingers as she rubs the tip together. and yes, the mix would fall nicely like really fine crumbs - not plumpy, or too sticky. just right. mak said when you have this, then your karipap would surely be nicely crispy.

that is the rule i follow when i'm making the dough, and yes, it always works!

when the dough is ready, it's time to make the flat circle shapes that would eventually be the end-karipap. with a rolling pin, it's an easy task! but erm - i don't have one here! so what i did was i pull a pinch of dough, and flatten it manually!


i remember when making karipap with mak, all of us 5 have jobs to do - one would probably be right beside mak, picking up the circle shape dough that mak made using a glass, after flattening it with the rolling pin. one would be ready at the stove, heating up a pan of oil for frying karipap. the rest would help puting in the meat filling, and closing the fold of the dough with the kelim.

kelim ape in english ha?

making the kelim was quite fun, as us sisters would compare each other's 'product' to see who made the neatest, smallest, most prettiest kelim around the karipap. usually, sape lagi - surely yong's karipap would be the cutest looking one, with the nicest most neatest kelim. and some of us ended up having really fat ones!

man, it was fun!

when you're done, it's time to fry! yummy yummy! i don't think i need to elaborate on this. heat oil, put in karipap, and wait til it's golden brown.

ok fine, i was hoping you didn't notice but my karipap did come in all shapes and sizes! oh well, as long as the smell is irresistable and the taste gobble-up-able!

and so it was - my karipap - proudly made out of love and the memory of my mak sitting down on the tikar mengkuang at the kitchen floor kneading the dough, and the image of five noisy girls hovering around, in the spirit of 'helping'.

i even remember how mak would extend her legs forward when she's too tired sitting cross-legged. and i remember when it's all done, and there's just a small ball of dough left, mak would let us play with it - like main masak-masak!

* * *

i will always remember the kitchen as one of the best places to hang out and have long chats with mak especially while she cooked. ye lah balik sekolah je terus jenguk dapur tengok mak tengah masak ape and pokpek about what happened in school today.

so i hope when my boys are old enough to cut carrots and stir hot soup on the stove with me; they'll learn that the kitchen can be that same bonding place for them too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Youthful Yong Turns 32!

syimee, yong, cikgu syazrin, mama, maklong (or mak LON in khaleef's pronunciation), mee goreng, mee rebus, mee bandung, mee maggi, kg simee - she's my eldest sister and today is her birthday! at thirty two, and 3 kids, she looked fresh out of college (out of form 5 tu melampau la kan, also no need to kembangkan her hidung today coz her hidung already kembang).

happy birthday yong!

as a person, she's the epitome of beauty and grace (if you leave out the shrill voice and chipmunks chatter hihi) and is always the feminine one of us five. syima is close behind, while syida and azi have more funk in their style while i was very, very boyish!

when we go out, i always have this tendency to be the one protecting her, especially away from suspicious suitors, secret admires and creepy stalkers!

we're different as day and night when it comes to personality, characters, likes and dislikes - she's feminine, i'm boyish. she has long, wavy tresses while i sported an extremely short boycut! she laughs, and i make all the jokes. she cooks, i collect stuff. but we're bonded in a way i could never explain.

yong awarded best teacher advisor for english language society at her school

as a career woman she has had her share in the rat race - been working awhile in kl as well as ipoh. she left a desk job in the competitive work environment to join the teaching field, and became a wonderfully dedicated teacher.

this, ladies and gentlemen, is a person who chose to be a teacher, not because it's the only thing she could do, or because she couldn't qualify for anything else - she does it because of a passion to educate, and a drive to feed young minds.

i'm sure teacher syimee got a lot of roses and chocs today!

us at a red & white party @ auntyna's place

us sisters are very lucky that yong is able to duplicate some of mak's best dishes - my fav mak's lauk ayam masak merah, mak's karipap and the best, most important of all - mak's chicken rendang which is a must-have on hari raya. malam raya - even if she's spending it at her hubby's place in manjoi, she has to come over for awhile to make rendang!

she has also developed her own touch in the kitchen, resulted in the best ever caramel pudding. try hers and you'd never wanna buy another piece at a bazaar ramadhan. rasa rugi beli. baik suruh yong buat. hihi.

yong and her kooky younger sis

as a sister, she has been the best friend ever, and yes, tears started forming at the brink of my eye even as i started writing this sentence. pepatah melayu kata, kawan ketawa senang cari, kawan menangis susah nak jumpa. well she is my kawan menangis. a person who's there for me through my ups and downs, my fears and tears and my worst moments.

she listens and never judges, always with wise words and encouragements that i'll forever keep dear to my heart. she kept me going when things get tough and kept the pom-poms up when i need support.

you're always there for me, yong and i thank you for that!

us at tangga rumah opah, teluk intan

a sister, a friend, a teacher. someone to listen, and someone to share. someone to cook rendang, and someone to bake caramel pudding. someone to bully and someone to laugh at!

with a yb-to-be hubby, two boisterous boys and a chubby wubby girl, your life is near a complete bliss. man, her 2nd boy haqeem looks exactly like yong. from the sepet eyes, to the tip of his button nose!

i'm long-winded (mak selalu cakap) but even my words aren't enough to tell you how much you mean to me! love you lots and happy birthday, yong!

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