x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'My recipes are traditional, but in a new style'

Food guruThe Emirati chef Musabbeh Tarish steps away from the stove at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates for a conversation.

Musabbeh Tarish in his latest role at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.
Musabbeh Tarish in his latest role at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.

The Emirati chef Musabbeh Tarish is originally from Hatta. He started his culinary education at home as an inquisitive teenager, and went on to join the Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Dubai World Trade Centre before taking on his latest role at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates. He spoke about his signature dishes and his hopes for the future of Emirati food.

From the age of 13-years old, I first got interested in food and I wanted to be a big chef. I would see my mother or my sister cooking when I was a child, and I tasted the food and learnt about it. Afterwards, my friends would always ask me because I was the one who was in charge of the food. So from this start, things grew for me.

They were shocked. For three months I never went home to my family. I was at Jebel Ali International Hotel, and I was going from my accommodation to work and then back every day. I didn't see my friends, nobody called me. But there were 60 per cent of friends who agreed with my choice, and 40 per cent who didn't. .

Now it's 110 per cent support! Now, my friends always ask me about food, they take from my knowledge. Is it cooked like this, or like that? Let's ask Musabbeh

They're traditional, but I make them in a new style. I add a new touch and new ideas. I've also been on many courses for presentation, so I learnt how to present my food. It looks good.

Because nobody presents the UAE food. All we have are the Indian, Italian and German restaurants. People would like Emirati food, but nobody presents it. Maybe you'll find only three or four dishes in buffets, a lamb ouzi or some fish or something.

The taste is different. Our food is very easy, it's something simple. We cook using local spices and local herbs. Everything is fresh from the mountains. Also we use some herbs that nobody else uses. We make an ouzi, we'll steam it and cook it all together under the ground. I'll cook it at home on a public holiday, like Eid or Ramadan.

We'd like to present the local food in a new style, also with some other Arabic food. It will be modern in presentation. But it's different to other foods - we don't have starters, we start with the main course. We'll have some desserts, but mainly on public holidays. We also have some ideas for some new recipes.

All of the local dishes will bear my signature. By that I mean the new Emirati cuisine. It's still a secret, but we will do it at the Kempinski.

We have chicken margougat. It's very traditional. Before we started to bake bread, we used to have a special dough which went into a curry. It's very traditional UAE food. We also have jisheed, which is shredded shark. You cook it until all the smell has gone out, you marinade it nicely and then we add some spices, onion and dried lemon. It's good for energy!

I hope that my food will present itself for all the world. Here I see food from Italy and Germany, but I would like to see my food - Emirati food - on all the food menus. I have space for this in the future. I am here, here's my food, taste it and you will enjoy it. jbrennan@thenational.ae