Who or what first inspired you to cook?
My mother prepared divine traditional Syrian dishes for us so I learnt plenty from her. I also obsessed over dishes my mother didn’t make, so I taught myself through cookbooks. My childhood friends have a bunch of funny stories about my successes – and also mishaps – as a kid in the kitchen! When I moved to NYC for college, I started cooking more and more, until one day I turned my love for food into my career.
How did it feel to be the first in the region to feature on FoodTube?
Amazing. FoodTube is a great platform with wonderful people from all over the world, so I am grateful for the opportunity. Being from the Middle East, especially with the recent unrest, makes this even more meaningful for me. Food is a delicious tool that breaks borders, so I’m really happy to add a Middle Eastern twist to dishes and, hopefully, add a little positivity.
Dalia’s Kitchen typically features healthy food – what is your guilty-pleasure takeaway?
Actually, my kitchen is both healthy and indulgent! I’m a conscious eater but I cook and eat everything (apart from licorice). I started my career with a bakery so I certainly have a sweet tooth, but balance is key, as in everything. Let’s not have seven lattes a day, but let’s also not cut out every food group – unless we have allergies or medical conditions. Healthy food has become more about following trends than looking at the facts, and I do think it has gone a little overboard. The other day I heard someone insisting that people should not drink green juices that have green apple in them – I thought that was a tad harsh and it made me think people just go to extremes.
How has the culinary scene in Dubai evolved since you first started?
It has changed a great deal. I love seeing the huge rise of home-grown concepts, which were barely there when I moved to Dubai. It’s exhilarating!
Which cuisine is done best in Dubai?
That’s the beauty of this place. It’s a real melting pot of flavours – from Emirati to Iraqi, Indian and Japanese, and international hotpots taste even better here than they do abroad. We are lucky!
If you had to choose one restaurant to eat at in Dubai, where would it be and why?
Peppercrab – my husband took me there on one of our first dinners, which was a great icebreaker because you make a mess of yourself cracking through that sticky crab! We still go on special occasions. Just writing this makes me crave the pepper sauce and the sticky buns!
Where would you go for street food?
Ravi’s will always have a special place [in my heart], but I just had a really good manoushe at a place in Barsha, close to the mall. I can’t remember the name, but I’m picky and that was really good!
Which café would you go to for a girls’ lunch?
It may not be original, but I would pick Tom & Serg, which is still my favourite out of all the venues from this power duo.