Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

‘Anybody knows a MANDI Place in Fujairah? We need it, nowwww!’

This was the tweet that was re-tweeted this week with urgency, presumably by a car load of hungry tourists.

One answer is ‘Yes, at the Hadhramout Restaurant on Al Gurfa Road down from the Fujairah Fish Market.’

Yemeni Cuisine
Like many of its type around the world this restaurant is named after the historic region of Hadramawt (or Hadramaut…Arabs don’t worry about the spelling) along the Gulf of Aden in Yemen. This area is famous for the distinctive Yemeni cuisine which includes ‘mandi’.

Variety of Eating Areas
The style of the Fujairah restaurant is basic and simple. It has a public area for dining at tables, a private room curtained off for families and a large carpeted area where diners sit on the floor and eat around a central plate in typical Arabic fashion. This part of the restaurant is called ‘Wadi Hadramout’ so there is an understanding that the restaurant is to be an oasis and a place of refreshment and rest.

There are a couple of areas where guests can wash and dry their hands as most diners will dispense with cutlery and eat with their hand.

'Simple but Lively'
The menu is limited but in keeping with the diet of Yemeni shepherds. Printed in English and Arabic it reads:

Mutton Mandi 27 dirhams
Mutton Hanith 27 dirhams
Mutton Borma 17 dirhams
Chicken Mandi 17 dirhams
Chicken Hanith 17 dirhams
Chicken Mathbi 28 dirhams
Kingfish (no price but maybe this fluctuates according to supply and season)

Main Dish
The main dish consists of generous portions of meat (lamb or a chicken) that are served on a mountain of basmati rice.

The meat is first cut before being marinated with spices which normally include cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric. These are mixed into a sauce.

The meat is wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked over a charcoal fire for about 90 minutes. The meat roasted in the mandi style is tender, juicy and it literally falls off the bone.

I tried chicken mandi on my last visit and it was succulent and done to perfection.

I am not an expert on the other dishes but I think the hanith style involves a steaming to produce a lighter taste. The mutton borma I think is a stew. Can anyone provide more information on this?

On the Side
Accompanying the big plate of meat on rice are two other items—a small salad of rocket leaves on diced cucumber and onion pieces served with some lime and a sizeable bowl of tomato pesto (tomato, onion and spices) to give a spicy kick and keep the meal moist.

Arabs generally do not like hot spicy food and when they do have curries they are considerably toned down from the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi versions. The spices do reflect the influence of Asia and as one reviewer described mandi, it is ‘simple and lively’!

Sometimes a bowl of soup will also be served.

There are no desserts on the Hadramout menu but they could have had yogurt or ice cream in the refrigerator where cool water and soft drinks could be bought. Yemenites are not known to be great consumers of sweets but when desserts are served they are often made with the famous Yemeni honey.

Eating Communally
Apart from the distinctive taste one of the notable features is the communal style eating. A piece of plastic is laid on the table or on the floor then one plate is put between two or how many people are gathered for the meal. In some Yemeni restaurants there is also only one plate for the salad and pesto but here in Fujairah there are separate plates for the sauce and salad.

One experiences a greater togetherness dining like this at the Hadramout. As they say in nearby Ethiopia, “People who eat from the same plate will never betray one another.”

So get along and build up your trust at Fujairah’s Yemeni style Hadramout Restaurant.

It opens from midday to midnight every day (apart from during Ramadan when it opens after sundown).

On Al Gurfa Road, the same side as the Fish Souq (market) and about 10 shops along in the direction of the Coffee Pot Roundabout.

The restaurant is not easily identified by readers of English but check out the photos to get a picture of what it looks like.

Contact numbers are:
Ph: (09) 2222988
Fax: (09) 2244214

Take a Look
Check out the photos in this album from the Hadramout Restaurant in Fujairah.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page upon which many more articles and links are posted than on this blog.

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