Inspiring Better Health

Food: Art from the Heart

a chef puts the finishing touches on a plate of fish with risotto and tomato salsa
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Food: Art from the Heart
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Food—every person in the world has their own tastes when it comes to food. We all prefer different spices, or ingredients, or our own home cooking. But sometimes we come across those who venture off and create their own magic. We see the passion that comes through their masterpieces and how much love they pour into the food. We all enjoy eating, and experiencing food that makes us close our eyes with pleasure. In this feature article written especially for Ramadan, we present to you some of Qatar’s most talented chefs.


Qatari Health Coach, Noora Al Kuwari, shares the benefits of fasting and how she is welcoming Ramadan this year.

Physical benefits:

  • Helps detoxify the body
  • Encourages fat burning
  • Relieves the digestive system
  • Helps get rid of bad dietary habits

Mental benefits:

 

  • Promotes a peaceful mind and gives us a chance to think about things and to account for things that might have been missed.
  • Improves spiritual connection as we focus more on our inner-self rather than our outer-self and stay away from all things prohibited—this helps us focus on reading the Qur’an, among other things.

 

 

Intermittent fasting is an increasingly popular trend which helps detoxify the body, just like fasting during Ramadan. However, intermittent fasting is something that can be done throughout the year. The Prophet advises that we eat only when we are hungry and not over-indulge. This can help relieve the body of digestive problems.

Our bodies need plenty of water to flush out toxins, so we must keep ourselves hydrated. The body can then start healing itself while fasting. If we have any health problems, fasting can give our body the break it needs to heal.

My advice is to start eating your food gradually, like any other day. Have something light, then you can have more food if you feel hungry.

The way I break my fast is I have a date and a glass of water, then pray. After about 30 minutes, I have some home-made soup with natural ingredients. It must be light. After that, you can have salad and one portion of whatever else you want to eat.

Make the meal between Iftar and Suhoor your main meal. Include protein, grains, and plenty of vegetables.

For Suhoor, have something light—low fat and not too many carbohydrates. Include potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, yogurt, avocado, dried fruits and dates. Potassium helps the body balance its fluid levels and this in turn will help with thirst.

People who are trying to lose weight should avoid refined carbohydrates and focus more on protein, fruits and vegetables.

People who want to gain weight should eat balanced meals that include more good fats. This can be achieved through eating more avocados, cooking with coconut oil, using whole grains, and eating natural carbohydrate-rich foods like bananas and sweet potatoes.

Foods to avoid during Ramadan:

  • Fried food
  • Trans fat
  • White bread and rice
  • Refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits, baked goods)
  • Sweets
  • Fizzy drinks

Top tip:
Drink at least 2-3 liters of water, avoid coffee and try herbal alternatives instead.


Let’s move on to the amateur cook who makes culinary masterpieces even your eyes can feast on.

Noor Al-Mazroei

instargram : @healthynoorfood
snapchat: @healthynoorfood

To me, food is passion. I’ve loved cooking ever since I was a child—I used to always be in the kitchen with my mom. I loved watching cooking shows, reading cook books, and trying out recipes. I love making breakfast for the family.

Recently, I decided to share my hobby with others through social media. I realized that people really care and have an interest in cooking, and saw that I had a lot of ideas that I could share with them.

Healthy food has long been equated to food that doesn’t taste good. My policy is: if the food doesn’t taste good, it’s not food at all. I use healthier ingredients to make the dish tasty. Cooking is love for me, and I aim to create food people will love. When going to restaurants, we always stick to the cliché, but healthy alternatives should be tasty, not plain or boring.

I try to provide my followers on Instagram and Snapchat with new ideas on how to make food more appealing, and innovative ways to include different ingredients.

I have worked with MIA Café and Alain Ducasse to come up with a healthy menu for the café. I have also worked with Salad Boutique and created “Breakfast by Noor” which is a local twist on a balanced breakfast.

I work with unusual ingredients, and add them to traditional dishes. I want to show my followers that these dishes can be made tasty by cooking them in a tasty way. The secret being, cook tasty food.

During Ramadan, I love soups! Using only natural ingredients, mixing them together and experimenting, I am planning to try a different soup each day and share it with my followers.

My main rule is: my eyes eat first, if it looks good I will eat it. If it doesn’t look good, I will never even consider trying it. It is all about the presentation.

Spices are my makeup. When I am in the kitchen, I am in my own little bubble and I present myself as if I am making myself up. I get lost, I become disconnected from the world. It relaxes me. And through sharing it on social media it has become even more beautiful.

Food to me is life, food is what brings people together. No matter what you do, you will eat, and you can use it to spread peace, happiness and love.


Meet the chef-to-be who is giving back to her country.

Shaikha Burshaid, Career Development Consultant by day and Chef by night

I started off cooking at home. I cooked whatever popped into my head. Then I started getting into Italian cuisine. I then thought, “Why not become a chef? Qatari chefs are rare.” So I went for it and learnt from the Executive Chef of Aspire Zone, Mohamad Najem.

I am trained in Italian cuisine and I initially started a pasta business on Instagram. Then I started working my day job. I have plans to open a restaurant, but it is not done yet. It will be a fine dining Italian restaurant and I will be the main chef. By opening my restaurant, I will contribute to the financial progress of my country.

I try to always look at what Qatar has to offer me and what I can give back. I will go out there and encourage others to join me, to prove that Qatari girls are capable of competing on a local and international stage.

For Ramadan, I am planning an event with the Qatari company TARTEEB, which will be a lovely one-of-a-kind surprise for Qatar’s residents.

Cooking is my meditation. If you cook with love, the person eating your meal will feel that love through your food.

Recipe:

Name of dish Spaghetti with meat-ball and spicy sauce
Number of portions: 1 portion
Minced beef 100 Gr
Onion 40 Gr
Garlic 20 Gr
Tomato paste 30 Gr
Olive oil 50 Gr
Spaghetti 100 Gr
Salt / pepper 5 Gr
Chili paste 5 Gr
Carrots 30 Gr
Marrow 30 Gr
Asparagus 30 Gr
French parsley 20 Gr
Beef stock 15 Gr
Parmesan cheese 25 Gr
Cumin powder 5 Gr
Flour 20 Gr
Oregano 5 Gr

Method:

In a bowl mix the minced beef with salt, pepper and cumin powder.
Add the chopped parsley and mix them well to make one ball of minced beef.
Add olive oil to a saucepan and sauté the beef ball to give it color.
Put in oven for 10 minutes at 180 degrees, then remove it and keep it aside.
In a saucepan, add olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the tomato paste and flour and mix well.
Add the beef stock with water and mix them well. Add the chili paste and keep heating until the mixture boils and thickens.
Boil the spaghetti.
In another saucepan boil the vegetables with salt and little olive oil, then mix them together.
Add the spaghetti to the sauce and serve it on a dinner plate with the meat-ball on top and vegetables on the side.

The chef who brings local cuisine to the international stage.

Chef Hicham Fennane, K-108 Hotel, Yum Yum Restaurant

Appetizers: (about 500 calories)

 

  • Shrimp Tempura Salad, Arabic spice, avocado, guacamole, Mexican style, with fresh vegetables.
  • Lobster Tartar, cut up with mango sauce and mango ravioli and balsamic caviar, it was liquid and we made it solid. With passion fruit, raspberry and mango vinaigrette; asparagus and vegetable crudités.

 

 

Main Courses: (about 800 calories)

 

  • Lamb cooked two ways, “Rack and Confit”, cooked 24 hours at 100 degrees, with vegetable croquant, almond potatoes, and lamb juice.
  • Supreme fish steamed, grape vinaigrette, rosemary sauce.

 

 

Dessert: (800 calories)

 

  • Vanilla parfait, with biscuits, berries, sponge, raspberry sauce. The lemon vanilla crème is without sugar.

 

 

I started cooking professionally about 11 years ago, and I felt comfortable being a cook, being from Morocco and adapted to this fine career path.

My specialty is French food, and I have an international menu at Yum Yum. We get most of our ingredients from abroad, so we adapt the menu accordingly, every 15-30 days. I sometimes even come up with my own creations to substitute for missing ingredients.

Cooking is a skill and an art. And art can be tiring, but then you find the end result, something beautiful that you share with passion and love. When you create art on a plate, and the eyes see it, then the taste reflects that art. It creates harmony with the ingredients, where you can use something sweet, something sour, and mix them together to create something special and tasty.

For Ramadan, K-108 has special events and Yum Yum has a special menu that includes some Arabic traditional dishes and some tastes from Qatar.

Your particular taste is gained when you are a toddler, it is what you grow up with. But perspective can change if you are willing to change your habits and start gradually substituting ingredients for healthier alternatives.

You must eat balanced meals every day and know that prevention is better than cure. If you can make healthier food choices, you can prevent a lot of diseases.


Tastes from the sea and Asia with Chef Ding

Name: Chef Ding
Origins: China
Work: Executive Chef at Elements Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Qatar
Specialty: Asian Cuisine, Thai, Indian, Japanese

I have worked in culinary art for more than 15 years. I worked in China for 3 years before moving to Abu Dhabi to work at the Hilton Hotel as a chef. From there I moved to Dubai to the Fairmont Hotel for two years and it was awarded Best Chinese Cuisine. I learnt to cook western food there. I then joined The Pearl Qatar for 3 years before coming to The Four-Seasons Hotel, and have been working here for 3 and a half years.

My special dish is steamed sea bass. It is a very light and healthy option for a lot of people; it is the most ordered dish from my menu. People love it!

When working in the Middle East, you experience a lot of different cultures coming together. People’s food preferences have become more open; people are willing to try new things. Asian cuisine has become very popular. People now know more about Japanese foods like sushi and sashimi. They also love Chinese delicacies like dim sums and duck.

People like to see a variety of different cuisines represented on the menu, everyone wants to try something new. Of course, we have to adjust the flavors, now more and more people like light tastes and healthier options. I worked in the Middle East for a long time and I know what people like now, how much to tone it down.

The Elements restaurant includes six different cuisines, so our ingredients are different—some are local and some are imported. Most vegetables are imported from Thailand and Japan because they only grow there.

The one ingredient I can’t live without is chili, as in pepper or spice. If the food is not spicy, it doesn’t have a strong enough flavor for me.

For Ramadan, we have a bunch of special dishes that we will be adding to the menu. For example, our Syadia fish and Ouzi rice, and some others. A special chef will be brought in to make home-made style Arabic desserts for Ramadan. We also have Ramadan tents, where people can have late night dinners, and lots of Arabic themed dishes.

I always try to get different ingredients to try new recipes that are healthier and more interesting.


Dining at its finest, in the middle of Art

Name: Chef Frederic Larquemin
Origins: France
Work: IDAM – Alain Ducasse – Museum of Islamic Art
Specialty: Mediterranean Cuisine with an Arabic twist

When I was a child, I loved to cook with my parents and grandparents. I used to go to many restaurants, and buy cook books. At 16 years old, I went to culinary school, then I travelled to a bunch of places like London, Monaco, Paris and Qatar.

When I first came to Qatar, I had to learn to work with many ingredients that I had never had to work with before, like the spices, and I learned to enjoy cooking with them. I had to learn to cook without alcohol, pork and things like that, so I had to find some alternatives. I had to adapt my Mediterranean cuisine using local produce like camel meat, Hamour fish, and many other local delicacies. We get most of our ingredients from local organic farms, we import very few ingredients. We also try to use natural sweeteners as often as we can.

People love to eat my dish, the soft and crispy organic millet with local octopus and squid cooked in a shoba, which is a black cauldron from South America. It’s a good cereal based dish, and it is also good for our planet because growing millet doesn’t require as much water as growing rice. I get great satisfaction from cooking.

I am also the chef at the MIA Café. Dining there is a bit different, but it still remains healthy. The food is home-made French specialty, also with some Arabic flavor; it is heathy and balanced. The dishes are made with less sugar, less salt, less fat, less meat, and there are vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options.

The Special Ramadan menu features:

Mezze Collection: a selection of three dishes, bursting with freshness to express IDAM generosity.

Main Course: a choice of two dishes including the finest imported produce or a local fish for a succulent main.

Dessert: a selection of desserts from our sweets trolley, including contemporary signature dishes with an Arabic twist and local desserts revisited. Our selection provides a sweet taste of Ramadan tradition.

Dedicating special attention to crafting non-alcoholic beverages, the barman works alongside the chef in creating the perfect drinks to compliment the menu. The use of local flavors bursting with fresh chamomile, rosemary, spices, and fruit offers a whole new tasting experience.

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