Middle Eastern Adventures

WORDS:: Chyka Keebaugh

PHOTOS:: Lisa Atkinson



It’s easy to assume that Dubai is the Vegas of the Middle East; all shiny and new, but it's not…


I was so excited to discover old Dubai a couple of years ago. It is just so different from the Dubai that I know and loved and have travelled through for years. The story goes that Prince Charles was invited by the ruler of Dubai Sheik Mohammed Al Maktoum to go on a tour of Dubai and to look at all the plans for the new developments. Prince Charles was shocked that so much of the old town had been destroyed and told the Sheik that he needed to keep what was left of the history of the city and tourism. I'm so glad he listened because it does have so much life and soul that to have lost would have been sad.

Exploring the lane ways is one of my favourite things to do in any country, but knowing that all of this could have been lost for new developments makes it even more unique. And you know me,  I always seem to find a little something that I just have to have.

As much as I love all the glitz and glamour that Dubai offers (including the fabulous malls of Dubai) walking the old town but is a must!


7 Must-sees in Old Dubai…

  • Gold Souk
  • Dubai Creek
  • Dubai Heritage Village
  • Sheik Said Al Maktoum’s House
  • Dubai Old Souk
  • Dubai Museum
  • Bastakiya Quarter

Dubai is a very welcoming country; it is forward-thinking, tolerant and very cosmopolitan. When travelling through any country, we all need to be sensitive to the religion and culture of the region and what we wear plays a big role in this. It is about respecting your surroundings and if that means there is a dress code, so be it.

Women need to be covered in public places, a simple sarong or scarf will be very handy to keep your shoulders covered, and where necessary your head. Long pants or skirt are also advisable when travelling throughout the city. If you are staying at a resort feel free to dress as you please, but outside the resort, you will feel most comfortable covered up.

  • Dubai can get very hot, light layers like flowing dresses and scarves not only cover up but keep you cool.
  • Keep your kissing and hand holding to when you are in private, don’t display affection in public.
  • Swearing is a big NO NO, even on social media. You can incur fines for a mere slip of the tongue. 
  • There are ladies and family taxis driven by females; they are pink, very popular and cheap and easy to use. 

Of course, I can’t NOT talk about the food. Seriously I could spend weeks sharing recipes and talking flavours when it comes to middle eastern food. It is one of my most favourite cuisines, but like all style of cooking, let’s get the basics down pat before we delve deeper...



  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Tabouli, to serve
  • Yoghurt, to serve
  • Lavash bread, to serve


  1. Place onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, chickpeas, parsley, flour, egg white, salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Using floured hands, shape mixture into four 2cm-thick patties. Place on a plate. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook patties for 4 to 5 minutes each side or until cooked through.
  3. Serve with tabouli, yoghurt and bread.


Easy & Nutritious Tabouli


  • 1/3 cup burghul or cracked wheat
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (see note)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (see note)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Place burghul, tomato and lemon juice in a bowl. Stand, covered, for 30 minutes or until burghul has softened.
  2. Add parsley, mint, onion and oil to burghul mixture. Stir to combine. Serve.



Makes 1/2 cup


  • 1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) sesame seeds, we prefer hulled
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil such as grape seed, canola or a light olive oil
  • Pinch of salt, optional



Add sesame seeds to a wide, dry saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, stirring constantly until the seeds become fragrant and very lightly coloured (not brown), 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer toasted seeds to a baking sheet or large plate and cool completely. (Careful here, sesame seeds can burn quickly).


Add sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor then process until a crumbly paste forms, about 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil then process for 2 to 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the food processor a couple times.

Check the tahini’s consistency. It should be smooth, not gritty and should be pourable. You may need to process for another minute or add the additional tablespoon of oil. Taste the tahini for seasoning then add salt to taste. Process 5 to 10 seconds to mix it in.


    Store tahini covered in the refrigerator for one month. You may notice it separates over time, like a natural peanut butter would. If this happens, give the tahini a good stir before using.




    recipe credits:  taste.com.au + inspiredtaste.net, supporting dubai images via pinterest.