What do you say if 5 plates out of 15 are desserts in my collage from Sharjah? Well, I don’t need to look far as to why I don’t lose weight anymore! I could find vegetarian food in Sharjah. Most of my meals in Sharjah were in hotel buffets. There was a reason for this. On the FAM there were bloggers as well as travel agents. When travel agents are part of the group, you get to see a lot of hotels. And the hotels then mostly host us for lunch or dinner! I ate at Royal Tulip Act, where I stayed, Sheraton Sharjah, Oceanic Khorfakkan, Golden Tulip Sharjah and Zahr El Laymoun, which is a restaurant. I also had a lunch Sultan Saray, Ajman.
Arabic cuisine has fantastic mezze meal which has Pita Bread (Kuboos), hummus, Babaghanoush, fattoush, olives, falafel etc which for me is good enough as meal. However it is otherwise treated as starters.
They also make excellent lentil soup. The bread selection at all the hotels was good. For me the starters and soup and bread were quite filling in itself. I could easily find rice at most of the buffets. Arabic bread feels like roti.
But then what happens when the novelty wears off after a few days? I could always find rice at the counters, sometimes we would pour the lentil soup over it as it tasted like our दाल (curry). But I did not see dedicated vegetarian counters in the hotels. There were live pasta counters at some buffets and they were popular with vegetarians.
In desserts all kind of pastry was available. There were a few local desserts that I tried but I remember the name of only one, the most popular known as Umm Ali. If you don’t believe me you can google the name and see if it is a dessert or not. It is made of puff pastry and condensed milk!
But the most rocking thing I had was Arabic Coffee with dates. It is kept in the hotels around the reception area for the guests. The cups are small and the coffee is black and bitter. But it is to be taken with dates (not the valentine day dates but dates as in खजूर) which counters the bitter taste. I wonder how I managed to miss it in Dubai!
So overall I was fine in Sharjah as a vegetarian. I have a feeling that if we went to more restaurants rather than hotel buffets, probably it would be easier to find more variety in vegetarian food.
Let me start off by saying I never faced any problem in finding vegetarian food in Dubai. Right off from the flight with flydubai to the last meal at Meliá Dubai., there was always good vegetarian food available for me.
I was pleasantly surprised by having a vegetarian option in the flight menu of the flydubai itself, there are some perks of flying business! There was rice, vegetable korma, cheesecake (I eat eggs) and more right in the flgiht.
At the hotel breakfast had plenty of vegetarian options. Actually, breakfast almost anywhere in the world is good, more so because I do eat eggs. I could have salads, sprouts, fruits, cereals and then I would top it up with waffles! While traveling breakfast is my favorite part of the day.
I ate a few meals at Meliá Dubai, I could order veg pizza, veg noodles etc. right off the menu. They used to make a great lentil soup, which I was told is a part of traditional Arab cuisine.
But most of the meals we ate out, I think two of my lunches were in Dubai Mall. We sat out as the weather was great in December. On both occasions a variety of food, falafel, breads, wraps, Baked Alaska and the like were ordered and enjoyed. While sitting out for one of my meals, I once reconfirmed with the waiter if the food was vegetarian. He told he, “Daily at least 100 Indians come and eat here and they ask for vegetarian food. You have to trust me that it is vegetarian.” I stopped double checking after that!
My feast came at Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor though. Signature for me is conveniently located at Meliá Dubai. I had a dinner there and it was a feast with tomato shorba, chat, pulao, dahi ke kabab, gajar ka halwa and much more! I also enjoyed a drink at the Skybar of Crowne Plaza in the festive city area.
And while I am writing this, I am sitting at the airport waiting to catch a flight to Sharjah, Dubai’s neighbor. And once again I am looking forward to some good vegetarian food.
For me the first day of a trip is usually the most tiring. There is one single reason which contributes to it, my habit of not sleeping a wink on International flights. As I hardly used to get time to watch movies, I would watch back to back movies in international flights and arrive quite tired at the destination.
The Whole Earth Chiang Mai was our dinner place on the first day of my most recent trip to Thailand. I was dead on my feet, all I wanted was bed.
And yet I was able to notice the surroundings, which says a lot for the place. The Whole Earth serves both Indian and Thai cuisines. I am fine with vegetarian food it doesn’t have to be Indian. In fact when I travel, I wish to try out other foods as long as I can get something vegetarian.
I was suitably impressed with the ambiance of The Whole Earth Restaurant. The indoor seating is inside a teak house which is spotlessly clean.
I saw the outdoor seating only from a distance but it looked alluring too. I wonder why but you have to remove your footwear outside to enter the main restaurant building.
I went with tender coconut water for drink, which is very sweet and delicious in Thailand. If it is not alcohol it has to be tender coconut for me.
For food I went with Phad Thai Noodles and got to share in with naan, pulao and sabzi with others. The noodles tasted fresh and it was even better when I squeezed in a little lemon on it.
The potato sabzi was also good. The flavors were mild but then they asked me at the beginning if I wanted my food spicy or not. In spite of living all my life in India I can’t eat very spicy food. So the mildness was on request.
Even though it had been a long day for everyone, conversation was good right from day one among the five of us. With my stomach full, I was so longing for bed in my hotel, The Balcony. If I had a chance I would go back to the Whole Earth again. But after so many trips I also know that the tiredness of the first day passes quickly and everyone becomes more sunny from the second day onwards!
PS. I was invited on this trip by TAT New Delhi.
I have lived in hostels for close to 12 years and mess food killed all my taste buds. However it has been 11 years since I left hostel and I am regaining some interest in food. Mind you just a little, so don’t expect much out of this post. I am now going to talk about vegetarian food in Thailand and Cambodia. More likely you get to see how the food looked in those parts of the world!
Noodles with Greens and Crushed Peanuts as a Starter at Ban Dong Krathong Yam , Thailand
It also doesn’t help my cause that I am vegetarian. I am not that strict a vegetarian. If push comes to a really hard shove I can eat a little bit of fish. Give me rice and fish gravy and I will survive but that is not the food of my choice. I do eat eggs, that gives me another weapon to survive when I travel abroad. I have managed in many parts of the world because they eat rice and vegetables and they are hospitable enough to produce something for a vegetarian customer!
My Lunch Plate at Ban Dong Krathong Yam , Thailand
So I was happy with my lunch plate that had rice, noodles and vegetables. But Thais have great curries too. They have (among others) Massaman Curry, a Red Curry and a Green Curry and all can be done in vegetarian versions. When I travel abroad I give up completely on looking for Indian food. First of all I am not going to find it, secondly if I do, it is going to be overpriced and thirdly I didn’t travel to another country to eat Indian food, I get it at home quite easily. Hence I am happy with whatever I can find, as long as it is largely vegetarian.
Chilies are Easily Available
Thai and even Cambodian food is flavorful and spicy. I can’t take too much spices, particularly chili. My eyes start watering and my nose becomes red if I chew on one small piece of chili even by mistake. But if want your food to be more spicy you can add more chilies! They are easily available in Thailand.
Sea Food at Ploen Restaurant on Viphavadee Rangsit Road, Bangkok
If you like sea food and non-vegetarian of course the entire world is your playground! However, I like travel so much that I am willing to survive on bread and butter rather than miss out on a travel opportunity! I would also say vegetarian options have gone up with time. Ten years back, there have been a time when I have actually survived on bread, jam and cake!
More food from of Ban Dong Krathong Yam, Thailand
And if you are wondering why did I click so many pictures at Ban Dong Krathong Yam, it was because light was good. The lunch was held under a partially covered auditorium which made for better light and pictures. A lot of restaurants keep the light so dim that it becomes a task to click pictures.
The Starters at Cassia Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia
I usually don’t get fazed by whatever I am served. When I looked at this plate, I thought it was the main course. I have to admit even I was a little daunted. But this was just the starter, for the main course we had enough rice and curry to eat for two days if we wanted.
Bamboo Sticky Rice at Ban Dong Krathong Yam , Thailand
I just loved Bamboo Sticky Rice. It is cooked in a kiln in a bamboo and it tastes great. They make an excellent dessert out of the sticky rice with coconut milk and mangoes. Thailand and Cambodia have brown rice as well and it was a delight.
Banana Sweet Dish at Cassia Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia
I am very fond of desserts. I almost never give them a miss. I would be very happy to see when they served a fruit platter for dessert. But I sampled many others too. For example, for this banana pancake like dessert was excellent. Now if you feel that I am not telling you the exact names of the food, remember I am the one with almost no taste buds, my food forays are new. I will get better if I keep at it, which I think I will.
Thai Iced Tea with Milk at May Kaidee’s, Bangkok
And that brings us to the most important thing for me, tea. It was different from the milk tea I am used to at home but then I am lucky. I can enjoy tea in its various forms. Thai Iced with Milk is excellent but I have to admit I start longing for my adrak/tulsi chai after a few days! I don’t miss the food but I do miss my kind of tea sometimes. But then I love travel so much that I am ready to survive on bread and butter and whatever goes for tea!