About me

Why food? Why blog? Why me?

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything, remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants.

After my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addiction. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little town called Bentonville (Arkansas!).

After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but a genuine appreciation and passion for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

Will I write if you feed me free food?

Shockingly, no.

I love free food, don’t get me wrong. I’ll stop short of serenading you in public for free food…and in some cases [which will typically involve one or all of the following: melted cheese, smokey kababs, and crusty fresh bread], I’ll even go that far.

BUT, where I draw the line is sponsored reviews of restaurants, events, products, or anything similar that is associated with a commercial group. If you’d like to invite me for a restaurant opening or culinary event, or gift me a free stand mixer [someone do it already!], please know that I will most likely not blog about it…unless it’s one of those rare cases where my loyalties to unbiased reviews get totally swayed by some profound life-changing food experience that I feel compelled to share with my readers. But like I said, those cases are rare. Super rare.

Have a burning private foodie question that you’re dying to ask me?

Ping me on Instagram @fryingpanadventures which is my present gig with my sister, food tours in Old Dubai. My only plea: no spam…no sponsored events requiring coverage…no anything-you-wouldn’t-want-in-your-own-DMs. Just lay your foodie e-love on me…that, and any questions, thoughts, or anything else you think would tickle my appetite.

94 thoughts on “About me

  1. Sakhr says:


    I have just been reading your review of Shake Shack Dubai. Fascinating stuff. I’m doing a story about burgers in the Gulf for Jazeera magazine, and I would love to talk to you. Can you email me please.

    Many thanks,

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Sakhr, thanks for reaching out – just dropped you an email! :)

  2. Amanda says:

    Hi Arva,

    I got your contact through one of the food bloggers and would like to get in touch with you with regards to a Ramadan event at Atlantis, would you be able to email me your contact details?


  3. Alyson says:

    Thank you for submitting your photos for the first-ever Snapfish/BlogHer Best of Blogs 2011! We have selected photo #3 (jar) to be included and wanted to confirm how you would officially like to be credited in the book (e.g. your blog name and your name, or just blog name). Can you send me this information? Thanks!

  4. anamika says:

    So nice to be in touch with you. Thanks for the lovely words for my blog, but here I’m struck by your space, your pics & your writing. Will spend moe time to discover your recipes. BTW I didn’t get your name….Keep in touch.

    Anamika@Taste Junction

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Hi Anamika – I’m so glad we’ve connected! dropping you an email now :)

  5. Nashira says:

    Hey Arva, it’s a great pleasure to meet you! When I look at your space, I’m quite surprised that you even liked my pictures–seriously! I totally second Anamika–you’ve blown me away with your gorgeous shots, beautiful writing and the totally look and feel of this space. I love beautiful spaces and yours is truly beautiful. Keep rocking!

    Btw, Abu Dhabi was my home before marriage, I even went to school there. I do have plenty of family in the UAE, including my sis in Ras-al-Khaima and my first cousins and aunty/uncle in Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah…etc. Gosh, there’s so much to share if I start talking about the Emirates… I hope you excuse my excitement :)) So, lemme stop here. Will sure catch up with you, in leisure, after the weekend. Have a good one!

    And, yep, let’s keep in touch. It’s a pleasure!

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Nashira – WOW. Like your pictures? I am in LOVE with them. I couldn’t stop writing and speaking in CAPS for a good five minutes after I would left your blog, those pictures are mind-blowing! Dubai needs to steal you from Qatar so that you can join us for our upcoming food photo workshop, we have so much to learn from you! Seriously, since you already have history and family here in the UAE, when are you coming down next??

      With me, you never need to be excused for being over-excited, I get bouncey with joy to find fellow food bloggers in the region! I am thrilled that Anita’s blog connected me with you and Anamika, it’s super exciting to be reaching out to people outside of UAE :D Would be fabulous if you, Anita and Anamika all came down to Dubai together – we could round up a bunch of our local food bloggers, & do what we’re all so naturally inclined to do anyway, obsessing about food ;)

      Thanks for the positive blog boost, I’m like a happy cow floating in the skies with all the food blogger love from Bahrain and Qatar that’s crossed my path in the last few days!

  6. Layne says:

    Hello Arva,
    My name is Layne Mosler, and I’m the editor at Rama Food, a new digital food tour company. I love your blog and wonder if you’d be interested in writing a Dubai tour for our iPhone app? If you’d like to send me an email – I would be glad to tell you more.
    Cheers and happy eating,
    PS – No, I’m not going to ask you to write for free!

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Layne – thanks for this opportunity! Glad we’re in touch :)

  7. Alex Scott says:

    Hi my name is Alex i work for InterContinental Dubai Festival City. I have looked over your blog and am very impressed and would like to meet up with you to discuss how we could work together. Please drop me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Alex Scott – Thanks for reaching out! Enjoyed our lunch last week :)

  8. Arun says:

    Can you please get in touch with me. Its regarding the article you wrote for Aappa kadai.


    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Arun – Thanks for the comment, reached out! :)

  9. nadia says:

    Hi! I was randomly searching for food blogs based in the UAE when I came across yours. I absolutely love the way you narrate and thus ended up reading several posts today. I think you can find my IP address in most of your posts :D

    Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful pictures too.

    Have a great week!

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @nadia – Awwww THANK YOU! you’ve totally made my day with this message! Keep coming back and sharin’ the love! :)

  10. Kaya says:

    Hi there – I have an invitation to a food event I would love to invite you to – please could you email me your email address?
    Many thanks

  11. DTE says:

    Hello! May I have your contact details please, would like to send you an invitation. Thanks, Heena

  12. Hattan says:

    Hi. Could you please send me your email. I want to send you an email regarding a food event here in Dubai. Thanks

  13. Kiera Purdue says:

    Hi there,

    Could I please get your email so we can add you to our food bloggers for promotions and events?

    Thanks in advance

    Kiera Purdue

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @DTE, @Hattan, @raadafyouni, @Kiera Purdue – my contact details above, but again, please do read the section on "Will I write if you feed me free food?" ;)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Sliceofmylyfe – I am SO touched. Thank you my Monday muffin lady, thank you. Will always cherish the bond we’ve formed through our blogs.

  14. K.N. says:

    ur blog, ideas, suggestions, FOOD, FOOD THOUGHTS, RESTAURANTS ….. all made me fat :( :( :( :(

    but i still enjoy coming back here for more :D

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @K.N. – no reading ever made anyone fat!! ;) thanks for stopping by, makes my day to read a comment like this!

    2. K.N. says:

      glad to be of help. oh and by the way, just read the diqdiqa shop for the anda paratha … thats the place below my office and now after reading it, im on my way to stuff my face again :_(

    3. InaFryingPan says:

      @K.N. – no waaaay. have you tried their biryani and chicken fry, I need to know whether it’s good. My unscientific gut says biryani is so-so, and chicken fry is amazing…

    4. K.N. says:

      wellllll … i ususally go for their anda paratha only and i’ve noticed the other food but in all honesty … no … not exactly appatizing (looking that is) … but you really never know. you know, since (i’m assumin gyou like to experiment and all), you should try out afghani biryani. I used to know of this afghani biryani place in Ghusasi (somewhere near some petrol station) … IT’S AMAZING … completely different type of biryani though. Sweetish, with amazing meat and garnished with shreaded fruit (apricot i believe). The rice is slightly on the thick side and brown in color. Alternatively there’s this place called Sherazad (or something like that) in the Garhoud area :)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @madryy – ah like-minded foodie, join my little boat of never-ending chomping :D

  15. SURESHKUMAR KS says:

    I am really impressed your care in writing about cuisines,and expecting from you to hear with some traditional,authentic foods. Many thanks to you and your articles was an experience beyond imagination.

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @SURESHKUMAR KS – thanks for the shining words, keep coming back for more servings of virtually yummy food! ;)

  16. Mudar says:

    Hi Arva, What a handy and well researched site. Search for finding good eateries is such a difficult task but you have made it easy. Informative write-up with excellent mouth watering photographs !

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Thanks Mudar Mamu! You’re the king of finding hidden eats, and I love taking your recommendations, so these positive words are HUGE coming from a food adventurer like yourself :)

  17. mita auntie says:

    loved your blog , your write up on the Nepalese eatery and the kulcha chole place.The photos are tremendous. Keep writing

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Thanks Mita Auntie! Appreciate the words of encouragement :D

  18. Peaches says:

    I LOVE your blog, its so descriptive and informative. Ive made a lengthy list of all the hole-in-the-wall spots to visit. Funny I havent come across many of them and I grew up here!! Would be great though, if you could highlight the best dishes at each spot at the bottom of each post, so that readers can try the best ones! xx

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      Yaaaay, love eating lists and I’m glad my blog could help you make one! Thanks Peaches, and since you’ve grown up here, would love to hear your fav old-time places to eat too :)
      …and thanks for the ’best dishes’ suggestion. In those cases where I have tried multiple dishes, I will definitely try to do that. Usually a quick read of the post would give you that answer. I usually don’t list ’best dishes’ because for me to do that, I would have to try every dish on the menu! so I would rather just keep it to my subjective descriptions of what tickled me…and what didn’t. :)

  19. IshitaUnblogged says:

    Hi! Ultimately found the person who lives in a frying pan. Loved this write-up about yourself. One foodie curiosity – do you always live in a frying pan or sometimes move into the oven as well? Hopefully our food-paths will cross more often now!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @5e8c32b20f4724711dd3c80c2633f364:disqus – I realize I have got to this comment 2 months late. In July…it’s starting to get pretty nasty hot now…I may not be in the oven yet, but the pan is definitely ablaze ;)

  20. Katie Foster says:

    Love your blog. Am interested in the “food tours” you mentioned. It would make a great blog for my blog Arabian Tales and Other Amazing Adventures (www.arabiantalesandotheramazingadventures.blogspot.com)
    Please contact me regarding how to set up a food tour. katiefoster46@gmail.com. Thanks. 

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @e1784a638993ec1c36d2124e2bbbdb37:disqus – ack. Just saw this. If there were a prison for delinquent comment repliers, I would have been handcuffed ages ago. Sending you an email…

  21. Tet says:

    Hi. As it is I found your “about me” page intriguing :)

    On food, I love that Baja Fresh opened in Deira city centre :) The other day I found out cheesecake factory will soon open in MOE. I wondered if In-N-out burger would be next (feels hungry at the thought).

    Glad I found your site. I have also followed you on twitter.

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @e3ae7bee6d8dd4b72029f4ba60ce5766:disqus – thanks for the support and the recommendations! Really appreciate the positive message :)

  22. Vinny Grette says:

    I have enjoyed reading tidbits from your blog – congrats on the story award!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @1be26be5fa9534e9426f3714c938f8eb:disqus – thank you!

  23. ANU says:

    Hi Arva Ahmed,
    My name is Anu Prabhakar and I work for DNA newspaper as a reporter, in Mumbai. Could you please get back to me at anuprabhakar184@gmaiI:disqus .com? I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of an article.


  24. Satyen says:

    word up. came accross your blog reading about erics. and even though im very impressed with your blog – grt pics, fun reads etc –  im a wee bit jealous as well. u see iv just started my own foodie blog and after checking out yours its making me want to delete it and throw my ipad in the bin! perhaps when i get over the jealousy it might help inspire me to improve mine!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @e179160cd861176321da16c21f45cfe1:disqus – wowie! what a flattering comment, thank you! and DO NOT delete your blog or chuck that iPad in the bin, share it with me please (the blog I mean, not the iPad.)
      (…though an iPad wouldn’t hurt either…) Food blogging is like female body image sometimes – every blogger, even the best ones (and I am far from that tiny group of people), look at their blogs and whine over one thing or the other, no matter if everyone else loves their writing. Always remember to just love your blog, and it’ll love you back. (profound, profound words…which when I reread, actually make no sense. ah well, I try.)On a totally separate note, if you’re based out of the UAE, would love to have you join Fooderati Arabia, our resident community of awesomelicious bloggers! 

    2. Satyen says:

      Thks doc (picturing myself lying on a recliner). I will be back for more sessions. I been eyeing fooderati Arabia. but I need to have at least 20 posts on my blog first to prove to myself that this is not a passing phase and I’m committed to it (like I would be to a woman’s body) before I start boasting about it. StuffYourFace.net

    3. inafryingpan says:

      @e179160cd861176321da16c21f45cfe1:disqus – 20 posts?! That’s a high bar, but to each his own :) We’ll stay tuned for your blog, and judging from your comments, we expect nothing less than foodie brilliance …*presssssure*…

    4. Satyen says:

      7 down, 13 to go!!! StuffYourFace.net

  25. Zain says:

    Arva, they say that the pictures say a thousand words but in your case your ten words say more than what pictures could even depict!
    Thats the power you command and the control you possess in your language, art of describing things in a different manner is very challenging and even more so when it comes to food coz it can instantly generate taste buds when you read or even leaves a bitter taste in the mouth if the food preparation is being reviewed a little critically but then thats what you do so well and now that your taste buds have reached that altitude of a tea taster am sure loads of people only rely on your review to check out restaurants/street side food in dubai…atleast i do!
    Way to go…and am always tuned for the latest and needless to say the best from you after all we are all living by the frying pan if not in it!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @eac3d12dafc4ddc59834a1c425863d3f:disqus – Wow! I’m speechless…and so, so flattered. Thank you Zain. That’s so awfully kind of you, I think I will be super self-serving and frame this comment up in my room for posterity! 
      In all seriousness, thank you for reaching out, it’s been a real pleasure getting your recommendations and foodie thoughts over email. Can’t wait to make it down to Hyd and take you up on your offer!

  26. Kalyani Mehendale says:

    Hi Arva, great job with the blog. It is indeed very inspiring. I own a trends research & brand experience consultancy called FLOF (for the love of food) which as the name suggests, focuses on food. I study food trends and translate them into tangible brand experiences. I would like to meet with you to have a chat if possible. Been following your blog since I moved to Dubai a year ago. I am at kalyaniflof@gmail.com.

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @ee2b87fc2e7dfd55e147bbedda373813:disqus – Nope, I’m a humble citizen of a country called FOOD.

  27. Guave says:

    HI, How to feed on oriental food while controlling the calorie intake? By They all love so lovely…..your blog makes me want to travel to Dubai. I know it is not very intellectual of me to want to travel to a place simply for culinary delights;) but with food, one can discover so many aspects of a culture ! really like your blog….

    1. inafryingpan says:

      Hi Guave ! That’s a great question ;) While I’m no nutritionist, I would say…

      (1) eat smaller portions. I don’t recommend wasting food, but pack it up and eat it across multiple meals or share with folks at home so that you’re not devouring a mountain of fried chicken doused in soya sauce all by yourself. [I am guilty of flouting this rule way too often.]
      (2) try subbing out fried for steamed/baked options, and preferably ones that aren’t slopped over with a ton of sauce. [I will admit that I almost always NEVER follow this strategy.]
      (3) try to mix up 1 meal out in a restaurant, with 2-3 home cooked meals. It’s all about the balance. [I dismally fail here too.]
      (4) stay active. Make ’em calories burrrrrn. [let’s not talk about me…but this is an awesome list and my nutritionist-mom would be proud of me.]

      On that note, you should absolutely visit Dubai to try the food! And to your point, food is indeed the most sensory way of experiencing a different culture. Definitely hit me up if you’re in town, I have started doing food tours of the city and would love to take you chomping across town! (all the juice on the tours can be found at http://www.fryingpanadventures.com)

      Thanks for the lovely message!

  28. Bikanervala Dubai says:

    Hello Guave!
    Can u plz help me to finding some best restaurants in dubai. I Founded Bikanervala Dubai on web. Plz let me know some others.

  29. Lavinia says:

    Hi Arva,

    I would love to keep you posted on our various food and drink events and promotions for our clients. Could you please email me your contact details on lavinia@ideas361.com ?

  30. Aahad Sayed says:

    Hey avra,

    My girl friend and I love your blog… we both are absolute foodies and just swear by your reviews!!! My girl friend is also an avid photographer.. we would actually love to join your group (if you have one) next time you go to review one of there little eateries.. do let us know if possible!

  31. Aahad Sayed says:

    Hey Arva,

    My girl friend and I love your blog… we both are absolute foodies and just swear by your reviews!!! My girl friend is also an avid photographer.. we would actually love to join your group (if you have one) next time you go to review one of there little eateries.. do let us know if possible!

    Some restaurants you might like.

    1. Delhi restaurant in Deira naif road.. (awesome nihari and kababs, really old and quite awesome!!)
    2. Aroos damascus again in deira behind reef mall.. best lebanese food i’ve had in dubai.
    3. Yalla momo’s in karama.. relatively new but quite brilliant none the less!!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      Hi @facebook-755985242:disqus – awww you guys make my eyes turn to mush (*happy mush*). I don’t really have a group – actually I tried to start one but I was the only active member and it fizzled out pathetically…and died. very sad. very pathetic. – BUT, I would love to eat/review/photograph with you and your gf. Shoot me a message through my facebook page and we’ll make it happen. https://www.facebook.com/iliveinafryingpan

      Thanks for the resto list.
      1. Delhi – Tried and I LOVE. Even their hari mirch keema and gulab jamuns are pretty crazy good.
      2. Aroos – Done. But don’t love too much, sorry :( I know this is a popular favourite, but Al Hallab spanks the hummus out of Aroos any day.
      3. Yalla momo’s – On my list! I keep meaning to go down there, and then…I get distracted with something else yummy that pops up between my house and Karama. But I will make it there eventually, that’s for sure.

      Thanks again for the lovely message, totally made my day :)

  32. Debbie Ohh says:

    @inafryingpan:disqus im a big fan. im a lover of food, and a newbie blogger. your blog inspires me to me blog (and eat) some more. all the best!

  33. Jassim Ali says:

    Had my first encounter with Zerbian 6 months back and then renewed the vow yesterday…had to find out more and got here ! good stuff and keep em coming …..

  34. Prince Priyani says:

    Love the blog. Its just an invite for my restaurant in Sharjah. Just want to know how good the food is. No PR stunt. Thanks

  35. IrishGal says:

    Hey, Brannigans in Dubai Mall are doing an all you can eat beef deal… Im Irish, just moved to Dubai and I miss Ireland (not that much though.. I wont move back). Being an Irish themed restaurant I’m intrigued, I have heard mixed reviews about Brannigans but wondering if you had any recommendations about the place? normally looks quite empty but the meat looks good.. help an irish out please and give me a review of it?

  36. Aaron says:

    Hi there,

    This is Aaron from Global Media Insight.

    We are an interactive agency that builds brands, businesses and products on the digital sphere.

    Having come across your blog, we would like to have you on board with us as an official blogger, on a regular basis, for a project that is poised to set a new benchmark in the Middle Eastern region.

    Should you be interested in exploring this opportunity, please do get in touch with us and we shall contact you shortly.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.

    Best Regards,
    Aaron Massey

  37. smriti says:

    Hi, It is good to see someone’s extensive love for food in writing that reaches out to so many hearts. I vote for your blog. I have seen and error in the comments below, its a php coding error that converts a ’ into &’, I am sure you will get it sorted if not yet. All the very best!! keep it going!!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      Hi Smriti! Thanks for the lovely comment, and for the vote – muchos grazias! We did face that silly apostrophe issue a while back because of the disqus comment system. It seems to have corrected now, but I’ve not been able to do anything about the past comments despite doing all sorts of search/replace on the database as well as php code modifications :( Any ideas?

      Thanks again for leaving me some blog love!

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