March 31, 2012 Update. Bad News Folks...Shikidim has shut down.
Another one bites the dust.
This was meant to be a happy post. Especially after staying up for three nights, learning from Penny De Los Santos’ live stream course of food photography. After being inspired to start taking photographs that provide context, connecting the scene with the food, transcending from boring clinical into organic photojournalism. After being this close to buying hoods for all three of my beloved camera lens because Penny had one for hers too and what she has, I want too.
And then I go lose my camera battery. how timely. how ironic.
HOW THE SCHMUCKARROOOINHELL DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME?!
I can sense everyone in my family staring through my back with beady eyes right now. The notorious scatter-brained grown-up-lady-baby who leaves her ATM card in the machine or misplaces her blackberry in Thailand, they think, that's how it happens to you. Gotta love the family for keeping things honest...[sob].
Right. Topic change. Let me tell you about the frigging amazing Turkish dinner my folks and I had on Friday. I was plagued with curiosity when I heard that a Turkish resto called Shikidim was opening up in my hood. My hood = Deira…where old Dubai love is at. [Thank you @Daddybird for surfacing Shikidim, got nothing but respect for your ability to hunt out hidden gems.]
Don’t really know what Shikidim means, but the word’s got a nice rhythm to it. Kinda like diggity.
This place totally trumped my one other Turkish experience in the city – Kosebasi at JBR – and that too, Shikidim did it with takeout. Yep, I ordered takeout from a place where I didn’t even have a takeout menu to look through as I was wheeling about on my computer chair. I just got Mr. Man on the Shikidim Takeout Line to describe a few lamb and eggplant and mixed kabab dishes to me. His recommendations were SPOT ON.
The only bummer [which was really a point of celebration upfront] was that I plated up my takeout order at home so I could snap a few photos to share with you all. And I was excited that for once, my restaurant review wouldn't have a hundred plates and hands in the way as I was clicking the photo. Until Penny used the word clinical to describe a clean and simple photo with a white background an hour later during her workshop, and now, all my photos feel clinical. I can mental-smell hospital disinfectant in the background every time I look at these.
Ok, so clinical picture #1 of Turkish meaty goodness:
...the Iskender Kabab, sort of like a Turkish version of shawarma-sliced slender beef and chicken chunks, only sauced up with sweet-smokey tomato gravy. And God knows how I LOVE tomato gravy or sauce or chutney or any thick liquidy goop that I can sponge up with anything dry and…sponge-like. Like a French fry. Or fried chicken. Or those soft chewy cubes of bread that Shikidim had tossed in with the kebabs, letting them plump up with the meat and tomato juices in the plate so that they could squish them out as you chewed through them. [Juicy meaty tomatoey chewy bread cubes, you need to be part of my dinners WAY more often. Like everyday.]
...can you see the brownish charred edges of the kababs? Charred edges = caramelized crispy bits that are choked up with meaty flavor = AAAH SO AMAZING I WANT MORE AND MORE AND MORE AND MORE x 1,000,000.
More meat with the gravied-up Meat on Saj. I actually saw a picture of this on Shikidim’s twitter account as I was google-hunting for an online menu before I made the takeout phone call (the fact that they had a twitter account was a tad bit disturbing, but I love them so much I may consider following them. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just stalk their tweets when I’m hungry.) Another winner. Thin strips of lamb and veggies floating about in a pool of tomato gravy and spices.
And finally a [pathetically clinically photographed] veggie eggplant dish. Stuffed up with meat of course. This is the perfect dish that hits the veggie requirement on the food pyramid, while giving you yet another excuse to tuck into more grilled kabab goodness. Not like I personally think it's shameless to have three different kabab dishes on the dinner table without so much as a hint of green, but should you ever need that justification for your third meaty plate, I have now granted you one in the guise of an eggplant.
This dish was really intriguing. It didn’t start out as a favourite because I tore off a piece of the eggplant…chew chew chew, nice grilled smokey, maybe a hint of coriander there?…and then a tiny edge of the lamb kabab stuffing…chew chew chew, hm ok, back to the Iskender kabab. And then I decided to take a bite of both at the same time…wha…PPPPZZZZANGGG! [fyi - dramatic gun shots in the air] When I shoved both lamb and eggplant in my mouth, it exploded into this meta-lamby-eggplanty experience that I kept repeating over and over again because I was fascinated with the 2 + 2 = 4 culinary equation going on here. Honestly I can't quite describe it, just go there and do the eggplant taste, lamb taste, and then eggplant + lamb mouth shove, and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Chopped cucumbers in yogurt. This stuff feels like manna in 40+ degrees Dubai summer heat.
Getting back to Mr. Man on the Shikidim Takeout Line, you are worthy of a bear hug. Or a hefty tip. Or a crazy shout out on my blog that you’re awesome.
MR. MAN ON SHIKIDIM TAKEOUT LINE, YOU ARE AWESOME!!
[I was so bowled over by the food that I also hunted out a site dedicated to bear hugs for Mr. Man.]
Honestly, I had planned to eat in front of my computer screen, watching Penny de Los Santos strut her photo stuff while I stuffed my face with kababs. Two bites later, I had to step away from the monitor and just focus on the meat. It was THAT good. So good that I knight Shikidim’s takeout with my Best Seven of 2011 title.* T'is a happy post after all.
*ack. It’s only May and the list is already choked up. Competition is starting to heat up now, some best eats will falling off for even better eats to come, so stay tuned for who stays, and who gets...Chopped.**
**Note to Self - gotta diversify beyond Food Network.
Shikidim Turkish Restaurant
22 A St. Deira, Dubai
Phone: +971 (55) 999-9394
[Whatdya know, they have a website - why do I always discover these things a week too late?!] http://www.shikidim.com/