My new Turkish love. Shikidim.

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.


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.]

Now peer super closely at this…

…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.

Other accompaniments…

Chopped cucumbers in yogurt. This stuff feels like manna in 40+ degrees Dubai summer heat.

Bread. I bet that this tastes way better in the restaurant than re-heated in my toaster at home.

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.


[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?!]

Author: InaFryingPan

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. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. 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 city 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 genuine appreciation and passionate addiction 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.

14 thoughts on “My new Turkish love. Shikidim.

  1. saleem says:

    Arva, well written and photo’s are done professionally and yes we ate and vouch for what you have written – keep up the good work

  2. Sarah says:

    That course paid off. I don’t think they’re clinical. Lovely light.

    But I have gotta say, although Shikidim rolls off the tongue, I reckon it would make a great swear word…

  3. abigail says:

    List complete! I love how I can see the charred edges of the meat in the photo. Shikidim should use your photos on the website.

  4. FooDiva says:

    Love the new style of photography – mind you your earlier style is just as good. As for Shikidim, will give it a go. I must admit I don’t rate Kosebasi – so up for trying a new Turk!

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @saleem – thanks dad :) love the fatherly vote of confidence!

      @Sarah – aw thank you, coming from an awesome photographer herself! hehehe…you’re right, I might ’Shikidim’ the next person who cuts in front of me on my drive to work tomorrow morning. ;)

      @abigail – YAY. then the photos have done their job. The charred edges are CRITICAL, nothing else matters!

      @FooDiva – um, this is the old style. Actually, I don’t have a style come to think of it…more of moods, or moments…but either way, I’m glad it worked!

  5. Sukaina says:

    Arva….if takeout did it….just imagine eating THERE would be even better. And I still can’t believe you plated that up to take a decent photo. So determined and dedicated :)

  6. Sally says:

    Take the advise but stay true to you….Lovely pics. Really fancy this restaurant.

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Sukaina – I know. I have been called such a slacker for doing takeout on this one rather than going there. But PJ’s + Penny de Los Santos video + homeplating, now THAT’S what I call a weekend.

      @kooksfood – thank you!

      @ginger and scotch – yay, clinical photos have their fans too! Thanks :)

      @Sally – thank you! yep, always a combo of advice and one’s own style…even if I can’t quite decide what mine is…but that’s the fun of art, no rules, only experiments that work, or don’t!

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Aaa – My that’s a unique name :) Thanks for the comment, hope to hear from you again on the blog!

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