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Open Sesame – Bringing plant-forward food to Dubai

 

Sesame Restaurant has opened its doors in Dubai, captivating foodies with a fresh, health-conscious dining concept.

Sesame Restaurant offers a health-conscious dining experience with a plant forward menu from different corners of the world. Founded by Therapeutic Chef Neha Jamani and Irina Sharma, both fans of a healthy living lifestyle

The ‘world food‘ menu was developed along with Food Development Consultant – Chef Gohei Kishi. Sesame is Chef Gohei’s first global collaboration bringing his Michelin-star experience to Dubai’s homegrown Sesame Restaurant.

We spoke with Chef Neha and Irina to find out more…

Explain the ethos behind ‘plant-forward’ cuisine. Does this mean there is no meat on the menu? 

Irina Sharma: Plant forward is a movement towards including more plant-based foods and fewer animals in everyday eating. At Sesame we serve meat, chicken, fish but at the same time fill the dish with vegetables, whole grains and nuts for example. We have plenty of choices of vegetarians. We are eager for people to practice with less heavily processed food and filling their plates with more whole and minimally refined food.

How did you choose the location?

Irina Sharma:  We have always liked Sunset Mall – its quaint, convenient, free parking, beach access 30 seconds away and the space that was offered in the Mall for Sesame immediately suited our requirements. Bright, cozy and exactly what we had in mind to create and share a nourishing environment.

Do you think the restuarant scene in Dubai is unhealthy?

Irina Sharma: I believe that every city offers choices, and the choice to pick what we eat depends on the individual. Currently in the chain of demand and supply, there is a greater demand and gap for healthy longevity. Food is one part of achieving that, and that is where Sesame fits in reducing that gap.

Deep root salad

How was it working with Chef Gohei?

Neha Jamani: Sesame is my first time in a restaurant kitchen setting, so working with Chef Gohei was a very interesting process. He comes with a wealth of experience and fusing that with the direction we wanted in our menu was exciting. Chef Gohei has a very fun personality, and he’s extremely passionate about ingredients from this region. With no geographical boundaries on our menu, guests get to experience flavours inspired from around the world including some special dishes curated by Chef Gohei which have Asian twist to them.

Is Dubai capable of providing the sort of vegetables, plants and superfoods you are looking for? If it’s imported, what about food miles? How important is sustainability to the concept?

Irina Sharma: I believe Dubai has been very forward in creating opportunities to explore how local produce can be available. I also believe we have such agriculturally-rich countries like Lebanon, India, and Pakistan for example, in close vicinity that provide good quality produce, and factor in on temperature controlled cargo, and the time of when it was harvested until its point of destination, etc.

Neha Jamani: In recent years we have seen a rise in the number of local farms in the UAE giving us some great produce options, especially in the winter months. In terms of food miles and sustainability, we try and be as mindful as we can. As for superfoods, we truly believe everything, like our local herbs and dates have nourishing properties so one doesn’t have to run pillar to post to find superfoods – we have so many undervalued common foods that are so nutrient rich.

What do you consider the world’s healthiest cuisines?
Neha Jamani: I don’t consider any one particular cuisine the healthiest. Every region’s food is shaped by the local landscape, so there are plenty of elements that can be considered healthy all around the world.

Irina Sharma: I am a huge fan of the Okinawan [Japanese] way of healthy longevity, where diet is one element.

Take us through a typical menu. How often will it change?
Irina Sharma: Our current menu is served all it takes on flavours from around the world, it’s a culmination of our favorite things and our travels. Many of our dishes have meat and fish but vegetables are given equal importance, if not the centre show. Our daily specials from September

What do you both enjoy eating?
Irina Sharma: I love food. But can’t stay without Indian food!

Who has supported you in the concept – and how did you meet?
Irina Sharma: We’ve been blessed by great people and consultants who helped bring Sesame to life. Neha and myself met at Life N One, somewhere we were both regulars. Infact, the owner Eda introduced us and said she thught we have a lot to share”. And here we are.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Irina Sharma: Wow, difficult to answer on one A4 size sheet! Too many people have been a part of this beautiful journey called ‘Life’. Wanting to learn has always been the drive, and to carry it all through is the will.

Can you share a typical Sesame recipe with us?

Mushroom Walnut Pate
130 grammes White Button Mushrooms
100 grammes Cooked Brown Lentils
50 grammes Toasted Walnuts
20 grammes White Onion
20 grammes Rice Oil (or alternate oil of choice)
5 grammes Garlic
2 grammes Fresh Sage
Salt and Pepper

Preparation:

1. In a pan sauté mushroom, onion and garlic. When the ingredients cooked through add the sage and cooked lentils and season with salt and pepper.
2. Transfer the mixture into a food process and blitz until smooth.
3. Finely chop the toasted walnuts and incorporate into the pate.
4. Serve with crackers, bread or crudités

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