Tried a Falafel Man’ousheh yet?

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All Photos: Arva Ahmed, I live in a Frying Pan. You can read her post here.

Note: Having known Arva couple years now, our manakish discussions have always been interesting. So when I mentioned the falafel manakish a while ago, it just had to be tested. Who cares if it took 8 months to actually make the trip happen. I’m excited then, to bring you a joint foodie post — the first of its kind. Think of it like a special episode.

Note 2: The word man’ousheh in our post is not some kind of auto-correct defect. It’s the singular of manakish in Arabic. Yes it is. No, it’s not right to say can I have a manakish with cheese. Yes, we know you’ve said it before, we have too. No, it’s never too late to change.

Chirag had told me about these falafel manakish in Karama. That’s like waving a bone in front of a dog, go fetch. I barked till he agreed to take me there.

I came across the falafel man’ousheh quite by accident — come to think of it, this is starting to ring true for a lot of really good food I find. The term they first used at Moulin D’Or when I walked in a few years ago during late night certification classes was: falafel sandwiches. But sandwich it was not. I watched their chef make what looked like a green topping man’ousheh wondering what he was up to, before I realized they really meant ‘falafel man’ousheh.’ I’d had falafel manousheh just once before in Abu Dhabi, where the guy tried to break open what I believe was a solitary falafel over labneh in a combination that, well, was clearly not worth blogging about.

Moulin D’Or however, put a nice spin on a traditional offering, spreading delicious falafel batter on a manousheh dough, topped with tahini, tomatoes, some greens and pickles. I can get aboard that train any day.

Me too…any day, ALL day. And if I’m hopping on any train, I’m taking both Chirag and Sheban — two outrageously smart, tech-wired entrepreneurs — with me, and making a food tour working session of it. Yeah I know, *everything* these days is about the food tours. I’ll launch it and then I’ll shut up already. Or maybe you’ll see promo SMS spam on food tours violently possess your cellphones. You can turn off the TV, turn off the radio, shut your eyes tight when you pass an annoying yellow bakeshop-plastered billboard, but cellphone…that’s where I’ve got you *right* where I want you, because Dubai has established that your cellphone is the one place you can never opt out of promo spam. It’s the Hotel California of ominous marketing spam, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…

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But I will admit, when I stepped into Moulin D’Or, the food tours were the last thing on my mind. For someone whose Achilles heel lies in warm buttery baked goodies, this was heavenly hell. I walked in and it all just smacked me in the face: giant croissants puffed up like angry birds, small white discs of pastry smattered with za’atar and cheese, chocolate glazed rows of ganache and coffee buttercream-layered Opera cake, boats and crescents and all the usual shapes of tiny fatayer with cheese and meat and veggies. How had I not ever given Moulin D’Or a second glance on my visits across the street to Al Reef Bakery? Imagine, all those mornings where I could have been living the dream with HULK buttery croissants…

Seriously? You know you can get giant croissants anywhere right? It’s the falafel man’ousheh that’s a rare species around here. And to think we almost missed it that evening. When I walked up to Moulin D’Or’s manakish oven, my heart skipped a beat. I didn’t see the A4 printed sign in Calibri that used to read “Falafel Sandwich, 5 Dhs”. It would seem we were a couple months too late to make the trip, and the falafel man’ousheh had now morphed into a mainstream falafel sandwich, no frills. Dejected, we walked back to the table. I was devastated, Sheban looked sad but could potentially be won over with a meaty fatayer, but Arva? Arva hadn’t really accepted the tragic news at all. She just strolled right back to the counter, because one more attempt at sighting the falafel manousheh was *absolutely* necessary. Skipping over a comment relating to women, better service and the GCC, I will merely point out that the chef agreed to make a couple of manakish just for us.

I’m ashamed to admit that I do use my chubby womanly charm when it comes to food. That’s not a bad thing now, is it?

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Considering how the evening had progressed, the manakish’s arrival to the table was that much more exciting. The consensus around the table was that it looked even better than expected (though I was just gobsmacked with hunger by this point to have any expectations at all). I was just glad our trip had not been in vain. Crisp manousheh dough, layered with awesome falafel mix, topped with tahina and crunch…a quiet calm engulfed the table as we ate (save for my incessant questions about food tours this and food tours that). Falafel makes for a very light man’ousheh when not fried, and although I felt that my memory of the manousheh I’d had here years ago was slightly better than the reality on my plate, this was still…

…satisfying. Of all the man’ousheh I’ve tried, the salty-bitter za’atar and cheese ones, the meaty sujuk ones, the creamy sweet lebneh ones, I’d say this falafel man’ousheh was the more subtle of the lot. The man’ousheh innards were so light that if you guzzled it down thoughtlessly, you wouldn’t hear the falafel spread murmur fragrantly from the crust. The base was thin and crispy, disintegrating into a crunch reminiscent of a stroll over dry autumn leaves in a city with four seasons. There was no cheese, and if there was tahina, it was barely there. The whole ensemble was delicate and understated.

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The manakish must have been good, because we talked about falafels for about 20 minutes afterwards. Did you guys know there’s a falafel bar in Sharjah? NaaahsssSSSH! It’s a secret! …but more on that later. I can’t guarantee that Moulin D’Or will entertain more requests for the coveted man’ousheh, but having a woman in your party apparently helps. If not, they do have a decent repertoire of manakish to choose from.

And cheesy fatayer and angry bird croissants. Yumsies.

Moulin D’Or

Drive past Karama Post Office and you’ll see it on your right (before Options Furniture Building). 
http://www.moulin-dor.com | +9714 3547847

You can find the cross-posted version on Arva’s blog here.

Chirag Desai @Chirag