The Gulf's new top dish: Camel meat
FROM camel carpaccio to camel bourguignon, camel meat - which is offered traditionally at big festivities by Bedouins (who are part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arabian ethnic group) - has become a fancy ingredient in the Gulf's prestigious restaurants.
Under the golden dome of Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace, which bills itself as a seven-star hotel, French chef Sandro Gamba proudly presents his latest dish: A camel burger bedded in gold-leaf bread, served with onion jam and smoked halloumi cheese. On the side, traditional french fries have been replaced by fried hummus fingers.
This dish, priced at US$50 (S$62), has become "one of our bestsellers", said Gamba, the hotel's masterchef, who oversees its 15 restaurants.
Another dish, camel carpaccio, replaces beef with camel meat in a dish which features Italian truffles and a vinaigrette, he added.
In April, Gamba launched a week-long camel-meat festival at Emirates Palace, serving everything with a touch of camel - from soup and steaks to rolls.
"The younger the camel, the more tender its meat will be," he said.
"For some recipes, we must use the meat of young camels, which is as soft as butter."
Energy-rich Gulf states are now trying to promote their favourite animal's meat to the international gastronomic scene.
This year, The Emirates Industry for Camel Milk and Products began exporting its products to Europe and Japan. It uses camel milk as an ingredient in French desserts and coffees, such as the "camel-ccino" and camel-milk lattes.
The Al-Nassma camel-milk-chocolate company now ships camel-milk powder to Austria, where it is used to make chocolate that is then sent to Dubai for packaging.
Al-Nassma spokesman Kirsten Lange said: "Our largest market right now is Japan. We are also focusing on South Asia and Europe."