We pick up right where we left off last week: our arrival at the Bedouin camp!
As we entered through the open doorway, we were greeted with freshly-brewed coffee and sweet dates. The coffee was served without sugar – Emirati tradition is to eat the date while drinking the coffee so that the fruit’s sweetness balanced the bitterness of the coffee.
We were then given a tour of the camp as the sun finally dipped behind the horizon and the lamps around us began to flicker in the oncoming darkness.
We saw a woman making fresh bread which we would then eat, and men roasting an array of meats. Another woman sat on the other side of the camp and was offering to decorate our skin with henna designs. I sat with her for a while, chatting about henna and the camp, as she crafted a beautiful flower design on my hand and arm, the cool paste offering a refreshing contrast to the warm desert air.
When were called to the dinner table, the sun had well and truly set. I found my stool and took my bowl in my hands, the aroma making my stomach sing with anticipation. The soup was shorbat adas, a lentil soup filled with spices and delicious goodness. It was the best soup I had ever tasted, and I was so excited for the feast to come.
My heart then leapt with excitement as a platter of starters was placed on our table. There was houmous, kibbeh, fatoush, sambousek (small savoury pastries similar samosas), and jarjeer (a fresh salad including rocket, tomato, onion and lemon juice). I was so excited and overwhelmed that I had eaten quite a bit before I remembered that this was only the second course of four!
The main course was certainly something to admire. A range of dishes was on offer: ouzi (spiced lamb cooked for 6 hours in an underground pit), camel meat with mixed vegetables, harees (a beef dish), sheesh tawouk (chicken with garlic, lemon and yoghurt, grilled vegetable kebabs, herb rice AND lamb rice. I grabbed a little bit of everything – even the camel meat – and sat down to enjoy!
Bellies full, we were able to relax and digest while taking advantage of the activities available at the camp (more on this next week) before the final delicious course was served: dessert! Lgeimat, a type of small Arbaic donut which is drizzled in date honey, was presented along with platters of fresh fruit. Although my stomach was still bursting, I was not going to say no to sweets!
All night long, we were also able to enjoy the drinks on offer, including fresh juices, sparkling date juice, camel milk and chai. The chai was particularly delicious and I grabbed another small glass before we left, knowing that I would never experience anything quite like this amazing feast anywhere else.
For more details about the Platinum Heritage Desert Safari and to make a booking, visit https://www.platinum-heritage.com/.