We look at this cuisine as two Piri Piri restaurants open
Considering the number of Mediterranean restaurants in Dubai, there’s been a glaring gap in the scene for some time. Where, we’ve wondered, are the Portuguese venues? For some reason, no restaurants have crossed the border with Spain to offer us the delights of the other side of the peninsula – until now.
Yet now that the Portuguese have discovered Dubai, they’re quick on the uptake with two restaurants due to open in the space of a month. First up is Portugal Genuine Piri Piri restaurant, scheduled to launch at the beginning of October in the Sea View Hotel in Bur Dubai. Following suit is Piri Piri, opening in November in the Four Points by Sheraton, also in Bur Dubai.
Two restaurants offering the same cuisine, scrambling to open within the same month mere streets away from each other, can mean only one thing – the hottest new food trend. We spoke to the men behind these openings to find out what the hype is about, and took a closer look at the traditional and creative dishes on the menu at Portugal restaurant.
Cabrito a padeiro (roasted lamb) While the Portuguese are known for their seafood dishes, they are also a nation of meat eaters, and particularly proud of their grilled meat, known as churrasco. Lamb is especially popular in the northern, inland regions, and this lamb dish is a prime example of this style of cooking, simply roasted and dressed with herbs, grape and honey.
Medalhões de lagosta a la plancha (lobster medallions) Seafood ‘a la plancha’ (grilled on a metal plate) is a Portuguese stalwart. This modern version matches beautiful presentation with some creative accompaniments (curry and lime zabaione, and saffron and pistachio risotto), combining rich, intense flavours that Portugal has inherited from its days of exploring.
Bacalhau a brás (Cod ‘a bràs’-style) The Portuguese are famous for their cod and, like many cod dishes, this one originates from Lisbon, because it was the first port from which the species was brought into the country. Portugal restaurant keeps it traditional with this simple, tasty and homely mix of flaked cod, egg and buttery slivers of onion and potato.
Frango piri piri (piri piri chicken) ‘Piri piri chicken’ takes its name from the African piri piri pepper used to spice it up after cooking. But it’s never known by this name in Portugal – it’s instead referred to as ‘frango de churrasco’ (grilled chicken), with or without piri piri. This is because it’s also the cooking technique (using a charcoal oven) that gives the chicken its distinct flavour, not just the seasoning used. The flesh should be juicy and the skin crisp.
Cataplana do mar (fish and seafood stew) This quintessential Portuguese dish originates from the country’s glittering Algarve coast. The name ‘cataplana’ refers to the special copper pan in which it’s made – inside are layered potatoes, peppers, onions and a mix of seafood and fish. The copper dish is then closed and the stew is cooked on a direct flame, before being brought to the table and served in the same dish.
Sopa creme de abóbora (pumpkin soup) This rustic dish has been prepared for centuries in Portugal. Portugal restaurant has updated it by roasting the pumpkin first, using modern techniques to create a velvety texture, then adding honey and rosemary cream for an elegant version of this Portuguese classic.