B’dou Café ~ an ode to the traditional Bedouins of the region

“We wanted to create a space that lets expats and locals alike discover and experience true Bedouin hospitality. Our café is a tribute to the region’s heritage,culture and traditional values. As you enter B’dou Café, you’ll be welcomed by a modern yet ancestral Arabian atmosphere that pays homage to the land’s forefathers,” says Diyar Al Asalah Holding Co, owner of B’dou Café.

The Concept: B’dou is a modern cafe situated on the front of City Walk with views of Burj Khalifa and a large outdoor terrace perfect for people watching. The owners of B’dou wanted to bring together ancient and contemporary Arab culture, an ode to the traditional nomadic Bedouins of the region.

What this means in practice, is a delightful bright and spacious interior perfect for small and large groups. The double height space, includes a smaller upper dining space which, when open, will be perfect for smaller groups and intimate gatherings.

Gorgeous selection of desserts including some Middle Eastern flavours of Milk Cake

The Food: The focus of my visit to B’dou is to spend some time with the baristas learning about their quite extensive coffee menu, but it’s hard not to gaze at the cake section as I walk in.  There’s a variety of cakes on offer which are placed right next to the coffee counter. The Pistachio and Rose milk cakes look very tempting and the guys tell me that the date Creme Carmel, Cardamom Sponge Cake & Lime Cream and Deconstructed Baklava Cheesecake are popular signature dishes. I reluctantly pass on the cakes and instead settle for breakfast.

Since I’m doing a sugar free diet, I choose something that is different and appealing and go for a pizza omelette which is extremely good and hits the spot perfectly. Chef insists I try some hummus so gives me a side of spicy hummus which is silky smooth and has a little kick along with a tray of fluffy white arabic bread.  The guys tell me I should come back for lunch or dinner, as apparently the grilled food is very good, but that’s for another visit.

A quick read of the menu is interesting, there are traditional regional dishes  for instance Saudi Shakshouka, Halawa French Toast along with more modern dishes including Rose Chia pudding, all it seems have a subtle twist to either a traditional or more modern dish, worthy of a return visit for sure.

Pizza Omelette, with a spicy hummus

Drinks: I’m here for the coffee and spend a happy hour or so behind the bar with the team learning about different coffee.  First up, the guys make me two different types of Gahwa – an Emirati blend and a Saudi blend along with some sand brewed Turkish Coffee. Both blends of Gahwa have been chosen by the owners after a lot of testing, and have been selected based on their preferences and tastebuds which of course, are matched to their heritage and memories.

Gahwa

This is the first time, I’ve focussed on how to brew Gahwa, and it’s remarkable easy as the guys have a special type of kettle which brews the coffee for them!  Simply add the coffee and water, leave the machine to ‘brew’ strain and serve, how technology has moved on and made the job easy.   It takes about fifteen minutes from start to finish and whilst the coffee is brewing I have plenty of time to learn about Gahwa and B’dou.

Each Gahwa has it’s own unique taste and color. The Saudi is lighter and more fragrant whilst the Emirati blend is darker, richer and is more to my taste.  Gahwa come in many different varieties once aside from the arabica coffee bean, it is usually flavored with a mix of Cardamom, cumin, cloves and saffron.

Traditionally, of course, Gahwa was prepared in front of house guests on the stovetop and not in a fancy kettle like machine.  Despite the technology being used at B’dou the traditional principles remain the same,  the Gahwa is brewed in a dallah, a pot with the beautiful long curved spout and is then served to you, quite ceremonially in a small cup called finjaan, it’s a handless cup like a very small bowl.  The team explain that there’s a lot of etiquette involved in serving Gahwa based on history and tradition. For now, they concentrate on serving holding the dallah in their left hand, balancing two or three finjaan’s in their right and pouring the Gahwa with a smile. I sip slowly and savor the aroma and taste of a drink that is steeped in tradition.

The Gahwa served is a perfect testament to the philosophy of blending the old with the new. The newer brewing gadget adds a level of sophistication and control to a tradition and as the Gahwa is poured to me, from the dallah I can’t help but smile with a sense of nostalgia and a celebration of the Bedouin heritage which B’dou is trying to convey.

I’ve never tried the two Gahwa’s side by side before, and finally, after much deliberation, decide that I  have a preference to Emirati Gahwa. Perhaps its because I’ve had so much more of it over the last few years.

Turkish Coffee

After I’ve drank my body weight in Gahwa, meaning a sleepless night ahead no double! I turn my attention to the Turkish coffee and spend some time learning how to make the coffee which is prepared in a traditional manner, as it’s heated in hot sand. Of course, there’s a gadget involved, a swanky sand heater, but it’s not overbearing and I’m sure the controlled heat adds to the quality of the brew.

There’s an art to brewing Turkish coffee and it’s one that I’ve not mastered at home. I’ve tried to make it on the stovetop and ended up with boiling coffee all over me and the stove and burnt fingers, as well as in an electric kettle type gadget I brought back from a trip to Istanbul. Neither give great coffee if I’m honest – but of course I’m sure that’s more a case of user error than anything else.

In fact, once you know what you are doing it appears quite easy.  Add finely ground coffee to the Cezve (small long handled coffee pot), mix thoroughly with cold water, heat until it comes to the boil and then pour.

Of course, it’s not quite that easy and there is a concentrated skill that goes with the brewing. Firstly the coffee has been specially selected by the owners so it’s a signature blend to match their taste buds, and secondly it’s brewed slowly over a medium heat. During this time, approximately four minutes, the coffee is slightly agitated in the water until the pot reaches a slow boil. This is where the barista watches and as soon as the boil rises he swiftly removed the pot from the heat and poured the coffee into my cup with a perfect crema which spread across the top of the cup.

Some people like their Turkish coffee with no crema, and some double or even trip boil, but I prefer my Turkish coffee brought to the boil once then poured – albeit – I must remember to ask for it without sugar next time!

Do check out my video below to see how Turkish Coffee on sand is brewed but he B’dou team.

For those of you who don’t like traditional coffee, there’s plenty of other options on the menu including Karak Falooda.

Signing off: The owners say:

B’dou Café offers a menu featuring an exquisite fusion of local flavours with international appeal. The menu was inspired by different regions of Arabia re-engineered to suit the discerning tastes of the UAE.

I’ve only lived in Dubai for ten years, but have a certain level of nostalgia about living here and about celebrating the history of Dubai and the region. Whilst I can’t relate with my own memories about some of the history, traditions or tastes of some of the dishes, overall I think B’dou is something quite special. The fusion of old and new seems to mix well and I for one am a fan.


B’dou Café
Unit 7, City Walk,
Dubai
details : +97142288775
www.bdoucafe.com

[Images: Debbie Rogers]

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    B’dou Café ~ an ode to the traditional Bedouins of the region

    by Debbie Rogers time to read: 6 min
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