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A Thai market in Dubai

May 23, 2015

Thai market in Dubai - mycustardpie.comAs I’m having severe Farmers’ Market withdrawal symptoms I jumped at the chance to join a friend who was on a mission to see if the rumour of a Thai market was fact or just a mirage. With temperatures already at 40C we pulled up outside the Royal Thai Consulate at 10 am. All looked quiet, and when we went through the gate there was only one stallholder with some intriguing looking drinks including a black gleaming one called grass jelly. She was very friendly and told us to come back after 10.30 which we did.

By then there were a few more stalls under the car parking awning and we were drawn immediately to one with stacks of Thai food in meal sized portions. In answer to our questions, and while she was busily arranging these filled plates in bags and matching them with sauces, she told us that one was “chicken rice”, one “meat* noodles” and one “meat*, all inside”, the latter accompanied by gestures to her tummy. Sadly we soon realised that there was no way to get our hands on this delicious looking stuff as it was all made to pre-order “by the internet”. Thai ladies kept arriving beside us and carting off carrier bags full of food; one affirmed my guess that it was her meals for the week.  We kept gazing longingly into cool bags and ice boxes discovering all sorts of goodies, so managed through her friend who had better English, to order our own delivery for next week.

We weren’t to leave hungry, not at all. Another stall had plastic packets of Thai vegetables and herbs all along one side. This lady was also busy unpacking things and serving people, but when she paused for a moment we found that she grew all of it herself in her garden. I spotted Thai basil, something I think was pak nork, something that could have been kanah or broccoli leaves, and some beautiful pak choy. She also had dragon fruit, a long green fruit which looked pumpkin like (which she said was also grown by her) and a large insulated container. Inside the latter was a hot and sour-smelling soup dotted with mushrooms. I bought some little meatballs and fish balls on sticks (which had already been road-tested by my friend’s toddler with great success).

I added fried plantain and sweet potato to my growing collection of plastic bags. The batter was studded with black seeds and slightly sweet, there were some deep-fried green leaves among them which could have been Bi Tua Reeds.

My friend gave me some of the grass jelly to taste. It was probably one of the sweetest things I’ve ever had to drink and not to my taste, although deliciously cool in the unrelenting temperatures. The stall holder also had some Thai desserts, one of mung beans and one with tapioca in a bright green sauce (pandang?) studded with chunks of mango, both topped with whipped coconut cream.

Seeing more tempting things coming from the catering ladies bags we asked about some meat* on thin bamboo skewers – which were for sale – hooray. The lady packed up some rich, sweet, sour sauce in a little plastic bag to go with them and I took away a warm parcel of sticky rice for my lunch too.

Stopping to admire some vibrant homemade jelly ducks on the way out (clever but totally unappealing), I took my booty home feeling as though I’d stepped through the back of the wardrobe into a little bit of Thailand. I’ve been looking through my Thai cookery books to inspire next week’s purchases. Oh yes, I’ll be back.

Thai market in Dubai - mycustardpie.com

The market at the Royal Thai Consulate (near Raffles school in Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai) is – to the best of my knowledge – open every Saturday from 10.30am (I was told until 3pm but by 12.30 a lot of things have already sold out. The last market for this season is June 13th 2015).

*meat = “special meat” taps nose with finger and winks.

23 Comments
  1. May 23, 2015 10:02 pm

    Great find Sally 🙂

    • May 23, 2015 10:06 pm

      Not my find…. Arva spoke about it and Sandy led my there! 5 minutes from my house though – how brilliant.

  2. daver001 permalink
    May 23, 2015 10:30 pm

    Sounds great, but a little limited for non-meat eaters like me. You do know of Sunrise Supermarket in Karama, right? Fresh deliveries every Tuesday.

    • May 24, 2015 11:14 am

      Thanks Dave – I do, although takes too long to get there for me to venture regularly. I’m sure the cooking ladies do vegetarian stuff just need to tease out their menu. The just-picked home grown Thai veg was excellent (if in an abundance of plastic).

  3. May 23, 2015 11:26 pm

    Thanks Sally and Arva, will definitely pop down there! Love Thai food!!

    • May 24, 2015 11:15 am

      Food stylist’s prop dream too 🙂

  4. sarahhedonista permalink
    May 24, 2015 5:59 am

    Very cool. Had no idea – will definitely head down!

    • May 24, 2015 11:15 am

      Nor me. Meet you there next Saturday?

  5. The Real Geordie Armani permalink
    May 24, 2015 8:22 am

    I love special meat 🙂

    • May 24, 2015 11:16 am

      My desert island dish 🙂

  6. May 24, 2015 9:51 am

    sounds fabulous! I love Thai food.

    • May 24, 2015 10:59 am

      Me too – especially the really authentic kind.

  7. May 24, 2015 11:13 am

    How very enterprising of these ladies. I love ‘discovering’ off the beaten track things, especially if they turn out to be as good as this. Just outside of very urban Tampa Florida there is a Thai temple that on Sundays hosts a food and flower market that has to be seen to be believed. It is in a very rural part of the county by the river, and I have never seen so many people of all race and religion enjoying the food stalls, admiring the temple and just generally having a relaxed family time, eating on picnic tables by the water. It was a great discovery. It is so fun trying things when you aren’t quite sure what they are, and what to expect. But it sounds like the toddler amongst your group led the way!

    • May 24, 2015 11:17 am

      Who would have thought Tampa Florida would have such an amazing market. Food does bring people together. My friend took three types of basil that she’d grown from unidentified seed down to the market to get an expert view.

  8. Sayana permalink
    May 24, 2015 4:42 pm

    The Tapioca Coconut Mango concoction sounds like something right up my sweet alley. Really looking forward to tasting one soon.

  9. Jen @ Jen's Food permalink
    May 24, 2015 11:54 pm

    Hope you get to sample some of the delicious Thai food soon, especially the special meat 😉

  10. May 25, 2015 10:15 am

    Great Collection of Thai and Most of food Reciepie are Very Good

  11. May 25, 2015 12:48 pm

    I am glad you did not go away empty handed and I think I would only order vegetarian food 🙂

  12. ramblingtart permalink
    May 25, 2015 4:55 pm

    What a fabulous and inspiring place! I’ve never tried grass jelly, before, but it sounds fascinating. 🙂

  13. May 25, 2015 8:45 pm

    A fabulous market! I love Thai food. Lucky you…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  14. May 26, 2015 12:09 am

    Looks nice! 🙂

  15. johnberk permalink
    May 27, 2015 1:17 pm

    Your article made me remember great pieces written by Ivy Knight on Thai street food in Toronto. So sad I’m so far from Dubai, because I would love to go and try everything they have. I would like to know whether is it expensive or not? I see that it says 15 of the local currency, but I don’t know what food it is.

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