Natasha Sideris is the founder of tashas cafe, the much-loved restaurant found at Marsa Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, and in five different locations across Dubai.
In 2017, she launched Flamingo Room by tashas at Jumeirah Al Naseem, and the first Abu Dhabi branch of this quirky and colourful hotspot is set to open at The Galleria Mall sometime this year.
Known for her delicious, wholesome and nourishing signature specialties and her love for fresh, high-quality ingredients, Livehealthy caught up with the award-winning restaurateur and asked her to share two of her favourite healthy ramadan recipes.
What trends are you seeing amongst UAE customers?
People are becoming more and more health conscious. Going out for breakfast is still very popular and we are seeing increasing numbers of breakfast spots popping up as well.
Have tashas Dubai customers migrated to Flamingo?
We continue to get a lot of regular customers from tashas at the Flamingo Room. However, given that it is a different concept, the crowd isn’t entirely the same. We get a wonderful mix of locals, expats and tourists. We have a lot of families visiting us during the day, and in the evenings we get lots of couples and groups coming through the doors to enjoy the casual, yet glamorous, vibe.
What is your top bit of advice for healthy eating?
I firmly believe that everything should be enjoyed in moderation. Eating out is one of life’s true pleasures. I want people to relish every moment of their meal, without worrying about what they should and shouldn’t be eating.
In addition, I wish people would be a bit less concerned about how food looks, and concentrate more on how it tastes. Of course, the appearance of a dish is important – but focusing on the flavors and textures of a recipe can be so much more satisfying!
tashas ricotta cheese & preserved figs
Sideris says: “Ricotta works in pasta dishes, on pizzas or in desserts. You can use it to make cheesecake or you can serve it on its own, with honey, nuts and preserves. This recipe is a more simplified version of the traditional ricotta and fig recipes that uses real, rennet-rich whey leftovers from making cheeses like mozzarella. I prefer to make it like this as it’s exactly how my grandma used to do it.”
- 2 liters full-cream milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 80ml lemon juice or white vinegar
- Ciabatta toast
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts or pecans)
- Preserved figs
- Warm the milk in a pot over a medium heat.
- After a few minutes, it will begin to foam. Be careful not to let it boil; remove it from the stove for a bit if you need to cool it down.
- Let it simmer for a moment before adding the salt and the lemon juice (or vinegar). Stir well.
- Remove from the heat and let the milk rest for about 10 minutes, after which it should begin to curdle.
- Line a colander with a clean, white muslin cloth or an un-dyed dishcloth. Strain the mixture through the cloth and squeeze out the excess fluid. Tie the cloth firmly with a piece of string and hang over a bowl to drain. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight until ready to serve.
- Serve thick slices of the ricotta with thin slices of ciabatta toast, nuts, preserved figs, biscotti and honey.
tashas good intentions
Sideris dubs this recipe “the healthiest dish imaginable.”
She says: “Good intentions includes no wheat, gluten, fat or sugar. It’s just delicious goodness in a bowl. The milk can be substituted with water or soya milk to make it lactose free, too.”
- 40g linseed
- 40g sunflower seed
- 40g almond shaving
- 500ml milk
- 500ml coconut milk
- 250ml seed mixture
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 4 dried figs, diced
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 dried figs, diced
- 16 almonds, halved
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 120ml honey
- To make the seed mixture, grind the linseed, sunflower seed and almond shaving in a food processor. The mixture should look like coarse flour, but most of the linseed will still be whole. Be careful not to over grind or it will become a paste.
- Make the porridge by mixing the milk, coconut milk and about 250ml of the seed mix in a pot. Add the sliced bananas, diced dried figs, cinnamon and vanilla essence. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Allow it to boil for four minutes only, stirring often to avoid lumps. It must still be slightly runny. Don’t let it become too thick.
Once the porridge is cooked, pour it into four bowls and garnish with the remaining figs and almonds. Serve the last of the banana and honey on the side.
You can find more recipes from Sideris in her cookbooks ‘tashas Cafe Classics’ and ‘tashas Inspired’. Both are available to purchase at the Flamingo Room by tashas and at all tashas cafe outlets.