Zaatar Lamb and Crushed Lemon Potato with Chef Ron Pietruszka

Zatar Lamb and Crushed Lemon Potato with Chef Ron Pietruszka

Zaatar Lamb and Crushed Lemon Potato at Burjuman Treat 2012

I was invited to attend a Blogger Masterclass in Burjuman recently to learn the various nuances of cooking the exotic dish – Zatar Lamb and Crushed Lemon Potato, from Chef Ron Pietruszka, the Executive Chef of The Ritz Carlton, DIFC. We had the most sophisticated kitchen appliances in a very ‘open’ kitchen at Treat, The BurJuman World Food Fest 2012 where ‘aspiring chefs, families and  foodies can look forward to 12 days of free interactive masterclasses, cooking demos, dining etiquette workshops, competitions, food sampling and more’.

Treat – The BurJuman World Food Fest 2012 Not many of us get an opportunity like this – watching chef demos where exotic dishes are not only being cooked in-front of your eyes but also getting to hear the ‘little secrets’ behind cooking each dish. The chefs recalled their favourite dishes, their extensive travels and also how did their food journeys start. The word ‘Gourmet’ is a bit upper-lipped and seems inaccessible to most people. But Treat 2012 opens the door of 5-star kitchens to food enthusiasts like us!

Chef Ron Pietruszka, the Executive Chef of The Ritz Carlton, DIFC.

There are no hidden cost – tags involved. Entry is free. So is participation. And also the most crucial part – the tasting! Note that there’s a long queue for the Masterclasses and there are only 6 seats available for that. If you cross that steep hurdle, the spotlight is all yours! Suggestion – be there at 10am in the morning and don’t wait till the last minute… or better still, camp overnight so that you could be the first one to register. It’s more than worth every peck of salt and drop of oil in your pan!

You can do masterclasses and watch demos until 16th September. Following the opening day’s presentations by Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek will be presentations by The Ritz-Carlton DIFC (Arabic & French cuisine); Dubai Marriott Hotels (Italian); Dusit Thani Dubai (Thai & International Desert); Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah (Seafood) and Meliá Dubai (International & Indian Fusion).

The Masterclasses will take place daily at the specially created Teka Chef’s Theatre (opposite Virgin Megastore) from 4pm-5pm and will be open to audience participation on a first-come-first-served basis (up to 6 participants per masterclass). This will be followed by three cooking demos – each an hour long – taking place daily at 5.30pm; 6.45pm; 8.15pm.

On September 17th, for one evening only, will be a special series of masterclasses on Hot and Cold Canapes conducted by the International Centre for Culinary Arts Dubai (ICCA), one of the Top 10 culinary institutes in the World. Six half-hour ICCA masterclasses will take place at 4pm, 4.45pm, 5.30pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm and 8.30pm.

Masterclass with Chef Ron Pietruszka

On the first day of Treat 2012, Chef Uwe Micheel, Director of Kitchens, Chef Sai Min Hoo and Chef Sonbun Phongsri from Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek stirred up Modern German and Vietnamese recipes – including Chicken Escalope, Pan-Fried Fillet of Salmon, Grilled Lemon Grass Chicken Satays, Vegetable Spring Rolls, Ga Hap Ga and Com Chay.

The second day was presented by The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC with a dedicated food-blogger masterclass with Chef Ron Pietruszka. Along with a few other bloggers from the region, we donned our chef hats and aprons to stir up some exotic aroma and a delicious dish that added some solace to our hungry tummies and food enthusiasm. (from L to R below) – Debbie of Coffee Cakes and Running, myself, Radhina (Platetrotter), Archana (Khana Mama)

To be honest, I haven’t cooked such a little portion (one portion!) before and that too in-front of such a huge audience. Neither have I been assisted by Chefs before or a kind assistant who would just help me to start my cooker – actually a very sophisticated cooking gadget from Teka with touch-screen technology. I would describe it as a Cooker version of an iPad!

Assistance came in the shape of Chefs of all sizes – from real Chefs helping the participants to the little ones helping Chef Ron himself (below R) when Chef Ron had his daughter helping him with the Crushed Potatoes.

I too had my personal photographer clicking all my stirring. Big Z as usual, was thrilled to be a part of such a culinary experience. She clicked and she clicked. Unlike Li’l Z who was only interested in seeing herself on the projection on the big screen behind the stage, Big Z was most certainly waiting for me to finish cooking so that she could finally taste something she’s never tasted – crushed Purple Potatoes!

Zaatar Lamb & Crushed Lemon Potato

Cuisine type – Arabic

Lamb Rack – 6 pcs
Potatoes – 6 medium sizes, boiled and unpeeled (Note: Chef Ron prefers to keep the skins so that the vitamins are not lost)
100gm Zaatar (Zaatar is a very popular local herb used in Middle Eastern cuisine)
Salt, as per taste
Pepper, as per taste
Bread Crumbs – 150gm
Olive Oil – 1/2 cup
Tahina – 1/4 cup (Tahini is also a very popular paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds used in Middle Eastern cuisine)
Raisin Sauce – 200ml
Pomegranates – 3 tbsp
Thyme, for garnishing
Lemon Juice – 2 tbsp

The Marination
Garlic, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Pepper – The Lamb Racks need to be marinated for 1-2 hours with the marination (the proportion of each ingredient in the Marination depends upon individual preference)

Method of Preparation – Zaatar Lamb:
– Smear the Lamb Racks with Pepper, Salt, Lemon Juice
– Sear the marinated Lamb Racks
– Dip the Lamb Racks in Tahini
– Roll them over a mixture of Bread Crumbs and Zaatar
– In a pre-heated oven (190° F) grill the Lamb Racks
– Poke into the centre of each Lamb Rack with a Digital Thermometer to check the internal temperature and cook till the meat is done to your liking*

Method of Preparation – Lemon Crushed Potato:
– Heat the butter in flat-bottomed pan
– Crumble the boiled unpeeled Potatoes and add the Crumble into the heated pan
– Add Salt, Pepper, the mixed mixture of Bread Crumbs and Zaatar, Lemon Juice
– Cook for a while (Whether you want to make a very smooth mash or want it a bit crumbly depends upon each preference)

Garnish the Zaatar Lamb and Lemon Crushed Potato with Raisin Sauce, Pomegranates and Thyme.


How will you know that your Meat and your Steak is done? A link to an easy understanding of that can be had here. Based on the internal temperature you can tell when the steak is done to your liking.

Very Rare Steak – 120°
Rare Steak – 125°
Medium-Rare Steak – 130° – 135°
Medium Steak – 140° – 145°
Medium-Well Steak – 150° – 155°
Well-Done Steak – 160°

Chef Philippe Brunear, Chef De Cuisine demonstrated how to make Salmon Rillete and Tomato Tart (below)…

And finally, the ultimate Chocolate Mousse was whisked up by Chef Guillaume Marchand, the Pastry Chef.

And yes, the time arrived when we could taste what the Chefs had been creating in-front of us. Yes, this was a very big deal indeed. This was real-time Cooking Show with a 4D effect – we could see, smell, feet and most importantly, taste!

Trust destiny to thrust me into the company of who else but Sounak, a Bengali Chef working in The Ritz-Carlton – all the way from Kolkata. A Bengali foodie connection – how could my dish go even remotely wrong?


Day 3 had Dubai Marriott Hotels showcasing Italian Cuisine. Chef Francesco, the Italian Chef (below L) who hails from Sicily taught how to cook Costoletta Alla Milanese Con Patate in the Masterclass followed by cooking demos of various Italian dishes.

Greed never ceases. Seeing others participate in the Masterclass is not a very heartening experience!


What else can one expect in Treat 2012?

Head to the South Village for ‘Table Setting & Culinary Etiquette’ – a series of informative workshops by leading etiquette institute Finishing Touch, on everything from table settings for different menus and occasions, special festive table decorations, creative centre-pieces, cutlery usage, napkin folding, tea etiquette, cocktail party etiquette, creative ways of using fruit and vegetables for decorations and more.

The free half-hour workshops will take place daily from September 11th – 17th at 5.45pm, 7pm and 8.45pm. Tableware and props used will be provided by lifestyle stores Villeroy & Boch and The One.

Kids’ can look forward to a sweet surprise on both Treat weekends. Thursday to Saturdays from 5-9pm Kitsch Cupcakes will offer them a fun way to learn creative cupcake decorations. Kids can decorate their own cupcakes and carry them home!

You’ll get more details regarding the event schedule in the Burjuman website.


 An unique experience and a humbling experience for me with the realisation of how much effort goes into churning up one single dish that we order in a restaurant. Each dish is a work of art, an unique masterpiece.

Recipes of all the cooking that is being done can be found in the Burjuman Facebook under the tab Treat 2012. But to get a first hand experience in knowing the little tit-bits, it’s better to be there in person. Here, I have to admit that the recipes are not quite full-proof and I’ve had to modify the recipe here according to my own experience in the Masterclass. The Chefs in the 5-star hotel may have perfected the art of creating spectacular dishes but they probably are not the perfect Recipe -writers!

And yes, I also have to add that my enthusiasm has been equally fuelled by Burjuman’s tweet-versations (@itsBurJuman) with me as early as 3am in the morning today…

@IshitaUnblogged: All the recipes for the Masterclass n Chef’s demos were supposed to be in the website. Can’t find them #ChefDemos #Treat2012!
@itsBurJuman: Hi Ishita. You can find all the recipes on our Facebook page in our #Treat2012 tab.
@IshitaUnblogged: Wow! Found them… Thanks so very much:) You guys don’t sleep?
@itsBurJuman: We’re glad you found it! Hope you enjoy browsing through the recipes. We are always here to help. 🙂


So what do think we ate for lunch today? Zaatar Lamb and Crushed Lemon Potato, naturally! It’s obvious that I’ll be showing off my newly acquired culinary skill and it really turned out fantastic (below). After all, how often do I get the chance to say that I learnt this in a Masterclass, from the Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton himself?

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: Though a few of us were invited to the Masterclass, all the other Masterclasses are open to public. A few pictures are courtesy the event organisers. Link to the posts of other Fooderati Members… (CoffeeCakesAndRunning); A Treat of an Afternoon (Platetrotter); Zaatar Marinated Lamb with Crushed Lemon Potatoes at Treat:The BurJuman World Food Fest 2012 (Khana Mama)



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