From Russia with love, lots of spices

How about Russia food with a dash of Arabian spices at the weekend?
Welcome to the Russian Week being held at the Al Bustan — A Ritz Carlton Hotel where exotic Russian dishes and Russian-themed entertainment events are being held, thanks to scores of Russian nationals flying in to the Sultanate as result of Oman’s ambitious tourism development plans.
“Yes, it is a flavoursome journey combining the traditional as well as the modern culinary delights of Russia,” says chef Alexey Belikov from Russia’s acclaimed Vanil Restaurant chain, Novikov.
Chef Alexey is whipping up Russian classics such as gravlax, pavlova, tartar and caviar, all imbued with a sense of Russia’s modern identity.
Chef Alexey began his career at a young age and by the time he reached 26, he became a celebrity chef.
“For me, spices are greatly important and without spices I cannot make any dish be it Russian, continental or Chinese, let alone the Arabian dishes,” giggles chef Alexey.
Born in Byslan near Georgia and grew up in Kafkas city where lots of spicy foods are available, he attributes his love for spices to the restaurants where he worked. He feels there are so many resemblances between the Indian and Arab dishes.
“Cuisine-wise, Arab and Indian dishes have something in common and I’m pretty sure that the culture between the two regions might have been based on culinary exchanges besides people to people interactions,” avers chef Alexey.
Russian cuisine is extremely interesting and creative, reflecting the tapestry of people and cultures from which it originates, and it is sought out by millions of tourists every year,” said Eric Meloche, Director of Food & Beverage and Culinary at Al Bustan.
Chef Alexey is hosting a range of unique culinary events to give guests an authentic taste of a cuisine steeped in culture and history. At the exclusive cooking class, guests are able to also try their hand at showstopping dishes such as beef tartar with seaweed and tomato sauce with jalapeno, perlotto with sweet potatoes and squid, and savoy cabbage rolls with halibut and tiger prawns.
“I’m totally in love with Omani cuisine and my efforts to make fusion of both countries’ gastronomic delights are becoming fruitful. One thing that I want to take away from Oman is the exquisite spices from here and Omani food is my type of food.
I learn a lot of things from Omani cuisine which is appetising to people from across the world,” said chef Alexey.