Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Camel milk goes mainstream

Living in a largely ex-pat culture, your eating habits don't change much, even though you're living in a so-called foreign culture, so, I don't eat dates or sup camel milk, even though the aforementioned milk was one of the first things I wanted to try when I moved here.

Camel milk is fairly widely available in the UAE, although I get the feeling it's still viewed as a novelty, a cute local thing to try, even though it is something that is produced here with relative ease. There is a camel dairy, Camelicious, which revealed it had become licensed to export to Europe earlier this year and a camel milk chocolate company Al Nassma which has become the go-to gift of choice to take to the folks back home for ex-pats and tourists. I've tried it and have to say I couldn't taste any difference in flavour in it from cow's milk chocolate. And as any chocolate that tastes like chocolate is absolutely fine by me, I declare it a success.

You can try camel cheese, meat and milk drinks at various cafes and restaurants in Dubai. I won't list them because such theme restaurants tend to come and go and my information may well be out of date, but there is also a suggestion that produce from the UAE's camels could soon end up in the USA. So far, so promising, particularly when you consider the fact that it is widely trumpeted by its producers that it is lower in fat than its bovine counterpart and may be tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant when it comes to cow's milk. Although, it's worth bearing in mind that camels produce a fraction of the quantity of milk that cows produce each day so it's likely to be far less economical.

Another sign that it could be about to start truly taking off, though, is this:

It's a Costa strawberry-flavoured camel milk cooler. I've been meaning to try it since I spotted it on the menu boards at the Dubai Mall Costa over the summer, but, I'm a coffee person and when I want coffee, I want coffee, not a sugary milk sop like ice cream effort. But, you know, I made the sacrifice for you, my dear readers and last week I ordered one instead of my usual extra large, extra sour skimmed milk cappuccino. It's ok, no need to thank me.

I read in The National that this is part of an experiment to see if there is sufficient demand to introduce the concept in Costas nationwide, and in certain outlets, you can now order your coffee with camel instead of cow. I tried camel milk in both tea and instant coffee when I first came here. There is something about it that does something very strange to tea, but coffee is just about a strong enough flavour to mean that it's not over-powered by the slightly gamey taste. Strangely, I remember the coffee tasting creamier even though camel milk is lower in fat.

With the Camel Milk Cooler, it is fairly hard to tell what you are drinking because it is a drink that someone a good 25 years younger than me would find a little bit too sweet and cloying. I'm not sure whether it is meant to be ice cream or milk shake, something in between, but, as you can see, it is filled with great dollops of strawberry syrup, and I suspect the milk may have been sweetened too. I did not try the cow's milk version as I had a stomach full to the brim with camel-based sugary goodness by the time I had finished it, but I can report that it was not unpleasant. Was there a tiny little after-taste of something a little bit gamey or camelly? Perhaps, but frankly, I was buzzing so much from all the sugar, it was pretty hard to tell.

Anyway, as I said, no need to thank me: "Dubai Sand Witch, trying things so you don't have to," since 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I am a huge camel milk fan & try to have one of those little bottles, icy cold, straight from the fridge a day.

    It is off the hook, good for you & vastly superior to regular moo-cow milk in terms of iron, calcium and a host of Vits too whilst ALSO being much lower fat

    I carried out some research on it whilst I was actually working with camels & I am sold on what I understand is considered to be the new super-food.

    My 6 year old is keen too. It is suitable for the lacto-intolerant AND there have been studies looking at it helping to reduce SOME forms of tumours and autism in kids.

    I am always up for learning more about this stuff.

    But, despite my fandom, I still can only manage it icy-cold OR, like you, in coffee. On my cereal asks too much of me ;)