This weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to a breakfast feast courtesy of the lovely Dana Elemara, founder of Arganic, at Jone’s the Grocer café in Al Safa Dubai. Arganic was launched three years ago by Dana, who left a career in the corporate world to pursue this niche venture.
Working directly with Beber tribes from a small village in the South West of Morocco Arganic produces high quality, health boosting argan oil. Before meeting Dana, my knowledge of argan oil was mostly from a cosmetic point of view as we so commonly see it marketed. However as Dana correctly points out, beauty comes from within, for if your body is unhealthy on the inside it can never look it’s best on the outside.
So with that being said, I had to ask, what makes argan oil so great? Well, I learned it has a range of health promoting properties including aiding digestion, regulating blood sugar, reducing bad cholesterol and it has three times the amount of vitamin E, (the one that does wonders for our skin!), than olive oil. Not so bad.
But then, why choose Arganic argan oil rather than any other brand? The answer to this lies in Dana’s passion for top quality, sustainable produce and her applaudable work with the Berber people. Let me fill you in…
Arganic work directly with local people in Morocco, paying them fairly not to cut down the argan trees. Arganic only employ Berber women to do all the handwork in producing their oil and these women are paid for their time. I was amazed as I listened to Dana explaining the process of producing the oil and I can now understand how the price of her product is justified given the level of work put into it’s production.
Here’s what happens… The argan tree produces fruits which once dropped from the tree are collected and dried. The outer layer is removed and fed to animals and the remaining husk or kernel is hand-cracked to retrieve the seed inside. From this seed the oil is extracted. The aforementioned husks are sold to cosmetic companies for use as scrubs or exfoliant so or some are used in pottery. Before cold-pressing the seeds are lightly toasted to bring out it’s nutty taste and then mixed with raw seeds to retain 96% of its nutritional value. Arganic I am told are the only company which do this, explaining why their oil is lighter in colour than others found on the market. Keeping with their no waste philosophy, the pulp from the pressed seeds is then used as fuel for fires by the local Berber people.
So it does great for my body, it is produced at the highest, fairest level – now to the taste. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of oils because of how greasy they traditionally are and as my blog followers will know I only use coconut oil or very occasionally olive oil in my recipes. Albeit, never one to shy away from an acclaimed health food I was excited to try the oil and see if it lived up to Dana’s impressive background story! Well rest assured Arganic doesn’t falter at the final hurdle. Unlike many other oils it doesn’t leave a greasy residue but is smooth on the palate with a nutty, buttery, yet strangely light, taste and texture.
I was surprised when we were served a dish of coconut milk porridge with mango on which to drizzle the oil as I would have presumed the oil for savoury use, for example paired with eggs as above, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked providing a subtle richness and extra sustenance to a breakfast meal. (I confess I enjoyed it so much I may have even added a second helping to the dish!)
All in all, I am delighted I had the opportunity to be introduced to Dana & her Arganic brainchild and I am looking forward to using Arganic in future recipes. If you too would like to get your hands on it, the London based product, used by many Michelin-starred chefs in the UK including one of my favourite chefs and cookbook authors, Ottolenghi, is available in two sizes exclusively at Jones the Grocer cafés in the UAE.
The beautiful Dana, proudly displaying a bottle of her Arganic argan oil