My very first ‘Iftar’ this year was a good two weeks before the start of Ramadan (oh the perks of being a food blogger!). On Wednesday 10th May, I sat at a very festive table alongside a mixed group of journalists, bloggers and their families to delve into a very authentic feast.
How does the Iftar at Fairmont Dubai differ from other grand, Arabesque Iftars that are so prevalent across the city this month?
First off, there’s no intimidating buffet. I am not a huge fan of buffets, for a number of reasons. Apart from the long queuing (which isn’t fun to do with a bunch of fasters eagerly awaiting to break fast!), most buffets in Dubai tend to be enormous, covering up an entire rooms, their nooks and crevices. No one I know can possibly eat each and every item, and enjoy it too… and just think of all that wastage!
And secondly, there’s something so intrinsically beautiful about sitting together for a meal, where each dish is served to you, fresh and hot, right at the table. At the Fairmont Dubai Iftar, you actually get a chance to sit and socialize, while all the dishes are graciously spooned onto your plate by skillful staff members. Talk about getting spoilt!
Thirdly, this Iftar at Fairmont Dubai takes inspiration from not one, but eight very influential world cuisines. Inspired by the voyages of famous Arabian explorers, the menu has been prepared with time-honored traditions in mind, and includes mouth-watering specialties from The Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, former Ottoman Empire, Levant, Southeast Asia, Morocco, Persia and the Mughal empire.
Led by the skilled Executive Chef Tuomas Heikkinen, each dish from the eight influential regions has been prepared by talented chefs, who hail from the respective countries, ensuring that Fairmont Dubai’s Iftar has a truly authentic dining experience.
We experienced the grand Iftar spread at Summit, Fairmont Dubai’s exclusive conference hall, set on the 33rd floor. An elaborately long dining table was set, laid with a very traditional Bedouin-print table-cloth and adorned with silver trinkets that one might collect on an exotic holiday exploring the Middle East.
However, during Ramadan, the Iftar is being served in an exclusive, ornately decorated Ramadan tent in Farimont Dubai’s all-day dining restaurant Cascades.
Here is a look at some of my favorites from the scrumptious fare…
To quench the thirst, the drinks list includes traditional favorites including Tamar Dien, Jallab, Tamer Hindi, Laban up, Apple Juice, Rose Milk, Erak Sous and Sparkling Dates. My favorite is the tangy-sweet Tamer Hindi (a sweetened tamarind drink).
The star dish of the night was the Lamb Ouzi. Like a birthday ceremony where a large cake is cut and applauded, at Arabesque Iftars its the Ouzi. With much fanfare, the full-sized roasted lamb was carved, and served on a bed of aromatic pilaf, garnished with nuts.
Apart from the Ouzi, the main-course included Khoresh anaar (Iranian chicken), Thareed laham (UAE), Opor ayam (Indonesian chicken), Cous cous with Lamb Stew (Moroccan), Tas kebabi (Turkish beef), Samak with Hara Sauce (Lebanon), Fattah Chickpea with Yoghurt Sauce (Syria), Seafood kabsa (Lebanon), Iranian rice and Steamed Vegetables. Quite a feast!
However, the unanimous favorite across the table was the absolutely divine Chicken Shawarma! Who would have thought the ever-popular street-food could outshine all these decadent dishes? And moreover, who would have thought that the best shawarma I’ve ever eaten in all my life in the Gulf would be hidden in the opulence of Fairmont Dubai?! Brimming with chicken goodness, and unabashedly greasy with chicken fat, this shawarma is wrapped in paper-thin layers of bread and toasted for light crispness. Absolutely divine! You have to taste it to believe it, and I really do hope they will make this available post-Ramadan as well.
We ended our very satiating meal with steaming hot cups of aromatic Moroccan tea, and a platter of mixed Arabic sweets.
Overall, the Iftar spread at Fairmont Dubai really does live up to its promise of an exceptionally authenic Iftar. If the mock setup can be this stunning, I am pretty eager to visit their Ramadan tent at Cascades Restaurant! The variety of food is well thought out, and compliment one another beautifully. And the service is immaculate! Love the idea of actually getting the dishes served onto my plate.
Celebrate the spirit of togetherness with your loved ones this Ramadan, and treat yourselves to an authentic Iftar at Fairmont Dubai.
Iftar Buffet is available daily at Cascades, Fairmont Dubai (Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai) during the holy month of Ramadan from sunset until 9.30pm, and is priced at AED210 per person, including Ramadan juices. Special group rates are available at Cascades as well as Private Iftar venues on the 33rd floor. For more information or reservations, please call +971 4 311 8316 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fairmont.com/Dubai.