Ramadan Kareem! Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a very joyous, blessed month.
Ramadan is by far my most favorite month of the year. This month of fasting observed by Muslims the world over is the perfect time for personal introspection, a time for both a physical and emotional cleanse.
Apart from the shorter work hours that we enjoy in our part of the world, I love how everything comes to life in the evenings. The Ramadan markets will soon be abuzz, and the malls are open well past midnight. And the food… we are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to both Iftar and Suhoor buffets.
I’ve had the pleasure of trying out a few Iftars, and will keep updating this list as the month goes by. Hope you find it useful!
Iftar at Channels, Media Rotana
Media Rotana is a bit of an icon in the Barsha area of Dubai. This 5 star hotel has been around for a while now, and offers quite a number of distinctive cuisines under its belt. This Ramadan, their all-day dining restaurant Channels has put together an exquisite Iftar fare that not only covers traditional Arabic cuisine (including the star dish Lamb Ouzi), but also has an international fare (they even have sushi!).
My favorite corner at this buffet was the Arabic sweets. They have such a wide variety, and a special section of cream-filled, rose-water infused treats that are not overly sweet and almost too pretty to eat.
Address: Hessa Street, Barsha Heights Dubai
Timings: Sunset till 8.30 pm
Rates per person: AED 180 and AED 90 for children age 6-12
Website: Media Rotana
This contemporary Emirati fine-dining restaurant never fails to impress. Absolutely love the interiors here, and you also get a grand view of the Dubai eye to boot. This Ramadan, their Iftar buffet features many of their best-loved menu items. Look out for the Date & Pomegranate Salad, the ceremonious Lamb Ouzi, the Chicken Biryani and I highly recommend grabbing a bowl full of their lip-smacking Seven Sands Sticky Date Pudding.
Address: Shop # 5102,The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai
Timings: Sunset till 9 pm
Rates per person: AED 155 per person, including soft beverages. 50% off for children aged 6-12; Children below 6 dine for free.
Website: Seven Sands
Layali Al Bustan Tent, RODA Al Bustan Hotel
Looking for a flamboyantly extravagant affair, and got a brood of very diverse palates to feed? Book a table at the stunning indoor tent at Roda Al Bustan Hotel this Ramadan. The buffet is absolutely massive, and covers a number of world cuisines including Arabic, Thai (from their award-wining Bambooda restaurant) and a mini bazaar-style area of Indian treats.
Those with a sweet tooth will rejoice seeing the endless varieties of generously large pastries, almost too pretty to eat. And they even have live music running in the background.
My favorites here include the tantalizing array of Indian grilled kebabs, the mildly spiced Thai Green Curry and the flamboyantly large, chocaholic yet berry-filled Chocolate Dome from the dessert aisle.
Address: Casablanca St, Garhoud Dubai
Timings: Sunset till 9 pm
Rates per person:
Website: RODA Al Bustan Hotel
Jodhpur Royal Dining
Looking for an Iftar fit for a Maharaja? A Maharaja open to the magic of fusion Indian? Jodhpur Royal Dining has an elaborate set menu for Iftar, both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
From magical dates and their signature Chaat Macaroons to divinely delicious Lamb Haleem and Chicken Dum Phukt cooked with cream and cheese, the menu also includes interesting innovations like the Portobello Mushroom Masala Poha and the Gulab Jamun, Mango Mousse and Gulkand Ice-Cream.
Jodhpur Royal Dining lives up to its ‘royal’ promise, complete with all the bells and whistles of modern-day molecular gastronomy drama. And let’s not forget the interiors… the pale turquoise walls with hints of gilded gold are a beautiful ode to an enchanted Indian palace.
Best of all, if you are like me and detest lines at the buffet counters, the set menu here means all you have to do is place your order. The service is fantastic, and all the magic happens at the table. Click here for more details.
Address: RODA Al Murooj, Al Saada Street, Opp.Dubai Mall، Downtown Dubai
Timings: Sunset till late
Rates per person: AED 199
Phone: 04 355 9846
Al Maeda, Doubletree by Hilton JBR
Al Maeda translates to a family meal, one where the entire brood of elders to the youngest sit together around a table for a feast. What an apt name for this quintessentially Arabesque restaurant at Doubletree by Hilton (The Beach, JBR Dubai).
The interiors are beautifully kitsch incorporating elements of an exotic Levant bazaar yet managing to add the panache of fine dining with some spectacular seating arrangements and modernesque lighting. Adding to the authentic touch, the Iftar buffet includes the live performance of an oud and tabla player who croon out soulful Arabic melodies while you eat.
Chef Laurence heads the kitchen here. He is half Syrian and half Italian, and this interesting mix is the probably explanation behind his effortless fusion of classic Arabic with a hint of European flavors.
The Iftar buffet features many Arabic favorites, as well as some lesser known delicacies. I loved the Brinjal Fateh (deep fried brinjal slices layered with spiced yogurt and chickpeas) and the Dawood Basha (traditional Arabic meatball curry). The Lamb Ouzi here is one of my favorites so far this Ramadan; the meat was ‘falling off the bone’ tender and the pilaf it sat on was deliciously flavorful. From the desert isle, I highly recommend their Rose Creme Brule, a beautiful touch of the Mediterranean to a classic European treat.
Address: Doubletee by Hilton, JBR
Timings: 7 pm to 10 pm
Rates per person: AED 139
Website: Doubletree by Hilton JBR
Beachside Ramadan Tent at Sheraton Sharjah
Imagine an Arabesque tent by the sea, complete with ceremonious red Persian carpets and an exquisite buffet featuring Arabic favorites. A talented oud player strums classic tunes, while through the window you can witness the sunset as the call to prayer signals the end of the day’s fast. A camel, bedecked with Bedouin finery casually strides past, adding to the exotic aura of the scene.
The elaborate buffet features a number of live cooking stations including a shawarma counter where shreds of chicken are wrapped up in freshly baked saj bread, a pasta station where you get to customize your sauces and my favorite, a special station dedicated to calamari where it gets stir-fried with shrimps and mushrooms in a delectable butter sauce.
From the desserts isle, I highly recommend the sticky date pudding and the classic creamy-sweet Umm Ali.
Address: Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort and Spa, Al Muntazah Street – Sharjah
Timings: 7 pm to 10 pm
Rates per person: AED 145
Website: Sheraton Sharjah
The Biggest Sea-View Ramadan Tent in Ajman
Ajman Hotel (previously known as Ajman Kempinski) has this hauntingly beautiful old-world charm about it that cannot be replicated in the more snazzier, new-age properties of Dubai.
I have visited this property often, and especially so for my favorite Indian restaurant Bukhara. With the onset of the holy month, Ajman Hotel has transformed its scenic outer patio into a glorious Ramadan tent.
The bright red symbolic Bedouin handicraft takes presidence of the decor, and the view of the sea adds to the magic of the Arabic hospitality as the sun melts into the crashing waves, bringing with it the call to prayer.
The buffet is expansive and covers a number of world cuisines. You will find sushi at the salad counter, Indian chaats and curries including the ever-popular Daal Makhani from Bukhara, a live station for pasta as you like it from the hotel’s very popular Italian restaurant Sabella’s, and a predominance of Arabic cuisines ranging from Emirati, Egyptian and Lebanese.
They have a live shawarma counter here, where the meaty goodness is wrapped in freshly baked saj bread. Best of all, this counter also has Manakeesh the way you like it. I like mine meaty with cheese and generous sprinkles of zaater please.
Another one of my favorites here was the Emirati Tharid. This meaty broth featuring a whole load of bread is a Ramadan specialty, a moreishly tasteful, filling dish that easily satiates a fasting palate.
The desserts isle offers many Arabic favorites as well as beautifully decorated pastry cuts. I discovered a Black Forest Trifle here, and had to have seconds.
Address: Ajman Hotel, Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi Street – Ajman
Timings: From sunset to 8.30 pm, and a la carte till 3 am
Rates per person: AED 145
Website: Ajman Hotel
Iftar & Shisha Deal at Celsius, Nassima Royal Hotel
I went out with the girls last night; a girls (Iftar) night out at Celsius, Nassima Royal Hotel. I’ve been to this all-day dining restaurant of the hotel a number of times, and was quite impressed with how they’ve transformed the interiors with Arabesque decor (festive lanterns, Bedouin prints et al) for Ramadan.
The buffet features a wide selection of salads and hot mezze. The mains are not as plentiful, and my vegetarian friend found herself having a second round of starters as her mains.
However, the highlight of this Iftar is their shisha deal. You can opt for a set menu for AED 99 per person, but if you upgrade to the ‘all you can eat’ at AED 175, you get a complimentary shisha, which you can puff to glory in absolute ‘Arabian Nights’ style on the 50th floor.
The 50th floor is bedecked with Arabesque charm. Lounge on their comfy chaises and take in the majestic views of the city by night.
Address: Sheikh Zayed Road, Trade Centre District – Dubai
Timings: From sunset to 8.30 pm, shisha till late
Rates per person: AED 175
Website: Nassima Royal Hotel
Iftar at Yalumba, Le Meridien Dubai
It’s intriguing to see one of Dubai’s most popular watering holes transform into an oasis of traditional treats for Ramadan. Ever-popular Australian restaurant Yalumba in Le Meridien (Airport Road, Dubai) offers an expansive international Iftar buffet for a very reasonable AED 169 per head.
There’s something for everyone here. From much-loved Levant favorites including refreshing sips of Jalab and Tamar El Hind, creamy sweet Umm Ali and the ceremonious Lamb Ouzi, the buffet also caters to South Asian Iftar traditions with a corner dedicated to pakodas (loved the Chicken Pakoda here!), a number of popular curries including Butter Chicken and Malabar Prawns, and they even have Rooh Hafza in the drinks section.
Some of my personal favorites included the very hearty, lemon-laced Lentil Soup, the very aromatic, meaty Lamb Ouzi and generous scoops of Rose Ice-Cream. Oh and did I mention the Katayef? Loved this childhood favorite at Yalumba and had it with copious drizzles of rose syrup!
Address: Ground Floor, Le Meridien, Airport Road Dubai
Timings: From sunset to 8.30 pm
Rates per person: AED 169
Website: Yalumba Dubai
Iftar at Republic & Co, Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront
Republic & Co is a restaurant and lounge concept imported from Beirut. The original branch has a massive fan following, and the brand new Dubai counterpart is set to deliver on the same promise with its 24-hour service.
Located on the ground floor of Radisson Blue at the Dubai Waterfront, the spacious interiors look invitingly plush, stylish and inviting.
We rushed to the venue a few minutes prior to the Maghrib call to prayer. I was a little disappointed to see there was no water or dates arranged on the table and had to request for it. On the positive note, this is a set iftar menu that is served hot on the table. No buffet queues here.
The menu features an array of hot and cold mezze followed by a platter of mixed grills. Loved the shish tawook here; so flavorful, so moist and succulent. The funny thing is the mixed grill came with a large bowl of what appeared to be spinach. I love spinach and had a generous serving. As the waiter cleared the table, he inquired if we liked ‘the chicken downstairs’ (gotta love his Russian take on English). So it appears we ate the spinach and never discovered the chicken down under! Would have gone so well with the platter of plain rice served on the side.
We ended with creamy, sweet bowls of Umm Ali. The serving sizes here are just right. We left satiated and not bloated. The interiors are beautiful, the grills platter a clear winner, and if you are anything like me and detest the maddening queues and overcrowded spaces, an Iftar at Republic & Co is the place to be.
And don’t forget to dig in for the chicken…
Address: Ground Floor, Radisson Blue Dubai Waterfront
Timings: From sunset to 8.30 pm
Rates per person: AED 170
Iftar at Shababeek, Al Qasba Sharjah
Have you been to Al Qasba, Sharjah? Despite loosing the signature ferris wheel facet, this area continues to be a destination for tourists and residents alike. The place looks like one big party with its water feature, open-plan European-style cafes and Insta-worthy nooks and crannies.
We were invited for Iftar at Shababeek at Al Qasba. ‘Shababeek’ translates to ‘windows’ in Arabic, and the staff there tell us the whole premise of this name stems from the idea of opening new windows (or possibilities) for Lebanese cuisine.
The interiors of the restaurant are tastefully shabby chic, and looks like a chic cafe you may come across on the fashionable streets of Paris.
The Iftar here is a set menu that is served hot on the table. Given it is Ramadan, we have been over-fed with Arabesque menus and it was quite refreshing to taste quite a few interesting twists here.
First off, I loved their Rose Lemonade; a bright red sherbet with a delicate balance of tangy-sweet and floral. Then there was the Kebab Karaz from the hot mezzes; decadent mini meatballs served in a tangy-sweet cherry sauce that had me licking up for more. However, my favorite from the night was the show-stopper main dish; the Oriental Braised Lamb Shank with Freekeh Pilaf. I was envisioning lamb ranks sitting on a bed of freekeh, but instead it came as an exotic-looking pie. The crust was a decadent golden brown, and the steamy-hot flavorful filling made freekeh-detesting me polish up the dish.
If you are looking for a tasteful ambiance with a very innovative take on Levant cuisine, a booking at Shababeek will not disappoint. And best of all, the have tea and coffee included in the menu! Its the small things that count after all.
Address: Al Qasba, Sharjah
Timings: From sunset to 8.30 pm
Rates per person: AED 170
Ramadan Weekend at Bin Majid Beach Hotel
Why just stick to the conventional Iftar out when you can make a staycation out of it? The all-inclusive package at Bin Maid Beach Hotel is so good a deal, you’ll be more than happy to take an entie troupe of friends and family along too!
Applicable during Ramadan only, you get a standard room and access to all the hotel’s F&B outlets as well as pool and beach access with kayaking thrown in for a crazy AED 440 for a couple. And for non-Muslims, this is an even better deal as it includes unlimited alcohol.
Our room was colorfully retro and cozy, but we spent most of the day by the pool and beach. We broke fast at Al Rahala restaurant, the hotel’s all-day dining hub. The Mediterranean buffet features a range of starters, a number of delicious mains and continental desserts. To drown it down, we had coffee at Arcadia Cafe, and enjoyed late-night live entertainment and a round of billiards at Pebbles Bar. An elaborate Suhoor was served in our room a little after 2 am. Click on my Instagram post below for more.
Address: Bin Majid Beach Hotel, Ras Al Khaimah
Staycation Cost Per Couple: AED 440
Website: Bin Majid Beach Hotel
Iftar the Indian Fine-Dining Way at Khyber, Dukes Dubai
It must be my Desi genes, but I get a little tired of elaborate continental buffets pretty fast and crave a good old Indian meal. Located on the 15th floor of five-star British hotel Dukes Dubai in The Palm Jumeirah, Khyber restaurant boats of breathtaking views of the Dubai skyline.
The interiors of the restaurant are a work of art, paying ode to a bygone historic era with beautifual painted murals, voluptuous pillars and life-sized earthern urns that reminded my little one of stories from The Arabian Nights.
Khyber offers a special Ramadan set menu for AED 185 per person, inclusive of Iftar juices. The three-course menu includes a decadent platter of Keema Sheekh Kebab, Murg Chaap, Cocktail Samosa and Pakodas for the starters round.
The main-course is a proper North Indian thaali featuring Murg Methi, Rara Gosht, Prawn Usmani Korma, Paneer Makhani, Dal Makhani, Khber Chicken Biryani and assorted breads. Quite a feast!
For desserts we had Shahi Tukda, Kheer and Ras-Gulla, and needless to say we were satiated to the brim. The food here is absolutely delicious, the service top-notch and add to it the stunning views and uniquely beautiful interiors, and you really have a bargain deal for AED 185 per person. Make a booking today!
Address: Khyber, 15th Floor – Dukes Dubai
Timings: From sunset onwards
Website: Khyber Dubai
Iftar at Ostro Dubai
Located on the ground floor of Dusit D2 Kenz hotel in the heart of Barsha Heights Dubai, Ostro is a beautifully chic Mediterranean restaurant with very welcoming wide spaces, shabby chic design elements and friendly, smiling staff.
The Iftar buffet features a spread of hot and cold mezze, and a platter of freshly grilled kebabs that are served on the table. I loved the Minstrone Soup here, soup is always so solfully good for breaking fast. From the Mains, I highly recommend the Ostro specialty, their perfectly roasted chicken. The meat is deliciously moist and flavorful, ad is served with a special gravy sauce. I also loved the Eggplant Fatteh and Tomato Rice. My husband enjoyed their carved meats and Beef Strogranoff.
The dessert isle features a number of exotic treats including a very pretty Green Tea Tart and Coffee Mousse Cake. They also have Indian-style Kheer, kept warm on a burner, and the Umm Ali here is absolutely divine.
Address: Ostro, Dusit D2 Kenz Hotel, Barsha Heights Dubai
Cost: AED 165 per person
Website: Ostro Dubai