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!

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A couple of weeks ago, my family and I had the pleasure of being invited to newly opened Fogo de Chão in DIFC, Dubai. This fine-dining Brazilian steakhouse might be new to our region, but has been around since 1979. It is rare to come across restaurant chains that have a long lineage of history, let alone one that started with humble beginnings and trail-blazed its presence across continents, proudly showcasing special cuts that are well and truly a part of the Brazilian heritage.

The founders of Fogo de Chão grew up on a traditional Southern Brazilian farm in Serra Gaucha where they learnt the art of churrasco grilling, a milestone that would soon pave the way for their very successful culinary careers.

Last weekend my little family and I were invited to try out the brand-new menu at Carnival by Tresind. This restaurant ranks high on my all-time favorites in the city, and never ceases to amaze. From the magical interiors to the spectacular dishes, all served with the frills and thrills we have become accustomed to when it comes to the Tresind label, I always get a tad too excited when dining here.

The new menu pays tribute to Colonial India, a time when the British reigned the country and had a significant influence on its traditional cuisine. 

Love crab, but a little wary  of the apron-clad hammering massacre scene? Brand new fine-dining destination Crab Market is a culinary haven for Dubai seafood lovers.

Located on the 15th floor Emirates Financial Towers (North Tower) in DIFC Dubai, the expansive new space boasts of panoramic views of the city, including the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Frame. The interiors are tastefully topnotch with starch-white linen, plush sofas a dedicated glass room for specialty wines, and a smorgasbord of delectable fresh seafood sitting on pristine ice right at the front.

They even have live crab in the tanks, and if you so wish, you can even have a go at fishing out your catch of the day with the automated mini forklifts.

Bargain alert! If you love Italian… the pasta, the pizza, the fruity wines, the tiramisu, the works, you can have it all in unlimited quantities for a mere AED 144 per person.

This amazing offer is available for both lunch and dinner throughout the week at Ricetta, Four Points by Sheraton’s authentic Italian restaurant.

You get a taste of provencal Italy as soon as you walk into the restaurant with its cheerful red checkered tablecloths, the make-believe fruits and vegetable market and a wall plastered with classy black and white photographs of Italy. 

Meat lovers rejoice! There’s a meaty new shack that has opened right by the photogenic shores of La Mer Dubai. SMK (or ‘Smoked Meat Kitchen’) is a brand new UAE-born concept spearheaded by UK Smoke Master, Luke Tully.

SMK Slow Cooked Meat Smoked Beef La Mer Dubai Review Food Blog UAE Lifestyle Blogger Beef Brisket (5)

The team have been trained by Shoreditch London’s well-loved restaurant SmokeStak.

SmokeStak is the brainchild of Michelin Star Chef David Carter. “His permanent restaurant in Shoreditch is to BBQ what opera is to nursery rhymes.” – London Evening Standard.

Luke has recently moved to Dubai, and brings with him many years of smoked meat talent. 

Last Thursday we were treated to a culinary and visual treat at newly opened Maison Rouge in Conrad Dubai. As the name suggests, the restaurant cum bar is luxuriously plush in vivid tones of red. Everything looks so theatrical even before the show begins!

Maison Rouge Conrad Dubai UAE Review Food Blog French Cabaret Violin Bar Club Night Life Steak Molecular Gastronomy (1)

We arrived a little before 9, and were ushered in with peppy, upbeat tunes by the live DJ. A well-stocked open bar adds to the ambiance, and you can also get a glimpse of the open-fire kitchen where a lineup of international delicacies are assembled together. 

Cracked wheat comes in various forms. Bulghur (or Burghul) is the most popularly used variant in Middle eastern cooking. Bulghar is essentially parboiled whole grain wheat, and the Indian variation is called Dalia.

Dalia is very similar to Bulghur, but I find it to be far softer in texture. Bulghur is used for all courses of the day, whereas in India, dalia is predominantly a breakfast staple.

This is not to be confused with Couscous. Unlike bulgur, couscous is not whole grain, and comes from a husked and crushed wheat called semolina. Couscous was originally made from millet, not wheat.

Coming back to Dalia, I love the versatility of this grain. You can replace it with Bulghur when not available, but do keep in mind that bulghur is more al dente.

On a recent trip to India, my husband had a chance encounter with Dalia. No need to get excited, this clandestine affair is strictly one of gluttony (or rather, the need to stray away from it). Dalia is not a pretty young lady, but rather a form of broken wheat. It is near identical to the Middle Eastern Bulghar (although I couldn’t find any articles online that confirmed the two to be the same).

Dalia is high in fibre, low in fat, and its slow absorption keeps you fuller longer and even stabilizes blood sugar levels.

Being so high up in terms of health benefits, you’d think it tastes pretty bland too. However, my husband came home with a super tasty (and super simple) recipe that is ideal for a wholesome breakfast or lunch. 

I love all things Shabby Chic. The pastels, the attention to the finer details… the French have immaculate taste for interiors, as they do for the art of cooking. Both elements come together in newly opened ‘Maison de Juliette‘, a home-grown concept now open in La Mer Dubai.

The interiors here are so Instagram-worthy, and even the staff here are immaculately dressed. We got there one breezy weekday, and decided to make the most of the beautiful weather by seating on a table outdoors.

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