Ramadan, also known as Ramzan in some parts of the world, is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and engaging in sexual relations. Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behaviour that may negate the rewards of fasting such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc) and fighting. Food and drink are only consumed before dawn and after sunset. Iftar is the meal consumed after sunset when the fast is broken and Suhoor is the last meal before sunrise before the fast begins. Dubai is known to have elaborate meals, events and functions specifically set up for this occasion. It is a time when friends and families come together and break bread.
DoinDubai, who provides helpful guidance on what to do when in Dubai, opened their doors with yet another BME (blogger-managed event). This time the theme was Ramadan Nights, a preview Iftar arranged by Dish Catering. They organised the entire evening, from decor set-up, to food and drink, to tableware. The evening was anything but ordinary, with a tasteful supper-club vibe.
Iftars are normally broken with dates and water and then move on to some refreshing beverages. A zingy, fresh green apple, cucumber, lemon juice, elderflower and basil concoction and a lychee juice and Middle Eastern rose number got our taste buds singing. These drinks were followed by some melt-in-your-mouth Medjool dates.
Starters and soup
A delicious handmade green olive hummus topped with pistachio and olive oil and a warm bread basket (the eye for detail was on point). Platters were used for serving to give the feeling of sharing and home, which also resonated with each dish.
We moved on to a well-seasoned and portioned roasted pumpkin and red lentil soup. This simple and delicious dish went well with the warm bread basket hanging around the table.
Grilled peach and green bean salad, served with rocket and orange blossom water dressing. The green beans had the perfect bite, and the sweetness from the peaches had me singing for more.
Torn falafel salad with fried cauliflower, pine nuts, sumac and tahini-yoghurt dressing. If all salads tasted like this, I would be vegetarian in a heartbeat. This was heaven in a bowl and I could have eaten it all, but we shared (or I tried!).
Salt-baked beetroot with za'atar, sesame seeds, mint and harissa labneh. The colours on this plate were stunning, and the contrasting flavors went beautifully well together.
The highlight of the night was lamb served on a bed of delicately spiced saffron rice pilaf. This lamb was braised in the oven with Middle Eastern spices for five hours and then reduced in its juices for another two hours. It was garnished with fried onions and toasted almonds. Accompaniments of refreshing preserved lemon, confit-roasted garlic and honey yoghurt helped to bring all the flavours together.
Succulent rose-water-, pomegranate- and almond-marinated charcoal chicken (aka shish tawook) – boneless chicken breast skewers garnished with fresh rose petals. I mean, seriously! Fresh rose petals? This dish was exceptional.
Tarator-style salmon with pickled radish, walnut, fennel and coriander. The salmon was smoked with aromatic spices and herbs and served on a banana leaf.
There were two mouth-watering desserts that were very cleverly thought out, and one of them had my name on it from the moment I laid my eyes on it: the chocolate coconut bomb – that’s what I call it at least – made with milk chocolate and coconut cremeux, coconut chips, chocolate soil, passion fruit and vanilla compote. The outer chocolate shell was shaped and textured to look like a coconut, with the remaining components hidden within.
The other dessert was a citrus mousse with pink grapefruit curd, caramelised pink grapefruit and pomelo citrus meringue. This was truly exotic and a combination of some strong, interesting flavours, but my heart belonged to the chocolate treat.
All in all, the dinner was a great combination of Middle Eastern flavours. Dish Catering will be serving up their special menu for Iftar every day starting from the first day of Ramadan, priced at 195 AED per person. Located in a warehouse in Al Qouz, the transformation to a pop-up dinner set-up was unbelievable. I absolutely loved the evening and appreciated the thoughtful vegetarian dish options. To learn more about what's happening in Dubai, head to DoinDubai. Ramadan Kareem, everyone!