Iftar recipes to try

Great recipes from the city’s top chefs to try during the Holy Month

Iftar recipes to try
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With Ramadan upon us, many people are greeting sunset by inviting friends and family around for a meal. Sara Taher rounds up some great recipes from the city’s top chefs to try during the Holy Month.

Abu Dhabi is now full of people visiting all those iftars at hotels and restaurants. But while trying these buffets is a great way to explore new dishes, Ramadan is also about sharing a home cooked meal with family and friends. If you have never prepared an iftar before and are planning on inviting people over for one, we’ve compiled some great tips and recipes that could make the event a breeze.

If you are cooking an iftar for guests, you need to be aware of the exact time that people break their fast. The time varies each day by a few minutes, and the time coincides with when the sun sets. While it may be impossible to ensure the food is set on the table as soon as the sun sets, you can prepare little dishes for your guests to break their fast with before the main attractions arrive. Commonly, many people break their fast on dates, dried fruits, nuts and juices such as amaredine (apricot nectar) or jalab (nectar made from molasses, rose water and dates).

Iftar usually consists of a starter, typically a soup, a salad, a main dish and a dessert. There are many places around the city that sell excellent desserts and if you are invited to an iftar, you should definitely pick up some traditional Arabic sweets and present them to your host. Aside from the traditional salads of tabbouleh and fattoush, we spoke to some chefs in the city and got some great recipes that you can try at home to host a fabulous iftar!

Fried hammour syideh with sumac, warm tabbouleh and rocket leaves
Walid El Sayed, sous chef at Sofra Bld, Shangri-La Hotel

A fantastically flavoursome dish served with everyone’s favourite Middle Eastern salad.

Ingredients
40g Onions
20g Garlic
20g Hammour fillet
30ml Lemon juice
5g Cumin powder
5g Coriander powder
20g Tahina
1 Fresh lemon
10g Rocket
5g Sumac powder
30g Arabic bread
30g Tabbouleh
100ml Corn oil
50ml Olive oil
100g Flour
Salt and white pepper to taste

Method
1 Slice the onions and garlic and mix them with sumac powder.

2 Marinate hammour with cumin, coriander, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

3 Toss the fish onto the flour and fry it in a deep pan in the corn oil.

4 Sauté rocket with olive oil, salt and pepper.

5 Slice the Arabic bread into thin strips and shape the pieces together, so they look like small bowls, and fry.

6 Serve the rocket in the middle of a plate with the fried hammour fillet, along with the sumac and onion mix on top.

7 Place the fried bread on the plate and fill it with warm tabbouleh salad.

8 Garnish with tahina and sliced lemon.

Click here for Freekeh with lamb and baba ghanoush
Click here for Harira soup
Click here for Saffron chicken with couscous and dry fruits sauce


Freekeh with lamb and baba ghanoush
Chef Mustafa Almulla, sous chef at the Sheraton

Baba Ghanoush is a common course found in most Levantine cuisines and serves as a great dip. Freekeh is a very healthy alternative to rice.

Baba ghanoush Ingredients
1 Aubergine
20g Green pepper
30g Red pepper
15g Parsley
5ml Olive oil
10ml Lemon juice
15g White onion
10g Minced garlic
5ml Pomegranate syrup
50g Pomegranate seeds (to garnish)
20g Skinless tomato (small cubes)
Salt to season

Method
1 Roast the aubergine over charcoal or on the grill, then wash and remove the skin.

2 Chop the onion, pepper and parsley very finely and leave it to one side.

3 Cut the aubergines in half. One half needs to be finely chopped and mixed with the onion, garlic, pepper, salt, lemon, pomegranate syrup, olive oil and parsley. For the other half, scoop all the flesh out
and stuff with the mixture.

4 Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Freekeh with lamb Ingredients
200g Small lamb cubes
100g Freekeh
1ltr Lamb stock
10g Salt
10g Black pepper
50g Red onion, finely chopped
1 Piece of Arabic bread
1 Lemon
20g Ghee

Method
1 Wash the freekeh in water.

2 In a hot pot, place the ghee and sauté the onion for 3-4 minute until golden, then add the meat and cook for 10 minutes.

3 Add the freekeh and sauté with the meat for 4 minutes then add stock and cook for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4 Slice the bread and bake until crisp, cut the lemon and serve as a garnish.


Harira soup
Chef Bassel Mounawar, the chef de cuisine for room service, Cascade and Las Brisas, Emirates Palace

Harira Soup is a traditional dish. It’s a hearty concoction and a meal on its own.

Ingredients
20g Onion chopped
20g Garlic chopped
50g Tomatoes
15g Tomato paste
30g Green lentils
30g Dry chickpeas
50ml Vegetable stock
20g Coriander leaves
20ml Olive oil
10g Cumin and coriander powder
10g Parsley
15g Vermicelli
10g Ginger
15g Flour
5g Salt
5g White pepper
5g Cinnamon sticks

Method
1 Soak the chickpeas overnight. Pick through the lentils making sure there are no little stones, and wash them.

2 In a skillet, add three teaspoons olive oil and the onions, garlic and coriander leaves.

3 Add the lentils, chickpeas and chopped tomatoes along with the ginger, cinnamon sticks, cumin and coriander powder.

4 Add vegetable stock and cook until lentils and chickpeas turn soft.

5 Add flour to a mixture of tomato paste and chopped coriander. Combine all ingredients given below it to make a paste.

6 Add the stock and the vermicelli. Cook for 30 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

7 Add coriander leaves and lemon juice on the top. Serve it with Parmesan, bread sticks, olive oil and chopped parsley garnish.


Saffron chicken with couscous and dry fruits sauce
Chef Samer Joseph Naifeh, Lemon Tree at the Holiday Inn

Another main course option that is very popular with families at this very spiritual time of the year.

For the chicken
8 Chicken breasts
200g Yoghurt
15g Garlic
150ml Corn oil
1g Saffron
Salt and pepper
For the couscous
600g Couscous
140g Butter
50ml Corn oil
700ml Chicken stock
Salt and pepper

For the sauce
75g Dry apricots
75g Dry figs
30g Dry raisins
40g Dry plums
1ltr Orange juice
50g Butter
Salt and pepper to season

Method
1 Soak the saffron in a small cup of warm water for at least 15 minutes.

2 Mix the saffron with yoghurt, garlic, 150ml corn oil and season with salt and pepper.

3 Marinate the chicken with some of the sauce in fridge for at least 1 hour.

4 Reheat the remaining oil in a frying pan then fry the chicken on both sides, and cover it.

5 In the meantime, for the couscous, heat the chicken stock in a small pot, then add the butter and 50ml corn oil and keep it on the heat until the stock is completely boiling.

6 Add the couscous, reduce the heat, cover the pot then leave it on the side.

7 For the sauce, sauté the dry fruits in a small pot for 5 minutes with the butter, and then pour the orange juice on the mixture.

8 Serve on the plate with some fried pine nuts and green herbs.

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