What to eat at a Dubai iftar
Called at dusk every day during Ramadan, an iftar brings together family and friends. (Rich-Joseph Facun/Getty)
To celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, which starts on 9 July and ends a month later, many Dubai hotels are putting together lavish spreads for a daily iftar feast – the meal Muslims use to break their fast at dusk, after going without food and drink during the day.
While nearly every hotel in town offers an iftar, the dishes tend to veer towards the traditional. Dates usually kick off the feast, since the sugar- and vitamin-rich fruit helps your stomach readjust to eating. They are followed by Arabic mezze, such as moutabel (a hummus-like dip made with eggplant), fattoush (Lebanese salad) or lentil soup. For your main dish, don’t miss the traditional Emirati dish of lamb ouzi: a whole roast lamb, slow cooked and filled with rice and nuts. Desert Palm hotel on Al Ain road has excellent mezze that include hummus and kibbeh (a Levant-style croquette filled with minced beef), while Burj Al Arab’s supmarket iftar in Al Sufouh has a delicious version of lamb ouzi, delicately spiced and peppered with pine nuts. Wash it down with their addictive and refreshing mint lemonade.
For dessert, baklava features heavily at every iftar; the sticky sweet confection made of layers of flaky pastry, nuts and honey are incredibly moreish. For something even more intense, order katyef – deep fried baklava covered in syrup – at Rixos hotel on Palm Jumeirah, where you can also find their famous Turkish Maras ice cream.
Finally, sit back and try a flavoured shisha or Arabic coffee. Iftars can go on well into the night so take your time and enjoy the celebration.
While iftars are held every day of Ramadan, booking is advised. Visitors to the city should be aware that eating and drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public are all illegal before sundown. If you want to eat or drink during the day, make sure it is in a private place.
Georgina Wilson-Powell is the Dubai Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes the hotel review blog sogoodtogetoutofthecity.wordpress.com.