5 Places to Celebrate International Burger Day in Dubai This Fri-Yay
Sweet dreams are made of this (list).
Mark your calendars! The one day of the year worth celebrating is almost upon us – no, not your birthday. It’s International Burger Dayon May 28, so we’ve rounded up the best burger joints that Dubai has to offer. Napkins at the ready.
The One from New York
Straight from the streets of NYC, Black Tap is the ultimate burger joint. Here, you can dive face first into its signature burgers like the All-American, the Vegan Burger, and fan-fave Texan Burger. Our preferred location and the perfect date night spot is Al Naseem. It’s a must-visit, especially as you can take a leisurely stroll around the hotel grounds that include the Turtle Rehabilitation Sanctuary after devouring your weight in burgers.
Black Tap, Mall Of Emirates, Dubai Mall, Al Naseem, Rixos, JBR, 04 330 5103, @blacktapdubai
The One That Instagram Loves
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the hype around social media’s favourite burger haunt, PICKL. This homegrown eatery has it all, serving everything from so-spicy-you-will-cry options to a classic cheeseburger that will have you back for seconds (and thirds and fourths) and a whole host of ice cream sandos. Our favourite aspect? The potato buns, of course.
PICKL, JLT, delivery across Dubai on Deliveroo, 04 584 6859, @eatpickl
The One with Free Extras
Another homegrown hero that we love is One Life Kitchen. This year, it’s upping the ante for International Burger Day celebrations by offering ‘Buy 1, Get 1 Free’ on all burgers straight through the weekend. The standout star of its burgers is definitely the vegan burger, aptly name, Schrute Farm Burger. We love how Chef Kelvin makes all his vegan patties from beetroot – you won’t find any chemical-filled Beyond Burger patties here.
One Life Kitchen, d3, 04 513 4727, @onelifekitchen
The One from Down Under
The Aussies know a thing or two about the barbie –a.k.a. barbecue – so you know Tom&Serg will serve you a top-notch burger, full of fresh and uncomplicated ingredients. Take a bite out of the towering Tom&Serg Burger that features a fresh potato bun wrapped around a perfectly seasoned mouthwatering burger patty topped with jack cheese, crispy onions, sliced tomato, Boston lettuce, and special sauce. Oh, and it comes with a side of fries and aioli – we’re sold!
Tom&Serg, Al Quoz, 056 474 6812, @_tomandserg_
The One That Started as a Secret
We love-love-love Good Burger – not only are the burgers, well, fantastic, but this female-created concept initially started as a secret pop-up. Today, it’s a permanent fixture in JLT owing to its popularity. The burgers are fresh and prepared American-style, with sides like Tater Tots or Messy Fries only adding to their appeal.
Good Burger, inside Maiz Tacos, JLT, delivery across Dubai, 04 514 4712, @goodburgerdxb
NoLo is a secret worth sharing. Hidden behind a set of heavy doors on the 24th floor of Dusit Thani Dubai hotel, Dubai’s first dry bar is anchored not in alcohol, but creative zero-proof cocktails served in a dimly lit setting where lounge music and city views set the tone for conversation. But more on that in a minute. With the arrival of October, social drinkers across the UK are taking on the Sober October challenge, giving up alcohol in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support – an altruistic Dry January, if you will. And although the movement originated in the UK, anyone can sign up and participate, inevitably reaping a whole host of health benefits in the process.
In fact, lower blood pressure, a regeneration of damaged liver cells, a reduction in insulin resistance, a healthier body weight, and a lowered risk of cancer with each year of sobriety are just some of the health benefits of quitting, according to American Addiction Centers. It’s no wonder that non-alcoholic concoctions have soared in popularity across the globe in recent years, but arguably, they’re most favoured in the Middle East owing to cultural and religious factors. Add to that the region’s well-documented obsession with social media, and the days of sodas and saccharine mocktails appearing on the last page of a drinks menu are gradually on the way out. Now, they’re Instagrammable, well thought out, and boast complex flavours suited to the adult palate.
“We have this word in Italian, sfigato, which comes to mind when one goes into a bar and asks for a non-alcoholic drink. It translates to ‘an unlucky person’. But we live in the Middle East, of course,” says Giovanni Depergola, the instructor of Dry Mixology and Bartending courses at the International Centre for Culinary Arts. “We are bartenders at the end of day, but we like to be called mixologists so we can charge more,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m also an educator, so for me, training is a very serious matter. My passion for dry mixology stems from the passion that I have for cocktails – all that showmanship, all that theatricality deserves a spot in the non-alcoholic category.”
As an F&B industry insider, Depergola noticed a gap in the market that had to be addressed. “All I saw was carbonated drinks and canned juices and, with time, I said, ‘Come on, we’re good at making cocktails, so why not use the same flavours, the same glassware, the same shaking techniques to serve something that we are proud of?’ Because I wasn’t proud to serve something in a can with ice and a slice of lemon.” Elsewhere, British entrepreneur Erika Doyle also noticed the lack of non-alcoholic drinks on offer, leading to the launch of Drink Dry, a one-stop shop for options that are not only premium, but also high in taste and low in sugar.
“One of the misconceptions that people in the West have about the Middle East is that it’s such a huge market for non-alcoholic drinks because there are so many non-drinkers who want to drink, but can’t,” she says. “If you’ve always been told that drinking is bad for you, then our products aren’t the answer to all your prayers. Unlike ex-drinkers and the sober curious, I’m not giving non-drinkers a solution because they don’t have a problem to begin with.” Instead, Drink Dry is exploring how to introduce new ways of drinking to non-drinkers. “It’s likely that they’ve only been drinking very sugary drinks, so what we’re doing is introducing healthier ways of drinking without necessarily referencing their alcoholic counterparts.” NoLo, meanwhile, has added a social aspect to this rising trend, catering to mindful drinkers and health-conscious individuals ready for a night out.
Incidentally, the name of this new drinking den is a portmanteau of ‘no alcohol’ and ‘low worries’, a carefree mindset reflected in its brightly coloured seating and anthropomorphic art. Over on the menu, of course, is where its star attraction – both classic and experimental cocktails – awaits. Created in conjunction with Lyre’s, widely considered the leading independent non-alcoholic spirits brand, they span the likes of Immune Highball, Thai Basil Smash, and Spice Date Espresso Martini. Those in search of the familiar, meanwhile, will appreciate Lyre’s zero-proof take on the G&T, the mojito, the martini, the Amalfi spritz, and the amaretto sour – all created to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of the originals. And in the meantime, the team at NoLo shares three alcohol-free recipes in honour of Sober October.
1. Lyre’s Mediterranean G&T
45ml Lyre’s Dry London Spirit
120ml Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic
1 orange slice
1 sprig rosemary (for garnish)
Fill a tall glass ¾ full of ice.
Pour in the ingredients and gently stir to combine.
Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
2. Date Old Fashioned
60ml Lyre’s American Malt
15ml date syrup
4 dashes chocolate/walnut bitters
4 dashes orange bitters
1 date (for garnish)
Stir all the ingredients in a mixing glass.
Pour into a short tumbler over block ice.
Garnish with a skewered date.
3. Bedtime Story
30ml Lyre’s Amaretti
45ml strong chai
15ml coconut milk
7.5ml maple syrup
pink salt and star anise (for garnish)
Prepare the strong chai by steeping two chai teabags in 125ml near-boiling water for five minutes.
Remove the teabags and let cool.
Dry shake (without ice), then wet shake (with ice added) the ingredients.
Strain into a cocktail or coupette glass.
Garnish with star anise and a sprinkle of pink salt.
Getting out of bed on weekends is always a challenge, but there’s nothing like brunch to get anyone up and running! It’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with friends, family, or a special someone. Now, take your brunch game to the next level by sipping your mimosas while you feast your eyes on stunning city views. Here are five brunch spots in Dubai that win our vote.
Marina Social by Jason Atherton
Founded by Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton, Marina Social is more than just your typical restaurant. It redefines social dining through its open gallery concept and dessert bars that offers guests a peek into the magic that happens in the kitchen. This glamorous destination at InterContinental also features an exclusive ‘Social Table’ where its patrons can enjoy a unique dining experience that consists of only the best selection of champagne, teas, cigars, and more. Enjoy a delicious meal with panoramic views of the city with your inner circle in this elegant joint – and don’t forget to share a side or two!
Marina Social by Jason Atherton, InterContinental Dubai Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St., Dubai Marina, 04 446 6664, [email protected]
CÉ LA VI Dubai
A classic stop among brunch lovers, Cé La Vi owns the spot for being one of the city’s best destinations for contemporary Asian cuisine. Its famous Brunch on 54 on Saturdays offers guests an elevated brunch experience that combines a gastronomic set menu, incomparable views of the Burj Khalifa, and groovy music to make the dining affair like no other. With the restaurant name taking its roots from the famous French saying c’est la vie – that’s life – this spot truly paints a picture of Dubai’s best.
CÉ LA VI, Level 54, Address Sky View Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, 04 582 6111, [email protected]
This chic Dubai restaurant puts a twist on your usual brunch experience. Hola Rooftop transports its guests to the islands of Ibiza, Formentera, and Mallorca without ever leaving its premium spot atop The Meydan Hotel. The Mediterranean-inspired rooftop lounge offers delectable Spanish dishes paired with refreshing drinks and live entertainment with a remarkable golf course view in the backdrop.
Hola Rooftop, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba 1, 056 358 3333, rsrvit.com
Located at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Bubbalicious showcases over 10 live cooking stations in three restaurants within the resort: Baba, Sui Mui, and Mina’s Kitchen. With such a diverse selection, guests will be treated to a wide array of menu items that includes Indian and Asian dishes, seafood delicacies, mouth-watering roasts, and more. Don’t miss the roaming acrobats and live band sure to make this feast one to remember.
Bubbalicious, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina, 04 399 4141, www.marriott.com
MOOD Rooftop Lounge
Perched atop The Meydan Hotel, this lavish rooftop dining spot is a go-to for local and international flavours and a laid-back atmosphere that lets guests unwind and socialise with their companions. Each dish is proudly made with top-quality ingredients and prepared with utmost care from the kitchen to the table. Crowd favourites include the charred king prawn, veggie sushi, and the truffle chicken & mushroom pizza.
MOOD Rooftop Lounge, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba, 054 440 0227, www.moodrooftop.com
Consider this: nearly 821 million people worldwide don’t have access to enough food, while a third of all the food produced around the world goes to waste. To say these statistics are unacceptable would be an understatement. But what exactly is food waste? It’s defined as produce ‘of good quality fit for consumption’, but ‘doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded’. Take peculiar-looking or misshapen fruit and vegetables.
Between 20% and 40% of produce that has an unusual shape or size, or that’s marked or discoloured, is thrown away before it even leaves the farm because it doesn’t meet the market’s aesthetic standards – and that’s exactly where EroeGo steps in. The first start-up dedicated to fighting food waste in the UAE, EroeGo is impact-driven, providing meals to two people facing hunger for every box sold while allowing its customers to purchase fruits and vegetables discarded by producers at a discount. A win-win, essentially. Here, the experts at EroeGo share a handful of tips and tricks to reduce food waste at home.
1. The Date Update
There are many different food waste solutions, and simply knowing the difference between the ‘sell by’, ‘best before’, and ‘use by’ dates is one of the easiest. These dates are used by companies to let us know when it’s likely that food will go bad, but they’re often still confusing for consumers. The ‘sell by’ date is used to inform retailers when they should take the item off their shelves. Meanwhile, the ‘best before’ is about quality, and the ‘use by’ is about safety. Make a point of buying items that are close to their ‘best before’ dates – they’re perfectly safe to eat, they’re usually cheaper to buy, and it’ll stop them from being discarded.
2. In a Jam
If you have some very ripe stone fruits lying around, they’re really easy to turn into a scrumptious homemade jam – and it’s not as daunting as it sounds. By simply adding sugar and a little bit of lemon juice, you’ve got the recipe for a winning preserve that’s perfect on pancakes, stuffed into French toast, or just enjoyed with a dollop of natural yoghurt. You can even use both the flesh and the skin here. The stone will have to be taken out, but to avoid creating food waste, it can always be added to the compost heap. For even less waste, reuse one of the glass jars that you already have in your cupboard for storage.
3. Drink Up
It doesn’t matter how overripe fruit looks – as long as they still taste good, they’ll work perfectly in a smoothie. And even if you don’t fancy one right now, you can still chop the fruit and freeze it in a ziplock bag until you’re ready for one. When you come to actually whipping up your delicious drink, it’s so simple to just throw the frozen fruit into the blender with some yoghurt and other fruits or vegetables. Not a smoothie fan? Opt for flavoured water. As fruit gets older, it usually gets an intense sweetness, so just chop up your orange, pineapple, or strawberries and add it to a jug of water for a more exciting way to stay hydrated. Bonus: if you leave it in the fridge overnight, it’ll infuse with an even stronger flavour.
4. One Man’s Treasure
Compost just refers to the natural decaying of organic matter. When you throw scraps on a big compost pile, it all naturally breaks down into a nutrient-rich fertiliser that’s great for your garden. There’s a huge range of stuff you can put on there – from banana skins, apple cores, and avocado pits to leftover bread, coffee grounds, and egg shells. You have to be careful with some items, though. You shouldn’t add anything oily or greasy, nor any animal products (think: milk, meat, butter, and cheese). Having a compost heap in your garden is a really great way to reduce food waste because any fruit or vegetable peels you may have, or any groceries that have gone bad, can be converted into something naturally beneficial.
5. A Family Affair
Get the kids on board, too – it can make the whole process a lot more fun. In fact, getting the whole family involved could end up being your greatest food waste solution yet. Because kids love getting creative in the kitchen, why not get them to help you cook up more tasty treats that’ll use up even more fruits and vegetables? From putting overripe berries in muffins to making crisps out of leftover vegetables and baking old apples into a crumble, there are plenty of recipes around that they will love. Not only is it a great way to help them get their five-a-day, but it’s also a good way to use food that might otherwise end up in the bin.
6. Taking Stock
Making homemade stock is one of the many small things we all can do to help prevent food waste, especially if you’re looking for a way to use up peels and scraps. Not only will you really be getting the most out of your groceries, but it’ll also help you out – stock always comes in useful for cooking. It’s easy to do, too. Just keep your vegetable trimmings aside during the week. As you’re cooking, wash those leftover bits, cut scraps into smaller and more manageable chunks, and put them into an airtight container or ziplock bag along with any peels you’ve saved. Once you’ve saved up one ziplock bag full, you’re ready to make stock. It will last for about one week in the fridge, or up to six months in the freezer.
Living as an expat in the UAE without your family close by (or even in the same time zone) can be lonely, and that’s why your friends become your family and closest confidants. We suggest that you take this opportunity – it’s International Friendship Day tomorrow – to salute your besties and high-five their awesomeness with a proper celebration. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
A Brunch of Friends
Treat your bestie to the American-style The Over Easy Brunch at CMP Bar & Grill, which serves yummy breakfast dishes from traditional cheddar biscuits to short-rib Benedict coupled with bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas every Saturday from 11am to 3pm.
Escape room NoWayOut is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and have you and your friends on your toes. There are four escape rooms to choose from with themes such as fantasy, mystery, horror, and history – with just one hour to ‘escape’. Think you and your friends have the teamwork and creativity to do it?
Fight off the summer heat by taking your friends for a dive into an underwater abandoned city at Deep Dive Dubai. The world’s deepest swimming pool welcomes all – from absolute beginners to experienced divers – with various packages that focus on snorkelling, diving, and freediving. We recommend the Discover Scuba Diving experience for beginners, where you’ll be introduced to the essentials of scuba diving and diving equipment, practise in shallow water, and explore the underwater city!
Deep Dive Dubai, Nad Al Sheba 1, 04 501 9444, www.deepdivedubai.com, from AED 1,800 for the Discover Scuba Diving experience
Of Girls and Guns
Enjoy the thrill of guns blazing – with the best standards of safety and security, of course – at the Caracal Shooting Club in Al Forsan International Sports Resort. Choose from more than 25 types of handguns and rifles in .22 and 9mm calibres. Plus, they also have an indoor archery range! Beginners need not fret as all new visitors are provided with a safety briefing.
Caracal Shooting Club, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi, 02 441 6404, www.alforsan.com, from AED 160
Easy Does It
Delve into a world of healing and escape at the award-winning Anantara Spa in Abu Dhabi. Located far from the hustle-bustle of the city centre, near the serene mangroves, Anantara offers a chance to wind down in luxury with your besties. Cleanse your skin at the Turkish hammam which can seat up to eight people, enjoy a traditional Thai massage, and top it all off with their signature hydropeptide ultimate anti-wrinkle facial spa treatment for a day spent well.
Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel, 056 188 7658, www.anantara.com, from AED 80
That ’50s Show
Whether you and your BFF are early birds or love a sleep-in, the retro-fabulous breakfast menu at SAUCE is the ultimate breakfast date! Expect to dine on hearty and wholesome dishes like Croiffle (a waffle made from homemade croissant dough and topped with honey and cream cheese) and a triple-layered pancake stack topped with strawberries, maple syrup, and whipped cream for sweet-toothed gals. So,wake up little Susie! This one’s worth leaving bed for.
SAUCE, Noora Tower, Al Habtoor City, 056 538 8388, @saucedubai
Did you know that today, July 28, marks World Nature Conservation Day? Held annually, this global event stresses the need for preserving a healthy environment and natural resources to maintain a healthy and stable society, especially for the sake of future generations. Incidentally, there are a handful of eateries across Dubai that are playing their part in this collective mission, putting the environment first through their carefully curated menus and a whole host of eco-friendly practices. Here they are at a glance.
Sustainability reigns supreme at DIFC-based BOCA, courtesy of Head Chef Matthijs Stinnissen. Passionate about sourcing local ingredients, this Mediterranean restaurant has hosted several zero-waste dinners and illustrated its commitment to sourcing locally through a guide dedicated to Emirati produce. As a result, you’ll see ingredients such as Emirati honey, local sea bass ceviche, and local beetroot stock make appearances on its seasonal menus.
Using offcuts for the likes of soups, sauces, and syrups, Cassette is dedicated to bringing food wastage down to a minimum. This trendy spot in Al Quoz also uses takeaway containers made of 80% Bagasse, an efficient byproduct of the bioenergy sector. Elsewhere, its cassava-made straws and cups are entirely biodegradable, breaking down into carbon dioxide and water within six months of being discarded. As for its wholesome breakfast dishes and healthy mains? Each is composed using fresh produce from local farms.
Omakase-style restaurant Moonrise was founded by one of Dubai’s youngest and most interesting chefs: Solemann Haddad, a third culture kid passionate about what he calls “Dubai cuisine”. Here, only eight diners are accommodated at a time, and only what will be utilised is purchased. Moonrise is rooted in a minimal-waste policy, resulting in dishes that speak volumes of Haddad’s creativity – wilted shiso leaves are blended into the refreshing welcome beverage, while the ends of sourdough loaf are vacuum-sealed and stored, eventually turned into a homemade miso.
Pairing a relaxed vibe with a sustainable ethos, Lowe is anchored in reducing waste, local sourcing, and giving back to society. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the first ever winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award by MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants. Co-founders Jesse Black and Kate Cristou’s eatery initially kickstarted this ethos with Waste Not dinners made entirely of scraps and then adapted the rest of their practices, too (think: avoiding single-use plastic and using leftover peels in recipes for onsite fermentation).
One Life Kitchen
Reusable glass bottles instead of takeaway cups, locally sourced produce instead of high-carbon imports, interiors dominated by recycled timbers and used palettes – it’s all here at this homegrown gem in d3. One Life Kitchen is also big on reducing food waste; the staff plant avocado seeds, burn used coffee grounds to deter flies, and even use the strained water from yoghurt as a protein shake. As for anything that’s left at the end of the day? It’s all distributed to staff around the Dubai Design District neighbourhood.
Boasting three outposts across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sanderson’s not only sources from local suppliers where possible but has also curated a menu that’s streamlined to ensure waste reduction while providing taste and nourishment. Diners are offered free house-filtered water, while wastewater is cleaned and reused within the community to water plants. Elsewhere, used oil is recycled, and there are solar panels that feed into the national electricity grid.
Wild & The Moon
Created by a tribe of chefs, nutritionists, and naturopaths who believe that food should be good for you and good for the Planet, Wild & The Moon serves plant-based and hormone-free dishes composed of local, seasonal, ethically sourced and organic produce. It also uses 100% biodegradable packaging, while following a zero-waste policy and recycling as much as possible – the fibre-rich pulps from its juices and nutmylks, for example, are revitalised into nutrient-dense raw crackers.
The Best Places to Celebrate Your Anniversary in Dubai
We’ve sifted through the best of the best.
Big relationship milestones like anniversaries are always worth a remarkable celebration. Due to the limitless dining options, planning your special day in Dubai can be a daunting task. To make it easier for you, we’ve gathered our top five dining spots sure to take the romance up a notch (or two).
Sitting at the heart of Palm Jumeirah, Akira Back redefines Asian-fusion cuisine and takes it to a whole new level. Enjoy a romantic date night with your significant other with the city skyline as your backdrop. Our tip? You’ll never go wrong with the mouthwatering 48 Hour Short Ribs – it’s an Australian Wagyu short rib cooked for 48 hours in a marinade of the Korean traditional dish, Galbi Jjim.
This Italian jewel located within the turtle lagoon in Jumeirah Al Naseem delivers an authentic farm-to-table concept within a refined atmosphere. Il Borro Tuscan Bistro showcases a contemporary twist to Tuscan classics in its year-round and seasonal menus. It also boasts an in-house farm dubbed ‘Orto del Borro’ that supplies organic produce such as extra-virgin olive oil, honey, and a wide selection of garden-fresh vegetables.
If you’re on the lookout for a wide culinary selection for your special day, you’re in luck. SUSHISAMBA is a one-stop destination for delightful Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian dishes. Situated at the 51st floor of Palm Tower, this award-winning restaurant provides 360-degree views of the Palm Jumeirah coastline, offering the perfect setting for your romantic day.
SUSHISAMBA, Level 51, The Palm Tower, St. Regis Hotel, Palm Jumeirah, 04 582 1555, [email protected]
Relish in a delectable menu of Asian flavours at this restaurant located in One&Only Royal Mirage Hotel, which incidentally offers a scenic view of sunset in a sophisticated, coastal setting. Settle in and watch Eauzone transform as dusk sets in, with the romantic hues of the sky serving as the proverbial cherry on top of your memorable day.
Eauzone, One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah Road, 04 315 2412, [email protected]
Spice up your anniversary celebration at this (still) beloved dining spot. Located at Jumeirah Al Qasr, Pai Thai instantly sets a great romantic tone with its mesmerising outdoor setting and tranquil ambiance. Take pleasure in aromatic Thai flavours while you delight in the astounding views alongside your beau.
Pai Thai, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim 3, 04 432 3232, jumeirah.com
If your mindless scrolls on Instagram are accented with enticing flatlays of culinary delicacies, you have one woman to thank: Haiya Afroze. Not only is she the founder of Haiyatea, a tea room and artisanal tea shop, but she’s also the creator of our favourite foodie account, Pass Me The Dim Sum. Haiya’s feed is focused on wholesome, educational recipes as well as offering a glimpse into her always eventful daily life. As a proud and practising Muslim, she talks to us about what Ramadan means to her and how tea fits into the holy month.
Why do Muslims break their fast with dates, and what’s their importance during Ramadan?
Dates are easily digested, making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. Eating dates after a long day of fasting can help the body’s blood glucose levels quickly return to normal. Our Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with dates, so it’s a tradition followed by all Muslims. Modern science also proves how beneficial they are on an empty stomach.
In what ways can non-Muslims help observe Ramadan with their Muslim friends?
To be quite honest, Muslims try to retract from worldly activities and do more self-reflection and worship than usual in the month of Ramadan. My personal struggle with my non-Muslim friends is the peer pressure to hang out, go out, socialise – and that’s just not something I enjoy as much in Ramadan. These are golden days, and any worship done is rewarded many folds, so that’s how I want to spend most of my time in Ramadan. I would love if my friends understood that.
What is your go-to dish to cook during Ramadan, and why?
My husband and I aren’t very traditional and, because we live alone and have no relatives here, we tend to keep our iftars (the meal at dusk to break the fast) quite light and simple. They often just comprise of the regular meals we would’ve had anyway. The one thing that’s different is that we’ll always have dates and Arabic coffee – flavours and scents I now associate with Ramadan – on our table. We’ll also have a fruit salad as it’s perfect after a long day of fasting. We avoid sugary drinks and opt for water, and sometimes we’ll have dahi phulikiyaan, a dish comprising of crispy rehydrated gram flour swirls submerged in whipped yoghurt. So refreshing!
How will you incorporate your love for tea into Ramadan this year?
My love for tea doesn’t stop during Ramadan! What’s amazing to me is that on a normal day, skipping my morning matcha will give me a migraine, but God just makes it easy during a fast. After we have iftar, I’ll fire up the humidifier with a refreshing scent of choice and spend the evenings reading Quran and refilling my pot of tea several times.
Do you always go traditional for Ramadan or shake it up with other cuisines?
Ramadan really is about revisiting and embracing traditional foods, but as I am not a very traditional person and don’t always relate to the culture I’ve inherited, I always merge traditional with untraditional. For example, I was once commissioned to create an Arab-inspired dish using oats. Saudi oat soup is the most traditional dish that comes to mind when I think of oats, but I couldn’t do that – that’s too easy. So, I made a savoury granola using za’atar, cumin, and pomegranate molasses, serving it alongside Turkish tomato sauce, grilled eggplant, and whipped garlic yoghurt.
What dessert do you always cook during Ramadan, and why?
I love basbousah! It’s a semolina cake of sorts, which is drenched in sugar syrup. I bake it with orange juice for some zestiness, and line the pan with tahini for more decadence!
Can you share your favourite Ramadan recipe with us?
I wanted to incorporate my treasure chest of oats into recipes that are popular this time of year, regardless of whether or not those recipes traditionally call for oats. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, where pull-apart cheesy bread is a common and standard teatime accompaniment all year round, but an especially popular item on the iftar table. Each little pillow of dough is stuffed with a cube of firm white cheese (mozzarella, halloumi, or Kiri) because there is no such thing as ‘too much cheese’ or ‘too many olives’ in the Middle Eastern vocabulary.
What is your most cherished Ramadan memory, and why?
My most cherished memory, without a doubt, are the iftars I had alone with my late grandmother at her place. She was the ‘hostess with the mostess’ and always expressed her love through food, but during the many Ramadans I spent with her when there were no guests? Those are my favourite memories. She would make two perfectly portioned bowls of fruit salad and a few pakoras for us both – pakoras are gram flour fritters and they’re my ultimate Ramadan weakness, but I avoid making them as they’re deep-fried and I could eat a plateful. We’d then go straight to dinner. Those iftars encompassed the true essence of Ramadan for me: modesty, simplicity, family, love. And no gluttony!
What’s a dish that you never thought you would try, but love?
Fermented green tea leaf salad. It’s a Burmese snack that’s sweet, savoury, spicy, and oh-so-moreish.
What tips can you share to help others through the Ramadan season?
When you’re fasting, you want to eat a horse. Don’t do it. Don’t go overboard with iftar preparations – make just as much food as you would for a regular dinner because chances are you’ll want to eat even less than you usually do. When you make too much food, though, you tend to overeat just so you don’t have to deal with leftovers. And obviously, drink lots of water between dusk and dawn. During suhoor (the morning meal before the sun rises), avoid spicy or greasy foods that will make you thirsty and try to have some yoghurt. I always find that yoghurt makes me feel less thirsty throughout the day.
Are there any other changes that you make in your life during Ramadan?
It’s not advised to change our religious inclinations during Ramadan and return to a lifestyle that is un-Islamic. However, we do try to better ourselves in whatever personal capacity we can and see ourselves lacking in, but with the intention of maintaining those ways – not just for a month. As Muslims, we are encouraged to give charity throughout the year. In fact, one of the fundamental pillars of Islam dictates that we must donate 2.5% of the savings we have had for over a year to the less fortunate in order to keep income disparity at bay. However, charity peaks during Ramadan because we believe that all good deeds are rewarded many folds during this blessed month. The spirit of generosity during Ramadan is truly palpable in the air.
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Served with a side of shisha, striking views, and more.
Whatcha’ taco bout? This homegrown concept used to be Dubai’s best-kept secret (and started out as a food truck), but now, you think of Maiz Tacos when you think of casual Mexican food. Planning a game night suhoor? Want to surprise your friends with something different? Maiz Tacos has you sorted with its various catering solutions. Choose from DIY Taquero Boxes that come labelled with instructions on how to put together your own taco station or the Maiz Tacos Mexican Grazing Boards with an impressive menu serving up all the Maiz Tacos favourites – with a private chef in tow to cook and put it all together, of course.
Maiz Tacos, JLT, Cluster Y, AED 1550+ for Maiz Tacos Mexican Grazing Board, 04 514 4712, @maiztaco
Go on a culinary adventure with a seaside suhoor at The Bay, enjoying a wide variety of freshly prepared traditional dishes, succulent spiced meat from the Levant, with a wide variety of Arabic sweets and beverages – all while surrounded by luxurious décor and a beachfront setting with the soothing tunes of live oud in the background. While you’re there, be sure to admire the fan-shaped artwork made by famed autistic artist Abdulla Lutfi at a workshop he led to raise awareness about autism, as the beginning of the holy month coincides with World Autism Day this year.
The Bay, Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah, 11pm – 1:30am, à la carte, 04 777 2233, @thebaydubai
Transport yourself to the exquisite world of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist at Cleos. Choose from two different menus – Standard and Premium – and enjoy a variety of different foods to match your palette. Relish a range of creamy dips, crisp salads, and soup of the day before being presented with hot dishes such as eggs cooked in a delicious spicy tomato and vegetable sauce. And If you’re looking for an upgrade, the Premium menu begins with a full Arabic mezzeh and includes tantalising main courses such as a bountiful Arabic Mixed Grill with appetising Shish Tawook and mouth-watering Diced Lamb and Lamb Kofta. Each menu also includes a live saj station as well as Arabic baklawa, dates, and carved seasonal fruits at the end of the meal.
Cleos, Hyde Hotel, Business Bay, 9pm – 2am, AED 110 for the standard menu, AED 140 for the Premium menu, 04 871 1013, @hydedubai
Epicure Shisha Lounge
Step into an oasis of calm, just a stone’s throw away from the heart of the city, at Meliã Desert Palm. Here, you can enjoy an à la carte suhoor at Epicure Shisha Lounge. Open for individuals and families, the suhoor menu includes a selection of hot and cold mezza and salads, with multiple choices for the main course, sides, and desserts.
Epicure Shisha Lounge, Meliã Desert Palm, 9pm –1am, à la carte, 04 602 9323, @meliadesertpalm
This Ramadan, savour mouth-watering Arabic delicacies with undisturbed views overlooking the stunning Dubai Canal at Bridgewater Tavern’s terrace. Enjoy relaxed al fresco dining, including a hubbly-bubbly on offer for guests. You can also reserve a table indoors if you’re looking to catch a live broadcast of your favourite sporting events while enjoying the same delicacies.
Bridgewater Tavern, W Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, à la carte, 04 414 0000, @bridgewatertavern
CÉ LA VI
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know about CÉ LA VI, the most Instagrammable restaurant in all of Dubai. Now, it’s launching an suhoor menu to break your fast in style, with delicious food, stunning views, and an atmosphere like no other. Watch the sun disappear over the Downtown Dubai skyline while enjoying shisha, gourmet dates, sparkling date juice, date biscuits, kholas pecan pie, and other luxury delicacies curated by Bateel. A luxury tower of organic dates with filled dates, dried fruits, and pastries can also be ordered separately. Looking for more? Pick a dish from the à la carte menu and enjoy it on the ever-popular deck area.
CÉ LA VI, Address Sky View Hotel, 8:30pm – 3am, AED 250 per person, 04 582 6111, @célavidubai
With this many options, a girl needs a little guidance!
Break your fast with an elegant array of Latin American light bites, served within the eclectic and artistic ambiance of an award-winning restaurant at COYA Dubai. Relish in the rich flavours with something for everyone. Meat eaters will love the costillas de res beef ribs and corn-fed baby chicken with aji panca and coriander, while pescatarians with be delighted by the salmon with stir-fried quinoa and vegetables, plus the iconic arroz nikkei iron pot that features fresh sea bass, rice, lime, and chili. Vegetarians, meanwhile, will be treated to a wholesome plate of quinoa, pearl barley, sprouting broccoli, cancha, and coriander, while a gorgeous side of hearty patatas bravas provides the perfect accompaniment.
COYA Dubai, Four Seasons Resort Dubai, sunset – 7:30pm, AED 250 per person, 04 316 9600, @coyadubai
What better place to combine the charms of the East and the West with a touch of luxury than at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche’s signature Mediterranean restaurant and lounge? Pair breathtaking views with luxurious indoor and outdoor spaces at [email protected]’O, where you can break your fast with a grand iftar buffet that features a selection of culinary delicacies including ouzi, chicken rotisserie, mansaf, lamb couscous along with Arabic coffee, tea and soft drinks.
[email protected]’O, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, sunset – 10pm, AED 225 per person, kids ages from 7-12 years old get a 50% discount, 02 813 7777, @sofitelabudhabicorniche
Looking for a family-friendly iftar that caters to everyone? Mina’s Kitchen, a fun food hall concept, takes you from across the Middle East to Asia with a delicious buffet that welcomes second and third helpings. While the kids are entertained inside with the festivities, the adults can chill on the balcony and enjoy shisha.
Mina’s Kitchen, The Westin Mina Seyahi, sunset – 10pm, AED 165 per person and AED 65 for kids, 04 511 7373, @minaskitchendubai
Whether you dine on the terrace by the pool or choose its cosy indoor banquette seating, prepare to be immersed in a lively Mediterranean ambiance as you relish in an iftar with a homemade Italian touch. At Timo, you can savour delectable dishes like spiced butter chicken, beef goulash, or chicken cordon bleu, and enjoy the three themed live stations serving a variety of dishes ranging from foul medames and manakiesh with spicy labneh to the wood-and-charcoal station serving kofta, shish taouk, and more.
Timo, Al Jaddaf Rotana Suite Hotel, sunset – 10pm, AED 185 per person, 04 596 2292, @aljaddafrotana
Gather your family and friends and break your fast with a specially curated five-course iftar menu featuring traditional Arabic dishes with a traditional Indian twist at Rang Mahal. Guests can savour an array of hot and cold mezze, shorba, kebabs, and delectable mains including Nihari Khaas, Murg Rezala, Lucknowi Khatti Dal, Murg Dum Biryani, and more. To end the evening on a sweet note, indulge in a traditional Hyderabadi-style bread pudding, blended with a unique creation of Um Ali that is sure to tantalise your taste buds.
Rang Mahal, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, sunset –9pm, AED 225 per person, 04 414 3000, @rangmahaldubai
Calling all Bollywood fans! Break your fast at Bol Gappa, a desi playground with a fun fusion set menu for iftar. It includes Indian favourites and treats we can’t wait to taste, such as Rose Sherbet. Begin with a choice of starters from a selection of Soya Khurana, Chicken Tikka Ala Re, and Chicken Khurana. Mains include Indian fan favourites such as Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Pan Singh Tomar Masala, Paneer Khurchan, and a Biryani of your choice. Complete the meal with a mouthwatering traditional Indian dessert, like Gulab Jamun or Gajar Halwa.
Bol Gappa, Wasl Opal Building, Umm Hurair Road, sunset – late, AED 59 per person, 04 335 5144, @bolgappa
Silk & Spice
Spice up your Ramadan – literally! – at this award-winning Thai restaurant with a variety of options. Fancy a family-style menu? Enjoy iftar with a unique Thai touch at Silk & Spice with delectable dishes such as Vegetable Green Curry, Jasmine Rice, Pad Thai, and Stir-Fried Chicken. Want to break your fast at a more intimate gathering? Cue the specially curated ‘Iftar in a Box’. Indulge in a gourmet iftar experience from the comforts of your home, with all the works including Mansaf, Lamb Couscous, and Ouzi.
Silk & Spice, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, sunset –10pm,AED 195 per person, Iftar in a Box for AED 245 for 2 adults, AED 445 for 4 adults, and AED 790 for 8 adults, 02 813 7777, @sofitelabudhabicorniche
If you want to be spoiled with an endless an ensemble of flavours from across the globe while seated close to the skies at the world’s highest hotel, turn on your heels and head straight to the sprawling Kitchen 6. Guests can enjoy six interactive cooking stations ready to offer an extraordinary selection of world cuisines, including a carving station and a sushi bar. Satiate your appetite with an array of Lebanese cold mezze and hot mezze, while main courses like Lamb Ouzzi with saffron rice, Mixed Grill, slow-cooked Lamb Chops, and much more adorn the menu. Did we also mention the live dessert stations for your sweeter cravings?
Escape to island restaurant Two.0 for an incredible iftar featuring an international buffet that includes freshly baked goods, cold and hot mezze, salads, and sushi alongside a selection of main courses and desserts. And elevating the dining experience? A live BBQ station, where you can enjoy sizzling culinary creations. Beverages here include special Ramadan juices, water, and Moroccan tea.
Two.0, Reem Island Abu Dhabi, sunset –8:30pm, AED 179 per person, 056 398 7895, @two.0covebeach
Italian restaurant Bella is offering a special iftar menu, perfect for those looking for a touch of sparkle to their experience. Enjoy a variety of dishes like Insalata Di Kale (kale salad with tahini dressing, dates, raisins, mustard pearls), Brasato A Colori (slow-braised oyster blade with fermented red cabbage and mashed potato), Bella Pizza Signature (crispy pizza with goat cheese foam, beetroot, kale, agave dressing pecorino cheese, walnut candy), and more. Top tip: be sure to leave some room for the delicious Galeto Al Latte Di Cammello (camel milk ice cream with cherries and almond crumble).
Bella, Grand Millennium Hotel, Business Bay, sunset – 9pm, AED 250 per person, 04 873 3377, @bellarestaurantdxb
In a city of expats, most of us don’t have the luxury of celebrating Mother’s Day with our mothers – and Dubai’s most acclaimed chefs are no exception. What is undeniable, however, is the fact that their relationship with cooking was first introduced and nurtured by their mothers, regardless of where they hail from. Food is the universal language, after all. Here, we join three of Dubai’s favourites as they reflect on their early experiences in the kitchen and how their mothers have shaped who they are as chefs. Listen in.
Chef Akmal Anuar
Akmal Anuar’s legacy may include 3Fils, which recently topped the inaugural list of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants, but his reign is just beginning. Today, this Singapore-born chef is responsible for the culinary creations at Goldfish Sushi & Yakitori, the recently opened 11 Woodfire, and Sharjah-based CHIE, always prioritising flavour and quality ingredients over culinary gimmicks.
“My parents are hawkers back in Singapore and, to this day, nothing has changed. My mother – being the chef of the business – has been cooking daily since 1992, so as a kid, that was all I knew in terms of making a living. Growing up, I never understood why she had to cook everywhere we went, even at big family gatherings.
Now that I’m much older, I realise that all the other women in the kitchen knew her level and were intimidated by how good she was! She was the queen of the kitchen, and her food made everyone happy. I can safely say that her consistent focus and drive to be her best every single day is what inspires me as a chef today.”
Chef Bernardo Paladini
Often dubbed the “hand-picked protégé of Massimo Bottura”, Bernardo Paladini helms the kitchen of Torno Subito at W Dubai – The Palm, designing Italian dishes that manage to span simplicity, sophistication, and sustainability. His prior experience includes a stint at Osteria Francescana, a Modena-based restaurant that was once ranked #1 on the World’s Best Restaurants list.
“For us Italians, our mothers and grandmothers are always the best chefs in the world. My mother is a teacher, and has always pushed me to value my culture and taught me the importance of diversity. And that’s why I believe a chef is not just the sum of his recipes – having a strong cultural background and relationships with the community is even more important.
Mum is all about minimising waste in the kitchen, teaching me that everything can be used. Vegetable scraps can be used in soups and stocks, for example. Incidentally, she grew up in Argentina, so I was exposed to several South American dishes as a child, which has made me passionate about Latin-American gastronomy too.”
Chef Vikas Khanna
Vikas Khanna rose to fame as his Manhattan-based restaurant Junoon maintained a Michelin star for eight consecutive years, elevating the perception of Indian cuisine on a global scale. Much to the delight of Dubai diners, the celebrity chef heads Kinara by Vikas Khanna, where the dishes are inspired by the raw beauty of home cooking, but with an inventive twist – and well worth the hype.
“My mother has been a pillar of strength for me – in my cooking obsession as a child and every other way. I was fortunate enough to start my career by opening something with her in the back of our house in Amritsar, and she taught me that so much of running a venture is about patience. This was back in 1991, when a woman running her own business was very rare, so she illustrated the power of walking the path alone if you want to be a pathbreaker.
We used to have a lemon tree in our house, and she always said that you can’t pluck lemons before they’re at the right stage. It’s the same when it comes to cooking – you can’t rush it. She also helped me understand temperature as a culinary technique. We used to sell puri, and she would explain that fried bread needs a shock. This was done with high temperatures, which requires one to observe, to be very vigilant. And that’s also the best way to learn in the kitchen. Her faith in me is the reason I take so many risks and have this global career. It’s all thanks to her.”