The festive season will be here before you know it, and it is just so tempting to overindulge during this time of year – but you don’t have to. These recipes will help you jumpstart that New Year’s resolution a little earlier this year without feeling like you’re missing out on all the good stuff. Want more healthy holiday treats? Check out this recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Baked Oats.
Chocolate-Orange Protein Balls
I am a big fan of homemade energy balls. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients such as oats, dates, and cacao to help boost our energy levels and support good health in general. In this recipe, each ball is filled with protein, heart-healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fibre, plus a whole host of minerals and antioxidants. Post-holidays, you can enjoy this snack as a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon or alongside your morning tea/coffee to get you going with your day! These chocolate-orange protein balls can be made in larger batches and placed in the freezer so you always have them on standby.
Combine and blend all the ingredients together in a blender.
Blend until everything is crumbly and broken down so it’s easy to form into balls.
Add splashes of water to the blended mixture as needed to allow ingredients to combine with each other.
Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture. Roll into a ball and place in a serving dish that can go into the fridge.
Place the chocolate-orange balls in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Chocolate-Orange Protein Balls
These chocolate-covered peanut butter stuffed dates taste just like Snickers but are so much better for you as they’re naturally sweetened – perfect if the stress of this season prompts you to reach for those candy bars. Besides, once you have a chocolate-covered date, you will not want them any other way! And with only five ingredients, it’s so easy to make. These treats aren’t limited to the holiday season – if you love having something sweet in the middle of the day or after dinner, make a larger batch, store them in the freezer, and enjoy whenever the craving strikes.
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.
For more recipes or just plain FOMO as Haiya dines across Dubai, follow her here.
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.”
5 Birthday Spots to Consider If You’re Celebrating in Dubai
Let the festivities begin!
Everybody deserves a fabulous birthday celebration, so if you’re looking for chic places to celebrate your special day with loved ones, you’re in luck. Dubai is home to countless dining experiences that fit any type of vibe. Ready to get the festivities started? Here are our top five picks of the best birthday celebration spots in the city.
Take in views of the stunning blue waters of the Arabian Gulf when you dine at Alici, a fine-dining gem that serves rich fare from the south of Italy. Here, you can overwhelm your senses with the oyster and caviar selections, pairing them with grape from the restaurant’s extensive list of wines – each hand-picked by the in-house sommelier.
If a fun and lively atmosphere is your vibe, you’ll never go wrong with Hotel Cartagena, where the vibrant décor, lively music, and extensive menu showcase its Latin American roots. Celebrate your birthday by dancing the night away and indulging in an array of traditional flavours – the Arroz Con Mariscos comes highly recommended.
Hotel Cartagena, JW Marriott Marquis Tower B, Business Bay, 04 350 9287, [email protected]
Looking for something a little more serene in ambiance? The Farm might be the choice for you as it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, you can blow out your birthday candles surrounded by extraordinary views and hues of the botanical garden while you choose from an eclectic menu of globally beloved delights.
The Farm, Al Barari, 04 886 6223, thefarmdubai.ae
Get the world on your plate at Brasserie 2.0, a gorgeous space at Le Royal Méridien that regularly places at the top of the best brunch places in Dubai – and rightfully so! The multicultural cuisine combined with the scenic backdrop of the Arabian Gulf is guaranteed to make for a great birthday. Celebrate your special day with dishes from over 10 live cooking stations, washing them down with something from the juice and smoothie bar.
Brasserie 2.0, Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Al Mamsha Street, 04 316 5550, [email protected]
Fancy a chic and cosy celebration by the Arabian Sea? Flamingo Room by Tashas provides a personalised dining experience, perfect for a casual celebration with friends and family. This plush restaurant is rooted in rich, contemporary flavours inspired by cuisine from all over the world. The influences of African glamour are evident through its interiors, with pink-and-gold detailing adding a stylish touch to your birthday celebration.
Flamingo Room by Tashas, Al Naseem, Madinat Jumeirah Road, 04 244 7278, [email protected]
With mercury levels slowly starting to rise and Ramadan on the horizon, bringing with it a shift in our social calendars, the time to enjoy Dubai’s beachfront restaurants is now – hence this list of our favourites. Whether you’re marking a special occasion, planning a romantic evening, or simply looking to dine on burgers and fries with the feel of sand between your toes, there’s something in this edit for you.
Created and run by fishermen, IBN AlBahr is located at Club Vista Mare, but will transport you to the shores of Lebanon in no time. This fully licensed venue offers simple, authentic Lebanese food and the freshest seafood you will eat in Dubai! The owners catch the fish themselves, and you can choose to sit indoors or right on the beach thanks to the cabanas and umbrellas scattered across the beach. We recommend booking a table at this hotspot in advance as this family-friendly restaurant is packed to the rafters – especially as furry friends are also welcome.
IBN AlBhar, Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, 054 496 0075, open from 12pm –midnight daily
The Jetty Lounge
Looking for the most romantic spot in town? Look no further. The Jetty Lounge is a staple when it comes to brilliant beachfront restaurants and lounges in this city. Order a cocktail, slip off your sandals, and walk along the beach until you find yourself a comfy outdoor couch. Watch the sunset and feel like you’re on vacation in the country you call home. Jetty Lounge may be on the beach, but it still has the glitzy elegance that you come to expect from Dubai.
The Jetty Lounge, The Palace at One&Only Royal Mirage, 04 399 9999, open from 5pm – 1am daily
Lucky Fish is one of those restaurants that is just so ‘gram-able’. This effortlessly chic restaurant is located on Palm Jumeirah, its menu inspired by the flavours of the ocean and the Mediterranean region – complete with Italian, French, and Spanish options. Boasting mesmerising views of the iconic Dubai skyline, Lucky Fish’s interiors inspire a tranquil coastal style with a rustic design concept at the terrace and the beach. Our favourite detail? The 19th century French chandeliers.
Lucky Fish, West Beach Palm Jumeirah, 04 569 3447, open from 11am – 2am daily
MASTI, located at La Mer on the edge of the water, is a fun and quirky mixture of Indian and global flavours and, as far as we’re concerned, home to the best cocktails in Dubai! Feel the warm sea breeze on your face and enjoy the stunning beach views as you sip on cocktails like Turmeric Tommies, Bold Fashion, and the MASTI Spritz. MASTI also has one of the best weekend brunches in town, thanks to the huge dishes and unlimited cocktail options.
MASTI, South La Mer, 04 344 4384, open from 4pm – midnight Sun-Thurs and from 12pm – 1am Friday and Saturday
Be prepared for major Bali vibes as soon as you step into Koko Bay. Inspired by the beaches of the Far East, it features natural handwoven materials and rustic accents, tricking you into believing you’ve left town. Forget about your troubles as you dine and sip on some of the most stunning dishes and handcrafted cocktails. We love that Koko Bay is also open for breakfast – the perfect place to head for the first meal of the day after some beach yoga. Can you say yum-aste?
Koko Bay, West Beach Palm Jumeriah, 800 KOKO BAY, open daily 12pm – midnight
Looking for a casual beachfront restaurant where you won’t be judged for shovelling burgers and fries into your mouth? SALT is the perfect spot and it’s right on the beach! Kite Beach is home to the iconic original SALT outpost and, judging by the queues each weekend, it’s still a firm favourite. Whether you want to order the original Wagyu beef sliders or be adventurous and try the Cheeto chicken burger, you will be back for seconds. Trust us.
SALT, Kite Beach, Jumeirah, 055 996 5802, open 9am – late
Valentine’s Day may be divisive – why do we have to be in love in the middle of February? – but everyone can agree on the appeal of Galentine’s Day. This unofficial holiday debuted in a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation, reminding us to celebrate our female friendships every year on February 13. And the good news here? We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to girly cafés, many of which are hidden gems in their own right. From Insta-worthy interiors to mouth-watering menus, here, we round-up our top 10 picks in Dubai.
‘Old but gold’ is the phrase that best describes this café. Super popular amongst health-conscious women, it features a botanical setting that perfectly reflects all the charming vibes you need for a girls’ day out. As for its menu? There’s plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, so you’re sure to find something that’ll suit everyone’s palettes.
Bounty Beets, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, Dubai Marina, 04 511 7373, www.bountybeets.com, open 8am-10pm daily
The super pretty Boston Lane is tucked away at The Courtyard in Al Quoz, making it a true hidden gem. While the café is quite small, its ambience embraces a concept store feel, complete with trinkets and books exuding just the right amount of coziness. Alternatively, you can grab a seat outside with your girlfriends to enjoy the gorgeous weather that comes with this time of year.
Originating in Barcelona and running two branches in Dubai, Brunch & Cake is easily one of the most Instagrammable cafés for a day out with the girls – its boho-chic aesthetic is what makes so many patrons returning to more. And then there’s the brightly coloured açai bowls and signature brekkie board, both hearty and downright delicious.
Brunch & Cake, Ground Floor, Wasl 51 – Al Wasl Rd, 800 472 6362, brunchandcake.com, open 8am-22:30pm daily
Between its delicious dinner options, decadent cakes, and overdose of pink detailing (flowers, vases, and furniture included), Saya is not your ordinary café. But whether you and your friends are fans of the colour pink or not, it’s the food that you’ll want to return to. We recommend the Saya Signature Benedict and Spanish lattes infused with lavender or caramel as the perfect combination.
Saya, City Walk – Al Wasl, 050 541 8373, sayacafe.ae, open 9am-1am daily
Lou’Loua by Nadia
With an ambience and accents adorned in pink, purple and rose gold, every corner of this café feels delicate and girly – but the picture-perfect aesthetic of this café is not limited to its interiors alone. Not only is the food here easy on the eye, but it also fuses Middle Eastern flavours with a modern twist, making it a must-visit for foodies across the city.
Having received a shout-out from a popular celebrity (hint: Drake) before it even opened, Vibe Café practically belongs on your bucket list. With its steady stream of hip-hop jams, kitsch accents, and just the right amount of pink, it has created the perfect ambience for a girls’ hangout. And if you and your girls are into clean eating? Well, your search ends here.
Vibe, Lamar Building – Unit #30 – Al Wasl Rd, 800 8423, www.vibeuae.com, open 8am-10pm daily
The wonderfully elegant Parlour Boutique can be your go-to option for a hangout if you’re planning to catch up with friends after work on a Thursday night. Located in the Dubai World Trade Centre area, the café has an extensive collection of French delicacies on its menu, all of which translate perfectly to ‘cheat day’.
Parlour Boutique, One Central, World Trade Centre Dubai, 04 3865333, https://parlour.ae/, open 8am-7pm daily
If you’re looking to indulge your inner child during girls’ day out, then head straight to Tania’s Teahouse. From unicorn toasts and an al fresco patio to keep your pooch content to a selection of beautifully packaged handbag essentials to shop, this café is a one-stop shop. Incidentally, the wholesome range of Magic Mylks (nut milk lattes) is hands down our favourite.
Tania’s Teahouse, 779A Jumeirah St – Umm Suqeim – Umm Suqeim 2, 04 324 0021, www.taniasteahouse.com , open 8am-6pm daily
Forever Rose Café
Opened recently at Boxpark, this café is a 2D wonderland that we’ll never tire of. From the tables to chairs and even plates, everything at this café is concepted in 2D monochrome, with red roses adding only the slightest contrast – you’ll feel like you’re in a whimsical children’s book from the moment you step in. Menu-wise, everything from breakfast and light lunch to high tea options are on offer.
A floral wonderland is Secret Garden By L’ETO in a nutshell. With one branch in The Dubai Mall and another in City Walk, the café is all about flowers adorning every inch of its walls and ceilings. The menu, meanwhile, focuses on soulful cuisine, so expect colourful healthy bowls alongside gorgeous desserts that taste as good as they look.
Call it comfort food, a pantry essential, or just about the greatest thing ever invented, Nutella is the only bottled spread that deserves an annual celebration. That’s right – World Nutella Day has been marked annually on February 5 since 2007, bringing together loyalists of this chocolate-hazelnut spread from far and wide. And while the likes of Nutella cookies and Nutella crepes are easy to find on menus across Dubai, we think this unofficial holiday calls for something a little more hands-on. Enter: five Nutella-centric recipes that we swear by.
Homemade Nutella Latte
While Nutella Hot Chocolate is a universal favourite, the Nutella Mocha Latte recipe by The Girl on Bloor feels a little more grown-up. Here, Nutella pairs beautifully with espresso, almond milk, and cocoa powder, resulting in a beverage that is both weather-appropriate and deeply comforting. Win-Win.
The reign of marshmallows and nuts continues with this Nutella Rocky Road Bark recipe by Sweetest Menu that proves more is more – it pairs Nutella with dark chocolate and chocolate chips, clearly catering to anyone living through a pandemic. We suggest you get creative with your own take on this treat, experimenting with ingredients like cherries, coconut flakes, or Turkish delight.
Here’s a kind of muffin top that we all can get behind – one that brings Nutella, cream cheese, and granulated sugar together, courtesy of this recipe for Swirled Nutella Muffins by Sugar Spun Run. Feeling extra indulgent? Stir some white chocolate chips into the flour mixture, as suggested by the recipe, so that the muffin bases are as irresistible as the tops.
Chocolate and berries is a foolproof combination, and this Nutella Deviled Strawberries recipe by Lauren’s Latest – arguably the prettiest take on deviled eggs – is proof. All you have to do is layer three simple ingredients, one of which is strawberries, easing the guilt that sometimes comes with consuming spoonfuls of Nutella.
Scouring some of the best food blogs on the internet led us to this Nutella Cheesecake recipe that even amateur cooks can master. Yes, there’s absolutely no baking involved – just layers and layers of Nutella and cream cheese interspersed with crushed Oreos and whipped cream. Let’s all thank A Night Owl for this one.
10 Incredibly Romantic Spots in Dubai for Valentine’s Day
You can’t go wrong with the classics.
The most romantic day of the year is right around the corner. Translation: get ready to spoil your sweetheart with splendid views and a delectable meal at one of Dubai’s most romantic restaurants. To save you the hassle of searching for the right place, we’ve rounded up the best Valentine’s Day dining spots across the city for a date you’ll never forget.
Witness a breathtaking sunset together on your romantic day at Babiole. This jewel in the heart of the city boasts panoramic views of the magnificent buildings along Sheikh Zayed Road from midday to late in the evening. Once you shift your gaze from the balcony to your plate, you’ll be treated to scrumptious Mediterranean delicacies such as spanakopita, truffle pizza, and seafood paella.
Babiole, Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road, 056 515 4665, babioledubai.com, Saturday to Wednesday 12pm – 1am and Thursday to Friday 12pm – 2am
La Cantine Du Faubourg
Want to whisk your date to a romantic night in Paris while still enjoying the dazzling Dubai cityscape? Go two-for-two with a romantic dinner at La Cantine du Faubourg. Try its Wagyu short ribs and truffled burrata pizza for an unforgettable gastronomical experience. Every dish is a masterpiece by renowned chef Gilles Bosquet, whose menus redefine Parisian cuisine in the most unique of ways.
La Cantine Du Faubourg, 1st floor, Emirates Towers Hotel, Trade Centre 2, 04 352 7105, lacantine.ae, Sunday to Wednesday 12pm – 2am, Thursday 12pm – 3am, Friday 12 –5pm & 7pm – 3am, Saturday12pm –5pm & 7om – 2am
Looking for something a little more casual, but still very intimate? Take your beau to Wavebreaker and relish in an eclectic menu of grilled and smoked meats and seafood plus vegetarian options while enjoying a scenic view of the beach. Share the sea breeze with your sweetheart while sipping spritz and devouring its signature Croque Monsieur dish.
Wavebreaker Beach and Grill, The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residences, 04 318 2319, [email protected], 12pm – 11pm daily
You can never go wrong with chic fountain views and delicious Italian culinary delights, so mark the occasion with a personalised dining experience at Armani/Ristorante. Enjoy a breathtaking musical show by The Dubai Fountain as you savour Riso al Tartufo paired with an expert recommendation (or two) by the resident sommelier.
Switch up your Valentine’s Day game with a cool, upbeat dining experience at Izakaya. Settle in and marvel at its authentic teppanyaki offerings and more! Oh, and don’t forget to join Sake Boy on an instant trip to Japan with the restaurant’s impressive selection of sake.
Take your date to new heights – quite literally! Enjoy a romantic night at At.Mosphere, located on the 122nd floor of the tallest tower in the world, Burj Khalifa. Overwhelm your senses with gorgeous views of the city, 442 metres from the ground, while basking in the epitome of fine dining.
Sit back and indulge in an underwater dining affair at Ossiano in Atlantis, The Palm. Watch the colourful array of sea creatures swim by as you enjoy a hybrid of European and Mediterranean dishes, a magical and sensory experience that you and your loved one will remember for years to come.
Celebrate with fun, laidback vibes at this urban and ultra-hip gem at Al Habtoor City. Zoco offers Latin America’s best through a divine combination of traditional and bold flavours paired with a diverse selection of drinks that are sure to wow your date.
Zoco, Al Habtoor City, 260 Sheikh Zayed Rd, The Atrium, 04 437 0044, zocodubai.com, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 5pm – 1am, Monday and Thursday 5pm – 2am, 12:30pm – 4pm and Friday 5pm – 2am
The gorgeous pier setting of this award-winning restaurant offers a fresh alternative to your usual al fresco dining experiences. Here, you can feel the breeze and enjoy the stunning blues of the Arabian Gulf as you indulge in a wide selection of rich Italian fare. A word to the wise: you can’t go wrong with Pierchic’s mouth-watering White Truffle selection.
Pierchic, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, 04 432 3232, jumeirah.com, Sunday & Monday 6:30pm – 10:30pm, Tuesday to Saturday 1pm – 3pm and 6:30pm – 10:30pm
This JW Marriott Marquis restaurant stays true to its Thai identity through vibrant décor and an extensive menu of contemporary, yet ethnocentric flavours. The culinary team has mastered the art of Thai classics and street food with an elegant twist, so if you and your beau love Thai cuisine, this one’s for you.
Between the wishes, the gifts, the unexpected surprises, and all that merriment, birthdays are all about one very special person in the spotlight. As for the part that everyone looks forward to? The cake, of course! If a loved one’s birthday is right around the corner, here are the top five bakeries to get a birthday cake in Dubai.
For a Classic Birthday
Thanks to Carrie Bradshaw and her friends, you’ve probably had Magnolia Bakery cupcakes at some point, so you know it’s hard to go wrong with its options. Choose from Vanilla, Chocolate, Red Velvet, and more, making sure to ask about special cake decorations. And if you’re in a pinch, you can even order a cake via Deliveroo!
Whether you’re scale-conscious or concerned about what goes into your food, Healthy Pâtisserie is the one for you. It sells vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, and paleo cakes and other desserts. All orders are delivered within one to two days, or on the same day if ordered before 3pm. And if you want a custom cake for the special day, the team can do that, too! Do note that custom orders may take more time.
If you’re a winter baby, go ahead and embrace the chill with an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. You can custom order a birthday ice cream cake – just choose the size, ice cream flavour, sponge base, and design of your choice.
Katrina Sweets & Confectionery takes themed cakes to the next level, so it’s time to draw up a list of all the pop culture characters you want gracing your cake. If you can’t find what you want on its website, fret not – the bakery also makes customised cakes. Just be sure to contact Katrina at least two days (if not more) in advance, so that the cake can be ready on time.
Why should humans have all the fun? Enter: Dog Bake, a store that specialises in organic, handmade, dog-friendly cakes and treats sans no artificial preservatives or additives. Most orders generally arrive in one to two days, and you can even get free shipping for orders above AED 250. Keep in mind, though, that the cakes are meant as treats – and not to be consumed in one sitting.