Ramadan in Dubai | Where All You Can Eat

Special recipes in my blog during Ramadan
Today marks the start of the holy month of Ramadan. And during this entire month, I will be sharing special Ramadan recipes, gathered from many signature restaurants of top hotels in Dubai and around the region. I know that many people do not go out during Ramadan and prefer to cook at home. Most would like to cook special dishes, but they don’t have access to these restaurant recipes. Each hotel that I have contacted has graciously sent me the recipes. I have been inspired by Dima Sharif, who has a tradition of posting daily recipes on her blog during Ramadan. This year, she explains the tradition of Ramadan as it is observed in different countries. Do join her in her journey as well – Ramadan Special 2013 – A Focus on Ramadan Culture & The Spirit of Ramadan. As she says, I am discussing all that and more throughout the 30 days of the Holy month, so do check out the posts, and I assure you by the end of the month, anyone who’s read the posts will have explored Ramadan fully this year, and got a better understanding of the Ramadan’. Also, do enter my blog giveaway – ‘Theme Night Dinner invite for two’, courtesy The Address Marina, as it runs throughout the month of Ramadan.

What is Ramadan?
• Ramadan is regarded as the holiest month of the Islamic calendar and lasts between 29 and 30 days.
• Ramadan is the period in which the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were said to be revealed to Prophet Mohammed and it is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
• Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and during Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset.
• Many Muslims will rise before dawn for a small pre-fast meal called Suhoor, and will break the fast at sunset with a meal called Iftar.
• Ramadan concludes with a three day festival, the Eid al-Fitr, which when translated means ‘The festival of breaking the fast’.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of fasting and is a culmination of the month-long path towards a higher spiritual state.

More on Ramadan
Gulf News writes about all you need to know about Ramadan. This is also a time for spiritual awakening, self-evaluation, humility and giving and is explained by Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, while Khaleej Times writes about the essence of Ramadan.

An humble Iftar experience in Dubai
One of the humblest Iftar experiences I’ve experienced, has been at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). Located in the wind-towered heritage area of Bastakiya (above) in Al Fahidi district, you can learn about the Islamic tradition of fasting here, followed by a walk around the entire historical site and a visit to the Diwan Masjid. {House 26, Al Mussallah Road, Al Fahidi District, Bur Dubai; E-mail or call +97143536666. More info here}

Ramadan Tents in Dubai
Traditionally, Ramadan tents are erected during the month of Ramadan, where people can meet right after Maghrib or the sunset so that everyone who’s fasting for Ramadan can break their daily fast with friends and family over an Iftar meal. Dates form an important part of Iftar (three dates are eaten to break the fast, in the tradition of the prophet Mohammed, who broke his fast in this manner). In Dubai, Iftar buffets are organised in many hotels around the city, complete with air-conditioned Ramadan Tents. I have been curious whether the grandeur of these Iftar Buffets contradict some of the very principles of Ramadan, which is abstinence and self-discipline. While some of my Muslim friends do not attain these Buffets because the prayer facilities for Maghrib isn’t there, most of these Ramadan tents nowadays have prayer rooms. As Dima Sharif explains ‘While in Dubai, and especially among the expat community, Iftar Buffets are very popular – probably because they are away from family, and in Ramadan tradition has it that you break fast with a large number of people – it is not the actual tradition of Ramadan among most and not in fact the most famous forms of breaking fast. Actually, the tradition and spirit of Ramadan (the essence) is very much alive, and that is my focus this year.

Asateer in Atlantis, The Palm: I did have a preview of this stunning tent (above). It felt like a page out of the ‘Arabian Nights’ with unique concepts like the Tahina Fountain a la the Fondue (first pic on the left), live cooking stations offering traditional dishes like Ouzi, a lamb and rice dish infused with Arabic spices – one of my favourite Middle Eastern dishes and presented beautifully (top left); Kebbeh bil Laban; Fish Sayadiyha; Halloumi and other Cheeses; the Katyaef (an Arab dessert commonly served during the month of Ramadan, a puff pastry filled with delicious Akkawi cheese); the Assafiri, a sweet crepe filled with an Arabic cream called Kashta and more. My pick? Ouzi and the Ramadan special juices like Jallab and Karkadeh or the sweet Hibiscus tea! {The Ramadan tent can hold upto 830 people, has exclusive Majlis areas, prayer rooms. Iftar sunset buffet is priced at Dhs 185/person followed by an a la carte Suhour menu from 9.30pm with a minimum spend of Dhs 120. E-mail or call +97144260800. More info here.}

The Address Marina: Designed in the manner of a traditional Ramadan tent (above) but inside a modern air-conditioned set up of the Constellation ballroom, an extensive Iftar Buffet is available from sunset until 9pm during the entire Ramadan followed by a la carte Suhour menu to be enjoyed in the Terrace Tent from 8pm onwards. The Iftar spread is quite elaborate (yes, I did have a preview of it). Starting with cold Mezzeh counters (Mezzehs are small dishes served traditionally at the beginning of Middle Eastern meals like Starters), soup and bread stations, salad bars, there will also be hot buffet and live cooking stations serving traditional Middle Eastern, Asian and International cuisine. Apart from live warm Mezzeh counters, grill stations, Pasta stations, cold dessert and hot dessert counters, there will also be live cooking stations preparing a few traditional desserts like Um Ali. {This indoor Ramadan tent can accommodate up to 400-500 diners. Families and friends can seat themselves around round tables decorated with traditional Arabic lanterns and date platters. Dhs 155/person. E-mail: or call +97144367777. More info here}

Ewaan, The Palace Downtown: A very Arabian experience of Ramadan tent with regal arches and wooden trellis, by the poolside and with a view of the Dubai fountains and Burj Khalifa. Interestingly, Ewaan will be offering an all-day dining with a traditional Iftar buffet starting during sunset until 9pm and a la carte menu for Suhoor after 9pm upto 2 am on weekdays and 3am on weekends. {Ifar buffet is priced at Dhs 195/person and a la carte Suhour menu requires a minimum spend of Dhs 150/person. Email or call +97144287806. More info here}

Al Waha Tent, Ritz Carlton, Jumeirah: The Ramadan tent is set amidst the new lush gardens of the resort, overlooking the the Palm Jumeirah and Arabian Gulf. The Iftar buffet consists of International dishes as well as traditional Arabic dishes such as Lamb Ouzi, Manakish and live Shawarma stations. {Iftar Buffet starts at sunset until 8:30pm and is priced at Dhs 200/person. An a la carte Suhour menu is available with minimum spend of Dhs 100/person from 8:30am upto 2:00am. Call +97143994000. More info here}

Vantage Terrace, The Sheraton MOE: This is a Shisha Lounge with comfortable oriental-style tent which can accomodate up to 50 people after Iftar for Sisha and Suhour with music, games, TV and kids corner in soda box. {From sunset to 2 am daily. More info here}

Sheraton, Jumeirah Beach Resort: An air conditioned Ramadan Tent in the gardens overlooking the Arabian Gulf can accommodate up to 350 people and serves Arabic and International dishes with live cooking stations. This is open until early morning. {Ifar buffet is priced at Dhs 185/person and a la carte Suhour menu is available. Call +9714315 3862. More info here}

Other Iftar Buffets
Levantine, in Atlantis, The Palm: The Lebanese restaurant at Atlantis will feature cuisines from around the region with an Iftar set menu of Ramadan juices, classic Arabian Mezzeh or Starters and grilled meats cooked over charcoal. A Suhour set menu will be available from 9:00pm – 1:00am, with Shisha served at the Levantine Bar Terrace from 7:00pm – 2:00am. {Both Iftar and Suhour set menu is priced at Dhs 185/person. E-mail or call +97144262626. More info here}

Kaleidoscope, in Atlantis, The Palm: With interactive open kitchen and live cooking stations, one can choose between a traditional Iftar Buffet from 6:00pm until 8:30pm or dinner buffet consisting of Indian, International and Arabic menu from 9:00pm until 11:00pm {Buffet is priced at Dhs 195/person. E-mail or call +97144262626. More info here}

Al Nafoorah Marquee, Jumeirah Emirates Towers: Iftar will be served in the signature Lebanese restaurant as well as the unique air-conditioned Ramadan marquee on the terrace with a sumptuous spread of hot and cold mezze, special Ramadan juices from sunset until 9pm. Suhour will be served off the a la carte menu with live stations for Ramadan sweets and desserts from 10:00pm until 2:00am. {Iftar Buffet is priced at Dhs 170/person and for groups of 20 or more, a family style Suhour menu is available at Dhs 180/person. Call +9714319 8088. More info here}

Sanabel, The Sheraton MOE: The Iftar buffet starts from sunset and continues upto 10pm daily and includes hot and cold Arabic mezze, main course selection, and traditional Ramadan drinks. After Iftar, Shisha can be enjoyed in oriental-style Ramadan lounge tent at the Vantage Terrace. {Dhs 120/person and special group offers are available. Call +97143772000. More info here}. Sanabel also offers lunch buffet options – salads, cold entrees, Arabic mezze and desserts are available for Dhs 45/person including starter and dessert; Dhs 65/person including starter, main course and dessert {12:30 pm – 4 pm daily}

Rare Restaurant, The Desert Palm: A bit of a drive away from the city, this is a lovely location with cool-air portico terrace amidst lush green polo fields. The Iftar menu in the Rare Restaurant has been specially crafted to serve freshly prepared Arabic delicacies like lamb soup and homemade mezze, live lobster, grilled to order and a selection of Arabic desserts and sweets. A very late Suhour is available from midnight till 3:00am. {Iftar menu is priced at Dhs 145/adult and group offerings are available from Dhs 110/person. Suhour is priced at Dhs 95/person. E-mail or call +97143238888. More info here}

Yalumba, Le Meridien Airport: The Iftar dinner buffet starts at sunset until 8.30pm and consists of Arabic specialities like Lamb Ouzi, Moroccan Lamb, Chicken tagine, hot & cold mezzehs, warm soups, grills, live cooking stations, Arabic sweets and more. {Dhs 159/person; E-mail or call +97147022455. More info here}

The Sunken Garden, Ritz Carlton @DIFC: The Iftar as well as Suhour can be enjoyed in an unique Ramadan Garden. One can dine outdoors on the air-conditioned terrace or The Sunken Garden, surrounded by a serene landscape of palm trees and a dramatic water fountain, while the indoor experience is set against the backdrop of a colorful spice souk. The Iftar buffet offers traditional Arabic cuisine as well as a range of dishes with a Mediterranean influence, live Fattayer station, with demonstration of how to make the popular Levantine dishes like toasted pita, chickpeas and tahini-yogurt sauce. Suhour will be served from an la carte menu from 9pm. {Dhs 225/person; E-mail or call +97143722323. More info here}

New kid on the block
The Oberoi Dubai: Hailing from Kolkata, I have an affinity for this latest entrant to the Dubai’s burgeoning F&B scene, as the first Oberoi Hotel is in Kolkata and I have umbilical connection to it! You can enjoy Iftar at The Oberoi Ballroom or in Nine7One, the eclectic restaurant overlooking a courtyard with an outdoor seating and a large water feature. {Dhs 190-Dhs 230/person in the Ballroom Dhs 180/person in Nine7One from sunset to 11:00pm. An a la carte Suhour menu is available from 11:00pm until 2:00am. E-mail or call +97144444444. More info here}

Regional Iftar treats
Indian Cuisine – Mahec, Le Meridien Airport: The Iftar dinner buffet consists of Indian speciality like Chicken Kadhai, Lamb Roganjosh, Jhinga Biriyani or Biriyani cooked with herbs with prawns and the very traditional Indian dessert – the Kulfi and Faloodeh. {Dhs 149/person; E-mail or call +97147022615. More info here}

Turkish Cuisine – Auris Plaza Hotel, Al Barsha: The Academy of Culinary Arts, Istanbul presents Turkish Food Festival during the entire month of Ramadan featuring regional dishes from Turkey. {Priced at Dhs 125/person; E-mail or call +97144554839/4840. More info here}

Ottoman CuisineArcadia Lounge, The H Hotel: The buffet is created by the world-famous celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe. She’s promising a buffet which is ‘fit for the Ottoman kings’ and I definitely believe her, after I have had a preview of a dinner hosted by her at the Capital Club recently. The Iftar menu is available Available from sunset to 11:30pm, while an a La Carte Suhour menu is available from 9:00pm to 2:00am, including a selection of contemporary mezzes, hot dishes, and desserts prepared by Chef Silvena. {Call +97145018888. More info here. Booking through Lime and Tonic will get you a discount}

Steak? Gaucho, DIFC: Unlimited Gaucho food? Sounds incredible to me with the menu consisting of fresh dates, unlimited Latin American breads served with fresh Chimichurri and Guacamole, soup of the day and a combination of fresh Ecuadorian, Seabass and Tuna ceviche spoons, hot Parrillada selection of Beef Chorizo Sausage, grilled Gambas, mini Duck and corn husk Empanadas. For the main course, diners can choose one of the following – a trio of Steak Medallions; the Gaucho Burger with Argentine beef and cheddar cheese, Chipotle chutney and roasted onion mayonnaise; Churrasco De Ancho – a rib-eye spiral cut, slow grilled with Chimichurri; grilled Tuna Loin served on a roasted pepper salad with crispy capers and olive oil or a Buffalo Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli seasoned with Basil Pesto and Parmesan. Desserts include chocolate truffles, salted Dulce De Leche, Macadamia Cheesecake, Lemon and Poppy seed shortbread. {Dhs 295/person; E-mail or Call 97144227898. More info here}

Emirati CuisineBarjeel Guest House: Located in the Heritage Village, you can dine in traditional Emirati Style. {Dhs 75/person all inclusive. E-mail or call +97143544424. More info here}

Places offering all-day dining, takeaways and home deliveries
From the above places, lunch options are available in Sanabel, Gaucho, Ewaan etc. Food blogger FooDiva, has rounded up many independent eateries open to dine in for lunch and in some cases breakfast too. Many restaurants offer home delivery and take aways during the daytime throughout the month of Ramadan. Food On Click is an online food delivery hub and has a list of restaurants, categorized according to region, cuisines and whether a restaurant offers services during Ramadan. You can schedule the timing of the arrival of your food parcel with the Iftar timings. While my first experience had been superb with this online food portal with the food arriving exactly on time, the second experience had been disastrous, with the problem finally pinned down to the particular restaurant failing to process the right order.

A different kind of Iftar
Sacred Sunset Voyage, Frying Pan Adventures: You can join Arva (I have previously had an incredible 4hours 26 min and 1 sec long food tour in Deira), on the roads of Old Dubai at sunset, learn about the significance of Ramadan, whilst experiencing an ‘Iftar’ menu that might feature any of the favourite seasonal Ramadan treats: crunchy fritters from the Indian subcontinent, bowls of heart-warming Moroccan lentil soup, Iraqi meat and bulgur patties, a traditional Arabic porridge full of hearty wheat and meat, fried baby pancakes stuffed with fresh cream. {Lasting 3 – 4 hours, the tour costs Dhs 350/person includes food, select beverages, pick-up/drop-off from Mall of Emirates, transport during tour and tour guide services. More info here}

Dine with a conscience and give back
Rainforest Cafe: The cafe has created special 5, 6, 7 courses Iftar buffet which includes traditional Arabic dishes like Tabouleh salad, Meatballs served with Egyptian Rice, Basbousa, Kunafa and more. The cafe is organising ‘Toys & Clothes Drop’ during the month of Ramadan – every child who drops toys or clothes gets a special certificate and all the collected toys will be donated to a Charity Association. {Dhs 99 – Dhs 149; Cafe opens at 5pm upto  2:00am; Call +97143308515. More info here}

SimSim: The ‘cute’ Levantine restaurant at The Walk in JBR will be serving regional specialities during Ramadan. The Iftaar and Suhour menus include special dishes, drinks and desserts from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Egypt. These are Mansaf, Shakshukat Bandora, Fattet Batinjan bil Lahmeh, Musakhan Dajaj, Fattoush Gazawi, Osmalieh, Bozah Arabi and Tamriyeh. The restaurant has committed that 10% of all profits during the month of Ramadan, to the Al Jalila Foundation, a non-profit organisation established by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to support medical education and research. {Iftar Menu is priced at Dhs 115/person and starts from sunset. The Suhour is served a la carte and the last order can be placed as late as 3:00am! Call +97144542319. More info here}

What Ramadan means to me, a non-Muslim
A cumulative rewind from a few of my earlier posts… My own religious philosophy stems from growing up in a multicultural city of Kolkata with friends having different faith and religion. The city is known to be decadent. But is is also known to be enlightened. For me, it is important that the very essence of Ramadan shouldn’t be lost in all the opulence and the lavishness showered in the way Iftar is observed in the city of Dubai. The breaking of the fast shouldn’t crumble the very essence of why it is observed in the first case. So as you enjoy your Iftar meals with your family and friends, please ensure that there is no food wastage. A small snapshot comes in mind from my last year’s Ramadan experience in Kolkata  – as Iftar set in, everybody set out to break their Roza/fast. An amazing experience ensued. People formed groups – on the roads, in corners, behind stalls and prayed on the street and started picking on dates and nuts and other savouries from the same plate (below). These were strangers breaking their fast together – strangers bonded by the same belief, faith and principle!This is the holy month for the Muslims the world over. In the UAE, everybody – both the Muslims and the non-Muslims, is cued in to the holy fervor of the holy month. The non-Muslims too have to refrain from eating and drinking in public during the fasting hours and Iftar can be enjoyed by everybody at various Iftar Buffets, organised in many restaurants and hotels around the city (beyond the listing I’ve made – you’ll find in Zomato, for different price range). If you are living around the Bur Dubai region, you can actually hear the cannon of the Union House boom, every evening, to signal the end of the day’s fasting (the calculation of the Iftar and the other prayer timings is a very laborious process), which is pretty much a Dubai tradition (watch here).

Click here to enter the Giveaway!

The contest for my Blog giveaway closes on the 9th August and the winner can enjoy dining at his/her choice of ‘Theme Night’ in the Mazina, The Address Marina, after the Ramadan month is over. And do join me as I post special recipes from the various signature restaurants in Dubai – each hotel I have contacted have been really gracious and have handed over their special recipe. I hope you try out these recipes (assuming that a restaurant recipe is not difficult to cook!), send me pictures and do keep connected over Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Enjoy your summers and the spirit of Ramadan, wherever you are!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Please note that this blog is not a sponsored blog and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. You can catch my daily travel and food journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

More on the various aspects of Ramadan from my blogger friends

Spirit of Ramadan – Dima Sharif
• The many sides of Ramadan and Iftar in Dubai – My Custard Pie
• My Ramadan: Suhoor through the Years – Arabic Zeal
• Where can I lunch over Ramadan in Dubai?…oh and breakfast too please – FooDiva
• Ramadan and iftar – what it means for the food traveller – The Hedonista
• Ramadan 101 – Coffee, Cakes and Running


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