It’s a warm, cosy evening, the lights are down low, Zahira is buzzing and glasses are tinkling in excitement. Part of the media preview crew, we are expecting a treat. After all the head chef is Greg Malouf — celebrity chef and maker of delicious Middle Eastern fare — and we are hungry.
After an eternity that the watch describes as a mere 15 minutes, we get our first course: organic Medjool dates, smoked almonds, Iranian walnuts and pumpkin seeds — a good way to break a fast. There’re also custom-made mocktails that are sweet and refreshing.
Next up, there’s harissa soup, made Moroccan style, a lovely sip of flavour and creamy bite of lamb. And there’s a nip of hummus with the zing of spiced beef.
Alongside this offering come homemade ma’hanie sausages, potato salad, pickled and fried chillies — and all that flavour in those tiny little shared packages almost causes a skirmish.
Sadly, our servers then forget they haven’t brought the main course and we must wait a long time for the next lot.
Fortunately, the Malouf’s ouzi — slow cooked spiced lamb with nut rice is worth the yawn. It’s tender and succulent and meaty and spicy, minus the heat but with all the moistness.
The salmon and prawn tagine, however, is a noseful — and mouthful — of the deep sea. (Fortunately, the chef changes menus every week.)
There are sweet dishes to be had after the meal, including kunafa, fruits and halawa, but we give these a pass.
They say after 20 minutes, your once-hungry stomach sends the signal to your brain that you’ve eaten enough, and perhaps that’s what happens to us, but we leave without the usual damage done during a night out.
All in all though, Zahira makes for a good night out, with a great meal, even if the dishes do come out a bit staggered.
What: Zahira, The H Hotel, Dubai
Credit card: Yes
Price: Dh190 per person
Iftar timings: 7pm until 9.30pm
FIVE OTHER IFTARS TO TRY
Where: Gunaydin Dubai
What Spend your evening winding down with a Turkish treat or ten. Feast your eyes and taste buds at Gunaydin, whose offerings include a great view of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain, and melt-in-the-mouth kababs, cheese, and Fistikli Kadayif (shredded wheat in syrup served with clotted cream and nuts).
Price: Dh220 per person
Timings: Sunset until 9.00pm
Where: Carlton Downtown Dubai
What: Bayty brings not only traditional flavour but also heady tunes from an oud player to make your evening even more enjoyable. Plus, its got live cooking stations with Middle Eastern, Asian and European dishes. Tempting much?
Price: Dh165 per person
Timings: Sunset until 10pm
Where: Thanani, Ajman Corniche
What: Spend a relaxed evening soaking in views of the forest, creek and the Al Zorah Golf Course at Thanani. The healthy menu includes moreish mains cooked in a lava stone grill.
Price: Dh250 for two people
Timings: 6.30pm until 1am
Where: Leila, Downtown Dubai and Mirdiff
What: Sit down for a three-course meal with starters, soups, salads, and a daily dish or the signature mixed grill. To be valid, minimum order is for two people.
Price: Dh145 per person
Timings: Sunset until 8pm
Where: Flow, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai
Now here’s a healthy way to curb that hunger and slake that thirst. Try Flow’s carefully-curated Ramadan Kit, comprising of a green juice with kale, apple, ginger and lemon, as well as a bag of mixed apricots and dates, to break your fast.
Timings: Ramadan Kit is available for take away.