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Sheikh Mohammad Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) - a cultural treat

190527 Sheikh Mohammad Center for Cultural Understanding
Image Credit: Supplied

Located in the Al Fahidi historic neighborhood the Iftar at Sheikh Mohammad Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) is more than just a meal. It is a journey where you get to know about the history of the U.A.E, the Emirati culture and way of life.

The whole neighborhood is a reflection of the historic U.A.E, the feel of which transports you to the past. It is an absolutely homely setup and the place reflects a lot of warmth. We were seated on a low seating majlis - again a very traditional way of eating and the Iftar spread was laid out on a carpeted floor.

A friendly and very knowledgable spokesperson introduced us to the SMCCU and took us through the entire experience. We were explained of how the Emirati cuisine is a fusion of various cuisines as the food was adopted based on trade relationships with other countries and from the cuisines of Expats who came in to the U.A.E in the early years.

We opened our fast with dates and water. The Iftar included Salad, two different types of Saloonas - chicken and vegetable gravies; White rice; Vegetable Biryani; Veal Harees - coarsely-ground wheat, mixed with meat; Lamb Margooga- a delicious stew of vegetables, meat, and soaked arabic bread and Lamb Machboos - rice, spices and meat and Chicken Biryani. These are dishes that you would find for Iftar in a Emirati household. These were freshly prepared and had traditional flavors.

We took a break and went on a cultural tour to the neighborhood mosque and visited an in-house camel as well. We were back after an informative tour and ended our meal with the desserts. We had the Umm Ali - a milk pudding with puffed pastry; a dessert that I love. We also tried the traditional dessert the Lugaimat - sweet dough balls and Mahalabia - a milk based dessert.

I must say that the entire experience is heartwarming and it feels so good to know more about this country - a place I call home !

Entry by registrationon the website of SMCCU.

Masala Library - an elite set-up

190527 Masala Library interior
Image Credit: Supplied

The iftar menu in the newly opened Masala Library at the JW Marriott Dubai is definitely a lavish set-menu which is wholesome as well.

We started our fast with the irresistible dates granola and a selection of Ramadan juices followed by the Mushroom Chai - a mushroom soup served with truffle in a cup rather than a soup bowl. The starter platter has three beautifully presented dishes, each very unique in their own way. The palak patta mille feuille, has palak crisps alternated with sweet potato and topped with melon caviar. A chaat of sorts, this one was brilliant. The curry leaf and pepper prawn was served with curd rice and had a burst of traditional flavors with fresh prawns. The succulent lamb chop served with a burhani dip is a meat lovers dream.

In the mains, there is the Tawa Boti that had extremely soft and tender shreds of meat, the Dal Makhni that is authentic and the Lahori Chicken that is served with a masala butter. These were relished with the Indian breads served alongside. The mains also included the Ghee Roast Lamb Biryani that had succulent pieces of meat.

An Arabic-Indian fusion dessert, the Kunafa and Chenna nest. Served with rabri - a sweet, condensed-milk-based dish was a perfect end to the meal.

The details

Price: Dh230 for the non-vegetarian and Dh195 for the vegetarian.

Tresind - royal yet modern

190527 tresind The Indian Steakhous Iftar
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At Tresind they outdo themselves with every new menu launched. This time it was the Indian Steakhouse themed Iftar set-menu that covers innovative light bites and then a proper main course that not only pleases the stomach but also the soul. Their distinctive style of bringing a trolley to the table or preparing the dish in front of you is unique.

We opened our fast with dates filled with popping sugar candy wrapped in an edible wrapper, an innovative way and a masterpiece. There are options of orange or pomegranate juice which are manually hand-pressed right at your table - absolutely fresh and refreshing.

The appetizing starters to begin the experience had cubes of Watermelon stuffed with feta, a combination I love. There was also a platter of crispy dehydrated Okra with a yogurt dip and a Penne papad in tomato salsa.

What followed next was the epitome of meat madness and true to its theme of being an Indian Steakhouse. We were served the Beef tikki in a lettuce wrap, a Katsu pao sandwich with peanut ketchup, a Tandoori Lamb Chop, my absolute favorite the Homemade Chicken Sausage seekh kebab and the Charcoal Chicken Kebabs.

A palate cleanser, the cold sorbet was a perfect way to prepare for the next course.

In the mains, we were first served the nihari which is a stew from slow-cooked meat shank and bone marrow accompanied with khamiri roti (a popular Indian bread from the Mughal era). Then followed my most loved seafood, the butter pepper garlic flavored prawns tossed in vegetables. There was the well done and yet so juicy Tenderloin Wagyu Steak served on a bed on spicy harissa. They also served the Parmesan crusted chicken steak served in a korma sauce. Finally, it was the chicken and meat Biryanis served in a bamboo dish and I must say they were fab ! With tender meats and perfectly cooked rice, this was over indulgence.

We completed the meal with a dessert called the Textures of Mango which had mango in all forms. I haven’t come across anyone who doesn’t love mangoes and this portion of dessert seemed perfect for a mango craving. We also had the Deconstructed Baklava with pistachio ice-cream “constructed” on our table to end this luxurious Iftar.

The details

Price: Dh179 per person

Kaftan Turkish Cuisine & Fine Art - culinary journey

190527 Kaftan Turkish Cuisine and Fine art
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With a splendid view of the Burj Al Arab this place is serving over 200 Turkish dishes in an all you can eat Iftar buffet. While the outdoor seating of this place itself is very pretty, they have a see-through summer tent put up that is cooled so one can enjoy their experience without worrying about the heat.

There was a complete table setup only with the Turkish breads that Kaftan is very well known for. The selection of salads and cold mezze are massive. Some of these were the parsley and beetroot salad, the hummus, the labneh and the eggplant mezze. We were spoilt for choice again with the appetizers with different types of kofte and other hot starters.

In the mains, there were Lamb kebabs, Lamb cubes, Chicken kebabs, Fried fish and Lamb Kofte to name a few. The highlight in the mains was the Kuzu tandir, a lamb dish with absolutely tender meat served with rice.

For the desserts, again a huge variety that had Milk cakes, Baklava, Kunefe and the Rice pudding that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The details

Price: Dh190 per person.

Bombay Bungalow - simple and authentic

190527 Bombay Bungalow
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An absolute treat to the tastebuds, Bombay Bungalow has a perfect set-menu for Iftar that covers simple, basic and authentic Indian dishes. With the perfect portions and an option to replenish, this is a very important element as it reduces food wastage.

The dates and fresh fruits were pre-plated which helped us open our fast after which the Lentil soup was quickly served. Mild in texture and perfectly flavored this was a good start to the meal. The Bombay Bungalow salad followed and was a good dose of greens. Then came the Kebab and Tikka platter that had a great variety that included a Malai prawn, cubes of Amritsari fish, Chicken Tikka and a Mutton Shaami kabab. It was truly a feast.

For the mains we were served Stir fried greens, Butter chicken, Tadka daal, a choice of Biryani (lamb/chicken/veg) and assorted breads. It was food for the soul. These are all time classics and Bombay Bungalow has got them right !.

We ended the meal with a sumptuous dessert platter that had miniature versions of the Rasmalai, a Gulab Jamun and a Kulfi.

The details

Price: Dh110 per person.

Asateer Tent, Atlantis, The Palm - top notch

190527 asateer tent
Image Credit: Supplied

An experience like no other! From the moment you walk in until the end of the meal there is a sense of Royalty, a feeling of being on a larger than life movie set. From ramadan drinks to mezzes to salads, main course and a huge selection of desserts the Asateer tent has a huge variety of it all.

Some of my favorite starters were the Hummus, Fatoush, Bean salad, Chicken Salad, Kibbeh, Indian style Samosa and Lentil soup all of which were fresh, hot and flavorsome.

In the mains, there was the freshly prepared Kushari, delicious grills, Biryani, Noodles and they also have a counter from Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen that served some amazing Shepard’s pie. A not so common sight in regular buffets, this place has Maki rolls as well which were fresh and delicious . They also had a varity of Saj and shawarma. The list in endless.

The dessert selection was again elaborate with pastries, Arabic and local desserts. I loved the piping hot Cheese Kunafa and the Umm Ali which wasn’t too sweet and had a perfect texture, smooth and creamy.

The details

Price: Dh220 per person.

— Nazia Jawwad is a Dubai-based food blooger. Follow her on Instagram at @naziajawwad.