Dubai: For Mohammed Hamdan, the assistant director of culinary at Capital Hospitality by ADNEC, it is just another day at work while fasting. As an executive chef in the hospitality industry, supervising catering, food and beverage, hospitality management and menu development, Hamdan is dealing with food all day long.
Gulf News asked the senior hotel management executive how a typical day at work is during Ramadan, a month dedicated to fasting and self-restraint.
“It is just another day at work,” comes the quick reply. “When you are in the food business and see dishes being prepared, packed and delivered all day, trust me, there is no room for temptation. The aroma, the delicacies prepared are all just a part of the job. There is no room for temptation. It is all about delivering on the dot.”
Hamdan said Ramadan calls for round-the-clock precision in food preparation and delivery. “It is a time when we strive harder as a team to deliver good, healthy food for people who are fasting. It is critical to have it prepared on the dot so we don’t delay anything for our fasting customers. In all this, my priority as a senior executive of the hospitality industry is to serve rather than think of my own fasting.”
He said work can start as early as 10am and can go on till late at night. “The kitchen is in operation 18 hours a day during Ramadan. Besides Iftar deliveries and catering, we also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner for guests who are not fasting. So there is work round the clock quite literally,” said Hamdan.
What’s on the menu?
At Capital Hospitality by ADNEC, an iftar pack for Dh35 includes at least 17 dishes. It includes salad, cold items, hummus, fattoush, babaganoush, pickle, olives, salad dressings. The main course consists of a lentil soup, harris, chicken biryani, vegetable saloona, lentil dal, a dessert, home-made cake or date pudding and bread. Water and a soft drink are also included.
Hamdan added: “This is a sample of our low-end meal packs, but we also serve iftar and suhoor to our VIP guests, starting from Dh165.”
High-end iftar and catering
For Dh165 per person, the high-end iftar menu is quite elaborate. From assorted Ramadan juices like jallab, karkadeh, Tamr Hindi, Nariyal Sharbat and more there are a variety of dry fruit served on the table. A selection of cold and hot mezzeh, bread basket, soup makes for appetisers.
“As for the main course, there are some very interesting options on the menu,” said Hamdan. “Aishu Laham, Harees, Chicken drumstick Moroccan style, Oriental mixed grill, three kinds of rice are served among other items. For dessert, there is Um Ali, date pudding and more. If one is looking for further options, then there is an iftar meal available for Dh185 per person.
Hamdan said Ramadan takes one back to their roots. “Iftar has to be about dishes close to home. A lot of people tell me they want to eat their mother’s food at iftar. So we try and keep our dishes as close to home-made recipes as possible. For example, for dessert, we have introduced a home-made cake. Iftar and Ramadan are meant for family bonding. And we want our clients to feel at home with our iftar and suhoor buffets and catering.”
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Wrapping up the day with gratitude
“Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and having gratitude for one and all. So, at the end of a busy day, after serving food to thousands of people, I sit down and reflect on the day gone by. I feel grateful for everything and the great team that works with me. Of course, to be able to work on a typical day of fasting is a great pleasure. It is fulfilling,” Hamdan concluded.