Dubai: The Fakhiras sure know how to bond over Iftar. The Palestinian family living in Dubai make sure to spend every Iftar together.The head of the family, Omar Fakhira, said with pride that Iftar is incomplete without his wife, Hala Al Ansari, children Shadi Fakhira (oldest son), Mai (daughter) and Ramiz (youngest son) and their families.
“Bayan Awad (Shadi’s wife), Massa & Melissa (Shad’s daughters), Amani Abu Obaida (Ramiz’s wife), Remas Ramiz Fakhira (Ramiz’s daughter) are the pride of our family and they make Ramadan so special,” said Omar.
Gulf News is invited into the household of this friendly Palestinian family.
“Every evening we prefer to spend time together. Whether it is at home or in a hotel, we are together. This is a great time for us to meet and bond with each other,” said the lady of the house, Hala.
She is also the Executive chef at home who has prepared a variety of dishes for the day’s Iftar. “There is always a favourite dish of someone on the table. But today, I take pride in laying my magnum opus – Dajaj Mahshi (Stuffed chicken) on the table.)
Brother sister duo Shadi and Mai recalled their childhood being so fun during Ramadan.
“We were so happy fasting and we would run to the table when the prayers would start to break our fast. My mother is a great cook and she would always cook our special favourites for Iftar just to motivate us to keep the fast all day,” said Shadi.
He added: “My wife Bayan is a great cook as well. She makes amazing desserts so I am so lucky to enjoy some great Iftars with the family.
Ramiz, a new father, said he has been missing his wife Amani and baby girl Remas at the family gatherings. “My wife is staying with her family in Al Ain so I am driving up and down every day to see the family.”
Mai said Ramadan for her is a time to reconnect with God and spirituality.
“We take efforts to be kind, generous and forgive. Of course we should do that every day but in Ramadan the focus just become all that more.”
As the prayer sounds the family sits down to break their fast. They first break their fast with dates, jallab (a drink).
For the Maghrib prayer, Omar leads the prayer with his sons Shadi and Ramiz not far behind him.
On the menu
We join in on the Ifar. Hala runs us through the menu she has prepared for the day’s Iftar. A bowl of Shorbat She’eriya (vermicelli soup) is served.
It is delicious and the cinnamon and clove flavour is hard to miss. Some Fattoush salad, laban ma zaatar barri (cucumber zaatar yoghurt side dish), Sahen thora (corn).
There is Sahen makhlal wa zaytoun (mixed pickles with olives and pepper) add to the spice and flavours of the evening.
But the show stopper is definitely Hala’s Dajaj Mahshi. Shadi said: “This is my mother’s signature dish, one that is very popular with the family.”
Omar serves us his wife’s signature dish with much pride. “Which part of the chicken do you prefer,” he asked.
The chicken breast is tender and the rice stuffing (roz bil mukasarrat) is soft owing to the heat from the chicken.
There is more of the rice dish kept separate and it is equally delicious. Some family humour, banter laughs light up the Iftar. Hala, a loving grand-mother feeds Massa and Melissa before she grabs a few bites her self. “I feel content when the family has eaten especially the little grand-children.”
‘We share, we care’
After dinner the family sit out in the garden to continue their family talks.
“This is us. We share and care. Even when one member is missing it feels incomplete. My sister, brother and I are what we are because of our father. He came here decades ago and set up everything for us. We just want to give as much happiness as we can for our family.”
Ramiz said: “I am what I am because of my older brother Shadi. He is a great super loving and supportive brother. I could not be where I am without him.”
Dessert is served along with the “kahwa”. There’s Tiramisu and a chocolate ice-cream.
With a plateful of memories we leave the Fakhri household celebrating life. “We are one unit and we take the opportunity of the holy month to pray, love and eat together,” said Mai.