Ramadan 2019: Eight alternative iftars to try in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Once you’ve had your fill of traditional fare at this year’s iftar tables and tents, sample these international menus

Vegetable Caribbean stew at Miss Lily's.
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Japanese tempura, Brazilian churrasco and cheesecake wrapped in cotton candy may not be the first dishes and desserts that come to mind when you think about foods to break the fast with this Ramadan, but different can be delicious, as these eight international iftars promise. Take your pick. 

All you can eat iftar at Texas de Brazil 

All you can eat iftar at Texas de Brazil. Courtesy Texas de Brazil

The upscale Brazilian churrascaria has an all-you-can-eat iftar at its Yas Mall and Mall of the Emirates branches. For Dh219, you get a welcome drink and soup, and more than 50 types of ingredients and dressings, which can be combined to make any number of gourmet salads. Mains include 16 premium cuts of churrasco-style beef, chicken and shrimp (this part of the meal is definitely meat-eater territory). Food aside, the soft drinks are unlimited, as are the “Ramadan-inspired” desserts.

Anatolian at Ruya

The iftar at Ruya Dubai. Courtesy Ruya Dubai 

The award-winning Grosvenor House restaurant sends out olives alongside the usual serving of dates for guests to break their fasts with. These are followed by classic Anatolian eats, including isli patlican (eggplant puree with nuts); simit-coated baby squid; firin pancar (roasted baby beetroots with goat’s cheese and corn bread); and an avocado haydari spicy red pepper dip. The  signature cheese pide ( flatbread) comes next, followed by a choice of mains from grilled sea bream, baby chicken, adana kebap and white beans in tomato sauce with pilaf. The menu is priced at Dh249.

Fusion fare at Play

Desserts at the Play iftar at H Hotel.

The vine leaves have Wagyu and the gyoza has butter chicken – Play at the H Hotel adds a creative twist to Ramadan staples. The Dh250 iftar menu pairs hot and cold mezze – think black cod croquettes, cauliflower tempura, tomato tartar and crispy duck salad. Mains include grilled Wagyu striploin, baby chicken with jalapeno and salmon teriyaki, served alongside the resto-lounge’s signature French fries. The dessert counter has a frozen cheesecake wrapped in cotton candy, what the chef calls the Play Nitro Sundae, plus tableside roast marshmallows and chocolate.

Mediterranean at Cafe Bateel

The iftar at Cafe Bateel.

The Mediterranean cafe was launched by Bateel, which is primarily a date grower, to add to its portfolio of gourmet products, and Cafe Bateel has since become a favourite award- winning eatery in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. Its extensive iftar menu takes in: farro soup with borlotti beans and kale; an antipasti plate with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, chargrilled vegetables and bresaola; lentil soup with potatoes and zaatar croutons; and couscous with dates, apricots, figs, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and fava beans. And that’s just the starter course. Mains include a lamb confit and farro risotto; tiger prawn linguini; grilled salmon and quinoa; chicken saltimbocca; and mushroom risotto; and are followed by a selection of Bateel desserts and gahwa. Not a bad spread for Dh120.

Vegan iftar by chef Zendy Marsam 

This one-time-only iftar is on May 25 at The Daily restaurant in Rove Healthcare City, and features plant-based dishes from vegan chef Zendy Marsam, and grains and superfoods from Rootz Organics. The five-course menu starts with a medley of dates (natural, with pistachio, and with orange and pecan), followed by a “fluid replacement course” with soups, smoothies and nutritional shots. Next up is a salad and vegetable course, a buffet of fresh fruits and veg, and vegan dressings. Mains are part of the grains and protein course, and include roasted tempeh with smoked BBQ sauce; mushroom, barley and okra stew; and jackfruit curry with millet. The Dh99 menu ends with a raw chocolate orange cake. To reserve your spot, call 04 561 9200.

Mexican at Muchachas

Mexican iftar at Muchachas.

The Holiday Inn Express eatery in Al Safa has a fourcourse iftar menu for Dh149. Once you’ve broken your fast with seasonal fruits, dates and mocktails, move on to the chicken wings and finger-licking guacamole that this cantina is known for. Round two allows you to choose three dishes from a total of nine, some of which include: salmon with pepper salsa; chicken quesadillas; chicken or veg nachos;  zucchini tostada; and emparedado (a steamed bun with veal belly, avocado, crispy chicken skin and avocado). The tacos come out in round three, and you can get three from beef, chicken, crab, shrimp, avocado and piquillo. If you have room for more, desserts are churros, apple taquitos and mahalabia pudding.

Italian at Cipriani

The iftar at Cipriani DIFC.

The DIFC restaurant is serving some of its most popular dishes at iftar for a wellpriced Dh280 per person, for a minimum of two. Based on a sharing concept, starters include calamari fritti with tartare sauce, lentil salad with summer vegetables, and, of course, the best-selling burrata alla Mediterranea. Each table of two then gets four mains to share, which reflect the restaurant’s Venetian influences; these change every week and include dishes rich in fibre, protein and good carbs. For instance, you’ll get a handmade pasta (the potato gnocchi this week), followed by a hearty,  nourishing option (such as aubergine alla Parmigiana or veal piccatine al limone), served alongside a rice pilaf, and then a protein-rich dish (roasted chicken al rosmarino or calf’s liver with fried polenta, for example) with mixed seasonal vegetables. End the meal with the Cipriani vanilla merengue and premium Italian coffee.

Jamaican at Miss Lily’s

Vegetable Caribbean stew at Miss Lily's.

The colourful decor and cheery vibe at Miss Lily’s lends itself well to this Caribbean iftar (a large population of Jamaicans observe Ramadan). To start, the four-course menu, priced at Dh180, offers a platter of assorted dates followed by a lentil soup infused with spices from the Caribbean and served with zaatar croutons, and a cherry tomato and baby gem salad with feta. A quartet of sharing appetisers come next, which include the restaurant’s popular jerk chicken skewers, and an eggplant dip served with Jamaica’s national fruit, ackee, plus a trio of mini pies, and salted cod with a curry dip. Mains are a choice of one from among a pepper pot containing Guyanese oxtail with broad beans; a West Indian fish curry; and a vegetarian stew with eggplant, red potatoes, carrots, callaloo-stuffed bell peppers and okra. Each of the mains is served with rice. Dessert channels more Arabic flavours, and includes a choice between kunafa mango mousse and date cheesecake.