Q & A with Executive Chef Danny Kattar, Intercontinental Abu Dhabi

We speak to the Executive Chef of the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi about iftars: what makes them special, what's the most popular dish and what his favourite part of the job.

Chef Danny Kattar, Executive Chef at the Intercontinental. Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National
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We speak to the Executive Chef of the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi about iftars: what makes them special, what’s the most popular dish and what his favourite part of the job.

What makes iftars so special?

Iftar is the most important meal during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is the time when the whole family meets for this special meal. The special things about iftars is the family gathering and the variety of dishes prepared. Normally they are traditional dishes that the family would not have during the year.

What dishes are popular during Ramadan?

Many people would directly jump and tell you ‘mix grills, ouzi, dolma.’ However, the most important and popular dish during Ramadan is the soup, which can be lentil soup, asparagus ... it’s the first meal that enters an empty stomach after 12 hours of fasting and it’s the meal that opens and smoothes the appetite and helps to digest the rest of the meal.

What is your favourite part of Ramadan?

My favourite part is sohour because that is when family and friends meet in the evening after a whole day of fasting and enjoy a game of chess, backgammon or play cards. During these evenings, the older members of the family share stories from the past.

The food for sohour is normally very special. It has all the ingredients needed to nourish the fasting body, so you will have lots of liquids, salads, chicken or meat, and of course vegetables. The special Ramadan drinks are there to substitute the lack of drinking during the day. Personally, I like the sohour meal to be colourful with the most important nourishing ingredients.

What significance does the food served at an iftar hold?

Iftar is the main meal of the day for a fasting person. It is the time when the family gathers for this main meal. The significance of the meal is that it is just like a reward that one gets after fasting the whole day. Starting with dates and yogurt and then having a break before going into the main meal is very rewarding.