Ramadan in the UAE is a different experience in itself. Having spent most of my life in Bangalore, I am used to yummy treats from my Muslim friends during Eid but when you live in the UAE, the entire month of Ramadan is a food fiesta! There are special buffets on offer all over the place and great discounts too! So basically what I am trying to say is that the month of Ramadan is foodie paradise!
I got to attend quite a few iftar buffets this Ramadan, some were small and intimate gatherings with just close friends while others were lavish spreads in some of Dubai’s finest restaurants. I want to tell you about one particularly special evening. A colleague of mine was going to move to Malaysia, so we decided to head out from work to a nearby cafe for an iftar buffet. Since all of us were quite emotional about her leaving, we decided food therapy was the best way forward.
It was quite a pleasant treat when we reached Cafe Najjar and saw a mouth-watering feast laid out on long tables covered in pristine white table cloths. The first thing that caught our eye was the dessert table. Now dessert is normally supposed to be eaten at the end of a meal but rules are meant to be broken right? So we all headed for the loaded dessert table. I spent a few minutes letting my eyes dart from one colourful dessert to the next until the manager finally walked up to me and smiled. We started chatting with each other as he told me about every dish available that night.
Once I had piled my plate high with the most delectable food I could find, he went on to tell me a little about the history of Cafe Najjar. This Cafe started in Lebanon over fifty years ago and now has branches all over the world. It began in Beirut in 1977 and now has outlets in over fifty countries! So what’s the secret to their success? Coffee! They offer eighteen special Lebanese brews and carry something exotic from nearly every country across the globe.
However this particular evening, our iftar meal was not about their coffee, it was about their food, so let me tell you more about that. For once the food on display, tasted as good as it looked! We had a million options to choose from, each yummier than the last! There was a wide array of Lebanese dishes from Fatoosh to Fettah with Lamb (meat with rice and toasted pita bread), Tabbouleh (salad), Sayadieh (rice and fish), spicy Tahini fish, different varieties of Baklava and much more!
From the minute we entered this Cafe to the moment we staggered out several hours later, all we did was eat voraciously! We heaped our plates with helping after helping of perfectly flavoured and balanced dishes, made by a chef who obviously knew exactly what he was doing. We took a ton of pictures, laughed and talked late into the night until we could not keep our eyes open any longer. In other words, a perfect iftar meal in the true spirit of Ramadan!