We hope your Ramadan is off to an easy and meaningful start. Between indulging in all the city’s best Iftars, we know you know you need some time at home with just the family and close friends so our chefs continue to send us their best recommendations for your family Iftar table.
Today, Amit Sood, who is the Executive Chef at Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi, has given us a traditional Lebanese version of the always popular dish kibbeh, called Kibbeh Labaniyyeh. Simple and sure to please, this is a great starter for any Arabic meal.
Starter – Kibbeh Labaniyyeh from Chef Sood
What you’ll need for 8 pieces:
- 500g – Habra (Fine blended meat (Beef))
- 300g – Bulgur wheat (finely ground)
- 1g – Large onion, grated
- 100g – Butter, cut into tiny cubes
- 2L – Goat or cow yogurt
- 1/4 cup – Rice
- 1 tsp – Cornstarch
- 1 – Whole egg
- 10g – Dried mint, for garnish
- 1/2 tsp – Ground allspice
- Ice cold water, as necessary
What to do:
- Soak the bulgur wheat in water for 10-15 minutes (use enough water to cover the bulgur entirely by about 1/4 inch).
- Mix habra, allspice and soaked bulgur together and set aside.
- Cook the rice in 3/4 cup of water until mushy.
- Blend the rice with some of the yogurt, the egg and the cornstarch. Mix this mixture with the rest of yogurt and place over low heat.
- Stir occasionally and once it comes to a small simmer, add kibbeh balls and cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the kibbeh).
- Garnish with dried mint. Note: use the ice water to form the kibbeh balls. This will help make them smooth.
Next up, another great starter that is popular on tables across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Executive Chef of Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites, and native Lebanese, Chadi Terro has prepared a recipe for a regional favorite, Dolmas. Light, but satisfying, Dolmas are a great addition to an Iftar table as a way to ease into a big fast breaking mea.
Starter – Dolmas from Chef Terro
What you’ll need for 30 rolled leaves:
- 2kg – White Cabbage
- 350g – Ground beef
- 1 cup – Rice (rinsed, dried)
- 3 pcs – Peeled garlic
- 4 – Lemons, freshly squeezed
- 1-2tsps – Arabic 7 spices
- 3 tablespoons – Olive oil
- Salt to taste
What to do:
- Peel and discard the outer leaves of the cabbage.
- Pit out the large stem from the bottom of the cabbage as in the photo above. This will help the leaves get separated easier.
- To separate the leaves, simmer the entire cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water for 5-10 minutes while carefully turning it over to ensure exposure to all of its sides.As the leaves loosen, pin down the cabbage inside the pot with one fork, and with another fork slowly peel away the leaves one after the other. Do this slowly and carefully so you don’t hurt yourself with boiling water, and to also ensure that leaves are whole and not torn.
- Place the cabbage leaves in a colander as you peel them. Please note that if you try to peel leaves of a raw cabbage they’ll very likely break and tear.
- Once you’ve separated all leaves, try to roll one or two of them to see if they are soft enough. If not, and if they tear or break, put them back in the boiling water pot and cook them for another 5 minutes.
- Mix the ground beef with the rice, 1 to 2 teaspoons of Lebanese 7-spices (or Allspice) to taste as well as ½ teaspoon of salt to taste. Mix them well and set aside.
- Lay each cabbage leaf separately on a cutting board, cut out the stem if it’s too thick. Spread 1 to 2 table spoons of meat stuffing along the edge of the leaf, and then roll it slowly and tightly over the meat all the way.
- Line up the stuffed rolls carefully in a wide/deep cooking pot one by the other in a compact manner until you’ve completed a layer which you will garnish with a few chopped cloves of garlic. Place the rolls with the greenest leaves on the bottom of the pot since they need more heat/longer to cook.
- Roll all the leaves and place them in the pot in this manner while placing garlic cloves in between the layers. You may end up with 2 to 4 layers of rolls, depending on how wide the cooking pot is. And In a frying pan, sauté 10-15 cloves of freshly minced or crushed garlic (one head) with 3 table spoons of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice until they start to turn light brown then dump the entire content on top of the cooking pot.
- Squeeze 4 lemons, mix them with 4 cups of water, and ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste), then add them to the cooking pot. The sauce should cover the rolls and if not, add more water until it does.
- Place a heavy plate inside the pot, on top of the rolls, cover the pot, and turn on the stove on high heat for about 5-10 minutes until they boil, at which time you turn heat to very low and let them simmer slowly for 1 to 1.5 hours (til the cabbage is fully cooked )
- Served with mint yoghurt
To round out this amazing Iftar spread, Executve Chef Rosalind Parsk of Courtyard Dubai, Green Community has shared a dish with Moroccan heritage and inspiration, Beef Tagine. Tagine refers to the cooking and serving style using a custom terracotta dish that creates a thick and tasty stew base for whatever dish is being prepared.
Main Dish – Beef Tagine from Chef Parsk
What you’ll need for four people:
600g – Stewing beef
1 – onion
½ bunch – Fresh coriander
800ml – Organic vegetable stock
800g – Butternut squash
100g – prunes
400g tin of chickpeas
400g tin of plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon ras el hanout spice mix
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
What to do:
- Mix all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
- Put the beef into a large bowl, massage it with the spice rub, then cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, peel and finely chop the onion, and pick the coriander leaves.
- Heat the oil in a tagine or casserole pan over a medium heat, add the meat and fry for 5 minutes to seal. Add the onion and fry for a further 5 minutes.
- Drain and tip in the chickpeas, followed by the tomatoes, then pour in 400ml of stock and stir well. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a low heat for 1½ hours.
- Meanwhile, deseed and chop the squash into 5cm chunks, then de-pit and roughly chop the prunes. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan until lightly golden, then tip into a bowl.
- When the time’s up, add the squash, prunes and remaining stock. Give everything a gentle stir, then pop the lid back on and continue cooking for another 1½ hours. Keep an eye on it, adding splashes of water, if needed.
- Check the consistency, if it seems a bit too runny, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Scatter the coriander leaves over the tagine along with the toasted almonds. Serve with a big bowl of lightly seasoned couscous.
We hope some of these dishes will find their way on to your Iftar table this Ramadan. Make sure to tag #RamadanWithMarriott to show off your cooking skills and check out this page for our 2-for-1 Ramadan Iftar specials and deals available across the UAE.