Ramadan in UAE: A traditional Iraqi Iftar with a touch of ancient Mesopotamia
We try out a lavish Iftar delivery service and come away satiated
One of the special joys of Ramadan in Dubai, for us, has always been breaking the fast with friends or family during Iftar. We would usually plan an Iftar outing from the huge choice of places in the city to mark the significance of breaking the fast. It would be an occasion, rather than a custom, and it would also give us the chance to spend quality time with family and friends while tucking into an array of delightful dishes.
However, Covid-19 has changed the rules of outings. With precautionary measures in place, more people are opting to stay safe at home than risk venturing out. But this has not stopped people from enjoying Iftar treats at home. Restaurants in the country have stepped up their game during the holy month, offering delicious Iftar spreads specifically created for home delivery as well as dining out.
If you are a fan of authentic Arabic cuisine, one place that you must try out before the holy month comes to an end is Dubai’s Samad Al Iraqi restaurant. They serve up some of the most delicious Arabic dishes in town. Now, we’ve been gorging on kebabs, kibbehs and dolmas for long, but there’s something unique about Iraqi cuisine.
Some of Samad Al Iraqi’s recipes are said to have been derived from ancient Mesopotamian cuisine and inspired by Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian cultures that date back to more than 6,000 years. They blend ancient and modern flavours for best results.
Coming back to the Iftar treat, it started as the sun started setting. The doorbell rang to announce the food had arrived. Humongous packets of Iraqi specialities had landed at our doorstep, all neatly packed and sealed to avoid spillage.
In true Ramadan spirit, we chose to start our meal soon after the canons went off. The meal kicked off with freshly squeezed orange juice followed by a warm lentil soup, which was refreshing.
Next up was the mezze or starters, featuring fattoush, stuffed savoury pastry, tabouleh and salads, accompanied by hummus and mutabel. We enjoyed the freshness of the greens, which were made more appetising with the tangy dressing. We also nibbled at the meat kibbeh, sambousek and other short eats, mostly meat-based, occasionally breaking the monotony with pieces of freshly baked Arabic bread dipped in delicious hummus and mutabel.
Among the mains, it was the Lamb Quzi that was the star dish for us in this Iftar offering. This dish is made of slow-cooked lamb, roasted nuts, raisins and served over vermicelli rice. Considered one of Iraq’s national dishes, it truly deserves the honour. The dish went down well and we would surely recommend it.
Also deserving special mention is their Mixed Grill, featuring mouth-melting lamb kebabs, delicious chicken and lamb tikkas and kebabs; and the dolma, vine leaves and vegetables stuffed with Iraqi style cooked vegetables, lamb and rice. We now know why it’s considered an Iraqi staple; it’s cost-effective, filling and fulfils dietary requirements.
We would have loved to finish off this delicious Iftar with a sweet treat, but the sheer size of the meal was too heavy for our modest tummies to handle. At the end of this satiating Iftar treat, we had enough leftover food to host another Iftar.
Though we’ve had cuisine from this region on rare occasions, we must say that Samad Al Iraqi’s cuisine is enough to give your taste buds a tingle. We would surely visit the place to try out some more of their authentic dishes once this pandemic is over. Until then, it’s safe eating at home for us.
• Location: Jumeirah Beach Plaza and Dubai Mall
• Price: The set menu costs Dh195
• Timings: An hour before Iftar until 2am
• To order the Iftar: Call - 04-342 7887