It is a dream come true and it happens just before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. I am surrounded by the magic of the spectacular sunset of the Arabian desert (the time when the Ramadan fast is broken) and just then I am regaled with the divine taste of Iftar. Each and every traditional recipe is made with authentic ingredients. As the amazing flavors gallop across our taste buds we are reminded that the lush green polo fields stretching around us are where the shining flanks of pedigreed horses speed past in a spurt of color and sound. I find it difficult to believe that I am in Dubai, the gleaming, glittering city of high rises and malls. Here in Desert Palm sprawling over 150 acres, there is silence as Mother nature’s bounty overflows. The sun sets, gilding the handsome palm trees which embroider the desert sky. From the most amazing gourmet cooking classes to horse-riding classes, shishas, global cuisines, Desert Palm has it all. Right now, its pre-Iftar time and I taste and nibble on the most traditional main course of succulent, seven spiced lamb Kahrouf Mahshi infused with cinnamon cardamom. I mop it up with the traditional four Khubs with fragrant rice and the Superlative Hammour Harra fish too. We start with the traditional Mezze of creamy Hummus, Moutabel, Tabouleh and Fattoush. The crisp skinned Lamb Kebbeh and Spinach Fatayar delights, followed by the hearty and nourishing Yellow Lentil soup.
THE SWEET BOND OF IFTAR
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph and you’ll see how the Iftar dinner brings together all nationalities. Ofcourse, the family Sapti (baby Sapti included) are getting set for Ramadan, as is Ahzar. From South of England there is the dynamic General manager James Reeves, from Italy, the gifted Executive Chef David Prantera , India is represented by the talented Chef Anoop and the lovely Karishma Chopra. And wow!
what an amazing feast of Ramadan sweets there is: love the Mafourkeh of toasted bread drizzled with milkfat kashta. Equally delightful is the baked filo pastry with pista and ghee, its called Znoud, which means “lady’s forearm”. Chef Ali Hasan guides me thru this yummy buffet and the baked Omali made of velvety milk and airy puff pastry infused with rose water and blossom water is addictive. Cant get enough of the Kataif pancakes plump with creamy kashta and crunchy with nuts. After that sweet finale, I sit by the rolling Polo fields under the shimmering night sky and go hubble bubble on the tobacco-free peach flavored sheesha.
Here it is. Just in time for Iftar, Chef Panteras very special recipe…
1 KG lamb leg with bone / or boneless
200 gms plain yogurt
200 gms red onion half sliced , half chopped
1 eggs egg white , beaten with a fork untill frothy
25 gms corn flour
50 gms clarified butter
50 gms pine nuts
50 gms slivered almonds
15 gms water
freshly ground pepper
10 gms turmeric powder
10 gms all spice
10 gms cinnamon stick
400 gms basmati rice
10 gms cardomom seeds
10 gms bayleaf
50 gms ghee
3 gms dry
3 gms cinnamon powder
½ ltr lamb stock
1.Place the yogurt in a thick heavy based pot , add beaten frothy egg , corn flour , salt to the pan .Blend gently with a wooden laddle .
2 . Place the pot over a medium heat , stir with a a wooden laddle , lower the heat as the yogurt can split .
3.Lower the heat and gently let it simmer .
4.Boil the lamb in a pot with Water , bayleaf , cinnamon stick , cardamom , turmeric powder, salt to season .
5.Skim the surface for froth the while the lamb is boiling
6.Heat ghee in a frying pan and add pinenuts , almonds .fry untill golden brown , remove and keep aside .
7.Add sliced red onion to the same pan with ghee and fry gently untill transparent . add turmeric powder , all spice powder , cinnamon stick and mix and saute well .
8.Add the boiled lamb with this spice mixture with the stock .
9. When the lamb is done , remove and shredd the meat with a fork from the bone .
10. Reduce the sauce more and add yogurt sauce , blend well with wooden laddle , let the mixture boil , add the the shredded lamb and reduce the sauce more .
9.After the lamb has been cooked , keep reducing until the sauce thickens .
10.Heat the clarified butter in a pot and saute cinnamon stick , bayleaf , dry lemon ,chopped onion, minced lamb, add soaked basmati rice and add lambstock and let the rice cook ,add cinnamon powder when the rice is boiling .
11.Once the rice is cooked , serve on a large round serving platter , then garnish with fried nuts .
12.Top the platter with the shredded lamb and mansaf sauce , fried nuts .