Taste Dubai: An Emirati Iftar

Taste Dubai: An Emirati Iftar
By James O'Hagan

During Ramadan, practising Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. The meal that follows is known as Iftar, and you do not have to be Muslim to partake in one. In this edition of Taste, Euronews visited the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel in Dubai, to sample the special Iftar menu produced by the world's first Emirati chef.

After Athan, the call for evening prayer, Muslims who have been fasting all day can finally eat and drink.

The fast is broken by first eating dates. This is of great religious significance, chef Musabbeh Al Kaabi explained.

"Prophet Mohammed used to do this when he was breaking his fast, so we always break it with the dates then laban (a fermented milk drink) or water," he said.

Chef Musabbeh first served up a traditional dish - king rice. Its name comes from its historically prestigious status as an expensive dish only eaten by royalty or the rich.

"Liver is there, beef is there, saffron rice is there. So it’s all luxury things. I have cooked saffron rice, I have fried cauliflower, boiled chickpeas. Now I need to take the flavour of the onions with all these things," Chef Musabbeh said as he prepared the dish.

"I will put the rice in now. I’ll put some spices in as well. So now, I’m going to put it on a plate, and I’m going to garnish it"

But, before eating, everyone said 'Bismillā', which means 'in the name of Allah'.

Chef Musabbeh then prepared his second dish the famous Emirati ouzi with oriental rice, a lamb dish with cinnamon and cardamom.

You can make the dish yourself by following the recipe below:

Chef Musabbeh's Ouzi and Oriental Rice Recipe


  • 1100g lamb shank
  • 500g of basmati rice
  • 100g of minced lamb
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 10g of garlic - freshly chopped
  • 120g of onion - freshly chopped
  • 100g of tomato - freshly chopped
  • 20g of ghee butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6.5ml of water
  • 10g of tamarind powder
  • 40g of Emirati spices
  • 30g of tomato paste
  • 40g of coriander - freshly chopped


1. Chop the onions, garlic, tomato and coriander and add 10 ml of ghee to a pot until it melts. Then add garlic, onion, cinnamon sticks & bay leaves.

2. Cook until the onion and garlic reaches a golden colour, add the minced lamb and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the rice with the remaining salt, pepper and coriander, cover and leave it to cook on a slow flame for 20 minutes.

Lamb Ouzi

4. Wash and marinate the lamb with salt & pepper, emirati spices (or your own preference), tomato paste & tamarind powder.

5. Place the lamb in a container, cover it and then place it in the oven for 3hrs at 180°C.

6. Once cooked, put the oriental rice on a plate and place the lamb shank ouzi on top of it.