Friday, 25 July 2014

UPHOLDING THE RAMADAN FERVOUR, A MIDDLE EASTERN STYLE IFTAR BUFFET AT THE MARKET PLACE, DUBAI MARRIOTT HOTEL, AL JADDAF

Every Iftar has its own signature and that is what gets me hooked to it. Iftar Buffets carry with them the distinct flavour of Ramadan and the firing of the cannon heralding the breaking of the day's fast are rituals which are those little nuances which heightens the festivity  quotient.
  

Driving down to the Al Jaddaf area in Dubai what strikes me is that this area is still not crowded with the multitudes of high rises which have overtaken the Dubai Skyline. So I stop for a while to fill my lungs with the slightly warm evening breeze and gaze over the horizon. As the cannon fires and the air fills up with prayers I step inside the Dubai Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf.


The modest lobby does not prepare me for the glamorous interiors of The Market Place, the hot pot of International Cuisine normally  but tonight the entire restaurant is decked up to uphold the fervour of Ramadan.
There is Ramadan Kareem greetings over a row of traditional sacks filled with Arabic Spices, acts perfectly to ignite the appetite right at the entrance.
As I take in the entire restaurant I find the place buzzing with multitudes of voices, with squeals and ringing laughter from the tots who make up a considerable part of tonight's guests. I am straight away attracted to the different looking chocolate fountain where a bunch of little excited faces peer into the pastel coloured marshmallows. There is a very serious discussion going on there and I pick up it is about deciding which colour of marshmallow or which flavour of chocolate. 
I finally manage to tear myself away from all the excitement next to the chocolate fountain and I am ushered to my table. I love the flowing water with a line of artwork next to the sitting area, really tranquil amidst all the chatter. The table is set with a bowl of dates & prunes, fresh juices, hummus and Pita bread. I glance at the Iftar menu, a mini guide what to expect in the expansive buffet.
All the food stations are infused with lots of colour and look very appealing. Care has been taken to put in small details like the Ramadan lamp,intricately designed Tajine Pots, a sand art, attractively designed racks over the food stations with happy coloured glassware and potted plants etc. in strategic places to charm the guests.


The salad station has a mixed variety of greens mostly of MiddleEastern hue. Towering over the the salad station is the row of healthy vegetable shots which may lure even the avid vegetable cynic. I found the Sweet Potato with Mackerel and Red Cabbage Salad full of flavours. 



The Indian station had a few Indian dishes like Dal, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Biryani etc. and an array of Indian snacks which also included a very tangy Indian Chat. 
Fragrant Oven fresh breads which opened up into stretchy soft cores, delightful.
By now I had made up my mind that tonight I would let myself be swept away in the Middle Eastern punch. The Saj Bread Station was my next stop. This bread derives its name from the domed metal griddle known as Saj, on which it is baked, starkly similar to the Indian Roomali Roti. Mine was made to order with a liberal splash of Zaatar ( which is both the name of the wild thyme native to the Lebanese hills & mountains and also the aromatic mix wild thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds doused in extra virgin olive oil). The delicate Saj Bread almost disappeared immediately with each bite.
Another station which was thronged by the guests and made one really hungry by enveloping the sensory organs in a swirl of delicious scent was the Ouzi Station. The Ouzi made of the tenderest lamb served with rice perked up by Middle Eastern spices, sprinkled liberally with pine nuts etc... Scrummy and Yummy, left me tantalised.
The Arabic Station boasted of an exhaustive spread. Mujadara ( made with rice or broken wheat, groats, lentils crowned with loads of caramelised onions) , Fish Harara ( Spiced Fish), Lamb Tagine ( simmered in numerous traditional spices bring out full bodied flavours through slow cooking inside the Tagine bowl), Chicken Molokhia (soup with chicken and jute leaves), Saffron Rice, the ever popular Shawarma with loads of accompaniments, fresh herbs, flavoured oils to gorge in a super sumptuous spread.



The dessert segment was equally sweeping, had Indian, Arabic & International Sweet Meats. Choosing between Pecan Nut Tart, Mango Passion Pot De Cream, Pistachio Mousse  or Rasmalai, Kala Jamun or Halawet El Jibn, Umm Ali, Kataifi (almond and walnut pastry in honey syrup), Cheese Kunafeh and much more made it an uphill task.



Winding up the generous buffet with fresh juices or green tea is a fantastic finale to a sumptuous meal. And in my zeal to share all the dishes I forgot to mention that both me and Mr. S was taken good care of by the very attentive staff, always at hand with the largest of smiles. 
As I left The Market Place I was extremely glad that I had been treated to this Middle Eastern bounty.




The Ramadan Iftar Buffet at The Market Place, Dubai Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf is AED 155 per person.

For Reservations :
Phone : 04 317 7777
  http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dxbmh-marriott-hotel-al-jaddaf-dubai/

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