Iftar represents one of the religious observances of Ramadan signified by the breaking of one’s fast following the Maghreb (sunset) prayer. Iftar is often a community gathering held in the company of family and friends and an act that traditionally begins by eating three dates alongside a glass of milk.
During the holy month of Ramadan Iftar is offered by the majority of hotels and restaurants. Generally consisting of a large buffet featuring a variety of Arabic dishes Whether you’re fasting or not, Iftar is something to be experienced.
This year we’ve been particularly selective in our choice of Iftar’s, but a recent return stay to the Northern Emirates’ first art-inspired hotel, the Fairmont Fujairah, coincided with the start of Ramadan and a chance to sample their Moroccan-inspired Iftar at all-day-dining restaurant Canvas.
Canvas’ nightly Iftar is presented by celebrity chef and television personality Hanane Ouaddahou (recently seen on season 5 of Martha Stewart’s Cookery School) who brings a touch of North Africa to the impressive spread.
In keeping with the interiors of this specific beachfront property, Canvas offers a monochromatic colour scheme dotted with farmhouse style furniture and adorned with wooden camels and Arabic lanterns for this specific occasion. It’s a light and airy space that transitions well between breakfast and dinner service and successfully bucks the trend of soulless all-day-dining spaces. Resulting in a restaurant which is a cut above most in terms of food selection and quality.
Iftar diners can expect a tour of the buffet from the team of amiable staff who are more than happy to answer any questions and explain unfamiliar dishes. The farmhouse-style tables have been transformed for Iftar and are tastefully decorated with lanterns. With water and dates ready for the breaking of the fast.
Over on the buffet, diners can expect fresh salads, colourful mezze (of both the hot and cold variety), rice dishes and a selection of grills. All the expected favourites — hummus, fattoush, ouzi — are present and correct, plus ample breads and dried fruits/ The latter are greatly appreciated following a day of fasting.
This particular Ramadan Iftar draws inspiration from popular Levantine and North African dishes and the highlights include a fragrant choice of tagines alongside traditional Moroccan spiced meatballs in a rich tomato gravy. The grills also impress with a tender selection of chicken, lamb and prawns grilled to order and offering a nice char to the succulent meat. Yet it’s the Ramadan staple of Ouzi that impresses the most, with a whole lamb displayed upon an aromatic rice mixture where the meat literally slides off the bone.
Desserts bring a tower of Arabic sweets, a chocolate fondue and excellent variations of Kunafa (beautifully cheesy) and Umm Ali. The Umm Ali in particular offers an excellent version of the dish, engulfing the palate with a sweet hit of rose and cardamom, and mild hints of orange — we only wish it was served a little hotter.
The Fairmont Fujairah’s Iftar doesn’t feel like a buffet due a clever knack for presentation in which cheeses are laid out upon a grassy meadow and salads are grouped together in colourful patterns to make for a distinct visual appeal. The bright pinks of beetroot hummus, the deep greens of tightly wrapped vine leaves and the vibrant yellow from a tasty pumpkin moutable allow the food to speak of textures and aromas prior to hitting the plate.
In true Ramadan tradition, the dishes are appropriately complemented by a refreshing selection of Ramadan juices including Jallab (a popular Middle Eastern drink that mixes dates, grape molasses and rose water) and Amar al Din (produced from Apricots). Drinks which are seen to aid the digestive system, an imperative factor during the holy month.
As one of our favourite properties in the Northern Emirates the Fairmont Fujairah charms us once again on a second visit and while we’ve avoided the majority of Iftar previews this year, Canvas is not to be missed.
Iftar at Canvas is served daily between sunset and 9pm at a cost of AED 165 per person wit a Pan-Arbian Suhour complemented by shisha and oud available at the Lava Tent at the resorts Lava Beach Club at AED 75 per person.
Location: Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, Dibba, Fujairah
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Hours: 7am – 11am / 12:30pm – 3:30pm / 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Phone: +971 9 209 1054
Out & About UAE were guests of Canvas. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.