Top Bahrain chefs share their favourite iftar recipes
Time Out Bahrain staff
Sous chef Bahraini executive sous chef Mohammed Samara has spent almost two-thirds of his life in the food industry. ‘I have always enjoyed cooking, whether it is preparing lunches or dinners or food in general throughout the holy month,’ he says. ‘I don’t mind being around or preparing food while I am fasting either, as part of the pleasure of Ramadan is being able to sit down, after sunset, with family and friends to enjoy iftar or ghabga.’
Being Bahraini, Mohammed’s favourite foods are the traditional Middle Eastern dishes. ‘I’m not too sure whether I could ever say that I prefer savoury dishes over sweet dishes, or the other way around, as being a chef I enjoy eating both, depending on my mood.’
During Ramadan Mohammed will spend a lot of his time at the InterContinetal Regency, as it is set to be very busy. ‘The Al Liwan tent here has always been a premier destination for iftars and ghabgas, and this year looks no different. I won’t have very much time off during Ramadan, but at home I will only cook when friends visit. I do have to remember that my wife is in charge of the kitchen, though.’ Two of his favourite recipes that he will be creating this month are seafood syadiea and stuffed baby marrow.
300g fish fillet 300g shrimp 2kg onion 2kg fish bones 200g garlic 100g cumin powder 500g rice 100ml corn oil 50g butter or ghee Salt and pepper Pine seed and almonds Fried onion More info from the InterContinental Regency (17 227 777)
Method • Slice the onion and garlic, and then slightly fry them with corn oil until they start to brown. Add some water and the fish bones along with some cumin powder and dried lime. Bring to boil and wait 20 minutes.
• Strain the liquid and use the remains as fish stock. Use this as the basis to cook the rice while adding salt, pepper and cumin. Bring the rice to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
• Marinate the seafood with lemon juice, salt, pepper, thinly chopped garlic. If you like, you can add some cumin and coriander powder.
• You can fry or grill the fish until cooked – you can grill the fish and serve under the rice.
• Serve with fried onion and mixed nuts.
Stuffed baby marrow Ingredients
500g small baby marrow 300g mince meat 100g chopped onion 150g finely chopped tomatoes 50g finely chopped garlic 50g finely chopped parsley 300g Egyptian rice 500g lamb chop 200g tomato paste 100ml corn oil Salt and pepper
Method • Clean the baby marrow, then empty the heart.
• Mixed the mincemeat with the chopped onion, tomato, garlic, corn oil, salt, pepper and the rice (if you like, you can add chopped dill or fresh coriander).
• Stuff the marrow with the mixture, but be careful not to overfill.
• Grill the lamb chop while adding salt and pepper, and a little cinnamon powder.
• Place in a pot for cooking with tomato sauce for 30 minutes (also can be cooked with yoghurt sauce).
Pastry chef Since 1986, Bahraini pastry chef Khadija Baslar has been serving up delicious desserts for the island’s residents from the InterContinental Regency. She is the only female pastry chef in the Gulf region. ‘I love being around food over Ramadan,’ she says. ‘It is the one time of the year when I can really use my creativity in the kitchen to devise new desserts.’ With dates being Khadija’s favourite ingredient, she uses them as a starting point to come up with new ideas.
In her role as head pastry chef at the InterContinental Regency and with sweet dishes on her mind, we expect some creative and mouth-watering ideas to appear this month. ‘Throughout Ramadan I always focus on preparing lighter sweets such as mousses and other creamy desserts. I have some really great new ideas, which I know will be a big hit,’ she tells us. This month Khadija will be offering very addictive treats – starting with mini cinnamon almonds with date puree and a cinnamon, walnut and date upside-down cake. Just be sure to hit the hotel gym afterwards.
Mini cinnamon almonds with date puree Ingredients
For the cinnamon Bavarian (bottom layer) 118ml milk, mix and boil 1x cinnamon stick 35g egg yolk, mix and whip 25g sugar 2.5g gelatin leaf 118ml fresh whipped cream
For the almond cream (middle layer) 50g butter 50g sugar 50g eggs 50g ground almonds 50g pastry cream (mix together with the ground almond)
For the date puree (top layer, all mixed, cook, keep cool and blend together) Pitted Medjool dates (12 to 14 pieces) Half a cinnamon stick 13g honey Half tsp ground nutmeg Half of a vanilla pod 45ml water
Method • For the cinnamon Bavarian, boil the milk and cinnamon stick, then mix the sugar with the egg yolk and hot milk. Whisk the cream with the gelatine.
• Next is the almond cream middle layer. Mix the butter and sugar, and add the eggs one by one, and the almond powder, with the mixer turning it all into a cream.
• Finally, for the top layer, take the pitted dates and add the cinnamon stick, honey, ground nutmeg, water, and boil together. Keep cool and blend together with the vanilla.
Cinnamon, walnut and date upside-down cake Ingredients
For the sponge 168g butter 225g sugar 3x eggs 6x egg yolks 225g cake flour 115g corn meal 38g chopped walnut A little cinnamon powder Caramel on base and fresh dates
For the dates 250g sugar 75g water 9x star anise Half a vanilla pod 25g cinnamon stick 250g spice herb Fresh dates
For the caramel 180g water 500g sugar
Method • Beat the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one by one.
• After the eggs are added, pour in the flour and mix together.
• In a separate bowl, mix the water and sugar to prepare the caramel, then add the dates. Add the egg mix prepared earlier. Do not mix together.
• Place the bowl in a bain marie in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 °C.
• Once it is ready, turn the bowl upside down onto a plate and enjoy. Different sized bowls can be used depending on the desired cake size.