How to throw an iftar

6 iftar recipes to try at home this Ramadan, from kanafa to Molokhia

How to throw an iftar

If you’re feeling creative, why not host an iftar of your own for friends and family? We’ve got some traditional recipes from catering company Gustronomy for you to try.


Serves 4

This hearty chicken dish will go down a treat with all the family.

● 1 whole chicken
● 1.5l water
● 200g onion
● 4 pods of cardamom
● 1,400g frozen molokhia, finely chopped (not leaves)
● 50ml olive oil
● 10ml lemon juice
● 12g garlic chopped
● 10g fresh coriander chopped
● 800g of cooked vermicelli rice

● Wash the chicken and place in a large pot with water, before adding the onion and cardamom pods. Season.

● Bring to the boil and then simmer for about an hour. Take off heat and allow to cool for about 30 mins before removing the chicken. Reserve stock.

● Once the chicken has cooled, divide it into four and place on a baking tray ready to brown.

● To make the molokhia use the reserved stock and bring it to the boil before adding the frozen molokhia and the lemon juice.

● Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.

● Cook for about 15 mins until the flavours come out.

● Place the olive oil on medium heat in a small pan and then add the garlic and fresh coriander and sauté on medium heat to release the flavours and the garlic is browned. Add to the molokhia and season to taste.

● Serve the dish with the chicken on top of the rice, before adding the molokhia.

Lentil and date tabbouleh salad

Serves 4

This tasty vegetarian dish uses dates and lentils to make it filling, healthy and authentically Middle Eastern.

● 160g raw green lentils
● 360g chopped parsley
● 240g plum tomato, diced
● 80g red pepper cubes
● 40g sliced spring onion
● 80g local dates, pitted
● 20g roasted hazelnuts
● 60ml olive oil
● 60ml pomegranate molasses
● 20ml lemon juice

● Cook the lentils in a pot of salted boiling water for about 10 mins until just soft, being careful not to overcook them. Strain and leave to cool down.

● Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.

● Once the lentils are cooled, mix with the chopped parsley, red peppers, dates and plum tomatoes.

● Add the dressing and mix it all together thoroughly.

● Garnish the dish with spring onion and toasted hazelnuts and serve immediately.

Stuffed vine leaves, aubergine and courgette

Serves 4

This full of veggies and flavours.

● 1 jar of vine leaves
● 4 thin aubergines
● 4 courgettes (Middle Eastern)
● 500g minced beef or lamb
● 300g Egyptian rice
● 3 tsp salt
● 1 tsp black pepper
● 3 tsp ground cinnamon
● 1kg tinned tomatoes blended
● 3 tbsp tomato paste

● Cut the tops of the aubergine and courgettes and hollow out the insides, being careful not to damage or puncture the skin.

● Mix the mince and rice in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper and cinnamon.

● Take the vine leaves out of the jar and drain the water and rinse under cold water.

● Flatten out one vine leaf on a clean surface, vine side up, and place about a finger of the rice and meat mix in the middle, then carefully roll up the leaves, turning in the edges, ensuring there are no gaps. Don’t roll too tight as the rice will double in size during cooking.

● Repeat until you have covered all the leaves.

● For the aubergines and courgettes, start filling them with the rice and meat mix from the top. This is a delicate and slow process so tap gently and keep filling without over stuffing.

● Find a medium-sized pot that will fit in all of the aubergine, courgettes and vines. Start by laying the vine leaves along the bottom of the pot. You should then place a porcelain plate in the pot to keep the vine leaves in place while boiling away. After the plate is fitted in you can start laying in the aubergine and courgettes.

● Blend the tomato paste and tomatoes and pour over the stuffed vegetables and vine leaves, making sure that the top layer of vegetable are covered by at least three quarters.

● Bring the sauce to the boil and cook for about 15 mins on medium-high. Then turn down the heat to medium-low for about an hour.

● Remove veg and keep aside as the vine leaves need to stay on for another 30 mins. After that you are ready to serve.

Daoud Basha

Serves 4

Try this tasty Lebanese meatball dish for an easy mid-week iftar at home.


For the meatballs
● 200g chopped onion
● 500g minced lamb
● 10g chopped parsley
● 2tsp salt
● 1tsp black pepper
● 4tbsp pomegranate molasses

For the sauce
● 1 tbsp olive oil
● 200g red onion
● 400g canned peeled tomatoes
● 1tbsp tomato paste
● 1tsp 7 spices
● 1tsp allspice
● 1tsp cinnamon
● 1tsp dried thyme
● ½tsp black pepper
● 500ml chicken stock

● Mix all the meatball ingredients together well.

● Shape the meatballs into 20-30g sized balls and keep aside.

● Sauté the chopped onion in olive oil for about five mins on low heat, then add the dried spices followed by the tomato purée. Cook for about five mins.

● Add the canned tomatoes and the chicken stock and thenbring to the boil on a medium heat before turning down to a simmer.

● Cook for about 15 to 20 mins and then season to taste. Once the tomato sauce is ready you can add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for 20 mins. Serve with rice and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

Freekeh and Fig Cake

Serves 8

Dig into this decadent Middle Eastern dessert to round off your meal nicely.


● 280g of freekeh grain, ground to a powder
● 2tsp baking powder
● 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
● 1tsp cinnamon powder
● 170g caster sugar
● Zest of 1 lemon
● 15ml lemon juice
● 75g whole pistachios
● 375g Greek yoghurt
● 3 eggs
● 55g butter
● 1 vanilla pod
● 8 figs cut in half


● Preheat the oven to 180C.

● Mix the ground freekeh, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon sugar, lemon zest and pistachio together in a bowl.

● In a separate bowl, mix the yoghurt, eggs and butter then gradually add all this to the freekeh mix.

● Once combined, add the lemon juice and beans from the vanilla pod.

● Fill a lined 25cm spring cake tin with the batter and topped with the halved figs facing up. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 mins.

● Remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating.

● Serve for dessert or a mid-afternoon snack with fresh figs and a dollop of labneh.


Serves 6

Sweet and syrupy, this popular Middle Eastern dessert has been a favourite for years.


● 1kg kunafa pastry
● 200g ghee
● 1.5kg akawi cheese unsalted
● 100g pistachio powder
For the syrup
● 1,500g sugar
● 500ml water
● 1tsp lemon juice
● 1tsp orange blossom

● Make the syrup by mixing the sugar and water and dissolve in a medium heat.

● Once dissolved, add lemon juice and orange blossom.

● Grease a 40cm round oven-proof tray with one tablespoon of ghee.

● Heat the remaining ghee and gradually pour over the pastry.

● Cut the cheese into 1.5cm thick slices and soak in water for five mins, before patting dry.

● Place the pastry onto the greased oven tray and spread to make an even layer.

● Bake the pastry in the oven for about 15 mins.

● Place the cheese on the pastry and cover, then place the remaining string pastry on top.

● Flip over the kunafa and place on another tray, which is at least the same size.

● Place the tray in the oven and bake for another 15 mins until the top is golden brown.

● Remove from the oven and drizzle with syrup.

La Ville Hotel & Suites in City Walk, Dubai, shares two of its popular recipes with Time Out.

Chicken Moussaka

Serves 6

Try out this chicken version of the traditional dish.

● 3lbs of chicken, cut into serving pieces
● ¼ cup dried sumac
● 1tsp ground cinnamon
● ½tsp of ground allspice or cloves
● ¼tsp ground nutmeg
● Salt and pepper
● ¼ cup olive oil
● 3 onions, thinly sliced
● Saj bread


● In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, sumac, spices, salt and pepper. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 30 mins or, preferably, for several hours.

● Preheat oven to 176C. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.

● Add the onions to the skillet and sauté, stirring often, until the onions are cooked down and beginning to brown, about 15 to 25 mins.
● Line the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken and onions with a sheet of saj bread. Spread half the onions over the bread, then place chicken over the onions. Top the chicken with the remaining onions. Cover the whole dish with the remaining sheet of
saj bread, tucking in the sides to seal the chicken in. Sprinkle the saj bread with water to lightly moisten it.

● Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for an hour-and- a-half-to-two hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. If the bread starts to burn, cover it lightly with aluminium foil.

● Remove from the oven and let it rest about 10 mins. Remove and discard the top bread and serve the chicken in its dish.

Lamb Ouzi

Serves 4

A new twist on this traditional dish that can be prepared at home for a family feast.

● 4kg whole lamb (can be swapped for 3kg lamb shoulder)

For marinade
● 2kg yoghurt
● 300g onion, chopped
● 50g garlic
● 60g fresh rosemary
● 30g cardamom
● 80g salt
● 30g white pepper
● 4g saffron

For rice
● 1kg basmati rice
● 500g minced lamb
● 200g ghee
● 200g onion
● 20g cardamom
● 25g sweet pepper
● 30g salt
● 25g black pepper
● 200g green peas, cooked
● Dry fried nuts, for garnish (almonds, cashews, peanuts)
● Chicken stock

● Mix the yoghurt, garlic, onion, rosemary, cardamom and white pepper. Season with salt and rub onto the lamb. Marinate the lamb overnight.

● Put the marinated lamb in a baking tray at 180C for two hours. Cover with foil 15 mins before its second hour to make the skin crispy.

● Sauté the chopped onion with ghee for three mins, then add the mince and cook for 20 mins, constantly stirring to prevent the meat pieces from clumping. When the meat is browned, add the salt, sweet pepper, black pepper and cardamom. Then, add the chicken stock and cook on high heat for ten mins.

● Add the rice, then stir for five mins and cover. Cook, covered, on low heat for another 12 mins and, when the rice is cooked, mix in the green peas and some of the fried nuts.

● Put the rice on a large platter; then place the roasted lamb on top and sprinkle with the remaining nuts to serve.

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