The Holy Month is marked with prayer and self-reflection – as well as fasting daily from dawn to sunset.
“Ramadan is indeed very special to me, as it brings people closer to each other,” says Executive Chef Ahmad Sleiman at Four Seasons Hotel Doha. “And fasting is a great joy, especially as it promotes harmony and makes others feel for the less fortunate.”
Every day, those who observe the holiday enjoy a suhoor, a pre-dawn meal, before fasting until sunset. Then, a communal gathering commences for the iftar, the larger night-time meal to break the day’s fast. For many, these meals are the highlight of the holiday and create memories that last a lifetime.
The holiday has given Arabic Chef Yahya Osman of Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach some of his fondest childhood memories. “My brothers and sisters and I would all experiment in the kitchen during Ramadan to prepare for the evening’s iftar,” he says. “There was always lots of love and laughter around the room.”
Unsurprisingly, that love and laughter is often around food. “The food is the centre of attention throughout the entire month,” Sleiman says.
This year, Four Seasons is celebrating Ramadan by inviting guests to its first seasonal dish exchange between hotels and resorts in the Middle East and North Africa. Participating hotels and resorts will serve two local specialty dishes from a sister property at iftar during the Holy Month.
Get a taste of what’s on the menu during the Four Seasons Ramadan Table.
Chef Osman of Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach has always cherished celebrating the Holy Month with his family. Growing up, he and his five siblings were each responsible for making a dish and bringing it to the table for iftar. Osman always made kishek manekish.
“Kishek manekish is special to me, as I have very fond memories of cooking and eating it from childhood. I love the light, fresh flavours and rich consistency. I wanted to use a dish that is great for sharing, as this is what Ramadan is all about.” – Arabic Chef Yahya Osman
When planning his contribution for the Four Seasons Ramadan Table, Osman decided to add a gourmet spin to this traditional dish. “I place black truffles into the mixture, so that the dough itself oozes the light richness of the truffles, and I sprinkle them on top – a tastefully opulent and delicious combination,” he says. He recommends pairing kishek manekish with traditional Ramadan juices and teas.
To Four Seasons Hotel Amman Executive Chef Chuck Kazmer, Ramadan is a special and happy time. He loves joining friends and family around the table to break the fast. “Mansaf is a dish where the family gathers around the table, so it is perfect for Ramadan.”
“This is the national dish of Jordan, so I felt it was important to represent the country.” – Executive Chef Chuck Kazmer
Mansaf – which can also be made with chicken – is prepared by cooking the meat in yogurt and served over rice or bulgur. “Even though a lot of people eat it with a fork and knife, it should actually be eaten with your right hand,” Kazmer says. “No utensils – just your clean, bare hand.”
Enjoy Jordan’s national dish of lamb mansaf created by Kazmer at Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi >
Originally from Egypt’s largest port city of Alexandria but currently in the kitchen at Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh, Chef Wael Essam says that like most Alexandrians, he has always been inspired by the sea. “Ramadan tables usually do not include fish dishes,” Essam says. “That’s why I thought of adding something different this year with a special fish tagine for seafood lovers.”
Seafood tagine in this region is a hearty stew that often includes local fish and vegetables flavoured with aromatic spices such as ginger, cumin and cilantro. In Essam’s Alexandrian seafood tagine, which his mother taught him how to make when he was a child, saffron and almonds round out a unique flavour profile.
Stuffed pigeon with oriental rice
“Stuffed pigeons are the masterpiece on the table,” Chef Emad Ebeid of Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza says. “Imagine fasting all day and waiting to taste that masterpiece. That is what makes [this dish] even more special during the Holy Month.”
Join any Egyptian household for dinner, and you’ll likely find stuffed pigeon on the table. Ebeid learned how to make this popular dish from his mother, and their time-tested technique calls for stuffing the pigeons with herbs, spices and rice right away so that everything can cook together and gain the most flavour.
Dine on Chef Ebeid’s stuffed pigeon and oriental rice at Four Seasons Abu Dhabi >
Moroccan seafood briouats
For Chef Younes Elfaydy of Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, “It is impossible to imagine a Moroccan Ramadan table without briouats of some sort, whether salty or sweet.” While briouats – stuffed phyllo pastries – may be filled with chicken or pigeon, Elfaydy’s recipe pays homage to Casablanca’s seafaring heritage.
“The recipe for this dish is a well-guarded secret handed down by our great-grandmother. The secret is in the spices.” – Chef Younes Elfaydy
“These traditional pastries are a staple dish during the Holy Month,” Elfaydy says. He prepares this recipe, which has been handed down through generations, with extreme care, making sure the seafood-filled pastries are perfectly cooked and crispy.
Savour Chef Elfaydy’s seafood briouats at Four Seasons Beirut and Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria >
A Beirut native, Executive Chef Ahmad Sleiman now creates authentic cuisine for guests at Four Seasons Doha. In just a week after arriving in Qatar, he learned how to make local Qatari specialty lamb thareed.
“It is said that the lamb thareed was actually Prophet Mohammad’s favourite meal.” – Executive Chef Ahmad Sleiman
Thareed is a common dish on dinner tables during Ramadan. The hearty meat-and-vegetable soup is served over crispy flatbread that softens and absorbs the flavours of the stew as it soaks in.
Try Executive Chef Sleiman’s lamb thareed in his home city at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh and Four Seasons Amman >
Egyptian lentil soup
The first Egyptian executive chef in Four Seasons history, Executive Chef Hossam Saied of Four Seasons Alexandria remembers celebrating Ramadan with his family. His fondest memory is buying the Ramadan lantern and celebrating with friends.
“Soup is a must in Ramadan,” says Saeid. He has created a flavourful version of Egyptian lentil soup, a very popular dish in the country, to commemorate the holiday.
Enjoy Executive Chef Saied’s Egyptian lentil soup at Four Seasons Amman and Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach >
More dishes to try during Ramadan
- Lamb ouzi from Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, currently served at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence and Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech
- Bahraini harees from Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, currently served at Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza and Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus
- Lebanese laban emou from Four Seasons Beirut, currently served at Four Seasons Doha and Four Seasons Cairo at The First Residence
- Stuffed pigeon with pomegranate from Four Seasons Cairo at the First Residence, currently served at Four Seasons Marrakech
- Harira soup from Four Seasons Marrakech, currently served at Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh and Four Seasons Bahrain Bay
- Rice kably with lamb shank from Four Seasons Riyadh, currently served at Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza and Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
- Sultan’s Favourite (hünkar begendi) from Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet, currently served at Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach and Four Seasons Casablanca
- Semolina helva from Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus, currently served at Four Seasons Riyadh and Four Seasons Alexandria