Host your own iftar with these regional specialities
Time Out Dubai staff
Warrah These particular vine leaves are stuffed with rice and vegetables but you can also add shredded meat or bulgar wheat.
Ingredients • 2 bunches flat leaf parsley, chopped finely • 5 tomatoes, diced • 3 onions, chopped roughly • 4 garlic cloves, crushed • 2 cups long grain rice, washed • 1 tbsp olive oil • 1/2 cup lemon juice • 1/2 tsp cinnamon • Salt and pepper to taste • 450g fresh vine leaves, washed • 1 cup tomato sauce • 2 cups water
Method • Gently wash the vine leaves and trim the stalks. • Soak in boiling salted water for about a minute. Rinse and squeeze off excess water, then set aside. • Mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl. • Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. • Take one vine leaf and put a small amount of the filling towards the bottom of it, in a horizontal line. • Fold the left corner of the leaf up to cover the filling, then do the same with the right corner. Firmly roll the rest of the leaf around the filling, leaving enough space for the rice to expand. • Layer the warrah in a pot big enough to fit all the vine leaves without leaving too much space between the lid and the top layer. • Combine the tomato sauce and water and pour over the warrah. • Cover and cook on a medium heat for around 25 minutes.
Top tip If you can’t find a pot that cosily fits the warrah, then simply use a bigger pot and put a plate over the top of the vines to keep in the moisture.
Lahem bi Ajeen These meat pies are popular year round and can be found in any bakery in Lebanon and from plenty of street sellers. They are a great option when you want something quick, filling and easy.
Ingredients For the base • 1 packet dry yeast • 1 cup warm water • 1 tsp sugar • 2 tbs olive oil • 3 cups flour
For the filling • 2 cups lamb/beef minced • 1/4 cup labneh • 1/2 cup pine nuts • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped • 1 cup clarified butter • Salt and pepper to season
Method For the base • Combine the yeast, water and sugar together in a bowl and leave aside for a few minutes. • In a large mixing bowl, slowly add the flour, half a cup at a time until all combined. • Add a tsp of water if needed, add 1tsp olive oil. • Coat a large, clean bowl with oil and add dough to it. Let it rise for one hour, then knead.
For the filling • Preheat the oven to 230°C. • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. • Roll dough into circles, about six-inch diameters each, then spread meat mixture on top. • Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and place pies on baking sheet. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until piping hot right through.
Top tip If you’re short on time, simply swap the home-made dough for ready-made pizza dough.
Tabouleh This fresh, tangy salad is a healthy iftar option. Use the lettuce leaves in place of spoons to scoop the tabbouleh from the bowl.
Ingredients • 3 bunches of flat leaf parsley • 75g mint leaves • 4 spring onions • 1 buffalo tomato • 3/4 cup bulgar wheat • 2 lemons, juiced • 1/3 cup olive oil • 1/2 tsp cumin • Romaine lettuce leaves • Salt and pepper to season
Method • Soak the bulgar in cold water for around 90 minutes, then squeeze out all excess water and set aside. • Wash the parsley, remove the stalks and chop finely. • Remove stalks from the mint leaves, then chop finely. • Put the tomato in a jug of boiling water for a few minutes, then peel off the skin, which should come away easily. Chop into small chunks and discard the seeds. • Wash and dice spring onions. • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the cumin, the juice of the lemons and salt and pepper to taste. • Line a serving bowl with large romaine lettuce leaves that overhang the edge slightly, then spoon the tabouleh on top. • Stick a few extra lettuce leaves into the middle of the mixture if there’s not enough for each diner around the sides of the bowl.
Top tip This tabouleh recipe uses spring onions, but red, brown or white onions are also fine
Harira soup This soup originates from Morocco but is now popular world-over, especially during Ramadan, when it’s often used as a light way to end the daily fast.
Ingredients • 450g meat (lamb, beef or chicken work well), chopped. • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 lemon, juiced • 2 onions, chopped roughly • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely • 2 tsp garlic paste • 400g chickpeas • 1 small carrot, chopped • 1 1/4 cup red lentils • 1 teaspoon turmeric • 1 tsp cumin • 1 tsp cinnamon • 1 tsp tomato puree • 1 tin chopped tomatoes • 1.5l chicken stock • Coriander, to garnish
Method • Brown the meat over a medium heat on each side for a few minutes, then remove and set aside. • Heat oil in a large pan, then add chopped onion, garlic, chillis and carrot, stirring constantly for about five minutes to soften the vegetables. • Stir in turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and garlic, and cook for another minute. Stir in tomato puree, chicken stock, tomatoes and lentils. Bring to the boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 45 minutes. • Add the chickpeas and the browned meat and simmer for a further 15 minutes. • Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper, then garnish each bowl with a sprig of coriander.
Top tip If you have leftover soup, pop it in a container and freeze it for a quick meal another day.
Baklava This filo pastry dessert is rich and sweet. It’s traditionally baked on huge trays, then cut into diamond slices and served cool. It’s believed that it was commonly served to soldiers of the Ottoman Empire during Ramadan.
Ingredients • 1 cup butter (unsalted) • 450g filo dough • 2 cups pecans (chopped) • 1 1/2 tbsp cloves • 1 1/2 cups water • 1/3 cup sugar • 1 cinnamon stick • 1 cup honey
Method • Preheat the oven to 180°C. • Melt butter over a low heat. • Spoon two tbsp of melted butter into the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. • Line the pan with three sheets of filo dough, trimming off the excess. • Sprinkle two tbsp of pecans over the dough. • Layer three more sheets of dough, brush liberally with the melted butter and top again with pecans. • Continue this process until the pan is three-quarters full. • Using a knife, score dough to form diamond shapes. Press a clove into the centre of each diamond. Pour remaining melted butter over dough and bake for 45-50 minutes. • Mix sugar, water and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes, stirring constantly. • Add the honey and simmer for two minutes longer. • Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Pour the mixture over the hot baklava. • Leave to cool on wire racks.
Top tip The main purpose of the cloves is to hold the pastry together, if you prefer, you can remove and discard them once the baklava has cooled.