Exploring the Madinat Jumeirah on foot feels like a journey any time of the year, but trawling the expansive property feels especially arduous when contending with a Ramadan-fuelled hunger. As my companions and I stumbled upon a candle-lit path leading up to the Ramadan tent, our evening had switched genres: Journey To The Centre Of The Earth became Paradise Lost. The tent sat in the midst of a plot of beach and the Burj Al Arab loomed regally a few metres away. A Syrian singer filled the space with his ethereal chants.
We pulled up to an outdoor lounge, and happily couldn’t spot a single éclair or pasta dish in site. No, the menu, which was à la carte, was strictly Arabic fare. Unfortunately, our waiter wasn’t well versed in the cuisine, and had to leaf through pages of English language definitions every time we asked a question, a move which extended the ordering process. He also warned us, repeatedly, that we had to order a minimum Dhs120 per person. As a result, we over ordered in a panic to meet our minimum, and our bill at the end of the night was twice what we were required, or wanted, to spend.
I’d love to say that, when the food arrived, we ate slowly, with caution, as if any brash moves would result in an injury. We didn’t. We shovelled it in, letting crumbs fly in every direction. In our defence, we were hungry, and everything looked and tasted so good that restraint became nigh-on impossible. In Morocco, Muslims tend to break fast with harira, a chunky, lemony lentil soup with wisps of vermicelli noodles. While those around us sipped the soup a slow spoonful at a time, my team and I attacked it with unrefined gusto. The texture of the brew was seductively clotted, and boasted several chunks of tomato.
A handful of pliant green falafel patties were our next victims. These parsley-filled orbs boasted their freshness in such a coquettish manner that we couldn’t help but put an end to their smug existence. They crumbled in our mouths at each bite. After a tangy plate of hummus bil lahem (hummus with pine nuts and meat), we started to run out of steam, which makes what happened next all the more spectacular. A juicy platter of grilled fish was presented before three full bellies and, though we dared not eat another bite, the site of several dribbling prawns and glistening hammour had us reaching for the plate. Before we knew it, the fresh meat, drizzled in a light tomato sauce, had disappeared.
Some rose shisha helped settle our stomachs, and then we were ready for dessert. The um ali, an Arabic sweet that resembles bread and butter pudding, was the culinary equivalent of a plush duvet. We poked a spoon into the warm dish only to be met with a wave of spicy, sweet cream. As we ploughed further on we discovered a mix of sultanas and pistachios. If I could have crawled into the pudding and taken a nap, I would have. One of my companions wanted to end on a light note and so ordered the kanafa, a small square of shredded dough, topped with sweet cheese and served with rose syrup.
Even without the benefit of good food, the atmosphere at the Du Majlis tent makes it an irresistible choice to break fast during Ramadan. It could be cheaper, but for an evening spent playing backgammon and smoking shisha under the shadow of the Burj Al Arab, it’s money well spent.
The bill (for three)
1x Fattoush Dhs30
1x Falafel plate Dhs30
1x Hummus bil lahem Dhs30
1x Harira Dhs30
1x Mixed seafood platter Dhs165
2x Large water Dhs40
1x Rose shisha Dhs65
1x Um ali Dhs35
1x Kanafa Dhs35
Dul Majlis tent, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730). 8.30pm-1.30am.