Sizzling with flavour bursts courtesy of delicious kebabs, wholesome haleems and creamy desserts, the month of Ramadan witnesses cities around the world transform into an epicurean’s ultimate wonderland.
While the Islamic festival of Ramadan may be synonymous with fasting from dawn to dusk, it also brings the grand fast-breaking festivities with iftar. A divine delight for every foodie who cannot resist the seductive pulls of patiently crafted haleem, saffron-infused whiffs of biryani, and slow-cooked sweet treats like phirnis, Ramadan is any gourmand’s fantasy month.
From Dubai to Cairo, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi, we’re sharing our picks of the most delicious treats to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.
The buzzing city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai transforms magically during Ramadan, slowing down during the day and rousing to festive life by night. Dotted with dazzling iftar feasts at luxury hotels and restaurants, grand food fairs and tents line the streets to add to the pomp. In The Land of Dates, Emiratis break their fasts with sweet dates, freshly-stirred fattoush (a Lebanese bread salad) and the delicately prepared lamb ouzi – a melt-in-the-mouth Lebanese recipe of lamb served on a bed of spiced rice. Top off your night with the honey-soaked sweetness of baklava, the famed dessert made with chopped nuts layered between delicate folds of handmade pastry for an indulgent flavour fest for the tastebuds.
See Dubai's glamorous side at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Dubai.
New Delhi, India
Influenced by Mughal cuisine, the Indian capital of New Delhi, invites many a culinary reveller to discover hidden treats along the bustling historic lanes of the old city, especially during the month of Ramadan. From Jama Masjid to Nizamuddin Dargah, several pockets of the city are adorned with garlands of light, temporary pop-up stalls, overhead mylar buntings spreading Ramadan wishes and the irresistible fragrances of traditional delights. Savour wafts of decadent mutton korma at Karim’s, slow-cooked nalli nihari, freshly baked sheermal, chargrilled seekh kebabs and melt-in-your-mouth shahi tukda from Cool Point, during the month-long festivities. Doling out such special delicacies, including the perfect haleems, New Delhi during Ramadan can woo any foodie with its grand fare.
Must try: Mutton Korma from Karim’s, Nihari from Hilal Hotel Special Nahari and Paya, Shammi Kebab from Sangam Kebab and Kesari Shahi Tukda from Cool Point
Stay in ultra-opulence at The Leela Palace New Delhi while feasting on these delights.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Beneath Kuala Lumpur's sparkling skyline, the crowded streets of Malaysia's capital serves a feast for the senses with sizzling food fairs in Bukit Bintang, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) and Kampung Baru. Not just your tastebuds, Kuala Lumpur will flirt with you through the vibrant sights and sounds as well and how can we not talk about the sensation of the delicacies specially served during Ramadan? Relish the luscious scent of the buttery soft beef rendang curry from CT Garden or entice your tastebuds with the uniquely flavourful kerabu ayam nyonya (a divine preparation of mango and meat). During this festive month, head to Baba Beng to try the traditional and colourful kuih’s (Malaysian bite-sized desserts and savouries) that are prepared only during Ramadan and open the gates to a world of local flavours.
Plan your escape at the lavish Mercure Kuala Lumpur Shaw Parade.
During the month of Ramadan, iftar feasts are always larger-than-life in Singapore, especially when it comes to the flavours. The Bazaar Raya Geylang Serai, hosts a staggering 700 stalls for the occasion (yes, you read that right) filled with Halal sweets and savouries that reflects the nation’s brilliant blend of cultures. At the bustling Bazaar Raya Geylang Serai, savour delicacies like rosti (a Swiss potato pancake) from the popular food truck Rosti Haus or go for the Malay fish keropok at Jom Lekor – a night-market classic of fried Malay fish in a batter and dressed with a sauce of your choice. For those looking for a quick sugar hit, take a sip of a refreshing rose syrup bandung or scoop up a colourful cendol loaded with coconut milk and palm sugar – your options are endless.
Ready to escape? Stay at Dao by Dorsett AMTD Singapore.
Egypt's ancient capital is more than pyramids and pharaohs – during the holy month, Cairo's culinary scene explodes in celebration of all things delicious. Adorned with lights and lanterns, the streets of Cairo buzz with energy as people break their fast with juicy tamr (dates) and drink sobia, a sweet drink made with rice, coconut milk and sugar. Egyptians display their culinary skills to whip up tempting Middle Eastern delicacies, ranging from keema samosas to the roz me’amer – a baked rice dish with creamy butter, rich cream and beef broth. During Ramadan, make a beeline and head to Fasahet Somaya for their mixed mahshi – stuffed courgettes in tomato sauce and a variety of meat, while at Gandofli, you can taste silky smooth pasta dishes lathed in a luscious béchamel sauce and appease your tastebuds.
Take a look at our Cairo escapes here.
Looking for more food feasts? Read An Insider’s Guide to Hong Kong, with Diana Chan.