Culinary advisor, Nestlé Professional ®
When preparing a Ramadan menu, what are the must-have dishes?
The UAE is very cosmopolitan, and each community has its own Ramadan specialties. However, the typical iftar menu consists of soup, followed by starters, salad, main dishes and sweets.
Here are a few examples of Ramadan menus from different cultures:
- UAE: lentil soup, Arabic salad, majbous, lamb whole ouzi, logaymat and Um Ali
- Indian: dhal masala soup, mixed vegetables, biryani, kheer and gulab jamoun
- Levant: lentil soup, mixed pastries, fattoush, lamb ouzi, mixed grill, chicken freekeh, mansaf cheese kunefe, katayef and baklawa
- Egypt: rokak, maharshi, Egyptian fatteh, maharshi, mouloukhiya and Um Ali
- Asian: Thai soup, fried wontons, mixed vegetables green salad, chicken curry and sago milk pudding
Of course, dry fruits and juices are essential when breaking the fast.
How can Nestlé Professional products help a chef achieve the tastiest Ramadan dishes?
Nestlé offers a wide range of solutions to help chefs offer consistency and save time, especially when it comes to tomato sauce or gravy.
Different types of tomatoes are supplied by various countries to the UAE market every three months. This affects the taste, because tomatoes vary in acidity, sweetness and color depending on where they are grown. The same applies to potatoes. By using a dehydrated potato solution from Nestlé, you’ll get a great-tasting product that’s consistent in color and texture.
Has the flexitarian trend influenced Ramadan this year?
Since the pandemic hit, 23 percent of people in the region have been requesting plant-based products or meat substitutes, so the flexitarian diet is certainly the food trend of the future. It has become mandatory to have vegan dishes on menus, and we have a significant role to play in supporting chefs in creating new dishes that cater to their clients’ preferences.
At Nestlé, we created plant-based alternatives to traditional recipes for Ramadan using Sweet Earth® products.
For example, vegan sambousik, vegan lahem baajin, vegan vine leaves, vegan stuffed cabbage, vegan kibbeh, vegan oriental rice, vegan kebab and kofta can all be found on Nestlé MENA’s communication platforms.
How does Nestlé Professional cater to the Emirati and Omani markets?
When it comes to Emirati and Omani dishes, cooking methods are similar. Nestlé Professional plays a key role in offering products that reduce preparation time, offer consistency and guarantee taste. Chefs can prepare a tomato-based gravy with Salona from Buitoni tomato coulis and just add local spices. Using Nestlé Condensed Milk instead of sugar is one of our favorite solutions and is loved locally.
Advisory chef, Nestlé Professional ®
Savory versus sweet: which is more important during Ramadan?
Both are essential to our bodies. Breaking the fast with dates is a Ramadan tradition, as dates contain important elements that we need, such as sugar, fat, proteins and vitamins. Completing the meal with a balanced dish of protein, fiber and carbohydrates is also very important. Finishing the feast with tasty sweets is an enjoyable part of iftar. It’s all about eating in moderation.
If you were to pick one dish and one dessert for your Ramadan menu, what would you select?
I would have the traditional gursan dish on the menu for its nutritious benefits and delicious flavors. Keeping with tradition is something that everyone likes and appreciates, and adding a touch of creativity with a certain flavor or serving method makes all the difference.
When it comes to sweets, nothing compares to having the traditional kunafa for dessert.
Is there a new food trend in KSA that’s influencing this year’s Ramadan menu?
Traditions are beautiful and give special meaning to the holy month, but doing things with a twist makes the occasion memorable. Taking traditional recipes to the next level by merging oriental and modern tastes is essential. For example, preparing a kunafa flavored with saffron, filled with KitKat Spread and KitKat Topping brings together oriental and modern tastes.
How important are Nestlé Professional products in preparing Ramadan dishes?
Before food solutions, chefs faced many challenges in the kitchen. Professional chefs are always looking for a trusted brand they can rely on. Our solutions help chefs achieve consistent flavor, especially when they are preparing soups, cooking rice, marinating proteins or making sauces.
How does Nestlé Professional cater to the local market?
Food is a symbol of hospitality in our region. It is a great honor to serve anyone who asks for food. Rice dishes are very popular, served and garnished with grilled meat or chicken and seasoned with a blend of spices. Nestlé Professional Solutions are a great way of enhancing the taste and flavor of rice.
Advisory chef Kuwait and Bahrain, Nestlé Professional ®
How suitable are Nestlé Professional products for Ramadan dishes?
Nestlé Professional offers an exhaustive range of delicious solutions, such as Maggi Chicken Stock Powder for traditional Arabic dishes like Machbous Chicken and Lamb, as well as Buitoni Sauce for Marag Bamya and soups. They are rich in flavor and easy to prepare.
Are there any tips that you would like to share with fellow chefs who want to serve Ramadan dishes?
While preparing meals, try to avoid adding lots of salt as this can stimulate thirst while fasting. Reduce the amount of fatty and deep-fried food on the menu to support a healthy lifestyle this Ramadan season.
Are there any new flavors trending this Ramadan?
This Ramadan is all about mixing traditional and modern flavors. For example, you can prepare traditional sweets like atayef and logaimat with the new professional dessert solution KitKat Spread for a delicious twist.
How does Nestlé Professional cater to the Kuwaiti and Bahraini markets?
The taste palates of Kuwaitis and Bahrainis are similar when it comes to strong, flavorful foods that are filled with spices. Our Nestlé Professional Flavor Solutions range (Maggi Chicken, Beef & Vegetable Stock Powder) adds the right touch of flavor to these traditional Arabic dishes.