Ramadan DiningThe Moroccan Ramadan Table

A Moroccan inspired Iftar curated by much-loved TV chef Hanane Ouaddahou for Arboretum at Jumeirah Al Qasr

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Arabian Nights inspiration

Jumeirah Al Qasr, meaning ‘palace’ in Arabic, was inspired by an Arabian Nights narrative and, through its palatial luxury, evokes the romance of the collection of folk tales compiled during the Islamic Golden Age. The prized body of work was collected over many centuries by various authors and scholars across West, Central and South Asia, and North Africa.

 

Storytelling at Ramadan

It is with such storytelling in mind that the team looked to Morocco for their culinary inspiration this Ramadan – a time when nostalgic reflection is especially poignant. The Jumeirah Al Qasr chef brigade, led by Eric Turgeon, decided to curate a ‘Moroccan Ramadan Table’ at the newly renovated Arboretum with much-loved Moroccan chef and TV personality Hanane Ouaddahou.

 

Chef Hanane’s childhood inspiration

Born and raised in Morocco, Hanane left her home country when she was just 17 to study finance in France where she spent 15 years. After almost a decade as a consultant in business intelligence, she decided to make a significant life change to follow her heart and passion for cooking.

“This passion was inherited from mother to daughter through several generations of my family,” says Chef Hanane. “I still have vivid memories – not just visual but smells too – of sitting with my grandmother while she was selecting the best ingredients and preparing food for our family gatherings. She taught me about the culinary treasures that could be found across Morocco’s regions, far from its crowded cities. I grew up in a family where discussions about food for all occasions were very common. Ironically though, the first dish I prepared when I was 13 was a famous French specialty from La Bretagne: stuffed crêpe with minced meat and béchamel sauce, it for sure surprised everybody in the family and showcased my predilection for culinary discoveries.”

 

A new chapter in the Middle East

While pregnant with her first child, the now mother of two decided to open her own restaurant aptly named “La Marocaine” in Paris, which specialised in Moroccan Cuisine. She ran it successfully for two years as chef proprietor. During this time she was also publishing recipes with a local monthly magazine called “Le Journal de Saint Germain”.

When her husband had the opportunity to move to the UAE, it was a chance for her to discover a new country, region, and culture. So, with a heart full of excitement, she moved to Dubai and started giving cooking classes and offering up catering services. A new chapter of her life began with a myriad of surprises and challenges, but her entrepreneurial spirit and abundant talent soon bore fruit and she was offered the opportunity to host her own TV show on OSN Alfa TV Channels, focusing on her beloved native cuisine. In 2015, she filmed her first live show in Ramadan called “La Marocaine” in memory of her eponymous restaurant in France. The following year her second food show was called “Malh wi kamoun” (Salt and Cumin) that focused on food and technique from the Mediterranean. In 2017, her third food show was called “Ala Tarekati”, presenting her favourite dishes with an added personal twist. It was then that she was asked to join the famous Egyptian Show “Al Qahera Al Youm” where she had her own segment, cooking live with presenters and guests.

Besides her career as a TV chef, she was fortunate enough to be a consultant for the renowned lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart for her fifth season of ‘Cooking School’, which specialised in Arabian Gulf cuisine, and aired in Ramadan 2020.

 

Passion on a plate

Throughout the Holy Month you can experience Chef Hanane’s passion on a plate at Arboretum – where she has artfully fused her classic Moroccan flavours with traditional iftar ingredients with dishes such as Capaonata style Zaalouk and Preserved Lemon and Mint Hummus, not forgetting the traditional Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Apricots or the Sellou Twisted Cheesecake with Almonds and Spices. With its lofty ceilings, lush landscaping and expansive terrace, Arboretum’s curated Iftar offers the perfect setting to share a special moment with friends and loved ones this Ramadan.