The Ramadan Thursday Brunch with Chef Stefan, Dima Sharif and Faraz on #DubaiToday

You’re invited to the Ramadan Brunch table from 10am with Ray Addison, Faraz, Dima Sharif and Chef Stefan Beer of the Intercontinental Hotel Dubai Marina as they take you on a delectable journey through Middle Eastern cuisine with a delightfully modern twist!

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From L to R: Ray Addison, Faraz, Dima Sharif, Chef Stefan Beer

Dima presents 4 recipes for the Ramadan table:


Freekeh Salad with Seasonal Local Vegetables, Dressed in Palestinian Shatta & Olive Oil

Serves 4


A very simple Salad that celebrates the natural flavours of the simplest Palestinian ingredients, where the star ingredient is the smoked green wheat (Freekeh) one of Palestine’s most ancient and celebrated grains. While freekeh had just recently become the newest global trend in the world of grains, it had always been a staple carb in the Palestinian Pantry and cuisine.

I am sticking to the spirit of this recipes original cuisine and using my amazing Palestinian olive oil in making the dressing and the staple red chili sauce known as Shatta in creating the dressing that will round up the overall flavours beautifully. Always a best seller in my menus always a crowd pleaser in yours!

Note: Shatta is spicy, adjust quantity according to your preference.


2 cups cooked freekeh

1 cup finely chopped red onion

2 cups finely chopped red tomatoes

1 cup finely chopped green tomatoes

1 large red capsicum, finely chopped

roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

For the Shatta dressing

1 -2 tbsp DS Organic Shatta (jarred pickled red chili flakes, can be found at Baker & Spice or The Farm House)

¼ cup olive oil

Salt & Black pepper

Juice of 1 -2 lemon

1 tbsp dried mint

Mix all ingredients well together and dress right before serving.


-For a colourful presentation, thinly slice some of the vegetables used in making the salad and top the salad with these slices along with toasted thin slices of bread.

– Prepare the dressing and keep refrigerated in a jar. Prepare the salad without dressing and keep refrigerated. Dress right before serving for a quick, filling and nutritious Sohur meal.



Cold Iftar –

Pickle-Seasoned Roasted Eggplant Salad, Dressed in Palestinian Olive Oil & Sumac

Serves 4 sides/ 1 main

Eggplant & Pickles Salad

This beautiful salad is delicious and pairs well with everything! Next to grilled meats, fried foods, grain pilafs or even on its own, this colourful salad is packed with nutrients and flavor.

The use of the pickles here not only adds a layer of delicious to the flavor but also help your stomachs cleanse and really good for you as according to USFDA the health benefits of pickles include a good supply of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, contribute to modest diabetes control, improved digestion, liver protection, a supply of probiotics, and the ability to heal ulcers. What more can we ask from a salad!


3 DS Pickled Organic Cucumbers, finely chopped

¼ cup finely chopped DS Pickled Organic Turnips

250g organic mini cherry tomatoes (whole or halved)

3 onion springs, finely chopped

½ cup toasted pine nuts

1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

For roasted eggplants

2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed (you can keep the skin if you wish)

2 tbsp DS Organic Olive Oil

1 tbsp Organic Sumac

a pinch of Organic Salt

For Palestinian Olive Oil & Sumac Dressing

¼ cup DS EV Organic Olive Oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp Sumac

½ tbsp. dried mint


Roast the eggplants until golden. Set aside to cool.

Mix all the remaining ingredients together with the roasted eggplants and dress with the sumac dressing. Serve cold.


  • Serve this salad at BBQs it pairs very well with those BBQ’d lamb/beef cubes.
  • You can pour the salad over a bed of assorted lettuce and add crumbles of goats’ cheese on top for a heartier meal.



Hot-Iftar –

Kusa Mukhshi (Meat Stuffed Zucchini in Yogurt Sauce)
Serves 4

Kusa Mukhshi

Another global health craze at the moment is yogurt! It’s like people have just discovered this amazing, delicious and absolutely good for you ingredient! This is a very traditional ages old Levantine recipe that is yogurt-based and always a crowd pleaser. Those who know it always appreciate having it and those who don’t are in for a very pleasant experience.

Don’t let the whole coring business put you off trying this recipe! Come’on people reached Mars and coring is not really that complex! (Hey OK if you really must fret, then listen to the show for coring cheats).

Note: Fresh yogurt contains probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that balances stomach acids and aids digestion, which is why in Arabic cuisine rich foods and heavy meals are usually had with a side serving of yogurt. It also soothes soar stomachs for a natural alternative remedy.


1 Kg Small Kusa (zucchinis), washed and caps removed
1 ½ Kg yogurt
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp dried mint leaves
Salt & Black Pepper
1 ltr Chicken broth
3 tbsp corn starch
Vegetable Oil for deep frying the Stuffed Zucchinis

A side of Vermicelli Rice (rice pilaf with browned vermicelli) or Regular rice pilaf

½ cup toasted pine nuts

For Meat Stuffing
1Kg minced lamb or beef 

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped 

3 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted 

1   tsp allspice

¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 

 Salt & Black Pepper to taste
a dash of olive oil 


Make the Stuffing

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil together with the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Gently soften without browning. Add the minced meat, and stir slightly. Season with salt, black pepper and spices and stir all to coat. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and cook stirring until all liquid runs out.  Remove from heat. Add the toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley and stir to mix. Set aside to cool slightly. Stuffing is now ready to use.

Core the Kusa see the tip below for coring instructions. Fill the cored zucchinis with the prepared meat stuffing.
Heat the vegetable oil and fry the stuffed zucchinis until slightly golden and the skin appears wrinkled. Remove from the frying oil and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

In the meantime, place the broth in your cooking pot over the heat to warm. While the broth is warming up, make the yogurt sauce. Place the yoghurt, dried mint, corn starch, salt and black pepper as well as garlic cloves in the blender and blend until all is well incorporated.

Pour the yogurt mixture onto the warmed broth and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and continue stirring until the mixture thickens, then add the fried kusa and cook all on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the flavours infuse.

In the Meantime make the Vermicelli Rice. Serve all hot with a side of green olives and cucumber pickles.

Coring Kusa: Core each kusa  using a corer (similar to the pumpkin corer but much narrower) to create a wide enough cavity for the filling. To core, you just need to place the corer in the middle of the top part (where the cap used to be) and gently rotate the kusa around the corer pulling out the flesh regularly. Repeat until the cavity is wide enough to encase the filling.



Dessert – Pistachio Mafrookeh  

Mafrookeh 2

A traditional Levantine dessert that is both very famous and really delicious. In this dessert, pistachio is the star but as in most Arabic desserts semolina is a very traditional flour to use instead of the more modern wheat-based white flour used everywhere these days. Also as all traditional Arabic sweets are they are drenched with sugar syrup and therefore very sweet. I have adapted the recipe here with less sugar syrup than traditionally is used, and I even use raw honey to make this at times.

Try it, you will love it.


¾ cup fine semolina

2 tbsp butter

3 ½ cups peeled pistachio, finely ground

½ cup icing sugar

2 tbsp soft butter

4 tbsp rose water

2 tbsp sugar syrup (recipe on this link)



Toast the Semolina until golden. Mix with 2 tbsp butter and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, process together the finely ground pistachio, icing sugar and cooled semolina mixture. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and continue to process. While the motor is running add the sugar syrup and rose water, process until you achieve a smooth sticky paste.

Stir over low heat for 2 minutes.

Shape the mafrookeh to the desired shape and while in the mold, make a well in the centre and fill it with fresh Ashta (Arabic clotted cream), or Muhalabiyah (thickened milk Pudding) then tuck the top over the cream filling completely enclosing the filling.

Unmold and top with a small piping of Ashta on top, sprinkle with sliced almonds and pistachios and 1 edible flower or edible rose petal. Serve cold


– You can melt some chocolate and dip the bottoms in the melted chocolate and leave to set before serving. You can serve half the quantity chocolate dipped and the other half plain for the purists.

– Keep Mafrookeh refrigerated when stored if using fresh Ashta, otherwise the Ashta will spoil.

Dima Sharif is a food artisan and food and culture writer. Find her information on her website here.

Chef Stefan Beer is executive Chef at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina. 


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