3 UAE chefs are planning something ‘special’ for Eid Al Adha – News


Dubai – Prepare to be inspired



Chief Ahmad Halawa

By Somya Mehta

Published: Thu 30 June 2022, 17:41

Last update: Thu 30 June 2022, 17:44

Food is an integral part of festivities and traditions. It not only passes cultural concoctions from generation to generation, but also brings families together. The upcoming Eid Al Adha is one such occasion in the Middle East, which is known for its magnanimous spirit of bringing friends and family together for an evening of celebration of traditional delicacies, mixed with individual interpretations of what the festival means to each person. In a melting pot of cultures that is the United Arab Emirates, celebrations also become a mix of diverse traditions joining forces to celebrate the big event. We chat with three Dubai-based chefs to find out what their definition of traditional meals is and what they would cook for Eid Al Adha.

Ahmad Halawa, Supper club leader

Ahmad Halawa, 33, from Palestine, has been living in Dubai for six years. He runs a private restaurant and local supper club in the UAE, offering authentic Levantine cuisine. Raised in a family where both of his parents were talented cooks, when Halawa left home to pursue his education, he had to rely on himself to cook the meals he used to have at home, it was then that he discovered his passion for cooking.

How was your passion for cooking born?

I was raised among five siblings, and being the youngest I learned many life lessons from them, including cooking. We often cooked simple dishes together like pasta, omelettes, woks and made sandwiches. It was a way we all came together. And when I moved to college for my undergraduate degree, I had to rely on myself to cook my meals the same way I used to eat at home. I started cooking the complex main courses without even asking my family for recipes or advice and realized how much I loved it.

The best part of being a chef is…

It’s that I meet amazing people and touch their hearts through my food, and give them a cultural message.

The cuisine you like to cook the most…

The closest to my heart are Levantine and Palestinian cuisine. I like to represent my country through the dinners I organize at my house, by presenting the cuisine and the culture to my guests. One of the main intentions is to preserve our heritage through food, because food is an integral part of our culture.

Do you like to cook traditional dishes?

Certainly, the traditional dishes are the best. They reflect the culture from which they come.

One of the reasons I became a chef is to help keep our traditional Palestinian cuisine alive and to introduce it to as many people as possible.

The best part of cooking for festivities like the upcoming Eid Al Adha is…

Let the two main ingredients be there, ‘love and sharing’. When the family is together for Eid lunch, all worries are put to rest. Nothing better than sharing a meal with your loved ones.

I plan to continue recreating these family-style dinners to remind and initiate my guests to the beauty of togetherness.

Your fondest memories of Eid Al Adha celebrations.

One of my favorite memories is when the whole family (siblings, parents, aunts and cousins) gathered at my eldest aunt’s house in Jordan for lunch during Eid, the house was filled with love and laughter. Usually a more experienced person fills our plates, and it’s a Middle Eastern thing to keep serving more food, even after we’re full; it is a sign of love.

What are you planning to prepare for the Eid Al Adha celebrations?

The word ‘Adha’ means sacrifice, we usually sacrifice a lamb on the first day of Eid and cook ‘Mansaf’. It is the Jordanian national dish that we have during major events like Eid. It is a rice-based party dish that contains lamb and a tangy yogurt sauce that you add to the rice called Jameed. It is a dish that both elders and young people love.

Mustian Gadang, Head Chef, Hong Loong Restaurant

Chef Mustian Gadang, 34, is an Indonesian head chef at Hong Loong, a pan-Asian restaurant at Sofitel Dubai The Palm. He worked his way up from the bottom of the ranks thanks to his secret ingredient, ‘patience’, starting as a dishwasher to becoming a chef at a top hotel in Dubai. Chef Mustian strongly believes in maintaining his traditional cooking methods while adapting and blending modern methods to create his signature flavors.

How was your passion for cooking born?

My great-grandmother had a little shop where they sold Indonesian food. Also, Indonesians have a wide variety of street food, and I’ve always loved eating and exploring new foods – that’s how I grew up. Other than that, I love exploring and experimenting with different ingredients to create new dishes.

The best part of being a chef is…

Being a chef is my passion; I love doing it and always wanted to do it, so I don’t consider it a job. It’s just part of who I am, and I’ve made a career out of it. Of course, working at Sofitel Dubai The Palm makes it a more enjoyable experience, so I’m grateful for that. I am truly delighted to work here alongside the talented culinary team. I look forward to putting my passion, authentic Asian flavors and signature ingredients into every dish I make.

The cuisine you like to cook the most…

When I started, I cooked many dishes from my home country, but now I like to cook other Asian cuisines, in addition to Indonesian cuisine. Pan-Asian cuisine consists of unique dishes from different nations and cultures across the Asian continent. On a pan-Asian menu, you’ll likely find a spicy curry dish from Indonesia or a traditional Chinese rice and shrimp dish, all offered on the same menu. For those who want to venture outside their usual comfort zone, Pan-Asian cuisine allows diners to expand their culinary horizons far beyond the usual.

Do you like to cook traditional dishes?

I love to cook traditional dishes from my hometown. There is a dish called Beef Rendang, which has become famous all over the world now. It is meat cooked with coconut milk and spices and herbs. We cook it for 8-10 hours, then it caramelizes and the meat becomes tender and delicious to eat. It has been rated one of the best foods in the world.

The best part of cooking for festivities like the upcoming Eid Al Adha is…

I remember in my childhood we celebrated Eid Al Adha at home and we sacrificed a lamb, a cow or a buffalo – we marinated the meat with soy pepper and made satay by grilling the meat in burnt coconut shells. It’s really tasty. I also did the same style of cooking here at Sofitel Dubai The Palm in Hong Loong, where I made beef skewers and put chili and soy sauces on them and grilled them, which turned out to be unbelievable

Your fondest memories of Eid Al Adha celebrations.

In Malayu, which is part of Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine, the most famous dish is Gulai Ayam rice cake. It’s a very memorable dish for me, especially on Eid because we used to make homemade rice cakes with coconut leaves, which they cook for about 3-4 hours.

What are you planning to prepare for the Eid Al Adha celebrations?

Eid Al Adha is always a very special occasion in the UAE. It is celebrated in a grand way and therefore it is essential that we also celebrate it in our restaurants. I will make beef rendang and satay to bring back my fondest culinary memories and introduce the dishes to the diners here.

Bader Nadjeb, Pastry chef

Bader Najeeb, 26, is an Emirati pastry chef based in Dubai. A pastry chef from the age of 13, Chef Bader discovered his passion very early on when he accompanied his mother to make sumptuous carrot cakes for his family on weekends. Appearing on several different TV shows and developing more than 100,000 followers on his Instagram, the young chef, whose bio reads “wellness videos”, enjoys creating content and cooking colorful desserts in the kitchen.

How was your passion for cooking born?

I’ve been cooking since I was 13. We always ate together and had lunch and dinner as a family. My mother always made carrot cake or nut cake every weekend for my grandfather’s house, and I helped her in the kitchen. So I think it started with them. I opened a bakery after high school, but it got in the way of my studies. So i quit it and then i opened chef B’s ​​social media account instead. i was 17 when i had my first tv show and then we had several tv shows with different channels . Then I got a scholarship in Switzerland to study Swiss chocolate work and sugar art. Making sculptures, making pralines, basically anything you can make chocolate literally from bean to bar, as well as sugar art, like making sugar flowers and sugar decorations.

The food you love to cook the most is…

From the beginning, it was always pastry. Honestly, I liked the smell. I like to lick my fingers and before it’s even cooked, I would put my finger in it. When my mother cooked, I tasted it. For me, dessert has always been like a last meal that everyone remembers before the night is over. And I was drawn to it. I have a sweet tooth.

The best part of being a chef is…

People’s reactions after you show them the dessert you made. You can judge by the face. It’s very nice to have such a reaction. Having a platform where you can get answers from all over the world is even more fun.

Do you like to cook traditional recipes for Eid Al Adha celebrations?

At home we have traditional dishes that my mother always makes. We have some traditional dishes that are always prepared, such as rangina, which is a traditional date dessert. Especially now that it is summer, countries are starting to produce dates. So, it’s something I always look forward to.

A dessert recipe Chef Bader would recommend for Eid…

Even though the focus is on traditional recipes, it’s also nice to have various options as part of your meal. I recommend you try the homemade Mille Feuille.

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