Chef Moment: Family-Tested Ramadan Recipes from Cairo’s Ahmed Darwish

September 26, 2012 in Moments & Epic Dining
Chef Moment: Family-Tested Ramadan Recipes from Cairo’s Ahmed Darwish
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and ends when the first crescent of the new moon appears. During Ramadan (celebrated this past July and August), we fast from sunrise to sunset, then break the fast with a prayer (maghreb) followed by an evening feast called Iftar. Each morning before sunrise, we savor a meal called Suhoor.

Ahmed Darwish

Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza

Fatoush with Nuts
Lamb Harira
Stuffed Vegetables Chicken Kubbeh
Zucchini Shik al Makshee

 Ramadan is a special time for me, both at home and at work. At Egypt’s Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, we prepare festive arrangements for the holy month: colourful tablecloths, Oriental music, mixed songs from the region by various singers in Egypt and Lebanon. And at our restaurant Zitouni, my culinary team offers an extravagant Ramadan Iftar buffet with Egyptian delicacies. We prepare Lamb Fattah, Okra with Lamb, green Egyptian soup (Molokhia), oven-roasted potatoes, stuffed pigeon and stuffed mixed dolmah (vegetables).

Outside the hotel, the celebrations continue at home. I gather with my entire family to wish them peace and good health before tucking into the traditional Iftar feast after a long day of fasting. We’ll serve our favourites: staples are beans, especially the brown beans (Foul Madams); juice such as karkadah (hibiscus) and arksous; and dried fruit—dates and apricots. For the main course, we’ll often dine on the traditional dishes: Lamb Fattah, Molokhia (Green Soup) with chicken, Tajin Ox tail and Tajin Okra with Lamb.

The spirit of the season is not complete without the Fanoos lanterns we always decorate the terrace with to illuminate the days of the holy month. On a typical day in Ramadan, I’ll say evening prayers (Tarawih) with my friends and have my sunrise meal (Sohour) with my family before starting another day of fasting.

At home, cooking during Ramadan takes on a whole new meaning. My wife always tries to battle it out with the other women in our family to create the most delicious dish of all. It’s tradition. And getting into the kitchen to prepare food is no easy task: imagine your entire family, all hungry and hollering for their favourite dishes next. That’s my world during Ramadan! It’s exciting, hectic and fun; but most importantly, it brings us together. —Ahmed Darwish

With more than 15 years experience, Chef Ahmed Darwish oversees Zitouni’s kitchen at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza. He ensures true authenticity in the preparation of a wide variety of popular Egyptian specialties: stuffed vine leaves with grilled lamb chops, moloukheyah with chicken, fish sayadeyah, stuffed pigeon, lamb and beef kebabs. Chef Ahmed joined Four Seasons in 2000 with the opening of the hotel’s sister property at The First Residence in Cairo before moving to Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza.


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