Buffets are often a large smorgasbord of nothing much in particular. You have your customary chicken and meat dishes and a variety of salads. The deserts become less appealing as more people drag a knife through the shared cake.
So it’s refreshing to find a more personalised iftar buffet at Azalya in Melia Hotel in Bur Dubai.
The Arab spread has the traditional fattoush salad, pickled vegetables and spiced meats, but the great touch is the individual portions of starters, including canapés and dips, and deserts, that mean no dipping into the same bowl as everyone else.
Live cooking stations also stand out for their fresh pasta and shawarmas – it can’t be an Arabic iftar without the classic shawarma.
I loved the chickpea and spring onion chaat, while the ambrosia salad (fresh fruits, cherries and cream) was a new one for me.
The individual dips presented in Arabic lidded bowls were a nice touch.
Heading back to the buffet there’s hot varieties for most taste buds, from aloo matar bhaji (vegetable and potato curry) and vegetarian hokka noodles, while my favourites were the kofta curry balls, marak laham (spicy beef curry) and zaatar marinated vegetables. Unlike many buffets, you can taste plenty of flavour and spice in these dishes.
And if steamed rice is a little dull for you, Azalya has spiced yellow rice.
We were full at this point but the fresh pasta station is no doubt usually a hit.
At the desert table you won’t find rich chocolate cakes and over-indulgent sweets, but the subtler Arabic desserts, as well as fresh fruit.
Each one is served in small, individual portions – so you’re free to clutter your plate with mini dishes and know you won’t be over-eating at this vital stage of the dinner.
The collection stars the traditional Arabic pudding mahalabia, mango rice with blueberries, vanilla financier, an array of baklava, pandana (the green cake), and my favourite, perfectly cooked umali with a touch of crispiness on top.
Azalya is a family-friendly Iftar and one of two at Melia Hotel restaurants.
The other is at Signature, by renowned Indian chef Sanjev Kapoor, which offers a more exclusive dining experience.
The set-menu has an Indian touch, including Tawa Sarson Mahi, Nimboo Baghari Bhindi and Mathania Prawns.
Azalya: AED149 per person
Signature: AED149 per person
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