A La Turca Iftar at Rixos the Palm

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At the iftaar spread, many dishes in the buffet looked better than they tasted. The struggle to identify impressive dishes hindered the dining experience

~ By Arushi Naik – Guest Reviewer

The Holy month of Ramadan commences in just under a week and Rixos The Palm invited us to a preview of the Iftaar buffet to be served at A La Turca. We were warmly greeted by an extravagant display of local dates and Turkish Delights.

In addition to international cuisines, A La Turca offers authentic Turkish delicacies such as grills and mezzes.  Its Iftaar buffet (priced at AED 185 per person) prepares a wide selection of Turkish and Arabic inspired dishes as well as a live pasta station, pide station (Turkish flatbread), a live BBQ and a döner kebab station.

For those who don’t fancy cheeses like provolone and brie with salty crackers, the lentil soup and cream of chicken soup can be a healthy way to kickstart the buffet. Over a dozen plates of well-seasoned veggies including the immensely popular ‘Hummus’ and ‘Moutabbel’ are sure to draw diners to the salad bar. I personally recommend the ‘kisir’ salad if you’re willing to taste something new.

On the adjoining table, zucchini, plum, tomato as well as yellow and green capsicum were cooked in an avatar I had never seen before – Dolma. ‘Dolma’ is a stuffed vegetable, that is, a vegetable that is hollowed out and filled with stuffing. Dolma in Turkish means “stuffed (thing)”. The filling generally consists of rice, minced meat or grains along with spices and herbs. It’s definitely worth a try!

My dining partner and I tasted Etli Ekmek, a Turkish delicacy, similar to a pizza as it is made with dough and topped with meat. It is a light and tasty starter for meat-lovers and best if accompanied by kebbeh, cheese fatayer and sambousek.

The children’s buffet was limited to sweetened corn, mashed potatoes, cheese samosas and fish fingers with soup and salad on the side. For those hesitant to try Middle Eastern specialties, a live pasta station and a couple of Indian dishes could satiate your appetite.

Ouzi rice’ is an eye-catching dish and similar in concept to a meat biryani. Ouzi refers to the baby lamb and to a dish of lamb and rice. But I preferred the buttered rice pilaf with ‘Dawood Basha’.  It was heavenly, readers! Dawood Basha is another term for Arabic meatballs in Tomato sauce. I would also recommend tasting the ‘Fish Harra’ as its sauce was rich and flavourful.

The lamb skewers were very juicy and the taste of the meat was not overpowering.  The iftaar spread included Lamb Tandir, Lamb shanks and Orzo rice. Lamb Tandir is roasted lamb and so fragrant and tender that it falls away from the bone and melts in your mouth like cotton candy! Orzo is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice, and served as a pilaf.

Amongst the pastries, I strongly recommend a slice of the chocolate truffle cake. It’s rich, decadent and topped with berries and edible gold dust. I did taste the cappuccino cake, raspberry mousse cake, chocolate fudge cake, mango mousse cake and fruit pavlova but wasn’t pleased with any of them as the flavours were either too mild or too strong.

Do taste the ‘Umm Ali’ and ‘Kunnafa’ as they were simply delicious. Umm Ali is a traditional Egyptian dessert similar to North America’s bread pudding. The center table at the buffet was populated with mouth-watering Lebanese desserts and sweets that deserve a place on your plate and in your tummy. Semolina helva, Kazandibi, Muhallabi and Bakhlava with walnut are just a few of those treats to end your iftaar.

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