AHMAD’s Ramadhan Special Moments

For Le Méridien Jakarta’s Middle Eastern Specialties Chef, Ahmad Jamil, Ramadhan means special time for family and, of course, food!

For Le Méridien Jakarta’s Middle Eastern Specialties Chef, Ahmad Jamil, Ramadhan means special time for family and, of course, food!

BORN AND RAISED in Jordan, Chef Ahmad has a lot of memories about the holy month. However, for him Ramadhan is about spending time with family and enjoying special meals.

“During Ramadhan, you’re guaranteed to have meal with your family every single day of the month. In our family, those working or studying out of town will usually be back home for Ramadhan.

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“These meals with the whole family are the most important thing for us,” says Chef Ahmad, who started his culinary career at the age of 16 working at hotel in Jordan.

 

In Amman, similar like in Jakarta, Ramadhan is the month of special food. “A lot of special food will be abundant during the month. Food and cakes that you can only get during Ramadhan.”

“There are food shops and stalls which open only during Ramadhan. The owners have other day job throughout the year, but during Ramadhan they would sell their special dishes; dishes you can’t get any other time of the year,” Ahmad explains.lemer-03

More than the food, Ramadhan is an important time for Ahmad to spend with his mother in the kitchen.

“During the month, whenever I can, I will go back two to three hours before the iftar. My mother and I, the two of us would work in the kitchen preparing iftar meal for the whole family.”

“Those four to five hours before and after iftar are the most precious time for me during Ramadhan. I just love spending time in the kitchen with my mother. You’re fasting and hungry, but you’re working with lots of food; I just really enjoy it,” Ahmad says.

Unlike Indonesian people, who would break the fast with light snacks and drinks before digging into a big meal, people in Jordan break the fast drinking water and juice and go straight for a huge meal.

“It’s a feast with the whole family. We would stop eating to do our prayers and then return to continue the meal,” Ahmad says with a big smile.

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One of the chef’s favorite dish during the Ramadhan is the maqluba. Maqluba has all the richness from the combination of chicken, rice, vegetables, and Middle Eastern spices. The rice absorbs flavor from the stock and then later combined with the chicken. Vegetables included in the rice are such as potatoes, cauliflowers, and eggplants. This casserole-like dish  is served upside down after the cooking process, from which the dish gets its name.

Overseeing, Le Méridien Jakarta’s authentic Lebanese Al Nafoura Restaurant, Chef Ahmad is bringing the festivity of Ramadhan to the establishment.

During the month, Al Nafoura is the offering guests to savor the unique taste of its iftar buffet offerings prepared by Ahmad himself. The chef is hopeful that he could bring Ramadhan joy and happiness with a plentiful array of sumptuous authentic Middle Eastern specialties and beverages as well as barbeque station.

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Al Nafoura means ‘fountain’ in Arabic. In the past, nearly all Middle Eastern homes have fountain where people would relax and cool off  during the day, or gather and eat together at the end of the day.

“The region comprising Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan shares similar food characteristics compared to other Middle Easterns regions like the gulf countries or those in the north African territories,” explains Ahmad.

Among the cuisines of its neighbors, Lebanese cuisine is unique. For appetizers, it has cold mezzeh, with a number of condiments and bites such as the hommos, tabouleh, samboussek; the main course mostly use lamb meat like in the lamb shank and lamb kofta kebab.

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“For vegetables, Lebanese food incorporate a lot of onion, garlic, coriander, mint, parsley, and a lot of aromatic herbs,” Ahmad says.

Chef Ahmad is happy to spend his second Ramadhan in Jakarta. “Despite the traffic, which I don’t need to get through a lot of it to work, Jakarta is really a fun city. I also love traveling to other regions of Indonesia.

It’s a feast with the whole family. We would stop eating to do our prayers and then return to continue the meal

LE MÉRIDIEN JAKARTA
Jalan Jenderal Sudirman
Kav 18-20, Jakarta
T: +62 21 2513131
Twitter: @meridienjkt
IG: @lemeridienjkt
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www.lemeridienjakarta.com


Written by Andre Arditya Photographs by Dennie Ramon June 18, 2016.

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