Ramadan in UAE: 4 chefs talk about how food saved them, transformed their lives

These mothers shared stories of how they discovered their love for cooking from returning to school after child birth, quitting jobs to finding solace in cooking during health crisis

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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(From L to R) Chef Manal, Chef Rima, Tatiana Rahal, Managing Director Talabat, Chef Zahra Abdulla and Chef Roro at the Talabat's exclusive Iftar. Photo: Shihab
(From L to R) Chef Manal, Chef Rima, Tatiana Rahal, Managing Director Talabat, Chef Zahra Abdulla and Chef Roro at the Talabat's exclusive Iftar. Photo: Shihab

Published: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 4:11 PM

Last updated: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 12:36 PM

Food has the power to do more than just satisfy hunger; it can be transformative; here's why. Four UAE-based female chefs served up an array of their best dishes at an Iftar gathering while sharing heartwarming stories of how they found their passion in cooking. From returning to school after giving birth to finding solace in it during dark times, food transformed these women's lives in more ways than one.

Here is how an evening hosted by Talabat that brought together beautiful inspiration, delicious food and stories of women following their dreams unfolded:


Chef Zahra Abdulla. Photos: Shihab
Chef Zahra Abdulla. Photos: Shihab

Starting to blog to keep a recipe index for her friends, Zahra Abdalla quickly found herself enjoying the process. However, when she went through several difficulties in life, food became her therapy. “Food really helped me,” she said. “It became my happy place during difficult times. I saw this a lot during Covid too when cooking became the solace to a lot of people during some very dark times. Several of them reached out to me asking for advice and recipes during the lockdown.”

Since then, Zahra has launched several cookbooks, hosted TV shows, won awards and launched her line of frozen food. The mother of three also visited prisons in Dubai, where she talked about food memories and collected 30 recipes from prisoners that were then published as a book. Her dish of Fesenjoon with Persian rice and pomegranate salad was a reflection of her half-Iranian heritage.


Chef Roro.
Chef Roro.

An architect by profession, Chef Renee Kachmar was the favourite aunt Roro at whose house everyone wanted to hang out because of the food she cooked. Finally, at the insistence of her friends and family, she launched her restaurant. According to her daughter, she follows her architectural precision even in her plating. She served up a dish of Fish Siyadeyah at the Iftar.

Chef Rima
Chef Rima

Enrolling in her bachelor’s degree after the birth of her fourth child, Rima Eid was on course to becoming an interior designer when an incident changed her life. “My daughter had an international day at her school, and I made Musakhan rolls,” she said. They were such a huge hit that she got inundated with calls and orders. The rest was history as she launched Msakhanwbas. Her single serving of Musakhan Fatteh at the Iftar was an instant hit.

Chef Manal
Chef Manal

Chef Manal Al Taweel had never even imagined cooking for a living, much less being an influencer. She became an instant superstar when her children began making videos of her cooking and uploading them on social media. Apart from the yummy shish barak, she also served up a generous portion of her signature kunafa at the event.

The evening served as a reminder of the importance of pursuing one's dreams, no matter how impossible or daunting they may seem. Talabat's Managing Director, Tatiana Rahal, was joined by the talented chefs who created a deliciously beautiful experience for all.

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