For millions of Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts – called itfar – with friends and family. This year Ramadan runs until the evening of June 24.
Mama Rumaan is located in Melbourne’s Docklands area, and as the name suggests, the restaurant is inspired by the mothers of owners Hatem Saleh, who’s of Egyptian descent, and Robert Daniels, who’s of Lebanese decent. Saleh’s mum Sabah’s Egyptian Falafel recipe is on the menu, as is Daniels’s mum Tatiana’s knafeh (a cheese pastry).
Both mamas are regularly in the kitchen at Mama Rumaan, which is putting on special nightly feasts during Ramadan featuring comforting, family-style dishes such as fattouche salad; slow-cooked chicken with cumin, chilli potatoes and lemon yoghurt; and braised lamb on a bed of bulgur – a recipe by Tatiana Daniels that Mama Rumaan has shared with Broadsheet.
“During Ramadan I like to create set menus that are nutritious, substantial and balanced. I like to ensure that those fasting for the day leave satisfied, however, not feeling as though they have had an overly indulgent experience. Starting our Iftar offering off with a soup helps the body get ready to receive the food and also helps restore hydration lost throughout the day. A salad is there for minerals, vitamins and fibre. Then we follow with a main dish that is a moderate portion size with good proteins and carbohydrates to provide sustenance and maintain a healthy immune system.
“My pick is the Quozi-braised lamb on spiced bulgur. I coat the lamb with a blend of sweet spices … After 45 minutes on the stove the kitchen aromas start to remind me of my own Mama’s kitchen growing up … Of course people can’t leave my dining room without ending on a small sweet treat and who can go past a sweet and sticky baklava? Not me. Cooking during Ramadan is very nostalgic for me. It reminds me of home and really brings the community and locals together.”
Quozi-Braised Lamb on a Bed of Bulgur
1–1/2 pounds lean lamb
1 large onion
1 leek, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves, whole
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon ground seven spices
Salt and pepper
3 cups long, coarse bulgur
1–1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 teaspoons seven spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
6 cups water
Cut the lamb into 3-inch cubes; season with salt and pepper. Roast at 175°C to sear, turning several times until brown on all sides. Transfer lamb to a pot. Add onion, leek, cinnamon sticks, celery and seven spice; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce to medium heat. Cook until lamb is tender, about 45 minutes. Strain meat, discard vegetables and reserve liquid.
After the lamb has cooled enough to handle, tear into bite-size pieces, removing any fat and tendons. Add back a little broth to keep meat moist.
Wash and rinse bulgur in four changes of hot water. Drain well and set aside. In a wide-bottom pot, add oil. Over medium heat sauté the onions until translucent. Add bulgur, pine nuts, almonds, seven spice, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Stir continuously over moderate heat until spices are fragrant. Add water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover for 20 minutes or until done. Fluff with a fork. Serve lamb on top of spiced bulgur and garnish with fried nuts and sultanas.
Mama Rumaan is hosting its special Ramadan nightly feasts from May 27 to June 25 from Iftar until 6pm. Meals cost $25 per person pre-booked, and $30 per person for walk-ins.