REVIEW: Iftar and a movie at Cinemajlis in Dubai

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Iftar at Dubai's Cinema Akil. (Supplied)
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Iftar at Dubai's Cinema Akil. (Supplied)
Updated 05 June 2019

REVIEW: Iftar and a movie at Cinemajlis in Dubai

  • Indie movie theater Cinema Akil offers iftar with a twist
  • Alserkal Avenue’s Cinema Akil and Project Chaiwala have partnered for this specially curated 30-day experience

DUBAI: As soon as I enter the grand hall of Cinemajlis, I am given a wristband to wear, before being greeted by a chaiwala who offers me a cup of steaming hot masala chai. It’s certainly not your typical iftar setting, but it’s offerings like these that have added much-needed variety to the Ramadan culinary scene in the UAE.

Alserkal Avenue’s Cinema Akil and Project Chaiwala have partnered for this specially curated 30-day experience, with Cinemajlis doing exactly what it says on the tin: it’s an iftar in a majlis-style setting, paired with a post-meal movie screening.

An independent arthouse theater, Cinema Akil was launched in 2014, and has since screened a multitude of independent and festival films via one-off pop-ups around Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, and at its main venue. Project Chaiwala, meanwhile, also started as a pop-up concept, in 2017. Two years later, it opened its flagship store sharing a space with Cinema Akil.

It’s clear that the talents behind both brands have put a lot of effort into Cinemajlis. Understated, yet fastidious in design, the hall has been transformed from regular cinema to — you guessed it — a majlis with floor cushions around the tables. The venue’s regular interiors, featuring traditional Indian stencil design on the walls, mix well with the additions and tweaks made for the Holy Month.

Mainstays like the classic prints and posters dotted around — including one for the original “Star Wars” film, and a black-and-white photograph of a young Sherihan (one of the Arab world’s best-known performers) — complement the classic 'Khayamiya' used for the majlis. This beautifully designed textile, a type of decorative appliqué material historically used to decorate tents across the Middle East, evokes memories of North Africa and the Levant in the Nineties, a simpler time when ‘fawazeer’ was in vogue.

The menu, created by Project Chaiwala, is bona fide, family-style, South Asian cuisine, featuring dishes that are the epitome of comfort food. There are samosas, soup, naan bread, Chicken Karahi, vegetable pulao and more. A personal highlight was the rich, creamy and buttery Dal Makhani. Simply put, it was glorious, with just the right amount of spice.

Displaying energetic elan, the team from the kitchen were always on hand to check in on diners, before distributing dessert, which was saffron cake with ice-cream.

As iftar wrapped up, guests were encouraged to take to the actual cinema seats to watch the movie. The night’s screening was “Naila and the Uprising,” a documentary that chronicles the real-life journey of Naila Ayesh, a key figure in the First Intifada. Cinema Akil has chosen four films to screen during Cinemajlis, with a new one starting every Friday for a week. Also on the schedule are 2017 Iraqi drama “The Journey,” and “Ext. Night,” the acclaimed Egyptian drama which screened at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

While my trip to Cinemajlis was thanks to an invite, the experience left such an impression that I intend to return before the Holy Month ends. At AED200 ($54.45) per head for a light and delightful meal, and a film screening, it is such good value for money. And the fact that it’s the creation of two homegrown concepts makes it all the more special. To reserve your table, you need to book and pay online in advance, but you won’t regret it. The only thing you’ll regret is not having tried it sooner.


5 reasons to add eggs to your diet

Updated 21 September 2020

5 reasons to add eggs to your diet

DUBAI: Learn all about the superfoods that will help you live a longer and healthier life. Devinder Bains, personal trainer and nutrition coach, fills you in…

Often given a bad name because of their high-cholesterol content, which is not completely justified, eggs are actually one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.

Whether you like yours boiled, scrambled, poached, as an omelette, or sunny side up, each small bundle is brimming with protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Easy on the wallet and so versatile, eggs are as much at home in a salad as they are in bakes and pasta and are a health powerhouse.

Rich in high-quality protein

Eggs contain all nine of the essential amino acids. (Shutterstock)

Proteins are made up of different amino acids that are linked together. Of the 21 types that the body uses, it cannot make nine by itself, so they have to come from food.

Eggs contain all nine of these essential amino acids – which is why they are often called a high-quality or perfect protein. With about 6 grams of protein in a large egg, they also have a rich amount of protein considering their size.

Aid weight loss

At just 77 calories and virtually no carbs, eggs rate high on the satiety index which measures how much a food fills you up and stops you from feeling hungry.

Many studies have shown that eating eggs for breakfast can keep hunger at bay and lead to less calories consumed for the rest of the day.

One study revealed that people eating equal calories of eggs versus bagels for breakfast lost 65 percent more body weight and had a 34 percent greater reduction in waist circumference.

Improve cholesterol balance

Consuming eggs appears to increase good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. (Shutterstock)

In the past, eggs were often given a bad rap for their high-cholesterol content (around 162 milligrams), however more recent research suggests that there is no link between eggs and increased risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol is essential for bodily function and we are actually able to adjust the levels we produce in relation to what amount is in our food. Consuming eggs actually appears to increase good HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and reduce levels of bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

Healthy immune system

Eggs are rich in protein, vitamin D, vitamins B2, B5, B12, vitamin E, folate, lutein, and omega-3s, all of which can play a part in boosting immunity and reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses.

Eggs are particularly rich in selenium (22 percent of recommended daily intake), which helps to boost immunity, reduce DNA damage, and destroy cancer cells.

Promote good vision

Eggs provide a good alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids for people who do not eat oily fish (the most regular source). These omega-3s are important for helping maintain brain function and vision.

Egg yolks also contain antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin that protect the eyes from harmful sunlight and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts – two of the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness in elderly people.