ISLAMABAD - There was plenty to talk about at the Iftar dinner hosted by Mr and Mrs Aziz Boolani, Chief Executive Officer, Serena Hotels, Pakistan.

This yearly Ramadan ritual always attracts people from all walks of life…. be it diplomats, parliamentarians, civil bureaucracy or entrepreneurs, no one misses out the Boolani invite.

It’s not only the food, but the décor, the selection of guests and the quest to find something new and innovative each year also serves as one of the reasons for the guests to be in full attendance.

Mrs Boolani being a flouriest herself also, chips in to make the guests feel at home.

This time around, the Sheesh Mahal banquet hall was gracefully decorated with ferry bulbs glittering with moon light surrounded with white drapes giving the venue a touch of class.

The hotel management had pegged Bedouin tents in the foyer and the aroma of the BBQ sizzling in the open air pushed the food aficionados from their comfort zones to the grills.

The Islamabad weather also played friendly with the Serena management as cool breeze and a little sprinkle added to ambience. The table platters were creatively laid out in thinly layered bread baskets filled with assortments in the likes of mini ‘samasos’, kebabs and ‘pakaoras’ to break the fast. The menu cards on the table warned the gastronomical diets not to fill in their hungry tummy’s as a lot was in store for iftar dinner.

Faced with vacillation as where to start from, the host had showcased tantalizing food from each of their restaurants. Serena’s Pan-Asian restaurant, Wild Rice was serving Nasi Goraang, a famous Indonesian dish whereas their Mediterranean restaurant Al-Maghreb had a beeline of guests for Tagine and Couscous. Zamana, the Pakistani pavilion was offering Haleem, Saag and Mutton Karahi whereas many   sushi lovers gathered around the Sushi corner inside the hall way. However, the show stopper at the Iftar dinner was Baradari restaurant offering the BBQ items. Mutton chops, seekh kebabs, Kata Kut and mini Chaplai Kebabs dished out from the big wok.

The tender chops and juicy moist kebabs were the answer to the carnivores who were making repeated visits to the grill.

Playing good hosts, Mr Boolani and his team were busy in making sure that all their guests, 300 more in number, have their plates full.  It was a good blend of guest list. One could spot ambassadors of Canada, Spain, The Netherlands and Switzerland joining their colleagues from Muslim countries like Indonesia, Morocco, Azerbaijan and Iran for the iftar.

The crème de la crème in the hall were involved in deep discussion. IMF bailout, Amnesty Scheme and conspiracy theories behind dollar rate remained the focus of everyone.

 -The writer is a freelance contributor.