Hello Friends! It’s that time of the year again; a most blessed and eagerly awaited time for the Muslims around the world: Ramadan.
Ramadan starts next week either on June 6th or 7th, depending on the new moon sighting. This is the fun part of Ramadan; everyone eagerly awaits the official word whether the moon has been sighted or not and whether we have to get up for our morning breakfast(suhoor) before dawn or we can sleep in one more day.
Yes, there are scientific methods of calculating new moons and such but where is the fun in that? Where is the fun of knowing EXACTLY which day we should start fasting 🙂 NO, we Muslims are a fun lot; we like excitement, mystery, living on the edge….
The real reason some of us choose not to follow scientific methods and criteria for calculating the appearance of the new moon is, tradition. In Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) time they only had the sky for guidance; the moon and the stars. There is nothing wrong in using new methods but we actually enjoy the unknown!
For those of you who are not familiar with Ramadan, it is one of the two most important holidays for Muslims around the world. The timing of the holiday changes because we follow a lunar calendar so every year, Ramadan falls during a different month, usually it’s about 2 weeks earlier year to year. This year, it begins June 6 or 7. During this month, observing Muslims fast from before sun up till sundown: no food, no water, no sex, no bad language, no bad deeds, no bad behaviour, and so on. It’s a month to reflect on ourselves, to pray, worship and give charity. We try to be the best people we can everyday but during Ramadan we try harder, and if during the year we lose our way, Ramadan is a good time to get back to observing good habits.
If you’d like to learn more about Ramadan, please check out my Ramadan posts from previous years:
Since there’s just under a week until Ramadan begins, I’ve been busy shopping and stocking up. It’s hard to go shopping during Ramadan, especially when it starts getting really hot during the day and I’m running around without water and food. More than the hunger and thirst, the fatigue from the early mornings, late nights and odd sleeping hours makes running around a bit challenging.
As Ramadan approaches, I try to do a spring cleaning of sorts, vacuuming, dusting and thoroughly cleaning the kitchen. I stock the freezer with meat and phyllo/puff pastry, either home made or shop bought. I make my life easier during Ramadan and buy store bought, preferably organic, crusts and phyllo doughs.
I also make a mental note of food I will be preparing and ask my family if they have any requests. It’s easier to ask and buy supplies so I have everything on hand. Every Ramadan I have great intentions to make food ahead and freeze, especially savoury snacks for Iftar, but it never works for me! I am never that organised!!
This year, I will be on a limited work schedule during Ramadan thanks to a very understanding events coordinator. I hope to get some rest while fasting, and working on this poor, neglected blog. I will have time to prep and cook during the day, so I am a little excited about the opportunity to spend some time in my own kitchen for a change.
I thought maybe a little round up of my favourite Ramadan recipes might be helpful for those observing the fasts and even those who just want a good recipe for dinner one evening. I have included some iftar/snack favourites, some hearty dinner favourites and of course, sweets!
There’s a good mix of cold weather and warm weather food for my friends in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
When Muslims break their fast at sundown, we usually open our fasts with dates, water and delicious, snack type foods and fruit. The food that is consumed at sun down is known as Iftar. We have a lot of iftar foods which, of course, vary from country to country. I make a variety of iftar foods and sometimes, we just eat dinner and call it a night. It depends from day to day. Some of our favourites at iftar are soups and savouries:
Some days, I just feel like making dinner and keeping iftar simple. On these days, we open our fasts with water, dates and some fresh fruit, or maybe just some soup. Soup is great because it is jam packed with nutrients and is very hydrating after a long day without water. I will make a big dinner if I didn’t go all out on iftar. Here are some of my family’s favourites:
No iftar or dinner is complete with our dessert. The sweet cravings are strong after a long day of fasting! Sometimes, I don’t wait till after dinner to have dessert; I have it right after I break my fast! The best iftar desserts are the ataif, a Palestinian pancake stuffed with cream, sweet cheese or coconut and walnuts. Many Middle Eastern countries have their own versions and it doesn’t matter which one, they are an ubiquitous Ramadan sweet. I have included my two favourites.
I hope this roundup helps all of you who are observing Ramadan and hopefully those who just want something good to eat for dinner tonight.
I want to end with a thought/observation: sometimes during Ramadan we get caught up in the excitement of the holiday and the thought of breaking our fasts with delicious foods and drink. And as much as Ramadan is a time of family and community, we cannot forget the ones who suffer this hardship, the lack of food and water, on a regular basis. The importance of Ramadan will always be the fact that we must feel the hunger and pain of no food and water and the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters in humanity suffer like this. Please enjoy Ramadan, cook and feed your family, but do not forget the hungry. This is the month of charity, rewards and good deeds; may God help us with our endeavours and save us from any excesses.
Ramadan Kareem to all!
From my family to yours; may the blessings, peace and joy of this month be with you all.