The Holy month of Ramadan is a time to reconnect with God, reconnect with family and reconnect with loved ones. It is a time where communities come together in remembrance of the Divine.
It is also a time when one of the most deliciously powerful universal bonds is savoured. Food. It is the simplest of diplomats, but effortlessly continues to break down barriers and bring people from diverse backgrounds together.
There are many different delicious dishes that never cease to tantalise the taste buds, especially during Ramadan, but here are some of the more popular delights from around the Muslim world. From drinks, to mains and all the way to deserts, we have you covered this Ramadan.
1. Dates and Water
Traditionally dates and water have been favoured choice for many to break their fast at Iftar, as it is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed, may peace and blessings be upon him, who would also break his fast in the same way.
Erk-Soos is a dark, slightly sweet and semi bitter drink made from ground up liquorice root, mixed with water and sugar cane juice, traditionally found in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. The best way to have it is freshly poured by a wandering street vendor, like the one pictured above.
3. Tamar Hindi
Tamarind, or Tamer Hindi, which literally translates from Arabic to “the dates of India” is a sensationally sour cold drink that will cool you down on the hottest of days. Perfect for drinking during Ramadan.
4. Rooh Afza
Rooh Afza is a sweet, rose scented drink made from special cooling herbs, roots, vegetables and fruits. It was originally created by Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed in 1907 and is a staple in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. If you haven’t tried it yet, you haven’t really lived.
5. Amar al-Deen
Amar al-Deen is a delicious drink made from sun dried apricot paste. The paste is created by squeezing loads of apricots and mixing the juicy pulp with glucose syrup and spreading onto massive trays. The trays are then left to dry in the heat of the sun and what you are left with is basically large orange sheets of apricot leather. Add water to the strips, soak over night and voila! You have just made Amar al-Deen.
6. Lentil Soup
Lentil soup is a staple on almost every Iftar table and could almost to crowned to official soup of Ramadan. It is not only delicious, but is extremely good for you after a long day of fasting, as it packed with nutritional goodies such as protein, fibre and vitamin C. It is also a low in calorie dish, so it is basically the ultimate healthy option for anyone wanting a warm pick me up this Ramadan.
7. Fattoush Salad
The ultimate when it comes to salad has to be fattoush. Filled with fresh crispy cucumber, blushing red tomatoes, mint, parsley, radish, crispy pieces of fried bread and topped with tangy lemon, olive oil, sumac and black sesame seed dressing. It is fresh, zesty and always a good healthy winner to accompany any dish.
8. Kousa Mahshi
Kousa Mahshi, or stuffed vegetables is a super delicious dish found in its many variations throughout the Middle East, especially Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. The beauty of this dish is that you can have it with meat, or create an entirely vegetarian version and it still tastes amazing! Serve with fresh pita bread and yogurt. Heaven.
If you are looking for delicate flavours that pack a punch and leave you going back for seconds, thirds and a sneaky fourth, then this is the dish for you. Bryani is what every grain of rice wants to be when they grow up. It is the pinnacle of awesomeness in the rice world and never disappoints the taste buds.
10. Pakoras & Samosas
The soundtrack to Iftars all over the world is the crunch of crispy pakoras and or samosas. The perfect balance of crispy outside with soft, warm deliciousness inside. Fasting is easy when you know you one of these bad boys to break fast with at the end of the day.
I pity the foul who doesn’t like fūl… What’s better than braised fava beans that have been slowly cooking overnight in a heavyset copper pot that has seen more heat than a fireman. Perfect for Ramadan, as after the slow cook during the night, you wake up to a beautifully hearty suhoor in the early hours of the morning.
12. Moroccan Tagine
The humble tagine is one of the most underrated but amazing dishes you could imagine. Traditionally cooked over hot coals in an earthenware tagine pot which gathers an intense array of flavour. The conical lid helps the magic happen underneath, creating a unique way of slowly preparing a mouth watering feast.
Who doesn’t love hummus? This dish is proof that some of the simplest things in life are often the best. Cooked chickpeas, pureed and blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is as simple and delicious as that.
Bamia is a hearty stew packed with flavour and just dying to be mopped up with fresh bread and or rice. It is a definitely a family favorite throughout North Africa and the Middle East and can be made with either red meat, chicken, or even vegetarian or vegan.
Knefeh is the cheesecake of the Middle East and it doesn’t disappoint. It is made with a mozzarella-ish cheese, housed in a butter and semolina crust. After it comes out of the oven, it is drowned in amazing sweet syrup and adorned with crushed pistachios. If you are ever in Sydney, Australia, then it is a must that you visit the Bearded Bakers and experience the joy of Knefeh.
Most people have tried a simple pancake at lest once n their life. Atayef are no ordinary pancakes and if you haven’t tried one, then what are you waiting for? These little gems are soft, fluffy pillows of deliciousness. Stuffed with creamy cheese, dipped in crushed nuts and drizzled with rose water syrup or honey, they are the stuff of dreams and make a long day of fasting seem short. Yum.
Crispy, flaky pastry that shatters as you crunch into it, followed by the nutty, sweet, gooey goodness of the honey scented centre. Lets face it, baklava is a party in your mouth, its as simple as that.
Marina Oliphant – www.goodfood.com.au
Basbousa is a soft, delicate cake made from semolina and like its crunchy cousin, baklava, it is doused in a delicate sweet syrup, not too sweet, but just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth s out there. Topped with almonds this little beauty is perfect with a glass of hot Arabic coffee. Perfection.
Super simple, yet super delicious, Mouhalabieh is the perfect way to finish off any meal. It is a creamy, milk based pudding with delicate flavours of orange blossom and rose water, all topped with crushed pistachios.
20. Fresh Fruit
Is there any better way to finishing off an evening of food, fun, family and friends other than fresh fruit? It’s the all natural, healthy and delicious option that never ceases to delight even the harshest of critics. Fruit is natures little package of deliciousness, wrapped up and ready to eat.