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Ramadan food habits around the world

NOWSHABA ACHAL | March 21, 2024 00:00:00

Ramadan is a holy month of spiritual reflection. A central practice throughout this month that emphasises discipline, compassion, and appreciation is fasting from sunrise to sunset. Around the world, different countries have distinct Sehri and Iftar traditions. With a growing focus on health, Muslims worldwide strive for healthy meals during Ramadan. After fasting all day, prioritising healthy foods after sunset is crucial. Here is a glimpse into some famous Ramadan meals enjoyed in Muslim countries around the globe.


SEHRI: Sehri meals are generally light, emphasising nutritious choices that will fuel the day. A popular option is 'Simit', a classic Turkish bread coated in sesame seeds. Fresh tomatoes, olives, and white cheese frequently accompany it. Yoghurt with honey and nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are also popular choices. A warm bowl of soup is a typical Sehri choice. Traditional Turkish dishes include 'Menemen' (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers) and 'Börek' (savoury pastry filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables). You will also find baked macaroni served with dates, fruits, tea and coffee.

IFTAR: A special Ramadan 'Pide' is prepared during Iftar. This flatbread resembles pizza dough but has unique toppings like cheese, minced meat, or a mix of vegetables baked in a stone oven. It is enjoyed with soup and salad. '?ak?uka' is a vegetarian dish made from fried eggplant, zucchini, and peppers mixed with tomato sauce, garlic, and herbs. Kebabs, both vegetarian and meat-based, are popular at Iftar. Grilled meats like 'Shish kebab' and 'Adana kebab' are popular choices. They also enjoy vegetarian options, including eggplant or mushroom kebabs.

Besides, 'Dolma' (grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, and herbs, sometimes including minced meat), 'Meze' (which might include hummus), 'Muhammara' (red pepper and walnut spread), 'Tzatziki' (yoghourt and cucumber dip), 'Pilaf' (a seasoned rice dish with various ingredients), 'Serbet' (a sweet drink), and desserts like baklava, fruits, and dates are consumed.


SEHRI: Common Sehri foods in Afghanistan include Nan (a kind of Afghan bread), 'Chapli Kabab' (a traditional Afghan dish made with spiced ground meat), and 'Shorwa' (soup). 'Quroot' is a type of dried yoghurt that can be rehydrated with water.

IFTAR: Popular Iftar dishes include 'Ashak,' Afghan dumplings filled with leeks or scallions served with a tomato-based sauce, garlic yoghurt, and a sprinkle of dried mint, and 'Mantu,' Afghan dumplings filled with spiced minced meat (usually beef or lamb) and onions. 'Bolani' (flatbread filled with chopped scallions, pumpkin, or potatoes), 'Qabulipulaw' (rice with fried raisins, chopped carrots, and lamb), khichuri, kebab, etc., are also enjoyed during Iftar.


SEHRI: Popular Sehri dishes include 'Medames' (a dish made of fava beans), and taameya, made from ground fava beans or chickpeas. 'Hawawshi,' a type of Egyptian sandwich made with minced meat, onions, and spices, is also popular. 'Baladi bread,' a whole wheat bread, is a staple during Sehri. It is often paired with cheese, honey, or tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds). Egyptians also enjoy various traditional beverages during Sehri, such as 'Karkadeh' (hibiscus tea) and tamarind juice.

IFTAR: Egyptians typically break their fast with a light soup like 'Orzo soup' (made with orzo pasta, chicken or beef broth) or 'Vermicelli' noodle soup. These are followed by a range of appetisers known as 'mezze.' Mezze dishes can include stuffed grape leaves, mashed chickpeas, eggplant dip, and kofta. These dishes are served with pita bread.

For the main course, Egyptians often serve meat dishes like grilled lamb or chicken with rice and vegetables. Some of the most famous Egyptian dishes served during Iftar include 'Koshari' (a dish made of rice, lentils, pasta, and chickpeas topped with tomato sauce and fried onions), 'Fiteer' (a pastry made with layers of dough, cheese, and meat or vegetables), 'Rozz me'ammar' (made from white rice, butter, milk, cream, and chicken or beef broth), 'Mahshi' (stuffed vegetables), beef stew, 'Mulukhiyah' (a green leafy vegetable stew), and 'Besahra' (a dish with a soup/stew-like consistency made from another green leafy vegetable).

Saudi Arabia

SEHRI: Following the Sunnah, Sehri traditionally begins with dates and water. A popular Sehri dish is 'Harees,' made from wheat and meat. Some other options include 'Foul Medames,' a dish made from cooked fava beans, and 'Khameer,' a slightly sweet, traditional Saudi Arabian bread that's often enjoyed during Sehri. It can be paired with cheese, honey, or dates. 'Hummus' with whole wheat bread and 'Molokhia,' a leafy green vegetable, are also eaten.

IFTAR: A popular main course for Iftar is 'Mandi/Kabsa,' a flavorful rice dish with spiced meat (often chicken or lamb). Grilled kebabs, such as chicken or lamb, are also popular choices during Iftar. They're often seasoned with aromatic spices and served with rice or flatbread.

Some common dishes include shawarma, lamb kofta, falafel wrap, 'Manakish' (flatbread topped with cheese, thyme, and sometimes ground meat), 'Jareesh' (a dish made from crushed wheat, often cooked with meat and seasoned with spices), 'Mutabbaq' (a stuffed pastry filled with spiced meat, onions, or vegetables). For desserts, a healthy option is 'Ma'amoul,' a traditional Saudi pastry filled with dates or nuts.


SEHRI: 'NasiSahur' is a rice dish often prepared for Sehri. This rice can be fried rice, coconut rice, or plain steamed rice served with various side dishes. Another rice dish is 'Nasi Lemak,' fragrant coconut rice served with anchovies, peanuts, boiled eggs, cucumber, and sambal.

'Roti Bakar' is toasted bread often served with kaya (coconut and egg jam) or butter. Some other popular dishes include 'Lemang,' a traditional dish made from glutinous rice and coconut milk cooked in bamboo tubes, 'Bubur' (porridge), and 'Soto' (a traditional Malaysian soup that typically includes meat, rice cakes, and bean sprouts in a spiced broth).

IFTAR: 'Bubur Lambuk' is a traditional Malaysian porridge made with rice, meat, spices, and coconut milk. 'Lontong' is a dish made with compressed rice cakes, served with a rich and aromatic coconut-based soup, vegetables, and sometimes meat. 'Nasi Goreng,' or fried rice, is a flavorful dish made with cooked rice, a mix of vegetables, meat, and spices. Some bread options include 'Murtabak,' a stuffed flatbread filled with minced meat, onions, and spices, and 'Roti Canai,' a flatbread usually served with lentil curry or chicken curry.

Other dishes include 'Satay' (skewered and grilled meat), 'Ayam Percik' (grilled or roasted chicken marinated in a spiced coconut-based sauce), 'Soto Ayam' (chicken soup), or 'Sup Tulang' (bone soup), which are often included in the Iftar spread. A popular sweet dish is 'Cendol,' a dessert consisting of pandan-flavoured rice flour jelly, coconut milk, palm sugar, and shaved ice.

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