The Holy Month of Ramadan is the most significant month of the Muslim Calendar. It’s a time of fasting, introspection, and prayers for Muslims all over the world. During Ramadan, Iftar is the meal to break the fast after sunset. Traditionally, those who fast during Ramadan, break their fast with dates and water. As Muslims belong to different cultures around the world, Iftar traditions and delicacies vary from place to place.
Most families in Egypt start their Iftar with a dish made from foul medames (fava beans) and brown bread, which is not just filling but nutritious as well. A soup called molokheya is another Egyptian staple, which is accompanied with chicken and rice. A special drink made of dry apricots called qamar al deenand arasyi is also very popular among Egyptians for its digestive properties.
Sri Lankan Muslims have their own way of breaking the fast. They start with fresh fruits, cool sherbet and kanji, a porridge-dish made with rice, coconut milk, mild spices and chicken or beef. Adik roti, a kind of pancake with curry enclosed and baked in a puff pastry shell, is another Sri Lankan Iftar favorite.
Jordanians typically break their fast with diluted yoghurt, soup and juice. This is followed by a large buffet of Iftar favorites such as mansaf and qatayef. Mansaf, which is the national dish of Jordan, is made of seasoned lamb cooked with spices and yoghurt and served on a bed of rice and Arabic bread. Qatayef, a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts, is also a major part of the Jordanian Iftar.
In Zanzibar, African, Asian and Arab influences come together to create a truly unique Iftar experience. The spread is massive; consisting of Asian dishes like samosas, bhajjiyas (fritters) and kebabs; and African dishes like corn curry in coconut milk and cassava cooked in coconut milk and garnished with lots of chilies, meat or fish. In some homes, one can also find the traditional Arabic dish, harees being served during Ramadan. Uji, a special soup made from local cereal called Mtama and thick coconut milk, is also very popular here.
There are over 130 million Muslims in India. Being a large country divided into different states, there are different Iftar dishes popular in different parts of the country. Dishes like samosa, haleem (closely related to harees), kebabs, malpua (fried pancake), and biryani, are some of the Indian Iftar favorites. Streets dotted with multiple food vendors selling different dishes is a common Iftar sight in most Indian cities.
In Iran, after the call to prayer, people break their fast with sweet tea and tabreezi cheese and walnut sandwiches. Another dish that is eaten during this time is the sheer beranj and firni made from milk and rice.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, home to people from all over the world, also has influences from different countries in their Iftar meal. You can find biryanis, Lebanese salads, Italian Pastas and samboosas (local version of samosas) in addition to traditional Emirati dishes like harees, thareed, madhrooba and Arseeyah. Dates, fresh fruits, and laban are always present during Iftars.
While different cultures have different Iftar dishes and traditions, the true joy of Iftar is in enjoying it with friends and family; something we don’t always get to do in our busy lives. Tell us about the Iftar dishes, customs and traditions of your country in the comments below.