Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ramadan and Food!

   A nice juicy steak with all the trimmings. A big bowl/plate of pasta. A pizza with your favourite topping. Roast potatoes. Molokhya*. Fatta*.  Whatever food you like, and sometimes even ones you don't like much, at some point during the  day in Ramadan you will be thinking about food. If you're not thinking about it, you're talking about it. Or watching a cooking programme. Or reading recipes. Or shopping for/preparing food for Iftar-literally breakfast-the main meal of the day. 

  It may be breakfast Jim, but it's not as we know it! Forget cereal, toast and pancakes. This is a breakfast of soup and dates rice or potatoes of vegetables and meat, especially  in Egypt, meat reigns supreme. No gathering of friends or family would be complete without copious amounts of meat. Red meat cooked in various ways, chicken, turkey, you name it, chances are it'll be on the table!
A traditional liquorice juice seller.
  The juices are equally varied but usually include Ammr elDin which is an apricot drink, made from sheets of dried apricots dissolved in hot water (much like sheets of gelatin). Karkadeh is a tea made from the hibiscus flower and can be served hot or cold. Kharoub  is another favourite in my house as is liquorice. All these drinks have medicinal benefits,  some can help regulate blood pressure (Karakadeh lowers while liquorice increases), cholesterol and blood sugar levels-essential when a person has been fasting.  

  And now, dessert! Although the sweets eaten in Ramadan are available all year round, they have a special place in any Ramadan meal. In Egypt most people stick to Oriental sweets at this time of the year, the most popular being konafa a dish made with shredded fillo pastry, drenched in syrup and stuffed with nuts or cream or raisins. Basbousa is a semolina dessert again cooked with syrup. Baklava, golash (pastry not meat) and various other sweet things also make an appearance. 

  Sohoor  is the meal eaten about an hour before dawn as a chance to fill up the tank before another day of fasting (all that food from earlier doesn't count!). This is a much lighter meal usually of eggs, fool( broad beans) and cheese. 

  It should be noted at the end of this piece that although food plays a major part of this holy month, it is about much much more. This is the first time I've experienced Ramadan in the heat of summer (Ramadan gets earlier by about 11 days each year, following the lunar cycle) and never in my life have I been more grateful for a glass of cold water and count my blessings that I have access to clean, safe drinking water. And that is the main reason behind this month, to remind us of how lucky we are to be able to eat and drink and to give a taste (if you'll excuse the pun) of how people with little or no food and water feel everyday and to remind us to help as many of those people as we can. A common sight in streets during this month is Moa'ed Rahman  or Mercy Tables where people pay or provide food to feed the needy, these are open to anyone all throughout the month.

All images were found using Google Images. No copyright infringement intended. 


  1. You've made my mouth water with the mention of food Nora. you're so right though. I realised i spend half of my working day chatting with my colleagues about food!! But as soon as iftar comes around, my appetite stops and I hardly eat a thing! All that excitement for nothing :(
    And you are right, Ramadhan is so much more than food. We're lucky that we get even a bite to eat when there are starving people across the globe.
    Ramadhan kareem :)

  2. i like the article alot nora and i am sure that you should start persuing writing as a career ....
    about what you wrote i wish i would experience any of it .... during fasting i don't think about food or drinks cause simply i spend my fasting time sleeping :D
    the only thing that used to worry m was smoking but since my Alma made me quit ... i am having the easiest ramadan ever
    ramadan kareem nora for you and for all your family

  3. Thanks Alaa :) and I'm so glad Alma made you quit!!

    Neelma, I know what you mean about not having an appetite I usually find myself not eating much at iftar but snacking throughout the evening.

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