Ramadan Special: Iftar

Ramadan is a thirty days of peace and manic at the same time. The first day of fasting hits Damascus and the city goes into this form of transformation I find fascinating to watch. To understand what I am talking about all you need to do is watch Damascus over the period of 10 minutes around the Iftar meal. In the best of times driving in Syria is a risky business, so imagine being in the streets with a million or so drivers, all hungry, tired, severe nicotine deprivation, all trying to make their destination at the same minute. Ten minutes later and not a soul in the street. Millions of people around the city sitting with their family around Iftar tables. The atmosphere couldn't be more of peace, celebration and family.

Iftar (or Futoor as we call it in Syria) is the evening meal in Ramadan. Muslims fast during this month every day from sunrise to sunset. They refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex during these hours. Come the evening, they wait around tables full of all kinds of delicious food for the call to the evening prayers. Millions of hands move simultaneously to reach for that glass of water to break their fast.

Juice is a stable on any Iftar menu especially when Ramadan comes in Summer when you really need something to kill your thirst. Dates is another essential, it is the first thing Muslims should eat according to Islamic tradition.

After an empty stomach all day long you would want something soft and light to start your meal with. Soup and Fatteh are the perfect starters to warm up your stomach in preparation for the delicious grub that coming its way.

Main dishes in Ramadan are no different to the usual food cooked outside the month but what make Iftar meal special is the wide variety of side dishes that line up the table. Salad and especially Fatoush is a must, so is Foul (broad bean salad) which is usually breakfast or supper dish outside Ramadan. Other sides on the menu are pastries, Sambosek and one of the many vegetarian cold dishes we love in the Levant.

Sweets are more important in Ramadan than any other time. You really need some sugar to boost your blood glucose levels after a day of starvation. Filo pastry of some variation with Eshta (Arabic clotted cream) stuffing form the basis of most Ramadan sweets. Another Ramadan special is Na'eem (ناعم), a very large fried cracker (somewhat similar to Poppadoms) with a drizzle of sweet grape molasses.

Manic rush is done. Food is done. Syrian people then goes into their peaceful mood. They cosy up on sofas to enjoy a family night watching their favourite TV serial drama, Bab Al-Hara.


مترجم سوري said...

ya zelemh with al-addan at 7:20, along with the summer heat,i think eating anything is a sucidal action.

a christian friend of mine made me burst out of laugh yesterday, she was saying, may Allah turn down the heat of the sun so u can fast..
Ramadan Kareem, Yn3ad 3likum in Syria on ur family's table:D

Unknown said...

It is lovely to read about this special time. I saw friends suffer a few years ago in Australia when Ramadan came in extremely hot weather. I am glad it is at an easier time this year. (Not that they complained!) I also noted the solemnity of my friends here, and the crazy Malaysian relatives I have, teenagers who seemed to find Ramadan a time to party all night in their home town! Best Wishes.

Kano said...

I hope the weather gets better so you guys can have an easy time fasting. I thought you are in Kuwait, I didn't know you are in Syria.

Kano said...

Here in the northern hemisphere Ramadan is moving towards the summer. It will be really difficult In few years time when it comes around July/August.

مترجم سوري said...

summer holiday

Anonymous said...

Ramadan Mubarak ya Kano to you and all your readers!

Kano said...

Yeah.. I forgot you teachers and long summer holidays. More like part time jobs :p

Kano said...

and Rmadan Mubarak to you and your family

Anonymous said...

I love the qamar al-deen drink made for iftar by a Palestinian friend in London from sheets of Syrian apricot paste. She serves it thick, with a generous sprinkling of pine nuts.

Kano said...

I am planning to put this as part of my Ramadan special so say no more otherwise people will know how easy it is :)

JuncalP said...

Hi Kano!

Just came back from Damascus today, I really enjoyed Iftar there. Can you recommend any place to have Iftar in London?


Kano said...

welcome to my blog. I am so glad you enjoyed food in Syria.
For Iftar in London try Al Waha restaurant in Notting Hill.

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