September 18, 2021

rubbedindetroit

Qualified food specialists

Cooking for Ramadan? We have recipes!

6 min read

Ramadan, which will begin in the United States on April 12 this year, is the Islamic holy month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Before dawn, there is a meal called sahur, which typically consists of foods that will sustain one throughout the day. After sundown is a meal called iftar, often a feast with a full-course meal of soup, salads, appetizers, main course and, of course, sweets. While this is the norm, some observers eat lightly for iftar and enjoy a larger meal at sahur.

In some communities, Ramadan meals have become lavish feasts, though more modest meals are also customary. The specific foods and dishes consumed at both meals vary based on locality, culinary preferences and seasonality, as Ramadan can fall in any season of the year because it is charted on the lunar calendar to which Islam adheres, which is not in sync with the Gregorian solar calendar. Still, there are many common culinary threads. Whether cooking for elaborate feasts or for more intimate gatherings, any of these recipes will please your guests.

In many cultures, once the sun has set, breaking the fast begins with a few sips of water and some dates or fresh fruit. Soup is often served at iftar: a humble bowl of lentil soup might be a starter while a more hearty soup like kibbeh bi’kizabrath (cilantro-tomato soup with Syrian meatballs) could be the whole meal.

Throughout the Middle East, there will usually be an array of mezze covering the table. Salads and appetizers can include eggplant preparations — in that region, they say a girl is ready for marriage when she can make a different eggplant dish for each day of the year) — perhaps roasted and garnished with walnuts, flavored with lemon and garlic or pan-fried and marinated in a honey sauce. The bread salad, fattoush, is a popular dish as are stuffed grape leaves, samosas and tahini-rich hummus, which may get scooped up with fresh pita or mana’esh.

In many cultures, the main meal often includes hearty rice dishes like muceddere, studded with lentils and chickpeas, fragrant with cumin. There is usually at least one grilled or roasted meat dishes like roasted lamb shoulder on a bed of jeweled rice or grilled chicken kebabs. Savory stews like sumaqqiyeh (oxtail stew), ingriyi (sweet and sour lamb) as well as tagines are also quite popular.

Fruit will often follow a big meal, freshly pared and cut to be eaten as-is or in preparations such as a sweet melon with rosewater granita or a more savory watermelon and feta salad. Desserts are likely to include sweets such as crispy, nutty baklava, milky gullac or knafeh nabulseyeh — layers of shredded filo (kataifi) and a white sweet cheese drizzled with orange blossom water.

And so it goes for the entire month of Ramadan: Fast, feast, repeat. Ramadan culminates in the three-day feast of Eid al-Fitr, after which the fasting and the feasting finally come to an end. Until next year.

Spiked with garlic and lemon and fork-whisked to creaminess, this flame-roasted eggplant spread is an ethereal kind of baba ghanouj.


Time
50 minutes


Yields
Makes about 2 cups

This Turkish recipe is from Paula Wolfert’s book, “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen,” published by Wiley. Wolfert notes that the slower the grilling, the smokier the flavor of the eggplant. She thanks Dr. Ayse Baysal for sharing the recipe.


Time
1 hour 10 minutes


Yields
Serves 6

Chefs Or Amsalam and Alexander Phaneuf of cult hummus joint Hasiba serve a must-order marinated eggplant that you can now make at home.


Time
45 minutes


Yields
Serves 8 to 10

“Fatta” means torn to pieces, which is what you do with stale pita bread before toasting and tossing the pieces with fresh vegetables and greens dressed with lemon and olive oil.


Time
40 minutes


Yields
Serves 4 to 6

What makes this hummus is that it’s very tehina-rich.


Time
2 hours 15 minutes


Yields
Makes a generous 3 cups hummus

Aunt Mary’s yalanchi (stuffed grape leaves) are filled with rice, herbs and pine nuts in classic Armenian fashion.


Time
2 hours


Yields
Makes about 5 dozen yalanchi

The ground lamb with peas is a delicious, delicate filling and the dough recipe, made with clarified butter, is simple to prepare.


Time
3 hours 20 minutes


Yields
Makes 24 samosas

Here is a California version of this Middle Eastern staple featuring whole-grain flour, cracked wheat, good olive oil and the fresh herb za’atar.


Time
35 minutes


Yields
Makes 8 (6- to 7-inch) flatbreads

This is bread that is built with a percentage of whole grain flour and left to proof overnight. It has flavor and structure and heft and can hold up to the glories packed inside.


Time
40 minutes


Yields
Makes one dozen pitas

Whole wheat dough speckled with dates and caramelized onions bakes into a chewy flatbread, delicious as is or slathered with a dollop of farmer cheese or thick, garlicky hummus.


Time
3 hours 15 minutes


Yields
Makes 2 (14-inch) oval flatbreads, about 16 slices

The earthiness of the lentils is perfectly accented by the deeply browned meats.


Time
1 hour 30 minutes


Yields
Serves 8 to 10

This north Syrian dish of tomato soup with kibbeh meatballs is fragrant with allspice and fresh cilantro.


Time
1 hour 45 minutes


Yields
Serves 8

The lamb shoulder is marinated in yogurt and garlic before it is roasted and served on a bed of rice, redolent with rose water and Middle Eastern spices.


Time
4 hours


Yields
Serves 6 to 8

Mansaf, a feast dish of lamb in yogurt sauce atop flatbread and a bed of rice, is known as the national dish of Jordan. It is also beloved in Palestine.


Time
2 hours


Yields
Serves 6

Spiced roasted chicken is served with maftoul, the Palestinian cousin to couscous,.


Time
1 hour 30 minutes


Yields
Serves 4 generously

Making this melt-in-your-mouth lamb tagine conjures up the special, almost mystical quality of Moroccan tagines — fresh produce and succulent meat served in a rich, unctuous sauce.


Time
3 hours 45 minutes


Yields
Serves 4 to 6

This flavorful Turkish rice dish is made with chickpeas, lentils and orzo pasta in addition to rice.


Time
1 hour 30 minutes


Yields
Serves 4 to 6

A variation of the Persian chelo kebab unique to the Caspian Sea region, here beef fillet is marinated in pomegranate and onion juices and finely ground walnuts and then grilled.


Time
30 minutes


Yields
Serves 6

This spicy oxtail stew is rich with tahini and chickpeas and gets freshness from chard and chiles.


Time
5 hours


Yields
Serves 4 generously

Dried limes, which have long been a staple of Persian cooking, impart to these tender, juicy kebabs a special, very distinctive tangy and earthy flavor.


Time
1 hour 10 minutes, plus overnight marinating


Yields
Serves 6 to 8

Each bite of this Iraqi stew is a collage of tender lamb, silky eggplant and jammy tomato, brightened by deliciously tamarind-fruity juices.


Time
3 hours 10 minutes


Yields
Serves 8 or more

Shredded filo pastry filled with cheese, baked until deeply golden; drizzled with simple syrup; sprinkled with pistachios.


Yields
Makes 15 pieces. Serves 6 to 8.

Ramadan is unthinkable without baklava — crispy pastry layered with ground nuts and saturated with a sweet, lemon-tinged syrup.


Time
2 hours 30 minutes


Yields
Makes about 3 dozen pieces

Ramadan is unthinkable without gullac, a pudding made of thin crepes soaked in sweetened milk or syrup flavored with rose water and stuffed or layered with ground nuts.


Time
40 minutes


Yields
Serves 6

Medjool dates are large and meltingly sweet. Use three contrasting mixtures to stuff the dates — blue cheese-almond, goat cheese-Grand Marnier-chocolate, and marzipan-pistachio.


Time
10 minutes


Yields
Serves 4

This dessert is as simple as it gets. If you don’t like rosewater, leave it out, but do use vanilla extract or orange blossom water instead.


Time
15 minutes, plus 4 hours’ freezing time


Yields
Serves 8

Watermelon is so explosively juicy and sweet that you can add all kinds of big tastes — salty feta, jalapenos, toasted cumin, lime, fresh mint — without overwhelming it.


Time
20 minutes


Yields
Serves 4 to 6

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