To most non-Muslims, Ramadan is synonymous with fasting. That’s because most Muslims will fast during the day, and then, pray and sleep at night and before sunrise. So what about food during Ramadan?
Discover more about eating during Ramadan, including popular Ramadan recipes and why they’re specific to the Islamic holy month.
Table of contents
Continue reading to discover more about Ramadan meals including:
- How long is a daily Ramadan fast?
- The different types of Ramadan meals
- Typical Ramadan recipes
- Popular Ramadan meals around the world
How long is a daily Ramadan fast?
Depending on where you are in the world, a day’s fast can last anywhere between 10 and 21 hours. As a rule of thumb, fasting lasts during daylight hours. So for instance, Muslims living in Chile will fast for an average of 11 hours as there’s that many hours of daylight. If you live in a northernmost country like Norway, you’ll usually fast for around 18 hours per day.
Types of Ramadan meals
Eating during Ramadan is usually divided into two meals. There’s the suhoor and the iftar.
Before sunrise, a Muslim will have the suhoor, which is a feast-like meal meant to sustain an appetite for the day. Then after sunset, they’ll have the iftar.
It’s advised to eat the suhoor well before dawn. As the only meal you’ll have for nearly 10 hours, it’s best to have a high-protein meal. You’ll also need to take in as much water as possible.
The iftar is usually broken up into two separate meals. These are “light” iftar before the tarawih prayer and a “large” iftar immediately after.
Ramadan meals for iftar
The reason for a light iftar is three-fold. These reasons are to:
– Signal the end of the fast for the day.
– Replenish the body’s energy levels.
– Help make the tarawih easier.
Typical Muslim prayers involve repetitive bending down, prostrating and standing up. So by eating a light iftar after sunset, it’s more comfortable to pray afterwards.
A good light iftar should provide fluids, be low in fat while containing natural sugar for energy. Below are some examples:
Drinks – A glass of milk, fruit juices or smoothies. Drinks based on milk and fruit provide some natural sugars and nutrients. Water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars.
Dates – a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars, potassium, copper, manganese, and fibre. You could also try other dried fruits such as apricots, figs, raisins or prunes.
Fruit – a traditional way to break the fast in South Asian cultures. Fruit provides natural sugars, fluids and some vitamins and minerals.
Soup – a light way to break the fast and provide fluids. Traditional soups include a meat broth and often contain lentils or beans.
Larger iftar meals vary by culture and tradition. For example, in Nigeria, jollof rice and chicken is a popular iftar meal. Whereas, in the United Arab Emirates, a Harees (a soup made with chicken, beaten wheat, spices and olive oil) is a popular choice.
The quality of your diet is especially important during Ramadan. After a long fast it’s natural to want to treat yourself. But it’s best to keep fatty foods, sweets and energy drinks to a minimum. That’s because you only have a short period each day to provide your body with the nutrients and fluids it needs.
That said, you’ll need a base of starchy foods like potatoes, chapattis, rice, couscous and pasta. These starchy items go well with fruits and vegetables, dairy products like yoghurt and protein such as meat, eggs and beans.
That’s why curries like Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Methi Palak Paneer and Methi Murgh Masala are popular choices during Ramadan.
Kashmiri Dum Aloo ingredients
For a meal for two, you’ll need:
- Half a kilogram (kg) of baby potatoes
- One large onion
- Two medium-sized tomatoes
- One and a half tablespoon (tbsp) of Kashmiri red chilli powder
- A half tbsp of garam masala
- A half tbsp of coriander powder
- A quarter tbsp of cumin powder
- A half tbsp of fennel powder
- On cup of curd or yoghurt
- One tbsp of ginger-garlic paste
- Two tbsp of almond paste
- One tbsp of raisins
- Eight roasted cashews
- Puff pastry
- Two tbsps of fresh cream
- 1 tbsp of minced coriander leaves
How to make Kashmiri Dum Aloo
To prepare a Kashmiri Dum Aloo for two, you’ll need to:
- Wash the baby potatoes under running water and add them to a pressure cooker with enough water. Pressure cook for 1-2 minutes. Make sure not to overcook potatoes, otherwise you end up with mushy potatoes in the gravy.
- Once the pressure settles down, drain the water from the potatoes and leave them to cool. Peel the skin from the potatoes, before frying them out. You can even leave the skin, your choice*.
- Prick the boiled potatoes and sprinkle some salt and set aside. Add oil to a cooking pot and when it heats up, add the potatoes and fry till the outer layer turns crisp and golden brown.
- Drain the potatoes on kitchen tissue and set aside. In the remaining oil, add sliced onions and fry until they are golden brown. Now add sliced tomatoes and fry until they turn soft. Leave the mixture to cool then grind to make a paste. Add two to three tbsps of water if necessary.
- Whisk yoghurt with red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, fennel powder, garam masala and salt.
- In the same pan, add oil and add the ginger-garlic paste and fry until the raw smell disappears. Pour in the onion and tomato paste and then add the whisked yoghurt, spice and masala mix.
- On a medium flame, stir to combine the masala and spice paste and add almond paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Add in fried baby potatoes and raisins. Make sure the potatoes are coated with masala.
- Add half cup of water and cook on low flame by covering it with a lid and sealing the sides with puff pastry for 10-15 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cream, cashews and minced coriander leaves before serving.
The best Ramadan meals for the suhoor
Like the larger iftar meal, a substantial suhoor should centre around a variety of whole grains and starch. So eating a curry early in the morning will help keep you feeling fuller for longer and can aid in digestion.
Because of the time of day, suhoor dishes include more breakfast items like high-fibre cereals. Things like oats, rice pudding, porridge and bircher muesli provide plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals. And because these meals go well with milk, you’ll also get an intake of fluids, calcium, iodine and several b vitamins.
You could experiment with fresh or dried fruit, nuts or seeds as toppings.
If you opt for savoury dishes, then it’s a good idea to avoid salty items like hard cheese or preserved meats. Although salt can enhance the flavour of your dish, it will also make you more thirsty during the fast.
Bircher muesli ingredients
To prepare a bowl of bircher muesli for one you’ll need:
- One apple
- 50 grams of jumbo porridge oats
- 25g mixed seeds (such as sunflower, sesame and linseed)
- 25g mixed nuts (such as Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecans)
- A quarter tbsp of ground cinnamon
- 100g of full-fat natural bio-yoghurt
- One medium-sized banana
- 25g of organic sultanas.
How to prepare bircher muesli for Ramadan
To prepare a bowl of bircher muesli, you need to:
- Put the grated apple in a bowl
- Add the oats, seeds, half the amount of nuts and the cinnamon.
- Toss the items thoroughly
- Stir in the yoghurt and add 100ml cold water
- Cover and chill for several hours or overnight
- In the morning, top the muesli with the sliced banana, sultanas and remaining nuts.
Interested in other holidays in the Islamic calendar? Then learn more about festivals like Eid ul-Fitr, Milad-Un-Nabi and more with Azimo’s helpful guide.
Ramadan meals around the world
Looking for more inspiration this Ramadan? Great. Start off with these popular Ramadan dishes from around the world.
Chakchouka (Algeria, Tunisia and Libya)
A combination of eggs, tomatoes and spices. After the tomatoes, vegetables and spices form a stew, fresh eggs are cracked on top. The dish originated in Tunisia but is popular all over Africa.
Adas (Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan)
A soup prepared with green or brown lentils and consisting of spinach, chard or cardoon, lemon and cumin. An adas soup is best served with pita bread for dipping or za’atar (spiced pita croutons).
A pide is a boat-shaped flatbread made with yeast or wheat flour. Commonly called a Turkish pizza, a pide is best stuffed with feta or mozzarella, meat or vegetables and topped with sesame seeds.
Moroccans traditionally break their fast with harira, a rich brown soup made of lentils, chickpeas, rice, and meat stock. The soup is usually customised depending on taste or dietary requirements.
As dessert made from a fruit mix, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and the native pandanus leaf. Some recipes can include vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Indonesians like to break a fast with a kolak as they believe it gives them an immediate boost of energy.