“Ramadan is, in its essence, a month of humanist spirituality,” observes Swiss philosopher Tariq Ramadan.
Ramadan or Ramzan is marked with unique rituals and commemorates Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation of the holy book of Quran. During the month-long event, practising Muslims observe abstinence from food and water from dawn till dusk and break their fast in the evening with a communal meal called Iftar.
Iftar fare includes food exclusively prepared for the occasion. Organised either within one’s home or in a public space, it is a time for grand eating and merrymaking.
Sweet and chewy, dates are considered an important part of any Iftar meal. Typically, those observing Ramzan break their fast in the evening with water and dates. Rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, and natural sugars, they boost energy levels.
Badam or almond milk is a healthy and refreshing beverage relished during Iftar. This popular drink is usually consumed chilled and can be prepared at home easily. Just soak almonds overnight then blend them in a grinder with milk and sugar/honey. Those with lactose intolerance can use soy milk instead.
Mathri is a popular namkeen, generally consumed with tea or coffee. It is a popular snack during Iftar and can be paired with a variety of chutney and other condiments.
The humble samosa has gained popularity worldwide for its crisp exterior and delicious filling. A favourite at Iftar celebrations, it can be made with different stuffings, including chicken.
No Iftar meal is complete without kebabs made with grilled minced meat. Such parties usually serve an assorted platter and it forms a major part of the meal. While most kebabs are meat-based, vegetarians can enjoy variations made with vegetables or paneer.
Fruits too are an important part of Iftar. Fresh seasonal offerings such as mangoes, watermelon, muskmelon, and plums can be served as they are or as fruit chaat/salad. There are many varieties available of the same fruit — Dasheri from Malihabad, Banarasi Langra from Banaras, and Banganpalli from Rayalaseema are among the most popular mangoes.
Anjeer barfi/katli is a healthy sweet, containing vital nutrients such as vitamins A, B1 and B2, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. A favorite among kids and adults, it helps limit the consumption of simple sugar in one’s diet.
Nan khatai is a perennially popular shortbread biscuit/cookie in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and North-east Iran. It makes for a delicious tea-time snack and tastes even more special when smeared with jam.
Another alternative to conventional sweets are those made with dry fruits – healthy and easy to digest. There is a mind-boggling array of these available both online and at sweet shops. The former also offers consumable items such as namkeen, chocolates, bakery items, and more in one place – so that you can easily stock up your pantry for Ramadan without having to step out.