Ramadan is a special time of the year for so many Muslim families around the world. During the holy month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset every day. It is a month focused on spiritual growth, community, and charity and after a long day of fasting, we break the fast at sunset with a delicious meal called iftar.
The iftar table is different for every family and the spreads are as diverse as there are cultures around the world. Growing up, you could say that I lived in a true foodie household. We always made special meals, whether we were entertaining or just eating together for dinner. As a result, on my own family’s iftar table, we usually have a delicious spread of West African and East African dishes that expresses my love of food and culture. I think this cultural mix makes for a special meal every day.
On my blog, In a foodie’s kitchen, I share the latest from my kitchen, so I’m excited to share my top five iftar essentials with you. Give them a try whether you’re also fasting for Ramadan or you’re just looking for a new recipe to add your weekly menu.
A good fruit platter is essential on our table because we aim for hydration after a long day of fasting. As we are entering the warmer months of the year you will find seasonal fruits like strawberries, watermelons, and blueberries on our table. Fruits are refreshing and we snack on them all evening long.
A good warm porridge is light and warm to open the fast. You can make porridge with millet flour, cornflour, or other preferred flours but I personally love making porridge with fonio grain or flour. It is easy and fast to put together, with no compromise on taste. This fonio grain porridge is my all-time favorite recipe because you can have it warm or cold, and it also makes for a simple and delicious dessert.
Lentil soup is another favorite in my household to enjoy during iftar. It’s usually made with a base of red split lentils, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and other veggies I have on hand. I have made it with carrots and zucchini, or simply potatoes. This is an easy way to pack some veggies in a meal and refuel after the fast with healthy, satisfying ingredients.
In Senegal where I’m from, you will always find beignets on an iftar table. We also make these at the beginning of Ramadan to share with family and friends to welcome the blessed month. These fried dough balls are often made of millet flour or all-purpose flour which is more commonly found in North America. One of my favorite recipes is for beignets made with coconut milk and nutmeg because they’re delicious with a side of warm tea or with some porridge.
Samosas are the ultimate Ramadan treat. The special smell of them frying is now a part of what makes this time of the year so special for my family as we gather at the end of the day to break our fast. These are essential in an East African iftar table so it is always present on ours. You can make them with a vegetarian filling like potatoes and peas or do it the way I do with a ground beef mixture. My secret to making amazing samosas is to add grated carrots and zucchini to the ground beef along with delicious spices for a guilt-free treat.
These meals are part of my family’s iftar essentials as you can always find a combination of most of these meals on our table during the whole month of Ramadan. Head over to my blog to get more recipes or follow me on Instagram for a deeper look into my kitchen!