Posts Tagged ‘Ramadan’

CultureGrams: Ramadan Recipes


Iftar in Oman

Last week, June 5, was the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month during which observant Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sunset. Meals are eaten in the mornings before the sun rises and in the evenings when it sets. The traditional fast breaking in the evening during Ramadan is called iftar, and Muslims usually gather as friends and family to eat an evening meal. Food is also given to the poor. Although it is a tradition to break the fast with dates, customary foods eaten in the evenings during Ramadan vary by country.

CultureGrams has recipes for some of these typical Ramadan foods, including bourek (stuffed pastry rolls) from Algeria, kunafeh (a dessert) from Egypt, raqaq (a very thin bread) from the United Arab Emirates, and gulha (fried fish balls) from the Maldives.

Another of the CultureGrams Ramadan recipes is for harira (a lentil and chickpea soup). It is the traditional meal eaten in Morocco to break the fast during Ramadan and is usually served with dates, figs, and special sweets called chabakiya.

Check out the CultureGrams recipe for harira below! It’s making us hungry!


1 pound lamb, cut in small pieces
1 small onion, minced
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight (or from a can)
2 pounds canned crushed tomatoes
2 quarts water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
6 to 7 strands saffron (soaked in a few tablespoons of hot water)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 teaspoon ginger
1 cube bouillon (optional)

Other ingredients:
1/3 cup lentils
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup rice
1/4 cup broken up angel hair pasta
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons flour
1 egg


  1. Cook the lentils in salted water. When done, drain them and squeeze the lemon over them. Set aside.
  2. Cook all of the broth ingredients in a soup pot over low heat for 50 to 60 minutes, or enough time to cook the meat and the chickpeas.
  3. Add the rice, pasta, cilantro, and salt. Allow to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Mix the flour with a little water to form a paste and then add this to the soup a little bit at a time; stir constantly to avoid lumps.
  5. Add the lentils and let cook for another 5 minutes. Harira should be creamy but not thick. If it is thick, add water and cook for a few more minutes; if it is too thin, thicken with more flour-and-water paste.
  6. If desired, break an egg into the soup during the last 5 minutes of cooking and mix it well to keep it liquid.
  7. Serve in bowls with lemon wedges on the side for those who want to add it to their soup.
Harira. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Harira. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Ramadan Fun Facts


Ramadan drummers awaken people at the start of the fasting day. Baghdad, Iraq

On 18 June 2015, Muslims all over the world began their month-long fast in observance of the holy Islamic holiday of Ramadan.  While many people know that Ramadan means no eating during the day and large parties at night, some may not know these facts about the special holiday.

1) Ramadan is celebrated on different dates each year.

Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is believed to be when the Quran (Muslim holy book) was reveled to the prophet Muhammed. Like other Islamic holidays, dates are determined by the lunar calendar, which is based on phases of the moon. Each year, Islamic scholars gather to spot the moon that will mark the beginning of Ramadan. Some Muslims don’t agree on the same dates so different sects may start and end their fast on different dates.

2) Speaking of dates….

Dates are traditionally consumed before the fast-breaking meal called iftar, as a way to raise the blood sugar after a long day of fasting. In the Middle East, especially during the month of Ramadan, markets are filled to the brim with different variety of dates.

3) Ramadan is a time of charity.

Ramadan is a time when people are especially charitable. Muslims often donate to charity during this time and local charities host public iftars to feed the poor.

4) Not everyone has to fast.

There are some exceptions to who has to fast. People who are traveling, sick, pregnant, elderly, and very young do not have to take part in the fast. Though fasting is difficult, Muslim look forward to the opportunity to abstain from food and drink, bad language, and other physical excesses and enjoy a time of reflection and peace.

5) Television ratings skyrocket.

Ramadan is a time fro family gatherings and nothing brings the family together better than a religious/historical miniseries. Arabic networks produce special Ramadan shows that attract millions of viewers from across the Muslim world.


Want to learn more about Ramadan traditions and practices? Check out CultureGrams Holiday sections in World and Kids.

Exploring Ramadan


Today marks the first full day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time of both joy and reflection.

RamadanThe act of fasting, or sawn, during the holy month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. Ordained in the Qur’an, the fast is a practice of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a richer perception of God. Fasting is also an exercise in self-control, whereby one’s sensitivity is heightened to the sufferings of the poor. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking, smoking and other sensual pleasures is obligatory from sun up to sun down.

Break the fastMuslims break their fast at sunset with a special meal called iftar. Tarawih, extra congregational prayers, are performed after evening prayer and often the streets fill with activities that are communal and festive.

The end of Ramadan is observed in a spirit of joyous achievement by four days of celebration called Eid Al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast.

eLibrary features a Research Topic page on Ramadan, as well as many other edifying and enlightening resources that explore this holy observance and related concepts.

— J. Erick Sinkhorn