The Muslim Tradition Of Iftar

Many Muslims look forward to the tradition of breaking fast after sunset during the month of Ramadan. This observance is known as iftar and it is a significant point within the day of fasting. With the Ramadan festival just over, many of us would be with the fasts observed by our Muslim friends. Curbing the appetite can be difficult for many of us, that too for an entire month. The tradition of fasting is practiced by Muslims every year, who believe that fasting purifies the heart and mind while inculcating sense of self-restraint.

Sehri before Iftar

Eid food photo
Happy Ramadhan, Eid Mubarak by Hamed Saber under CC BY 2.0

Before we take a dive into the spread of food items of iftar, it would be worth our while to know about the meals that are consumed before the start of fast which happens before the sunrise.  Both sunrise and sunset times are strictly watched as a mark of when to start a fast and when it should end. The meal before sunrise is known as ‘sehri’ and constitutes dried fruits and nuts or biscuits and tea or porridge. These foods equip the body with the energy required to pass the day until the fast is broken at sunset.

Iftar Feasts

Iftar feasts typically begin with the consumption of dates, traditionally three dates, or water. When this is done, an array of foods are available to tickle your tastebuds, all bursting with an assortment of flavours. They range from rich meat dishes to the sweet delicacies of sherbets, jalebis and other desserts. Haleem is a popular mutton lentil stew in India and usually accompanies Naan or rice.

Mega Iftar 2014-179
Mega Iftar by Puncak Semangat Group under CC BY 2.0

In Mumbai, you’ll find kebabs and tikka sold along Mohammed Ali Road. Vegetarians will not find themselves short of selections either where a vast lineup of sweet treats is available here for their indulgence. Aromatic biryanis are another favourite among diners. Served with eggs and potatoes, these soul-satisfying meals provide you with a much-deserved replenishment. If you happen to be in Bengaluru, Mosque Road offers tasty kheema rolls, bheja fry puffs and sheikh kebabs. Other popular areas here include Shivajinagar where you’ll find kheema samosas and lassi stalls to try.

Iftar Traditions, Back in the Day

Lavish dinners and celebrations weren’t always the tradition of iftars. Back in the day, families weren’t able to afford rich meals. Following a simple consumption of three dates, a healthy meal together with family would ensue. A notable trait of iftar is that is always carried out as a community where the fast is usually broken together with family and friends.  In olden times, communities were much stronger, accompanied with a high spirit of sharing and socialising. The kitchen was a communal spot where women got together to prepare meals leading towards Ramadan where sweets and cooking would always be shared across the neighbourhood. There was also minimal wastage of food during this time.

As we’ve come through the times, the traditions of fasting and the spirit of Ramadan continue to remain strong. If you do pay India a visit during the Ramadan season, be sure to soak yourself into the traditions of the season and dip your tastebuds in the sumptuous delicacies of its festivities.

Featured Photo: Eid New Moon by Gabby Canonizado 02 (New account) under CC BY 2.0

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