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Iftar: The evening meal to break the fast during Ramadan
By:Sarah Ali <info@sarahali.us>

During Ramadan Muslims strive more in their faith. They begin the morning waking up before sunrise to eat a meal. It can be quite early in the morning. For example, 3 am this year in Saudi Arabia. It depends on the country as prayer timings vary across the world. This early meal is called, “suhoor”. Many people drink water and dates and a heavy meal to last them through the day. In Saudi Arabia they may eat “jareesh” a wheat and yoghurt dish or “kabsa” which is chicken and rice. In the Emirates they eat a wheat dish called, “harees” which is somewhat similar to the Saudi version. Many Muslims may have a moment during Ramadan when they don’t wake up early enough and miss the opportunity to eat or may have five minutes to gulp down a meal.

Iftar is a time when everyone sits together and eats the evening meal after going the whole day without eating or drinking water. Often this experience is communal and shared either at a mosque or with family. Many Muslims eat dates to break their fast and some water. Also, people miss their caffeine so a cup of tea or coffee is common. The Iftar time today happens to be 6:42, so Muslims in Saudi Arabia will break fast at this time. This time may very slightly depending on the city.

Sometimes people break their fasts with a large meal and sometimes with a light meal like soup. In the Gulf, people usually eat a light meal first, then a heavier one in the later hours. The work schedule is relaxed so people may have an extra hour to sleep in. My students shared with me what they like to eat for Ramadan meals and many unanimously said, “Qeymat” or dumplings. They originate in Germany and basically are fried dough with some honey on them. They are delicious but not very healthy.

Samosas are also very popular in the Gulf during Ramadan. I have seen them sold in Oman, The Emirates and Saudi Arabia. They are a small triangular pastry filled with cheese or meat. They can be spicy. In the picture below is an “Iftar” meal. This one is light and somewhat healthy with chopped fruit, salad, tea, dates and samosas. On the plate is a circular piece of bread with black sesame seeds in it. This is piece fried Yemeni bread, great for stuffing with cheese or eggs.

After eating a few bites of iftar some people may pray the sunset prayer or wait until they finish the meal. Later on there is a special long prayer at the mosque called, “taraweeh”.

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