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Why Ramadan is so special to me

Posted on March 26, 2017 |

By: Sahar, Super Taste Tour Guide

Ramadan is here and I am super excited. I’m not excited just because this is the time Muslims are meant to behave even better than usual, to be closer to God. That is a wonderful thing, of course, but I’m also excited because Ramadan is a time of family gatherings, of being extra kind to each other, and a time for extra delicious food. Muslims fast during the day, from sunrise to sunset, but when we eat after sunset, it truly is a feast!

During Ramadan, we usually have two meals each day. First, there is Sohour, eaten around 4:00 am, before sunrise. In our house, it is usually a lighter meal of foule (fava beans), yogurt, green salad and my kids’ favourite sugar cane molasses mixed with tahini. It is so so yummy.

The second meal is called Iftar and it is usually our main meal of the day. We eat Iftar around 5:00 pm in Sydney now because we are currently close to winter and the sun sets around this time. We are the lucky ones to break our fasting earlier.

Let me tell you what my family eats. There is a feast every single day during Ramadan. We break our fast by eating a date. After we eat the date, we usually eat soup, pasta, or rice with chicken or other meat. My kids don’t prefer seafood in Ramadan, like some families do.

I have many good memories of my childhood back in Egypt, where we had so many decorations and lights in the streets. My dad would take us to buy fannous Ramadan (a lantern), and the family had so many gatherings. There was so much laughter and love. The streets were alive with people except for the Iftar hour (after sunset), then everything stops and quietens. Our Christian neighbours would make delicious Kunafa for dessert. It’s delicious — here is a video of how it’s made in Egypt:

 

If you are keen to try to make Kunafa at home, here is a recipe:

Samia Abdennour is the author of “Egyptian Customs and Festivals” (AUC Press, 2007) and “Egyptian Cooking and other Middle Eastern Recipes” (AUC Press, 1984; new spiral edition, 2015), which has been a bestselling cookbook for more than thirty years. In this demo, she shows us how to prepare kunafa, a favorite dessert during Ramadan!

Now let’s talk about Ramadan in Australia!

On the first day of Ramadan, the whole family breaks their fast in our house. We have over 50 people in our house, so I usually cook two days in advance. Sydney is very exciting during Ramadan. Every suburb has a unique way of celebrating.

In Lakemba, Haldon street becomes the hub for every foodie. Starting from 6.00 pm, you can eat your way through Cocos Island Cuisine to Pakistani, Bengali, Indian, Lebanese, and more. You can smell the strong delicious aroma of BBQ camel burgers. You are very welcome to join us on our ‘Ramadan Night Markets‘ Tour to experience this amazing celebration first-hand!

In Merrylands, you can celebrate Ramadan with Turkish, Afghan and Persian street food. You’ll meet lovely and wonderful business owners, and OMG — the sweets and spiced ice-cream you’ll find. Merrylands is a totally fabulous and sweet place to be during Ramadan, so we’d love you to join us on our ‘From Afghanistan to Persia‘ Ramadan Evening Tour!

Lakemba and Merrylands are fantastic and I love them both, but I also have to talk about Greenacre, as it’s my absolute favourite place to be. I call Greenacre ‘Oasis of Sweets’. In my opinion, Greenacre has the best Middle Eastern sweets in Australia. It’s a great place to have a refreshing treat after Iftar from Frozen Dairee or gooey syrupy ladies’ arms from Ablas or Sabbagh. You can try the ‘Arabic Adventure‘ Ramadan Evening Tour in Greenacre.

I’m so glad you’re reading my blog, but you really need to experience Ramadan to understand it better. If you speak to local people, local businesses, hear the stories, taste the food, then it becomes a moving experience. I hope you will come and experience a Ramadan food and culture tour with us. We say Ramadan Kareem which means “Ramadan is generous”. Generous in giving to the poor, and generous in kindness and Love. I hope you will join us and understand the generosity of Ramadan in person! 🙂

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