Ramadan is once again upon us and we are as excited as ever for the festive, holiday season! During the ninth month of the Hijri Calendar, there are several traditions that happen all around the world that you may or may not know about. Of course, most of it involves food which is why we love these traditions all the more.
Let’s journey around the world and discover some of these beautiful and delicious worldly Ramadan traditions!
Indonesia – Padusan Ritual & Opor Ayam
The world’s largest Muslim population has many traditions before, during and after Ramadan. A prominent ritual before Ramadan is padusan, the spiritual and physical practice of cleansing one’s self. Many believers head to holy wells or springs to bathe from these waters as part of padusan.
During the feast to end Ramadan and welcome Eid El Fitr, the dish to be had is opor ayam. Opor ayam is a curry chicken dish originating from the central Java islands, with side dishes such as chili fried potatoes. What makes this dish perfect are the fresh spices slightly roasted in a saucepan before they are cooked with the lemon marinated chicken to serve up a bowl of opor ayam.
Egypt – Lanterns & Qatayef
Fanous, lantern in Arabic, have been part of Egypt’s Ramadan traditions since 960. Prominent Islamic scholars and leaders coming into Cairo were received with decorative lanterns. As it carries such significance, lanterns are now the heart of the Ramadan decorating tradition as well as the best Ramadan gift.
The sweet served in almost every Egyptian home after iftar is a platter of qatayef. Think of qatayef as sweet dumplings, starting off as a small pancake of sorts. Once cooled, it’s then stuffed with either sweet cheese or mixed nuts (or both!), folded and sealed. Then each is fried until golden brown, topped with light syrup, hint of rose water or sometimes garnished with nuts.
Comoros – Bangwé Gatherings & Couscouma
A huge Ramadan tradition in Comoros is the gathering of loved ones in worship and celebration. After breaking fast with something light, people gather in public places called bangwé to greet and socialize before heading together to nearby mosques for prayers. Once prayers are done, many gather in their respective homes or where they’ve been invited to for a proper iftar feast.
Iftar feasts entail anything from grilled manioc, fishes to fried bananas and couscouma. Extremely popular in Ramadan, couscouma is a thyme and butter chapati like bread, extremely thin and light. After kneading the ingredients together into a dough, it’s immediately divided into small pieces, each rolled out thinly and pan fried. Crispy yet soft, this savory treat is served with sweat tea.
Iraq – The Ring Game and Juices
Ramadan in Iraq can be fun and games with the popular La’bat Elhalaqa, Arabic for The Ring Game. The object of the game is to guess who in the opposing team is hiding the rings. First, start with two teams of up to ten or even 20 people. Each team then has a few rings that are hidden amongst themselves. The team that guesses the players of the opposing team’s “ring holders” wins.
It’s all about the juices for Iraqis during iftar! At times, they stock up on bottles of juices depending on the season as well as any long lasting fruits to make fresh juices at home. Some popular juice shops have been open for over 50 years with Ramadan being their busiest season. Pomegranate, grape, lemon, apricot and date juices are favorites – all having great health benefits and taste.
Maldives – Raivaru and Tuna Fish
During the holiday season, there are many poets who will recite Ramadan raivarus, an ancient Maldivian form of poetry, almost song-like, with rhythm, some rhyming and at least three to six lines. There are competitions held for the best written and recited raivarus.
But before they recite any raivarus, they must first break their fast. The top local tuna dishes to be had during iftar would be gulha and kulhi boakibaa. Gulha, or fish balls, is a mixture of tuna, coconut, onions and other seasonings mixed together before being stuffed into a light flour dough and deep fried. Kulhi boakibaa, or fish cakes, is a thick paste mixture made of tuna, coconut, rice and other ingredients. Then it’s baked until lightly brown and cut into squares for all to enjoy.
Qatar – Garangao & Harees
Around the 15th day of Ramadan is the fun garangao, the tradition of rewarding children for their fasting efforts. Expect to see children dressed in their finest national dress as they go around their neighborhood collecting sweets and nuts. This tradition dates back many decades when children were treated with ingredients to make the Ramadan staple dish, harees.
Harees, one of Qatar’s favorite food, dating back to the 10th century with historical references to Prophet Mohammed’s (pbuh) dining habits, making harees an important dish during Ramadan. Thicker than soup but lighter than stew, it’s the perfect way to start your iftar after a long day of fasting.
The World – Dates & Milk
It’s understood that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) taught Muslims to break their fast with dates and milk. This is part spiritual and part health related. The spiritual being to follow or keep alive the traditions the Prophet practiced, which is in keeping with a month that celebrates him receiving the Holy Quran. Health wise, dates and milk have just the right amount of natural sugars and vitamins to give your body a good energy boost. Those in dates travel to your liver and digestive tract faster than most other similar fruits which help to restart the digestive process. It’s advised that you break your fast with dates and milk, perform maghrib or sunset prayers before you start feasting.
What are your Ramadan traditions? Did we entice you to try any of these worldly Ramadan dishes? Download the Zomato app, search for these dishes and celebrate with us!
Powered by Zomato Qatar, this article is from BQ Plus’s Issue 11 – May-June 2017.
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