Many of you, my wonderful readers and followers asked me about Ramadan and requested that I share a little more about the holy month, the fasting, decorations and street life in this month and of course the food usually served in Ramadan.
Ramadan is the month in which muslims around the world fast from dawn till sunset . The fast means no eating and no drinking throughout the day but that is not all. Fasting means that the whole of you, body and soul is fasting. Your hands are fasting, you can’t do harm or steal or hurt others. Your eyes are fasting, you are not allowed to watch anything inappropriate. Your tongue is fasting, you are not allowed to lie or gossip. You see, Ramadan is meant to teach you that you are in control, you can control your hunger, thirst along with your anger, desires and everything that you are. Observing Ramadan is a spiritual and moral boot camp if you will. Fasting teaches you that if you set your mind to it, you can do anything.
On a human level, fasting is meant to give you a deeper sense of compassion with those less fortunate. We fast from dawn till sunset but as the sun goes down we are allowed to eat and drink as we will. There are those in the worlds who experience the hunger but don’t have any food to break their fast. They feel thirsty but have to walk for miles to get a drink of water. Fasting sort of lets you walk a day in their shoes and that should motivate you to do something to help them and in the process feel grateful for the blessings you have.
If you were ever to visit Amman in Ramadan, you will see streets, malls and homes decorated with lanterns and crescents. Those decorations are particularly beautiful to watch at night.
Shops stock up on decorations,spices, dates and nuts. Markets fill with people buying supplies, decorations and new cloths for Ramadan and Eid. Families gather around the iftar (break fast) table and Mosques are filled with people praying. Ramadan is a wonderful month of worship and reconnection with friends and family. There is something about fasting at the same time, praying at the same time and gathering around the same table to break the fast every day that brings people closer together.
After fasting for 16 hours in this hot summer weather, the first thing that comes to mind is water and drinks. So I thought that would be the perfect to start our introduction to the recipes popular in Ramadan. The iftar menu in Ramadan has a variety of drinks ranging from the traditional like the sweet tamarind and qamar el deen drinks I am sharing with you today to various fruit cocktails, iced tea and soda.
First off is my favorite ramadan drink, the pairing of sweet and sour is so refreshing, add some rosewater and the aroma alone is enough to make you feel revivied
Sweet tamarind drink
1 package Tamarind (200 grams)
1 liter water
Sugar to taste
Break apart the tamarind into small segments
Place it in a pot, add the water and 2/3 cup of sugar.
Bring the water to a boil over medium heat then lower the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow the mix to cool for 15 minutes.
Strain the tamarind mix through a fabric with fine weave or some coffee filters.
Taste the drink and adjust the sugar to your liking
Cool the drink in the fridge.
Add the rosewater right before serving
Qamar il deen is another traditional ramadan drink made from apricot fruit leather that is soaked in water. The drink is thick , rich and aromatic due to the addition of rosewater. The blend makes for a dose of refreshment after a long day and that is why it is usually served at the beginning of iftar. Now if you are not very fond of sweet and rich drinks, you can still enjoy the refreshing flavors in Qamar el deen by using it as the liquid to dunk the lady finger biscuits to make this cake. Or use it instead of orange juice in this layered rice pudding.
Qamar el deen drink
1 package qamar el deen (apricot fruit leather)
1 liter water
Sugar to taste
1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
Start by cutting the fruit leather into small pieces
Place the qamar el deen fruit leather in a bowl, add the water and soak over night or for 4-5 hours during the day stirring every hour or so.
Noe to ensure all the pieces have dissolved I usually pulse the water and qamar deen mix after soaking in the food processor
Taste and adjust sugar to taste
refrigerate and enjoy