Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims worldwide would engage in fasting from dawn to sunset. I often get non Muslims asking me as to what we can actually eat or drink during the fast. I do know that there are certain religions that allow light food to be taken during a fast. Personally I am curious by nature and I too would always have questions for my non Muslim friends with regards to their religion, festivals and practices. I believe that everyone should have the basic general knowledge on other religions/races and despite the differences, we should always respect them.
When I decided to write an article about Ramadan Meal Planning and Recipes, I also wanted to include some basic information regarding Ramadan itself on-top of sharing recipes. In Islam, when we are fasting, we do not consume anything, not even water. The month of Ramadan is all about strengthening one’s faith, thinking of those less fortunate than us, and refraining from food and drink during the daytime for a month.
Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?
The month of Ramadan is all about strengthening one’s faith, thinking of those less fortunate than us, and refraining from food and drink during the daytime for a month. Fasting is believed to purify the heart from selfishness and greed it also helps us to understand the plight of those who lack life’s basic amenities. It makes us understand the plight of the poor ones who are not able to get food for the whole day. but since this is mostly for the general knowledge of the non Muslims, I kept it simple.
Benefits of fasting:
It has also been noted by medical experts that fasting improves the physical health in numerous ways. For example, during the fast the body uses up stored cholesterol/fat that is often deposited in the blood system, as well as in other fatty areas of the body. During Ramadan, acts of charity are also central to the observance of Ramadan. Many people give the mandatory charity required of Muslims during this month so the needy can also break their fast with nutritious food.
The pre-dawn meal before the fast is called the suhoor, while the meal at sunset that breaks the fast is the iftar. In the evening, dates are usually the first food to break the fast. It is not mandatory but it is a common practice. Dates are an excellent source of fiber, sugar, magnesium, potassium and have carbohydrates which will aid the body in maintaining health during Ramadan. The carbohydrates found in dates also make the fruit a slower digesting food which is perfect for Ramadan. I do tend to stock up more milk during Ramadan. Whenever someone in the family does not feel like eating for suhoor, he or she would just have a glass of milk or a date shake. Every Ramadan, I would prepare Date milkshakes often. It is not just delicious but it is also a rich source of protein, fiber and rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B5, Vitamin A1 and C. It is perfect for those who are not used to eating for suhoor. There are many ways to make a date milkshake but I am including a really basic recipe. Delicious and dead simple.
- 20 dates - stoned
- 500 ml milk
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Place the dates and milk in a blender/liquidizer and blend until smooth.
- Add the ice cubes and whiz again.
- Pour into glasses and serve.
Ramadan is a busy period for most of us, especially the women in the family. It is a common practice to spring clean the house to usher in Ramadan. There would also be the tarawih. Tarawih is the prayer performed by Muslims at nights of Ramadan which is mostly being done at the mosque. Besides making preparations for Eid, the women in the family would also be busy preparing food for suhoor and iftar, thus it would usually means extra cooking for most of us. Ramadan is also a time where a lot of us would invite friends and relatives over for Iftar get-together as it is also a blessing to feed a fasting person other than yourself and your family. All this would require proper organizing and therefore planning is VERY important during Ramadan.
ORGANIZING should start a few days or even 1 week before Ramadan.
- Start clearing your pantry. Make a list of the general groceries that you need.
- Make a list of your suhoor and Iftar menus. I would normally make a two week plan for the meals. You can make another new menu for the next two weeks later or repeat the previous menu.
- Groceries shopping. Make sure you have all the spices, herbs on hand. Having all the ingredients makes cooking a whole lot easier and stress free.
- Proportion the ingredients that are to be kept in the freezer. If you have bought 2 kg of prawns and are planning to use only 0.5 kg at a time, pack the 2kg of prawns into bags of 4. This way,you would only defrost what is needed.
Certain ingredients are being used day in, day out. A good example would be garlic. Many recipes, ask for chopped garlic/garlic paste. These can be made in bulk. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container and this would be good for up to ten days. In the freezer, you can easily keep it for a month or more.
- Peel the garlic.
- Wash and place the garlic in a food processor.
- Put them in a blender and add just a little water. You can also use oil. (I use water most of the time)
- Blend till smooth and place in an airtight container. store in the fridge or the freezer.
The same method can be used for ginger and onion.
For this special period of Ramadan, since we do tend to do more cooking and many a times, we would run out of ideas as to what we should cook. I thought that I should share some recipes that would be appropriate for Ramadan. Most of the recipes are suitable for Suhoor, Iftar or even both. Hopefully the recipes below would be beneficial for all of you.
To all Muslims out there, have a blessed Ramadan. Remember to drink lots of water and have plenty of fruits. May this Ramadan bring you the
good health, utmost peace and prosperity.
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