Stories and recipes around Iftar and what it means to eat together

Seeing families come together over food is what inspires us to keep doing what we do. Because, no matter how you choose to embrace it, connecting over home cooked food bares similarities for all of us. For the many Muslim members of our community the fasting period of Ramadan sees families and groups of friends coming together each evening for Iftar to break their fast. We asked some of the women in our community to open their homes to us and share with us what eating together as a family is about for them. There are their stories and favourite Iftar recipes.

Safeera on special treats at Iftar

“Iftar is so much fun in our home. I usually prepare light finger foods, soup and occasionally a sweet treat. My little boy, Umair, helps in the kitchen and we get plates ready to send to family. The last few minutes before sunset are spent in prayer before opening the fast with dates and water.

Safeera's-family-at-Iftar

“I come from a big family and Iftar is usually a flurry of activity back home, because each person is very specific about what they eat. We loved fasting from a very young age because my mom would go out of her way to make us special treats for Iftar. Ramadan is just as special in my own home with my little family, but I do get very nostalgic, so I usually make those special treats my mom used to prepare. Below is a recipe for my gran’s decadent milkshake.” – Safeera Kaka (@safeerakaka)


Fehmida on togetherness and home

“My family is big, we are 5 siblings, 4 of whom are married so that leaves quite a big get-together when my parents have us over. In fact, whenever an Iftar invite goes out, it’s always quite a few people who are called over. Ramadan is the month of fasting, yes, but it’s also the month of giving.  Our hearts and hands open widely, we love to invite people over because the reward to feed a fasting person is tremendous.

To have the honour of having guests over for Iftar is heartwarming. The meeting of family and friends around the table is a time to remember our blessings and for my family, it’s a time to be with others and connect.

In the hub-bub of life, the specific set time for the Iftar meal gives us almost a pole to gravitate towards, Iftar becomes a time when we all prepare together to ensure that we are done before the time for breaking fast has arrived, we become a unit all working towards this means. We sit together, we pray together, we share and laugh together. It’s this inner contentedness that comes about as we reconnect with each other and with our religion.

When we join my entire family, the dining table is never without debate, laughs, stories, advice and daily happenings. It’s home.” – Fehmida Jordaan (@fehmz)


Yasmin on reconnecting and healthy meal planning

“As the sun sets on another Winter’s day, my family eagerly anticipate an invitation to the special meal of Iftar – a peaceful time when we reflect on our thoughts and activities of the day and partake in a home cooked, delicious meal. Menu planning for Iftar begins as the month of Ramadan approaches. It’s important to put together a well-balanced and nutritional spread at Iftar after a day of fasting. This often involves making wise food choices for my family and to allow them to feel healthier and fulfilled.

Yasmin-Kharwa

Photo credited to Yaseen Khan

Having the family together for Iftar means being able to enjoy the presence of those around you, while nourishing yourself with food prepared with love and care.

An all-time family favourite is my Middle Eastern mezze platter to share. Having lived in Dubai for a few years, this type of cuisine has become popular in my home. I love the versatility of Middle Eastern food and the depth of flavours. Most recipes are easy to make and the spices can be found locally or online.” – Yasmin Kharwa (@walnutpesto)


Fadheelah on connection and giving

“Where I live, old traditions are still very much alive. It is the type of community, where every Ramadan neighbours send you decadent homemade goods that make you forget about the new Banting diet you started only last week! Treats like baked banana fritters topped with whipped cream, spicy chilli bites or samosas and mini pies filled with mince or chicken. Growing up, I remember anticipating the call to pray signalling time to break our fast.

My family and I would gather around the dinner table, eat a date and have a glass of water before indulging in the savouries and desserts. This would be accompanied by laughter and lively conversations.

As much as I cherish these Iftar moments with my family, I also take this period of fasting to reflect, this month I learnt that Iftar is about more than feasting, but rather it is a time for connection, spirituality and giving – the delicacies are just the bonus. As a foodie I enjoy experimenting with different flavours. My take on a succulent sosatie chops is definitely my favourite.” – Fadheelah Behardien (@fadzonair)

Iftar-meal-and-prayer


Rabia on cohesian within the kitchen

“Ramadan is a month of sacrifice and moderation with excess deemed futile since our challenge for this month is to control our appetites, both physical and emotional. My meals are always simple, with effort focused on filling our bodies with nutritious foods brimming with veg and fruit and less deep fried, sugar, high sodium or dairy foods. When we have family over we bend the rules slightly, to keep everyone happy.

Rabia-Adams-iftar

“While the men in our family break their fast in congregation at a mosque, the ladies break their fast together, perform their prayers and are hands on in the kitchen to dish up dinner as the men walk through the door. There is always a race to have it all spread out just at that last moment. There’s laughter because of the adrenaline, and someone is always yelling for the little ones to move out the way of hot vessels destined for the dinner table. Any outsider would swear we were a big, fat Greek family.

The feeling is amazing, my sisters and I always working in cohesion to keep our families happy, the husbands and kids start to gather around the table, everyone digging in to what whets their appetites.” – Rabia Adams (@rabiaadam)


naQiah on honouring family recipes

“For me, food and family are intimately connected; a deep-rooting which celebrates the heritage of food. I like to honour this heritage by preserving the classic recipes that have been handed down to me from my mother, my grandmother and my mother-in-law to guide my style of cooking.

It helps to nurture the relationships that we have with our family and friends, and in sharing a meal, it creates a memory that we attach to that occasion.

I like to include a soup in our meal plan especially with the weather being cooler. I rarely make desserts, but I do reserve my favourites during this month and prepare them occasionally.” – naQiah Mayat (@naqiyah_mayat)

 

Thanks to these lovely women who took the time to share their family stories, traditions and recipes with us.