The Foods of Ramadan

During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observants fast and abstain from some other specific activities, from sunrise through sunset. All practicing adults must avoid all food and drink during that time, except small children, the elderly, sick, or mentally ill people. Pregnant and nursing women don't have to fast, but many who don't perform good works or feed the hungry during Ramadan to observe the holiday. Below, here are some foods enjoyed during the meal before sunrise, called suhoor, and the meal celebrated after sunset, or iftar.

  • 01 of 15

    Pide Bread

    Turkish pide bread

    Photo © lois.slokoski.photography_Getty Images

    Many cultures bring their own foods to their Ramadan celebrations, which notably includes Turkish pide bread. This soft, leavened, hand-shaped bread goes wonderfully alongside the rest of the iftar, or evening meal. Bake it fresh and hot at home for Ramadan, or any time of year.

  • 02 of 15

    Fattoush Salad

    Fattoush Salad. Photo © Molly Watson

    Many people keep their Ramadan meals light and hydrating, especially if it's warm out. A fresh, vegetable-forward fattoush salad hits all of those notes. The Middle Eastern answer to panzanella, fattoush uses pita instead of crusty bread, tossed in a lemon and olive oil dressing with vegetables like romaine lettuce, green pepper, tomato, and cucumber. Add a little sour sumac for a unique, authentic taste.

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    Ful Medammes

    Fresh Fava Ful. Photo © Molly Watson

    Protein-rich fava beans mashed with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini makes the hummus-like fuul medammes, a delicious iftar or suhoor dish. It tastes great as a dip with warm pita bread, spread on a bit of crusty bread, or with water-rich crudités like cucumber, radishes, or carrot sticks. Pass it down the table in a shallow dish, to encourage sharing among family and friends.

  • 04 of 15

    Moroccan Chorba

    Classic Moroccan Harira

    This Moroccan comfort food soup will help satiate Ramadan observers, since it uses nutrient-rich potatoes, parsnips, chickpeas, and lamb chops or other stew meat. Fragrant spices like saffron, turmeric, and ginger will call the entire family to the table to break the fast. Some variations substitute vermicelli instead of the chickpeas, which does not need to soak overnight.

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  • 05 of 15

    Halwa Chebakia Cookies

    Halwa Chebakia - Moroccan Sesame and Honey Cookies. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Flower-shaped sesame cookies drizzled with honey mark the special meals during Ramadan that bring families and communities together. Because halwa chebakia take some time to create, many women enlist the help of friends, sisters, or cousins to help. Turn it into a Ramadan activity with a beautiful and delicious outcome.

  • 06 of 15

    Spinach and Cream Cheese Briouats

    Kefta Briouats. Alan Keohane/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Serve these triangle-shaped teatime pastries, stuffed with a mixture of spinach, cream cheese, and onion, as part of your iftar table. Use phyllo no. 10 for the right crispy texture, and add a little fresh strained cheese like feta for extra salty flavor. You can also fold them into cylinders like egg rolls, if you prefer.

  • 07 of 15

    Harira Soup

    Classic Moroccan Harira Soup

    The Spruce 

    This hearty harira soup packs a lot into a bowl, with lentils; lamb, beef, or chicken; chickpeas, celery, and tomatoes. As many recipes exist as do families who have made it for generations, but this fragrant and delicious version will make a lovely addition to your iftar. To round it all out, spoon it over a little white rice or vermicelli.

  • 08 of 15

    Pakora Fritters

    Some families ease into iftar with a series of snacks, including fritters like these fried pakoras or bhajias. Try them with paneer, cauliflower, or potato for an interesting mix. Adjust the spice level by adding more or less chili powder, depending on your diners' tolerance.

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  • 09 of 15

    Dairy-Free Fruit Custard

    Bowls of Mango Pudding on Tray (Close-up)
    Getty Images/Joe Borrelli

    A cooling, hydrating mango fruit custard makes an invigorating way to start or end the day during Ramadan. Try this dairy-free mango custard to maximize the sweet tropical fruits with a distinctively delightful flavor that requires very little added sugar. Coconut milk also lends a creamy texture without adding much fat.

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    Iskender Kebab

    Iskender Kebab
    Iskender Kebab.

    Anita Schecter 

    You can make the traditional halal kebab meat at home without a doner spit, using this tasty tomato-forward recipe. Pair tender lamb shank with the tomato mixture atop some pita or flatbread, for a hearty open-faced sandwich. Dollop some tzatziki or Greek yogurt on top for cooling contrast.

  • 11 of 15

    Middle Eastern Cheese Board

    Middle Eastern Inspired Appetizer Cheese Board
    Middle Eastern Inspired Appetizer Cheese Board.

    Anita Schecter 

    Many iftar tables feature a varied and plentiful cheese board, especially preceding the mail meal. Such a spread can take some ingenuity to assemble at home and components vary widely. Include dates, figs, hummus, labneh balls, and a number of fresh vegetables both for replenishing water and adding fresh crunch. Serve it all with pita or little bread rounds for dipping and scooping.

  • 12 of 15

    Oven Doner Kebab

    Doner Kebab
    Doner Kebab.

    Anita Schecter

    Traditionally, doner kebab meat roasts on a rotating, circular spit that creates a crispy texture and a deliciously tender center. If you don't have one at home, this oven-roasted version works just as well. Make the tender meat into pita sandwiches or serve sliced on platters for a do-it-yourself sahoor or iftar presentation.

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  • 13 of 15

    Rosewater Rice Pudding

    Easy Rice Pudding
    Easy Rice Pudding. James Baigrie/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    If your Ramadan meals include rose-scented desserts, try adding this unique rice pudding to the mix. With a lightly floral flavor and a stick-to-your-ribs milky texture, it can carry you all the way through the day. It also reheats well, if you have a busy day ahead or little time to cook.

  • 14 of 15

    Khasta Kachori

    Image © Uniquely India/ Getty Images

    These lentil-stuffed pastries taste great hot or cold, and many people enjoy them as a fast snack on the go. Because of their starchy filling and crispy outsides, they also make a satisfying dish. Best of all, they keep well in the fridge so you can make a big batch and serve them all week long.

  • 15 of 15

    Fresh Fruit Salad

    thai salad
    Thai fruit salad. Photo &copy Darlene Schmidt

    Fresh fruit appears on many Ramadan tables because of its high water content, satisfying sweetness, and celebratory flavor. Try this Thai-inspired fruit salad for a tropical twist or just it as inspiration for your own favorite combination. What fruits you can find in-season will depend on your location, so feel free to get creative.