Ramadan, the importance of fasting, food and family.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it is considered the holiest month for Muslims. During this month, Muslims observe a fast from dawn to sunset, which means that they abstain from food, drink, smoking, and other physical needs during the day. However, food is considered essential during Ramadan, not only because it is necessary to sustain the body but also because it plays an important role in the cultural and religious practices of the month. Fasting is equally as important as the coming together over “iftar” with family and friends is. 

Couple having iftar during Ramadan

One of the reasons why food is important in Ramadan is that it is used to break the fast at sunset. This meal, known as iftar, is a significant event that is often shared with family and friends. It is an opportunity to come together, strengthen relationships, and show gratitude for the blessings of life. Additionally, many Muslims believe that sharing food during Ramadan is an act of charity and a way to earn blessings and rewards from Allah.

Moreover, the pre-dawn meal, known as suhoor, is also an important part of Ramadan. This meal is eaten before the start of the fast and provides the necessary nutrients and energy to sustain the body throughout the day. It is also believed to have spiritual benefits, as it is a time for reflection and prayer.

Overall, food is considered important in Ramadan because it not only sustains the body but also has significant cultural and religious significance. It is a way for Muslims to come together, show gratitude, and earn blessings during this holy month. Family is a major foundation in Islamic culture.

Staying healthy and disciplined during Ramadan can be challenging, especially since fasting for extended periods can affect the body's metabolism and energy levels. Quality and nutritional food is paramount when fasting. However, there are several ways to maintain good health and discipline during the month:

Stay hydrated: It is essential to drink plenty of water during non-fasting hours, especially before and after suhoor and iftar meals. Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and other health problems. It goes without saying that coffee should be consumed within moderation.

Eat a balanced diet: During iftar and suhoor, aim to include a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. This will provide the necessary nutrients to sustain the body throughout the day.

Avoid overeating: Although it can be tempting to eat large quantities of food during iftar, it is important to practice portion control and eat in moderation. Overeating can lead to digestive problems, weight gain, and other health issues.

Exercise regularly: Moderate exercise during non-fasting hours can help maintain physical health and energy levels. However, it is important to avoid vigorous exercise during fasting hours, as it can lead to dehydration and fatigue.

Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for good health and energy levels. It is recommended to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, especially during Ramadan.

Practice self-discipline: Fasting during Ramadan is not only about

Iftar Ramadan symbolabstaining from food and drink but also about developing self-discipline and control over one's desires and impulses. This can be extended to other areas of life, such as avoiding negative thoughts and behaviours.

In summary, it goes without saying that you don’t have to be Muslim to follow these pragmatic principles. Albeit in some instances, should you have underlying health conditions or below or above a certain age threshold, medical advice might need to be sought. Nevertheless, staying healthy and disciplined during Ramadan requires a balanced diet, hydration, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and self-discipline. By following these guidelines, Muslims can maintain good health and energy levels while observing the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, which is different from the Gregorian calendar used in most of the world. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, meaning it is based on the cycle of the moon, while the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar, based on the rotation of the Earth around the Sun.

The lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year, which means that Islamic months occur at different times each year according to the Gregorian calendar. This is why Ramadan dates change every year, shifting about 11 days earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. From this prospect it is no different than the date changes for Easter in the Christian and some Orthodox calendar every year.

Moreover, the start and end of Ramadan are determined by the sighting of the new moon, which marks the beginning of the new Islamic month. This is typically done through visual sightings of the crescent moon by trained individuals, although astronomical calculations are also used to predict the dates.

Because of these factors, the start and end of Ramadan can vary from country to country, and the duration of the fast can also differ depending on the location. However, the variation in dates does not affect the spiritual significance of Ramadan, which remains a holy month of fasting, prayer, and reflection for Muslims around the world.

It is worth noting that there are several similarities between Ramadan and Lent. Both religious observances that involve fasting, prayer, and reflection. (Ramadan by Muslims and Lent by Christians)  

Fasting: Both Ramadan and Lent involve fasting, which is the act of abstaining from food and drink for a period. In Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, while in Lent, Christians may choose to fast for specific periods, such as on certain days of the week or during certain times of the day.

Spiritual reflection: Both practices encourage spiritual reflection and self-discipline. During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to read the Quran, engage in acts of charity, and practice self-restraint. During Lent, Christians may participate in spiritual practices such as prayer, attending church services, and practicing acts of self-denial.

Importance of community: Both practices emphasize the importance of community and coming together with others. In Ramadan, Muslims often break their fast with family and friends, and there are often community iftar meals held at mosques or community centres. Similarly, Lent is often observed through community events such as church services, volunteer work, and charitable giving.

Symbolic significance: Both Ramadan and Lent have symbolic significance within their respective religions. Ramadan is believed to commemorate the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, while Lent is seen as a time to prepare for the celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Overall, while there are differences in the specific practices and beliefs associated with Ramadan and Lent, both are important religious observances that emphasize spiritual reflection, self-discipline, and community. It is fair to say, that no matter what religion you follow or even if you follow no religion at all, fasting and abstaining can be a positive experience. Food typically forms some of our earliest memories and the appreciation of food can be one of elation after fasting, forming some new memories to reflect on.

Baharat Spice Mix

The Middle East, specifically, Arabia now known as Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam. If you have not experienced the food from this part of the world, then you are in for a treat. Our Bahārāt Gulf of Arabia is a spice blend with deep smoky and sweet citrusy notes, encompassing flavours like black lime (loomi) black pepper, bay leaf, cardamon and more. This 100% natural blend is the epitome of sublime alchemy in a jar. Bahārāt translates as spice in Arabic. Our specific blend hails from our Co-Founder Halle’s grandmother in the 2nd city of Saudi Arabia, “Jeddah” Flatbreads, lamb, roast chicken and vegetable galette, should you want to innovate on your taste buds, or transport you back to your favourite Middle Eastern meze.

The traditional meals and drinks served during Ramadan can vary depending on the country and culture, but there are some common dishes and beverages that are typically enjoyed during the holy month. Here are some examples:

Suhoor: This is the pre-dawn meal that Muslims eat before beginning their fast for the day. Suhoor often consists of nutrient-dense foods such as dates, nuts, yogurt, and eggs, as well as complex carbohydrates like whole-grain bread and rice.

Iftar: This is the meal that Muslims eat to break their fast at sunset. Iftar 

Arabic Meal iftar

typically begins with dates and water, followed by a variety of dishes that can include soups, stews, grilled meats, and vegetables. In some countries, popular iftar dishes include samosas, falafel, and pakoras.

Beverages: It is important to stay hydrated during Ramadan, especially during the long hours of fasting. Many Muslims drink water, fruit juices, or milk during non-fasting hours. A popular drink during Ramadan is Jallab, a sweet and fruity drink made from grape molasses, dates, and rose water. In some countries, tea or coffee may also be served.

Desserts: Sweets and desserts are a popular part of Ramadan meals. One common dessert is baklava, a pastry made with layers of filo pastry and honey or syrup. Another popular dessert is kunafa, a sweet pastry made with shredded phyllo dough, cheese, and syrup. 

Overall, the traditional meals and drinks served during Ramadan are often nutrient-dense, hydrating, and designed to provide sustained energy throughout the day. They are also often enjoyed in a communal setting, emphasizing the importance of community and togetherness during this holy month.

Yemen is the only republic country in the Middle East, the rest are Emirates and Kingdoms. It is currently having a renewed interest in its culinary flavours and offerings. From the Yemenite national dish “Saltah” (a lamb or chicken meat stew broth) to “Bint Asahn” (a sweet multi layered flaky pastry) there is a whole new world to discover. Hawaij is one of there traditional and most popular blends that Camelēr Spice Co have in their collection. A golden coloured hue, this blend, is considered the garam masala of the middle east. It is aromatic, warm, and peppery with citrusy undertones. This pungent blend is perfect for lentils, chickpeas, hispi cabbage, chicken or cauliflower and a whole lot more. In fact, there are two types of Hawaij blends, the second is often used in coffee.  Yemenites use “Hawaij” in many of their culinary sit downs during Ramadan.

The two main celebration days during Ramadan are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Fitr: This is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan. It is a joyous day of celebration and feasting after a month of fasting and self-reflection. On this day, Muslims gather for prayers at the mosque, exchange gifts, and share meals with family and friends.

Eid al-Adha: This is the second major Islamic holiday and commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Muslims around the world celebrate this holiday by sacrificing an animal, typically a goat or sheep, and distributing the meat to the needy. It is also a time for prayer, reflection, and spending time with family and friends.

Eid Food Banquet layout

While these are the two main celebration days during Ramadan, there are other important days throughout the month as well. For example, Laylat al-Qadr is considered the holiest night of the year and marks the night that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims spend this night in prayer and reflection.

Overall, Ramadan is a month of spiritual significance and celebration for Muslims around the world, with Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha serving as important markers of the end of the holy month and the beginning of a new chapter.

Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are two of the most important festivals for Muslims around the world, and people celebrate it with traditional dishes and sweets. Some popular recipes that are enjoyed during Eid include;

Biryani: This is a fragrant and flavorful rice dish that is popular in many countries including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It is often made with spices, meat (chicken, beef, or lamb), and vegetables. Our Persian blends Advieh-E Khoresh and Advieh Berenj would very much lend themselves to a Biryani recipe.

Kebabs: Kebabs are a popular grilled meat dish that can be made with beef, lamb, or chicken. They are often served with naan bread, rice, or a side salad. Bahārāt Gulf of Arabia, Hawaij and Advieh E-Khoresh are often the go to spice mixes for kebabs in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Haleem: This is a popular slow-cooked stew made with meat, lentils, and spices. It is commonly eaten during Ramadan and Eid in many countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Sheer khurma: This is a sweet dessert made with vermicelli noodles, milk, sugar, and dates. It is a popular Eid dessert in many countries, including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. We are sure our award-winning Persian blend, Advieh-E Halegh would be a great blend to innovate in such a dish.

Baklava: This is a sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough, honey or syrup, and nuts such as pistachios or walnuts. It is a popular dessert in many Middle Eastern countries and is often enjoyed during Eid.

Shakshuka: Considered to originate in North Africa, it is popular right across the Middle East, often in countries such as Lebanon and Kuwait for iftar and suhoor. These days any recipe with eggs in a sauce might be called shakshuka.

Our 13th century mixed herb blend “BĀQA” meaning bouquet in Arabic is 

BAQA mixed herb blend za'atar

the perfect blend for all things eggs. If you like Za’atar, you are likely to enjoy this blend. However traditionally Za’atar is dominated by flavours like sumac and thyme. BĀQA is a different flavour profile; herbaceous with garlicky undertones. It is also the kind of blend that is ideal for bread rolls before dawn during Suhoor. Our herbaceous cheese and onion bread rolls are sublime. However it is important to note that not all cheese is “Halal” For those of you that don’t know what halal means, it simply means permissible in Muslim Law. Islamic law places a high value on life and animals must be slaughtered in the most humane way possible. Cheese might include animal rennet which could be enzymes from the animal stomach. Should you only eat "halal" food then be sure to do your homework. 

Lamb or beef roast: A roast lamb or beef is also a popular main dish on the Eid menu. It can be served with roast potatoes and vegetables. Bahārāt Gulf of Arabia or our saffron infused Advieh-E Khoresh is perfect for roast lamb and beef. BĀQA is the prefect seasoning for roast potatoes and vegetables when you are embracing Middle eastern flavourings.

Overall, these are just a few examples of the many traditional dishes that are enjoyed during Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The specific recipes and foods that are popular can vary depending on the country and culture.

The blends of Bahārāt Gulf of Arabia and BĀQA can just as easily be used during any Sunday roast in British family sit downs of all cultures. Equally these blends would be exquisite during the festivity of Easter in the Christian almanac. 

Young boy praying outside Mosque

There are no specific food traditions between children and adults during Ramadan, but there are some cultural practices that may be observed in some communities. For example:

Children may have smaller portions: Some families may choose to give children smaller portions of food during Ramadan, especially during the pre-dawn meal (suhoor) and the evening meal that breaks the fast (iftar). This is because children may have a harder time fasting for long periods of time and may not be able to eat as much as adults.

Children may have special treats: Some families may give children special treats or sweets during Ramadan, as a way of celebrating the holy month and making it a special time for them. This can include traditional sweets such as baklava or dates.

Adults may prepare special dishes for children: In some cultures, adults may prepare special dishes for children during Ramadan that are easier for them to eat and digest. This can include dishes such as porridge or rice pudding.

Children may be encouraged to participate in preparing meals: In some families, children may be encouraged to participate in preparing meals for iftar or suhoor, as a way of learning about the importance of Ramadan and developing a sense of responsibility and ownership over their religious practices.

Overall, while there are no strict food traditions that differentiate between children and adults during Ramadan, some cultural practices may be observed in certain communities to make the holy month a special time for everyone, regardless of age.

Our five Persian “Advieh” collection are also the kind of spice mixes that would be used during culinary celebrations for Ramadan as well as all year around in certain other recipes. You can read more about the Persian “Advieh” collection here.

Knowing when to say no and distracting yourself are important cornerstones when trying to lead a healthy and disciplined fast throughout Ramadan. It is expected that you might be in a low mood with excessive bouts of tiredness. Taking a step back to reflect is incredibly important. Ramadan is a lot more than praying and fasting but when the fasting is over there are so many wonderful meals and beverages to remind you of what life is all about. It is why it is important to give thanks whilst sharing food with your loved ones and considering those less fortunate in society. “Āmīn” to that.  Food brings Muslim family together during Ramadan


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