Curious to know what people around the world love to eat for Iftar? Ramadan is a time that unifies the world into the Islamic practice of fasting. However, each ethnicity has its own unique food when it comes to Iftar table must-haves.
Paying homage to the diverse communities in Qatar; the ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team has brought together a list of a few of the countries (in alphabetical order) with their Iftar favourites along with where to find them in Qatar.
Disclaimer: Please note that the dishes mentioned in the article are just some of the top picks or suggestions. The article is in no way a comprehensive guide for Iftar feasts. Happy exploring!
Also, check out our other Ramadan articles:
Bangladeshi cuisine is heavy on rice with specials such as Pulaos and Biryanis. Although menus typically change in the month of Ramadan; rice still maintains its mark. However, there are many other fried snack additions to the table such as Potato Chop (mashed potato ball, stuffed with meat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried and pakoras (deep-fried fritter of onions, green chillies and other spices all combined in a chick-pea flour paste).
One thing you can be sure to find on a Bangladeshi Iftar table is a fried favourite named Piyaju. Best described as a lentil fritter, pulled together with simple ingredients such as lentils, green chillies, onions and garlic seasoned with powdered spices (coriander, cumin and turmeric). This nibble can be bought at a price of QR 1 for two pieces.
When looking for Iftars, the items and preferences range from North India to South India. While North Indian Iftars typically encompass multiple elements such as fruit chaats and other street-food style snacks; Haleem is a dish that holds great significance. A hearty wheat-based meat porridge that is steeped in multiple spices and fresh ingredients.
Moving towards the South, an Iftar favourite would be a dish-named Pathiri. A crepe-like flatbread made with rice flour that is pan-cooked typically served alongside a meat curry. However, this has its own fried variant called “Erachi Pathiri” which is deep-fried and meat stuffed.
Lebanese food is renowned for its freshness. The meals combine an array of textures with warm or creamy cold appetizers. When it comes to Iftar some favourites include the cool parsley based salad Tabbouleh, or the comforting Fatteh (a bread-based dish topped with a yoghurt-based sauce and chickpeas or pine-nuts, chicken or meat is also added).
However, in Lebanese households, a delectable dessert Qatayef Bil Ashta is a must-have. This is a middle-eastern variant to pancakes, filled with fragrant ashta cream, sprinkled with nuts. This can be bought by kilo at most Arabic sweet shops for around QR 45 per kilo.
Malaysian Iftars vary from snacks to porridges to rice and meat main courses. Some typical items would include; Bubur Lambuk (a lightly spiced and seasoned rice porridge infused with coconut milk as a base with meat variants of choice), Murtabak (a pan-fried layered bread stuffed with a flavoursome meat filing) or the classic Beef Rendang.
Beef Rendang is a dish that causes an aromatic explosion combining ingredients such as lemongrass, tamarind, lime leaves, cardamoms, cloves and star anise. Beef Rendang holds a distinct textural appearance as well courtesy the toasted coconut that it gets tossed in.
Like many other Iftar menus around the world, the typical Moroccan Iftar does give a lot of importance to soups and snacks alike.
A unique pastry of its sort is the “Chicken Pastilla”, a skillet-fried pastry of chicken stuffed in thin crip layers of phyllo pastry. Although essentially savoury with a spiced filling, you cannot miss the sweet taste contributed by the sugar that typically gets sprinkled or infused within.
However, the Morrocan Iftar is incomplete without their very own Harira soup. A soup that can be classified as a meal on its own. The soup boils together tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas and of course tender lamb. It gets its flavour from the dry spices and herbs. Adding to the weight of the soup is the vermicelli that gives it the starch element.
The Pakistani Iftar is always one to be mouth-watering and tempting with all the warm and cool elements that are typically on the table. The widely-made items include fruit chaat (spiced fruit salad), Pakoray (deep-fried fritters), Chana Chaat (a salad resembling a snack that combines chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, coriander, drizzled with spiced sauces and sprinkled with herbs). To quench the thirst is a rose-syrup based milk drink named Rooh Afza which can be considered mandatory.
However, a main course is essential, and the one must-have would be the Nihari. Best described as a slow-cooked Pakistani Beef Stew, cooked in a silky decadent gravy for long hours ensuring a stringy tender bite of meat. Nihari is best eaten with naan or other flatbreads.
Authentic Qatari Iftars tend to be made up of full-course meals; starting with dates, bite-sized appetizers, hearty main-courses with desserts and beverages to accompany along. However, when it comes to the main course there are distinct dishes that are essential; such as Harees (a wheat-based, thick porridge-like meal made with chicken or meat, drizzled with ghee), another classic Ramadan favourite would be Madhrouba (overcooked rice-based, spice-infused porridge, typically made with chicken).
These dishes can be found in many outlets serving Qatari cuisine for a price as low as QR 15.
A Sri Lankan Iftar relies mostly on a weighty porridge which is usually rice-based or wheat-based with fairly mild spices. However, it is always sided by a variety of snacks or fondly called “short-eats”. These could be meat, chicken or vegetable variants that are either baked bread types or coated deep-fried finger food.
One of the absolute household table favourites is Cutlets; a fish filling (typically tuna) cooked together with mashed potatoes, onions, curry leaves and green chillies; flavoured with basic spices such as red chili powder, pepper and salt. This deep-fried goodie makes for an indulgent bite when dipped in spicy Sri Lankan ketchup.
The Iftar classics in a Sudanese household fuse together many elements. Some must-haves include “Taameya”, also known as “Falafel”. While other variants of the dish could be fava-bean based; the Sudanese version is typically mashed chick-peas, with mild-seasoning inclusive of garlic, onion, chili powder, black pepper and salt, which is then deep-fried into crispy golden patties.
Another best-loved Sudanese Iftar staple is “Asida”. This is a corn flour dumpling accompanied with a dried meat and yoghurt stew. A tip to best enjoy Asida - hand scoop the porridge-like dumpling and take a hearty dip in the stew to enjoy the true taste.
Turkish food is loved for its succulent grills, and comforting bread varieties with varying toppings.
Turkish Iftars typically consist of all sorts of böreks (pan-fried phyllo pastry that holds together either feta-cheese fillings, vegetable fillings or meat fillings) which also preserve its freshness with infused herbs.
Another Turkish table favourite for Iftar would be Garniyarik (an eggplant cooked to tenderness filled with minced meat and tomatoes).
Did you know countries did Iftars so differently? Which of these would you want to try? Do let us know in the comments below. Do share this article - it keeps us going!
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