Iftar and Suhoor make up the magical experience of Ramadan. Vision readers share their childhood memories
I started fasting from the age of six. I remember my cousins and I used to compete on who will fast until sunset. We were told that the one who made it until sunset would get special gifts on Eid El Fitr. Though on Eid, we always get gifts equally and fairly.
I normally like to break my fast with water, dates then fruits, such as watermelon, apple, banana. I also eat some samosa, sausages, or cutlets. These are tasty snacks and quick to prepare. Fruits are my favourite, because they are healthy and light which makes it easier for sunset prayer. Then the main meals would include rice, pasta, macaroni, and chapatti.
Spicy Porridge or Uji Wa Pilipili Manga is one of the typical Iftar dishes at my home. After spending the whole day fasting, we will have some hot drinks before dinner to warm up our stomachs. This porridge has a distinct taste; you can never know how good it tastes until you try it. The mixture of black pepper, sugar and lime creates a peppery sweet and sour taste.
Cassava/Tapioca in Coconut Sauce/Mhogo wa Nazi is the most coastal style dish. I would have this plain or add meat and potatoes to make it richer. It's a fantastic and filling dish that everyone loves.
Bananas and plantains are the king of fruit back home. Ndizi na Nyama is made with plantains and meat steamed in banana leaves, and later combined with an onion-tomato-coconut mixture.
Amr Elshemy, Egypt
One of my favourite things about Ramadan is the ambiance. You can see every one is fasting and eats at the same time, it doesn't matter if you are poor or rich, its a month of generosity.
I’m happy that I rarely had Iftar at home, as my family and I were usually invited to an Iftar or we were hosting one. Now being away from family, old friends and relatives makes me miss these beautiful memories.
The main purpose and wisdom behind fasting is to make people aware of the plight of the underprivileged, which thus evokes a degree of social consciousness. Ideally every Iftar is a celebration, which means different kinds of delicious dishes and drinks.
Kunafa, Katayef, Amar el deen are desserts that I cannot imagine Ramadan without.
Mohammad Tawash, Dubai
When I was young I remember we tried to fast like the old people but we can’t stop eating, so they would help us by allowing us to have a 'half fasting.' I would have my breakfast in the morning and then stop eating until the Iftar time or sometimes they would ask us just stop eating but allow us to drink water.
We cheated sometimes, as we were still young and didn’t understand the real meaning of Ramadan.
For Iftar I eat all traditional food but usually avoid rice. We start with dates and milk then maybe a soup or just go straight to the main meal. They are mostly small portions like mini sandwiches, but with a lot of different types.
There are some kinds of food you can only get during Ramadan. I’m really in love with the Luqimat or Loqmat Al Qadi, which are small dumplings with different toppings like honey.
Dania Al Katmah, Syria
In my hometown, everyone knows each other in the town. When it’s time for Suhoor, you hear the whole street waking up and they will wake up you. Looking out of the window, all the children are running around on the street. My neighbours would also cook and everyone brought food to share. It’s like one family.
In the time of breaking fast, I could see all the children, same as me, coming to the top floor of the mosque listening to the prayer’s reading. The sky is high and clear with the last light of sunset. It was the most beautiful scene in my memory.
After Iftar, parents would go to sleep but kids played out until 1am. There was peace. That was such a beautiful place to be in.
We always made more than enough food for Iftar as someone would always knock on the door. There was a mad man - he was fasting also in Ramadan - who also came to our house and asked my mother for food. So my mother would prepare his share. He refused to come into the house and eat with us, but only eat at our door. It always confused me why he chose our house to ask, maybe my mother made the best food in the town!
My favourite Ramadan food is a dessert called tamriah, a date fruit sweet made with date paste, wheat flour, ghee, oil, sugar, and cardamom seed. Tamriah is sweet enough to satisfy but not so strong that it spoils a great meal.