Being Women

Delightful Iftaar

Iftar is a special time to bond with family and friends. Small get-togethers happen over the month; sharing and caring are the highlight of these 30 days. There is laughter, there is Barkat (blessings) and there is a different kind of energy we radiate during this month.

Iftaar is an Arabic word that literally means ‘break-fast’; a meal that Muslims eat at sunset during Ramadan to BREAK the day’s FAST. In Islam, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. Other than being important as Quran was sent down as a guiding principle, there is a hadith (tradition based on reports of sayings) that Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was worried his followers would have a shorter lifespan than the followers of earlier prophets. This would make it likely that they would have a smaller number of good deeds. Hence, Allah granted upon him a special night in Ramadan where each good deed would be rewarded 70 times more than a good deed done at any other time of the year. As my mom would say simply when I was a child- it’s like a sale or the greatest offer up for grabs in this month so make the most of it.

Even though it’s the fast that gets highlighted in this pious month; something that my non-Muslim friends consider very difficult, I have always thought of it as a ‘reset’ of our system-physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. This time of the year is to practice discipline, experience gratitude for what you are blessed with and show empathy towards our less fortunate fellows. It’s the time to strengthen our faith and our bond with the Almighty.

As the days of Ramadan come closer, we start preparing ourselves and our homes with annual cleaning and decorations. We stock up our kitchens for the two major meals of the month- Iftar and Suhoor. Suhoor is the meal taken at dawn before the fast starts.  Frantic Youtube searches are made for the latest recipes, menus are planned, favourite recipes are exchanged to ensure that the dastar (mat on which food is eaten) is brimming with food.

Generally, the menu consists of khajoor (dates), the most important food to break the fast as Muhammed PBUH used to do the same, chana (chickpea) or ragda (dehydrated peas), fruits, bhajiya (fritters), kebabs and sharbat. Except for khajoor, no mention has been made about any stipulated food, however more or less the same pattern is followed in our various states and even neighbouring countries.

Iftar is a special time to bond with family and friends. Small get-togethers happen over the month; sharing and caring are the highlight of these 30 days. There is laughter, there is Barkat (blessings) and there is a different kind of energy we radiate during this month.

After spending 12-14 hours without water and food it’s a no brainer that a lot of time is spent in preparing Iftar and to do it for a whole month is definitely not easy. In my growing up years, I had quite a few Muslim neighbours and it was quite normal for all of us to share our food with each other for Iftar. I remember waiting eagerly for those delicacies, especially on days when my favourite food wasn’t made. This was a great way to get exposed to different cuisines and mingle with each other. Not a day would go by when the food wasn’t shared with the underprivileged irrespective of their religion, something that we have tried to continue. I often wonder if everyone would do a tiny bit of this daily, there would be no single soul hungry on the roads.

Any talk of Ramadan is not complete without mentioning Iftar parties some of which may start at Iftar and are extended up to Suhoor. The fun, the food, the bonding, and the warmth are all that make it most amazing. The past 2 years during the COVID pandemic deprived us of this bonhomie and here’s hoping that we can reclaim some of it back this year.

Ramadan is that time of the year when the worldly needs take a back seat and in the middle of the night on the prayer mat there is a silent conversation between us and the Almighty where we seek forgiveness and thank Him. For us these days between Iftar and Suhoor are Eat-Pray-Love-Repeat in a loop… 30 days on!

Here is my recipe for Ramadan Iftar which my kids and guests all enjoy. It’s simple but I don’t know why I hardly make it any other time except Ramadan.


1 cup brown chana soak for 5-6 hours

1-2 onions sliced 

5-6 green chillies

A handful of green coriander 

Salt to taste 

1-2 teaspoons of oil 

Recipe: In a pressure cooker add soaked chana, sliced onions, oil, salt, and green chillies with ¾ glass of water. Pressure cook it for 5-6 whistles till the chana is cooked. Once cooled, open the cooker and stir to mix the onions, chillies and water thoroughly. Now put on the gas on high flame to dry up the water. Add a handful of coriander chopped finely before putting the stove off.

By Dr Rukiya Shaikh

Dr Rukiya Surya Shaikh is a Diabetes and Thyroid specialist practising in Mulund, Mumbai for more than 12 years. She can be contacted at

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