With Ramadan 2021 just around the corner, Muslims worldwide are bracing themselves to take full advantage of the blessings and mercy bestowed upon the holy month by the Almighty Creator. Ramadan is a month where Muslims may be granted pardon and reprieve for all their past transgressions, thus enabling them to return to a state of purity and starting their journey anew.
However, not all Muslims are afforded this divine pardon. To acquire the blessings of Ramadan they must first prove themselves worthy by completing (or at least attempting to complete) one of the five pillars of Islam namely, the Ramadan fast. Muslims believe that by performing this month-long fast their submission to God may reach its zenith as their minds and bodies are cleansed of impurities.
For a successful Ramadan fast, here are xx healthy eating tips for a fulfilling iftar; some recipes to keep you nourished and restaurants serving iftar.
What is iftar?
During Ramadan, Muslims typically have two meals per day; the pre-dawn meal, suhoor, to prepare Muslims for the fast ahead, and iftar, the post-sunset meal signifying the breaking of the day’s fast. Iftar usually consists of a hearty and fulfilling meal followed by a lighter, more casual meal or snack just before the night prayers (isha and taraweeh).
Healthy iftar tips
Driven by thirst and hunger, it certainly is tempting for anyone to just let loose and give in to their impulses. However, consuming food and beverages excessively within a short time frame has been proven to have detrimental effects on one’s health and may even negate the health benefits acquired by fasting. As such, here are some things to consider when having iftar.
Immediately break your fast
Come iftar time, it’s important to immediately break your fast. Avoid depriving your body of liquid and nutrients more than it is needed. Break your fast by drinking some rejuvenating H2O to effectively prevent dehydration.
You can also opt for fresh juice or milk to replenish the fluids vital to your body. However, do note that drinks containing excessive sugar and calories are not exactly ideal when it comes to breaking the fast for obvious reasons. So stick with water, it’s healthier that way.
Dates are your friend
While dates have been gaining popularity across much of the world as of late, the practice of eating dates during iftar time has been observed for more than a millennium in Middle Eastern countries. After drinking some water, proceed with your iftar by having a few dates.
Dates are known as a natural source of sugar and contain excellent nutrient content. Having just three of these overgrown raisins after a day of fasting is sufficient in alleviating the almost debilitating hunger pangs.
Opt for some good carbs and vegetables
In order to replenish your energy levels in a good and healthy way, iftar meals must naturally contain a decent amount of good carbohydrates and vegetables. Complex carbs sources such as wheat, potatoes and brown rice provide a stable and sustainable boost of energy that will keep your body feeling fulfilled for longer.
Vegetables also play a vital role in maintaining your health as they contain vitamins, minerals and fibers with next to no calories. Combine good carbs with vegetables and your iftar is golden.
Don’t neglect the proteins
Lean proteins to be exact. Foods that are high in lean protein should be the first choice for your iftar meals since protein allows your body to build and rebuild muscle mass as well as maintaining it.
Some good sources of food for lean protein include lean beef, white-fleshed, skinless white-meat poultry and eggs. In addition, if you’re a vegetarian, lean proteins can also be acquired from foods like beans, peas and lentils. You can also opt for low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese and lite tofu.
Avoid foods with high fat, sugar and salt content
It’s generally a good idea to avoid foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. This Ramadan, why not attempt to prepare your iftar meals by baking, boiling, or steaming them to promote a healthier lifestyle. You can use blends of natural spices and herbs to add flavor to food instead of salt, sugar and MSG. After all, Ramadan is all about incorporating positive changes into your life.
Iftar recipes to keep you nourished
For all cooking extraordinaires out there, the following are traditional iftar recipes worthy of your craft. These four traditional dishes have been the mainstay of countless iftar tables throughout the Arab world.
Harees, the United Arab Emirates
Harees, jareesh or harisa is a dish of boiled, coarsely ground wheat, mixed with meat and heavy seasoning. This dish is prevalent not only in the UAE, but also in India and across the Middle East.
Harees boasts ingredients rich in protein and fiber, allowing one to endure the day’s fast with relative ease.
Sanboosa, Saudi Arabia
Sanboosa is essentially a fried dumpling with delicious fillings of meat, cheese and/or vegetables. The dish originates from India where it is considered a type of snack or appetizer. It goes well with a variety of soups or yogurt based-syrup.
Not typically found outside of Ramadan and Eid al- Fitr, this rich and delicious dish is considered to be one of the most traditional dishes of Oman. Crafting this traditional dish involves ingredients such as chicken, beef or even fish mashed with rice, spices and just a hint of hot sauce.
Aseeda from Libya
Aseeda is a boiled flour pudding served with honey and butter. As with other Ramadan treats, Aseeda is reserved for the holy month, Eid and occasionally weddings. This delicate dish simply melts in your mouth and is most suitable for breaking the fast.
Restaurants serving iftar
Those looking for a fine dining experience come iftar time, numerous restaurants in Dubai are offering guests the opportunity of doing just that. Come Ramadan, expect restaurants across Dubai to dish out a cornucopia of exquisite iftar dishes. Additionally, some restaurants also offer pre-dawn meals to their patrons.
Here are our top five iftar restaurants in Dubai. Note: prices are accurate at the time of writing and subject to change.
Time: Daily from sunset to 9.30pm
Price: AED 250 per person
Burj al Arab
Time: Daily from sunset
Price: From AED 255 per person
Time: Daily from sunset to 7 PM (preorder)
Price: AED 230 per person
Atlantis, the Palm
Time: Daily from 6 to 9 PM
Price: AED 195
Time: Sunset to 10 PM
Price: AED 265 for two persons.