Every country and region has a particular delicacy enjoyed by its people, especially during special occasions. Muslims all around the world celebrate such an occasion which lasts for a month called Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when participating Muslims worldwide refrain completely from food and drink during daylight hours. Right after sunset, Muslims gather together to break the fast with an evening meal called ‘Iftar.’
“My favorite part of Ramadan is preparing food for Iftar. I love making authentic fritters for Iftar. It is just the best time to have authentic food with family and friends,” said Shajida Nujhat, a 21-year-old Bangladeshi.
There are a few favorite Ramadan foods that have become staples across the globe. As Ramadan 2021 winds down, Here’s a brief look at some of the popular Iftar dishes that have become popular all over South Asia, especially in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. These countries share a very similar food interest, even the names are the same in most of these countries but with a twist of authenticity.
In Bangladesh, a typical Iftar food item features two famous fritters called Piyaji and Beguni. Piyaji is made of spiced lentils, onions, cilantro, chilies, and fried until they are golden brown. Beguni is eggplant slices dipped in gram flour batter and deep-fried. These are usually served with Tea.
“I love my Bangladshi Iftar. During Iftar, there are several stores outside that sell Begunis and Piyajis. Every single Bengali household makes Piyaji and Beguni for Iftar since it’s a staple. My favorite item is definitely Beguni. You definitely need to try it and see for yourself how good a slice of eggplant coated in crispy batter tastes like. It is one of the best Iftar items from Bangladesh,” said Shajida Nujhat, a 21 year old Bangladeshi.
In India, a very popular Iftar item is Samosa. Samosa is triangular fritters filled with minced mutton meat and contains an aromatic blend of Indian spices including garam masala, ginger, chilies, and mint. It is also a very popular street food in India. Samosa is generally popular all over Asia. Countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan are also famous for their version of Samosas.
“Even though I don’t fast, I have visited my other Indian Muslim friends during Ramadan, where they make delicious Samosas. Growing up in India, I have always seen Muslims making Iftar platters and it always had different kinds of Samosas included. I have also tried Samosas from Bangladesh. I was surprised how the filling tasted different from the Indian version that I grew up eating,” said Sangeeta Singh, a 25 year old Indian.
In Pakistan, a very famous Ifar dish is Haleem. Haleem is a spiced slow-cooked porridge made of lentils, meat, and broken wheat. Haleem originated mainly from Pakistan and it has spread widely all over South Asia. Haleem is considered the main course in Ifar that you enjoy with cucumbers and lemon.
“I make Haleem almost every other day for Iftar. It is the star dish in my family. We also make it during Eid. We also have other traditional food such as Kebab, Samosa, and Biryani. Even though Haleem takes a good amount of time to cook, it is definitely worth it,” said Nur Zannat, a 19 year old Pakistani.
Afghani Bolani, which is a stuffed flatbread, is a staple Iftar item in Afghanistan. It is usually stuffed with potatoes, onions, and herbs and maybe baked or fried. The flatbread is similar to Paratha which is a type of flatbread made in Bangladesh, Indian, and Pakistan.
The time of Ramadan brings joy and happiness all over the world. During this time, people get to enjoy various delicacies. The different types of Iftar items all over South Asia enhance the cultural authenticity of the countries. Since I grew up in a Bengali family, my favorite part of Ramadan is breaking my fast with authentic Bengali food items.