The Muslims from all over the world celebrate this month with much joy and modesty. A blessed full atmosphere spread all the way in Ramazan with special preparation seen in Kitchens in morning and in afternoons for Sehri and Iftari. A sweet and spicy aroma comes from the kitchens with a great variety of meals prepared for Sehar and Iftar. Iftar refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
In Pakistan almost everybody stops to rejoice for a few minutes following the iftar sirens and Adhan. Preparations for iftar commence about 3 hours before in homes and at roadside stalls. Many restaurants offer iftar deals especially in the big cities like Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. Iftar as a meal is usually heavy consisting of many sweet and savoury treats such as jalebi, pakora , namak para,samosas with ketchup or chatni besides the staple dates. Rooh Afza a sweet syrup-based drink is also considered an integral part of the iftar.
Other items such as chicken rolls, Shami Kebabs, spring rolls, fruit salads, chana chaat, papadi, dahi balay are also very common. In most of the households Iftar is often but not necessarily followed up by a regular dinner later during the night. People living in the north and west like Balochis, Pashtuns and Tajiks combine dinner and iftar. The Laghman soup locally called Kalli is an iftar staple in Chitral and parts of Gilgit.
Usually, Muslim women spend their time cooking food during the Holy Month of Ramazan but many of them also find time for prayers and reading the Holy Quran.
The women of our households start the preparations Iftari atleast an hour or two before the designated time in order to get ready the food of everybody’s choice as the older family members want something lighter and the youngsters prefer having iftari with a lot of fried items like spring rolls, pakoras, samosas, jalebi, etc.The skills and expertise of the house lady are then judged by how she manages to make an elaborate iftari in a limited time.
We also have a tradition of arranging iftar parties where we invite over family members and guests to our places and serve them with the best of Aftari items that one can imagine.
When we discuss about food menu for Iftar, here are some of the most popular Iftar meals that are usually prepared in almost all the households.
Fruit chat, a popular starter for Iftar.
Samosas, a common Iftari snack.
Dahi Baray, an integral part of iftari
Shami Kebab, enjoyed by all at iftar
Pakoras, an essential food item for Iftar
Chana Chat, a good replacement for Fruit chat in Iftar
Kachori, a heavy treat at Iftar
Chutneys, to spice up iftar items
Chicken or vegetable Rolls, add a unique taste in Iftari
Rooh Afza or Juices, an energetic replacement of water at Iftar
Usually a lot of food is cooked for Iftar but most of it would go to the poor especially those waiting outside the mosques or your houses for Iftar meals.
After iftar the mosques are rushed with Muslims to offer Tarawih. Various television channels also stop their normal telecast and broadcast special Ramadan transmissions especially at the time of Sehar and Iftar. Ramadan is marked in Pakistan as a festive season when people make donations to the poor and give charity. Organizations or companies also offer free iftar meals to the needy.
The holy month of Ramadan is a time when the gates of hell will be locked. It is the month of Blessings, mercy and forgiveness.