6 heavenly must-eats of an Iranian Ramadan feast

As the Holy Month of the Muslim world is almost coming to an end, I thought I really can’t skip a whole month of life in Iran without including Ramadan and not to mention all the heavenly treats you get to eat.

Secularism is high on the market when it comes to Iran and I believe here is where it’s growing the fastest comparing to other Muslim countries. It’s rather easy to feel it when you’re back home after a few years and realize Ramadan is nothing like it used to be and not that many people are actually fasting.

But the religious and the non religious have one thing in common when it comes to the holy month in Iran: They can hardly say no to an Iftar table! After all, the ambrosial taste of Zulbia Bamieh and the delightful scent of Halva hardly leaves any room for disagreement. Right?

Ramadan dinners would usually come in 2 courses in Iran. The starter is when all the goodies come. Starting with the sweetening taste of dates to break the fast and raise the blood pressure, then comes the Persian brewed tea and the party starts!

Cheese, walnuts, butter, fresh and raw veggies, Halva and a bowl of soup, Ash, or Haleem comes right after. But there are 6 things on the table that you would normally only get whilst it’s still Ramadan and here’s why you should be stocking up:

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#1 Dates or Stuffed dates

Dates are a very Middle Eastern thing. Nothing too Persian in there and it’s not like you can’t have dates other times of the year. A lot of times we Iranians prefer a date to soften the bitterness of our tea instead of cakes or biscuits. It’s a lot healthier and there’s no harm if you want to have more than one. But the dates in Ramadan are special. Stuffed with walnuts and a sprinkle of coconut powder on top leaves your heart melting and craving for more.

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Photo: Sedigheh Amrollahi

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#2 Zulbia Bamie

Zulbia Bamie, a Persian version of doughnuts with saffron and rosewater, dipped into a luscious sweet syrup will wink at you from any Iranian Iftar table. One or two is sweet enough to fix you up, but beware you’re hardly going to get your hands on any of this when Ramadan is over! Enjoy while you can!

Recipe

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The web-like arrangement is called Zulbia, and the round ones are called Bamieh.

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photo: Sedigheh Amrollahi

#3 Persian Halva

Then comes my favourite of all. Halva! I can have an incriminating amount of this and still want more and having a mum who’s an expert in making the most devouring Halva on the planet leaves me free of all charges.

While Halva is a celebration by itself in the Holy Month, it is also very associated with death and is almost always served in an Iranian funeral. Perhaps it’s best to think you’re only going to have this one while it’s Ramadan. 😉

Recipe

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Photo: Samaneh Salavati

#4 Haleem

Haleem is a thick Persian Porridge with meat with high calories which is why you don’t want to have too much. It will fill you up quickly and you’d hardly have any room to take in all the other scrumptious food on the table.

On a special occasion you’d have Haleem at the breakfast table, but it’s more likely you’ll find one sparkling in the middle of an Iftar table when you’re invited to dinner in Ramadan.

Recipe

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Photo: Sedigheh Amrollahi

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photo: Aida Abbasi

#5 Ash Reshteh

Here’s to the most traditional Iranian dish of all time. Ash comes with history and has hundreds of different versions cooked in different parts of Iran. Ash Reshteh (Reshteh meaning noodle in Farsi), a mixture of vegetables and noodles is the most famous one of them all and the most impeccable in my opinion.
Thankfully, Ash is not necessarily a Ramadan treat. It is normally served in winter and extremely popular high up the mountains on a cold winter day.

Recipe 

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photo: Aida Abbasi

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photo: Maryam Kamranfar

#6 Sholeh zard

Rose water and saffron are crucial ingredients of most Ramadan desserts. Sholeh Zard is no exception. This Persian rice pudding with saffron and rose water comes with pistachios, cinnamon and sometimes almonds on top. It’s sweet but just at the right amount, hence why you’re usually left with a whole bowl to yourself. It’s that inevitable!

Recipe

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Sometimes the cinnamon on top is decorated in a way to depict the names of God or the Shia Imams. Photo: Samaneh Salavati

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Photo: Sedigheh Amrollahi

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A bowl of Sholeh Zard for everyone. No fighting! Photo: Samaneh Salavati

Despite the delicious food in Ramadan, the Holy Month is a great excuse for families to gather. Everyone tries to invite their families and friends for dinner. Even many companies, universities and schools will have a special iftar dinner.

While fasting from food is what Ramadan is always known for, it’s really about detoxicating your soul and an excuse to forgive, love and cherish everything you’re given and not to forget, Be grateful!
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Happy Ramadan to all those who celebrate, may you have a blessed one! 🙂

And Thank you to the most loveliest friends who were on a mission to take as many iftar food photos as they can for this post to be completed. Love you all!

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  • Bahareh Vahid

    عزیزم مثل همیشه عالی فقط یه اطلاعات اشتباه دادی زولبیا و بامیه و یکی نیستند و فرقشون ظاهرشون نیست عزیزم در تهیه ی زولبیا ماست بکار رفته و تخم مرغ نداره ! بر عکس بامیه ماست نداره و تخم مرغ داره ! شرمنده ها ولی به شیرینی می رسه غیرتی می شم

    • سلام بهاره. خیلی ممنونم عزیزم که گفتی. من خودم چون بلد نبودم بپزمش اشتباه شده. البته بیشتر بخاطر اینکه تو ویکی پدیا اوینطوری نوشته بود. منم از رو اون گفتم. الان درستش می کنم. بازم مرسی خانم 🙂

      • Bahareh Vahid

        برخلاف ویکی پیدیای انگلیسی که یه منبع معتبره ویکی فارسی پر از غلطه من اطمینان کامل دارم بازم رسپی ها رو چک کن و عکاسی غذاهات حرف نداره بینظیره

        • من به تو اطمینان دارم دختر جان. 🙂 اشتباه از من بود که به ویکیپدیا اطمینان کردم. کلا جای معتبری نیست. نه فارسی نه انگلیسی.

  • Ali

    Wow! And how is one supposed not to go nuts and not to feel starving after reading this? Although one of my favorites (Haleem Bademjan) wasn’t included in the list, (it’s not considered the same as Haleem, is it?) but I can hardly contain myself now!
    What a peaceful neighborhood of Queen Elizabeth and Ali, BTW! 😀
    And, the pictures are all great. Nice decorations. The Ash (is it?) in the last photo is astonishing!

    P.S.: I don’t wanna sound like a spell-correction machine, (do they make sounds? :D) but you might want to change a “your” to “you’re”. Near the end of the post. 😀

    • Thank you Ali. Yes my friends did an amazing job at cooking/taking pictures of everything 🙂
      I seriously don’t mind about the spell-checking. I actually appreciate it. I sent this post to a friend of mine to double-check before I published but it seems that one word skipped his eyes as well as mine.
      But Thank you very much for letting me know. It’s all fixed now. Better late than never. right? 😉
      And thank you for your always encouraging comments.
      Peace!

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