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:
#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.
#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!
#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. 😉
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.
#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.
#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!
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!
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!