Ramadan is a special time throughout the Middle East. For many, it’s a spiritual time to reflect, to spend with family and friends, and to focus on what’s important in life. A huge part of the socializing aspect of Ramadan is centered around the breaking of the fast (iftar) and the meal before the day of fasting begins (sohour). We listed special food and drinks that resurface every year in Ramadan around the region.

1) Erk Soos — A thick, sweet drink made of the extract of liquorice plant, Erk Soos is commonly consumed in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria. Typically it’s a bit of an acquired taste, but those who like soos, love this drink and look forward to it each Ramadan.

2) Qatayef — Common in the Levant and Egypt, Qatayef is a sweet treat synonymous with Ramadan. It can be made either fried or baked, and filled with either cheese or walnuts/pistachios. Want to learn to make Qatayef (it’s not as difficult as it looks!)? This video will help you prepare delicious Qatayef!

3) Cheese and Watermelon — A great light way to break your fast, Jibneh wa bateekh is the perfect mix of sweet and creamy. Common all around the region, foreigners might find the mix surprising until they try it for themselves. Here’s a great recipe that adds a few twists to the classic mix.

4) Madgooga (مدكوكة) –Iraqi scholar and author Nisreen Nasrallah wrote a book entitled Delights from the Garden of Eden, sharing the history and recipes of authentic Iraqi meals and desserts. On her blog In my Iraqi Kitchen, she shares some of the history behind the date, and includes this rich, sweet recipe for Madgooga, a traditional Iraqi dessert often enjoyed during Ramadan.

5) Brik and Chorba — In Tunisia, fasts are broken with Brik (pronounced “Breek”) and chorba, (“shoraba” or soup). Brik, a deep-fried pastry shell filled with cheese, egg and tuna, and chorba, are eaten together and are hearty and traditional parts of a Tunisian iftar. To try out these recipes, visit Tunisia Live.

6) Harira — A traditional tomato-based soup eaten for Iftar in Morocco, harira can be prepared days in advance and eaten each day as a light way to break the fast before eating main courses. A delicious, straightforward recipe by Jeff Koehler from his culinary book Morocco can be found here.

What do you think of these traditional Ramadan foods? Do you have any others that should be added to the list? Tell us in the comments below! 

For more traditional Iraqi and Moroccan meal and dessert recipes, add these books to your shelf:

 

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