Before and After Your Ramadan Fast: Foods for Suhoor and Iftar
Ramadan (in Arabic: رمضان, Ramadān) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During the whole month, observers of Islam fast from sunrise to sunset. During the fast, no food or drink is consumed, and thoughts must be kept pure. Followers of Islam believe that fasting teaches patience, modesty, and spirituality.
During Ramadan, two main meals are served: suhoor (or sehri), which is served before dawn, and iftar, which is served after sunset. Meals are eaten with family or with the local community. Suhoor and iftar meals typically contain fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats , breads, cheeses, and sweets.
The types of food served vary by region, whether you’re in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, North America, or beyond. The meals are served either at home with family, in the community mosques, or other designated places within the Muslim community.
To help you plan ahead, see our Ramadan Meal Plan for a Week of Delicious and Nourishing Meals. We have many more ideas for meals during Ramadan. Ramadhan Mubarak!
What to Eat for Suhoor
Suhoor should be a hearty, healthy meal to provide needed energy throughout a day of fasting . The meal should be completed by the time the sun has risen and the fajr, or morning prayer, has begun.
“I try to keep my Ramadan very light and full of fiber, proteins, and complex carbs,” says Amanda Saab of the blog Amanda’s Plate. “When Ramadan is during hot summer months, I also focus on hydrating foods.”
Suhoor Meal Ideas
What to Eat for Iftar
At the end of the day, when the sun sets, the maghrib prayer starts, and the day’s fast is broken with iftar. Many people break their fast by eating dates before beginning the iftar meal. You may continue eating and drinking throughout the night until the next day’s suhoor.
“During iftar, a series of snacks are cooked,” says Kaif Khan of the blog Quirk Kitchen. “Some people prefer to have a few snacks and opt for having a complete dinner after. It usually includes spicy vegetable or paneer fritters, spicy fruit chaat, dal, dates, and sometimes fruit custard.”
Khan also calls out a special rosy pink syrup called Rooh Afza, made from a mix of ingredients including coriander, orange, pineapple, carrot, rose petals, spinach, and mint. “No Ramadan is complete without a bottle of Rooh Afza,” she says. “This drink is a staple in our house for iftar. Usually it is prepared with the addition of just water and lime — another version is a Rooh Afza lassi,” she says.
Iftar Meal Ideas
- Dates: eaten on their own, the best-known way to break your fast
- Fruit Chaat: a sweet and spicy salad
- Qamar Al-Din: an apricot drink to break your fast
- Easy Lamb Kebabs
- Chicken 65: Spicy, bite-sized chicken marinated and deep-fried
- Chole: Black chickpeas cooked with cumin and onions
- Instant Pot Kacchi Lamb Dum Biryani
- Dahi Vadey: Chickpea yogurt fritters
- Ful Medammes: Fava beans cooked with garlic
- Fattoush: A salad of vegetables and pita bread
- 35 Delicious and Filling Dinner Ideas for Iftar
At the end of the Ramadan month, observers celebrate the Festival of Fast-Breaking, called Eid al-Fitr.
Who Fasts and Who Does Not
The fast is strictly observed, even in higher latitudes, by all adult Muslims. The elderly, sick, and mentally ill are exempt from the fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. In some Muslim communities, people who miss the fasting portion of Ramadan generously feed the poor and unfortunate during the suhoor and iftar meals.
This post has been edited based on an original article by Kathryn Hill.