With busy twenty-first century schedules, Ramadan has changed a lot over the years for some families.
But the month of fasting remains an important period of reflection and quality time spent with loved ones for the majority of Britain’s Muslim communities.
We spoke to three influencers about their family traditions, changing attitudes in Britain, and putting on delicious spreads.
continuing family meal times
“Ramadan is a special month for my family where we come together for Iftar (the meal eaten after sunset to break the fast) and prayer,” she explains.
“As our lives have become busier, it’s the one thing I’ve made sure that I pass on to my three children — continuing the tradition of family meal times — so that they understand the meaning of Ramadan.”
Working at a radio station, Anisa has a busy schedule but she still makes the time to prepare chaats (fried dough balls), samosas (fried triangular pastries filled with meat or potato) and pakoras (spiced vegetable fritters) for the whole family.
“Years ago, my family had to plan meals well in advance because it wasn’t easy getting all the desi (south Asian) ingredients. Now, it’s become much easier with supermarkets like Asda stocking everything. I can drive home from work and pick up all I need on the way.”
The increase in suhour options (the meal before dawn) and Iftar options is great for Anisa, who lives a fast-paced and busy lifestyle.
“My mother cooked everything from scratch; for me, it’s a mixture of scratch-cooking and buying readymade foods such as readymade Samosas and halal fried chicken fillets, while my daughter buys everything from the supermarket.”
becoming more mindful about food
When Youtuber, filmmaker and tech influencer "Super Saf" was growing up, Ramadan was always a time for fun family get-togethers and amazing food. But as he got older, it has also become about moments of reflection and eating mindfully.
Having grown up in the UK, Saf believes there has been a positive change in the way that people perceive Ramadan.
“When I would fast in the past, my colleagues wouldn’t be aware of Ramadan and would say things in disbelief like ‘Oh, you can’t even drink water!’. But now, there are more conversations about Ramadan amongst the wider population and a lot more people understand it,” says Saf.
Simply going into his local Asda and seeing the Ramadan aisle demonstrated the shift in wider recognition for Saf. “The first time I saw it, I took a picture and sent it to my family and friends. It was a very homely feeling.”
And it’s not just the growing conversations about Ramadan that has changed for Saf — his own relationship with food during Ramadan has evolved, too. Now, Saf prefers a healthy grilled meat dish, like these tandoori chicken skewers, over the fried treats of his childhood.
“When I was growing up, Ramadan was all about fried food like samosas and pakoras,” he recalls. “Nowadays, I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle, so I eat more grilled meats and lots of vegetables and fruits like watermelons and satsumas, but occasionally I can’t say no to a fried samosa.”
balancing tradition and busy schedules
When prominent TV personality Natasha Asghar was growing up in Wales, her family was one of the few Muslim households in Newport.
"When I was younger, my mum didn't like me fasting because there were very few Muslims around and people didn't really understand what Ramadan and Islam was about,” Natasha recalls.
While she endeavoured to explain Ramadan to her peers, her mum Firdaus, who’s a doctor, struggled to stock the house with everything they needed for the month. She says, "When Natasha was growing up, we only had two shops where we could buy Asian food and it was difficult to get halal meat as most people didn't know what it is."
Luckily, more and more large-scale stores are offering halal and Iftar (the meal eaten after sunset to break the fast) options.
“Today, there's a wide range of halal products on sale, and supermarkets like Asda have made things convenient for everyone,” says Natasha. “Last year, when I was going back and forth from Wales, I would stop at Asda and pick up all my Iftar food and go home and not worry about anything.”
Firdaus says, “Before, I would make samosas and shami kebabs (small meat patties flavoured with spices) from scratch, but now everything is available readymade — like the Humza charcoal kebabs — which helps when we have our get-togethers.
“But I still make things like papdi chaat (fried dough chips with chickpeas, yogurt and chutney) and dahi wade (fried dough balls in yogurt) from scratch using Natural bio yogurt, because Natasha loves it."
No matter how you and your family choose to observe Ramadan, we have everything you need to keep to your favourite traditions and nourish your body with your favourite, slow-burning-energy recipes all under one roof. Make sure to stock up on everything you need at Asda or pop into your local store.