Joudie kalla cooking

Everything you need to know about Ramadan

Chef Joudie Kalla tells us all about the Islamic month of fasting

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Everything you need to know about Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, where, for around 30 days and nights, strict fasting is observed from dawn to sunset.

"Anything hearty and warming to the soul is very much welcome at the table"

This year, the month runs from May 15 to June 14 and ends with Eid al-Fitr, which is the festival of breaking the fast. During Eid, Muslims will wear their best clothes, decorate their homes and, of course, eat a special celebratory feast.

"Ramadan is a time to reflect on our lives and to take a moment to think about other people who are less fortunate than us," says chef and author of Palestine on a Plate, Joudie Kalla. 

We spoke to Joudie about what Ramadan means to her, as well as the best meals to break your fast.

What does Ramadan mean to you?

"Fasting is not only about not eating or drinking, but it's also about not committing any sins. 

"It's a time where you give yourself the opportunity to become better. It's supposed to remind you of people who are less fortunate, who have nothing, that you generally don’t think about in everyday life. Even things like when you are brushing your teeth you have to be aware not swallow any water, or wasting too much water when it is running.

"Ramadan is about thinking of every action you do and what repercussions it may have on you or others. It's a time of reflection of self-control, prayers, and faith.

"It also makes you appreciate your food when it has been taken away from you. Fasting has also been proven to be very good for the body and is even used in western practice to heal the body from any impurities, so it has many positive effects on the gut and the mind."

How and when do you break your fast?

"We break our fast at sunset each day and this time changes daily so you must be aware of this. We usually break our fast on three dates as this is what our prophet Muhammad did when he broke his fast. After this, we would eat a soup make up of freekeh and chicken to warm our insides and then perhaps a salad

"The point is to not over eat after all the fasting as it then totally destroys what you are doing. You have to eat in moderation and eat slowly."

What dishes are great for breaking your fast with?

"The dishes we choose are slow burning foods, such as freekeh soup, to make you feel full for longer and nourish you. The dates help with the sugar to increase your insulin level as you are probably very tired at this point.

"There are many dishes that we eat during Ramadan but the freekeh soup - for my family - is very important because it has many benefits and is even considered a superfood these days. Dishes like Fattet Djaj (a dish of rice, chicken and pitta bread) as well are very popular. Anything hearty and warming to the soul is very much welcome at the table."

 

Some more hearty meals to inspire your Iftar (evening meal)...

Jewelled butternut squash houmous and griddle crudités

It's easy to forget your 5-a-day when you're preoccupied with slow-releasing energy that will keep you going all day. This easy-prep sharing starter is bursting with flavours and colours, and is a great way to get everyone eating plenty of fresh veg thanks to the crudités.

Moroccan-style spatchcock chicken

Feast your eyes on this succulent dish, flavoured with a delicate blend of spices your tummy will thank you for. Pair with some wholegrains with barley, quinoa or brown rice for a filling, nutritious meal that replenishes your energy stores.

Chickpeas with halloumi, spinach & tomato

This exotic fusion of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern flavours will quickly become your go-to meal. Filling halloumi and chickpeas provide slow-burning energy to prepare the body for tomorrow's fast, making this spicy stew a smart choice for Iftar.

Rib-eye steak with dukkah crust & fattoush salad

Dukkah is a highly popular and widely used seasoning accross the Middle East. This dukkah-dusted steak with tasty fattoush salad is delicious and packed with flavour you can look forward to.

Tabbouleh

This traditional Middle Eastern salad is fresh and herby thanks to the generous amounts of parsley and mint. Serve with grilled meats or a hearty salad for a wholesome and colourful meal.

Maamoul

When it comes to breaking the final fast during Eid, these traditional date pastries will go down a treat. The dates sweeten the soft, buttery pastry, and rose water adds a beautiful and delicate fragrance.

Make sure you stock up on everything you need including cooking utensils at Asda or pop into your local store for all your ingredients.