From the Founders: How Our Family Observes Ramadan

From the Founders: How Our Family Observes Ramadan

By: Farrah Moussallati Sibai

Every day at sunset during Ramadan, our family gathers together for our ifṭār meal followed by taraweeh prayers. It’s a precious time to me — my daughters, husband, in-laws, and any other friends and family in the house prepare the meal together and then we all enjoy the replenishment after fasting all day.  

This year, Ramadan is expected to begin ​​on the evening of April 2 and lasts until sundown on May 1. As we fast from sunrise to sundown throughout Ramadan to observe its holiness, I want to share with you some of the dishes and beverages that are common components of our table! You can see a couple recipes at the bottom!  

Our Ramadan Meals: Suhoor & Ifṭār

During Ramadan in my house, everyone (even the teenagers) try to wake up about 30 minutes before sunrise for suhoor — the meal before we begin to fast. Each person eats differently during this meal: cereal or a sandwich or nothing at all. If we are all up and ready to eat together, we sometimes make a suhoor breakfast with eggs, cheese, olives, tomatoes, salad, Afia Falafel, hummus.

We always drink a lot of water to prepare us for the day of fasting and engage in the Fajr prayer together. Many of us go off to the Afia facility to work together and return close to sunset. 

We gather together in the kitchen 20-30 minutes before we break our fast to help prep, heat up the meal, and place drinks on the table. Come sunset, we’re all at the table ready to break our fast with soup, water, and dates once the call for maghrib starts and we all say a prayer. 

Here’s what’s usually on the table: 

  • Dates: My favorite are the Medjool dates because they are large and soft! 
  • Soup
  • Ma’arouk: Bread stuffed with dates and topped with sesame seeds 
  • One or two main entrées 
  • Salad: Either fattoush, traditional salad or tabouli (everyone’s favorite!)
  • Sides and appetizers: Afia Kibbeh for sure, hummus, yalanji (rice and veggie stuffed vine leaves), fatayer (small pies made with cheese, meat, spinach)
  • Arabic bread
  • Rice
  • Lots of water! 
  • Beverages: Sous (licorice tea drink), qamar al deen (apricot juice) 

Celebrating the End of Ramadan: Eid al-Fitr

Like all Muslims who observe Ramadan, our family marks the end of the holy month with Eid al-Fitr – the “Feast of Fast-Breaking”. 

Before Eid prayer, every able person must pay Zakat al-Fitr. This charity is given to the poor so they are able to celebrate Eid; the donation is about $10 per person and can be directed to any organization.  

On the first day of Eid, our family gathers with others in a mosque or large hall for prayer. It’s a lovely time to bump into people you haven’t seen in a while and mark the end of Ramadan together. I always buy new clothes for myself and my family, and we exchange gifts and decorate the house together! 

After Eid prayers, we either enjoy a meal at home or go out for manakish (closest comparison is an arabic flatbread). For dinner, we gather with family and friends at someone’s house. Whoever has the most spacious house typically hosts because the event can get quite large! This is my favorite part about Eid, because it brings together families around one table to celebrate and everyone contributes so the host can also enjoy the day. 

I also love seeing the kids wearing their new clothes and enjoying their presents. And there is lots of dancing! We play arabic music and everyone dances while preparing the food (and sometimes while eating) and into the night.

Everyone’s table at Eid looks a little different. But here are some of the most common dishes: 

  • Kibbeh in many forms! 
    • Croquettes like Afia 
    • Kibbeh bil sanieh (baked kibbeh pie)
    • Kibbeh mishwiyeh (grilled kibbeh)
  • Hummus
  • A rice dish like a mansaf or kabsi (arabic version of biryani) topped with lamb and nuts
  • Yabraak (stuffed vine leaves)
  • Salads like tabouli
  • Sides like pies or sambousaks 
  • Desserts like kunefe (my favorite arabic dessert!) 

Sometimes, we will also do mashawi (arabic bbq) with different types of kebabs on a skewer like ground beef, ground beef mixed with onions and parsley, and shisk tawouk (chicken pieces and lamb pieces). We grill them with onions, tomatoes and peppers and serve hummus, baba ganoush (grilled eggplant), fries, salad and hot arabic bread on the side. 

Recipes for Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr 

Alright, I’m really hungry after sharing all this and hope you are too! Here are some of the recipes for dishes mentioned above. And of course, you should stock up on Afia Falafel and Kibbeh for your Ramadan and Eid meals! 

Traditional Hummus

  • 35 oz garbanzo beans
  • 5.5 oz tahini
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1.5 tsp. citric Acid
  • Juice of one lemon 
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Paprika, olive oil, and chickpeas to garnish  

How to Make It

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  2. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, drizzle of olive oil, and a handful of chickpeas – arrange around the edge of the dish. 

Couscous Salad

  • 1 cup couscous, prepared according to package directions 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Za’atar

How to Make It 

  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Place a serving of the couscous salad in a small bowl
  3. Top with Afia Falafel!