Ramadan, also spelt Ramazan, Ramzan, Ramadhan or Ramathan, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Healthy adult Muslims fast in Ramadan from dawn until dusk. This includes abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity are also encouraged during the holy month.

What are the rules of Ramadan?

The main rule of fasting is that 1) you must not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset. After sunset, Muslims eat a meal known as iftar. 2) Sexual relations between married couples are banned during the daylight hours of fasting. A central part of fasting is about controlling your desires.

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in sexual activity from dawn to sunset. That includes taking medication (even if you swallow a pill dry, without drinking any water).

What is Ramadan, and why?

Ramadan is the holiest month of the year in Islamic culture. For Muslims, it’s a time for spiritual reflection and growth, to help those in need, and to spend time with loved ones. It’s also a time when Muslims worldwide fast during daylight hours for the whole month of Ramadan.

What food is eaten during Ramadan?

Ramadan food lamb

20 Ramadan Foods To Try

1. Dates

Traditionally, the Ramadan fast is broken with dates. This intensely sweet fruit is high in fibre and potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. Dates may be served in their natural state, stuffed with nuts or rolled with coconut.

Ramadan food dates

2. Shorba

Shorba is a lentil soup popular in the Middle East. Also known as Arabic lentil soup, this healthy mix of vegetables and protein is an excellent way to ease the stomach into breaking the Ramadan fast before indulging in heavier dishes.

3. Kibbe

Present on many Middle Eastern tables during the month of Ramadan (and year-round); kibbe are small fried dumplings stuffed with meat. The dough is made from bulgur wheat, which has a pleasant chewy texture perfect for frying.

4. Keema Samosa

Keema samosas are very popular in India as an iftar treat. These fritters are filled with minced mutton meat and contain an aromatic blend of spices, including garam masala, ginger, chillies and mint. Learn how to make samosas like a chef.

5. Afghani Bolani

This stuffed flatbread from Afghanistan is similar to Indian paratha. It is usually stuffed with potatoes, onions and herbs and can be baked or fried. It can be enjoyed in the morning for suhoor or iftar.

6. Haleem

This home-style stew has become an iftar favourite thanks to its nutritious blend of mutton meat slow-cooked with cracked wheat, spices and lentils.

7. Ful Medammes

At Ramadan tables across North Africa and the Middle East, you’ll often find this fava bean puree known as Ful Medammes. It is similar to hummus in texture and flavoured with garlic, olive oil and tahini.

8. Kebabs

Kebabs of all sorts are popular at iftar meals. Some kebabs feature ground meat wrapped around an iron rod (such as Pakistan’s seekh kebabs), while other kebabs are made from chunky pieces of meat grilled to perfection.

Ramadan food kebabs

9. Beguni

In Bangladesh, a typical Ramadan meal features beguni, a dish composed of eggplant slices that are battered and fried until golden. These are typically served over rice.

10. Dahi Vada

Popular in India, these lentil dumplings are soaked in a yoghurt sauce laced with spices and chillies. They are a very refreshing iftar dish.

11. Fattoush

Nutrition is an integral part of Ramadan, and the fresh vegetables in this popular Lebanese salad are very nourishing, while the crisp pita bread adds a welcome crunch.

12. Pakora

Popular in India and throughout the subcontinent, pakoras are decadent fritters made with a combination of vegetables. They may also be prepared with paneer (Indian cheese), seafood, chicken or meat. Learn how to make potato pakoras with yoghurt sauce.

13. Fresh Fruit Salad

Hydrating, sweet and satisfying fresh fruit is a must at any Ramadan table. Fresh fruit may be enjoyed during the morning meal of suhoor or evening iftar.

14. Kunafa (Kunafeh)

A delicious pastry made with phyllo dough that looks like shredded wheat. It is irresistibly crunchy and may be stuffed with cheese, nuts or custard. It is very popular in Jordan and neighbouring Middle Eastern countries.

15. Baklava

This Mediterranean pastry featuring layers of nuts, honey and phyllo dough is best enjoyed on the last day of Ramadan, a celebration known as Eid al-Fitr.

Ramadan food baklava

16. Kolak

This sweet and tasty dessert is popular in Indonesia for breaking the Ramadan fast. It is made from a combination of palm sugar, coconut milk and the leaf of a tropical tree known as pandanus. It may include other sweet ingredients such as bananas or sweet potatoes.

17. Kheer

This humble Indian rice pudding is laced with cardamom and gets the royal treatment during Ramadan with a sprinkle of rose water. Learn how to make Indian rice pudding.

18. Umm Ali

This beloved Egyptian bread pudding features an enticing combination of bread or phyllo dough, cream, milk, nuts and cinnamon. It is made even more festive with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, coconut flakes and raisins. Fun fact: the dessert’s name literally means “mother of Ali” in Arabic.

19. Jallab

You’ll be hooked on this refreshing drink popular in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East with just one taste. It is made from dates, rose water and grape molasses and served topped with pine nuts.

20. Tamer Hindi

This sweet and sour juice is made from tamarind pulp (pleasantly tart), sugar and water. It is often dressed up with a slice of lime and served over plenty of ice.

What happens when Ramadan ends?

Food is often shared with a poor families during Ramadan.

At the end of the 29- or 30-day fast (depending on the length of the lunar cycle) is Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast) when there is much feasting and celebration!