Skip to content

Invited to iftar for the first time? Here's what you need to know this Ramadan

We speak to My Hungry Husband founder, Ilhaam Banoobhai-Anwar about the significance of this fast breaking meal

Bookmark article to read later

By Alyxandra Carolus | March 18, 2024 | Recipes

South Africa is home to many cultures, religious beliefs and often non-practising guests will be invited to experience a cultural event. Ramadan, the month of fasting, is currently underway and is observed by Muslims worldwide. This annual observation requires Muslims to fast from dawn to sunset for around 29 to 30 days. The fast-breaking meal in the evening is called iftar.

We spoke to Ilhaan Banoobhai-Anwar, culinary lecturer and co-founder of the award-winning halaal food brand, My Hungry Husband. She delves into why medjool dates are a staple at iftar, what guests can bring along and what her favourite recipes are to make during this month.

Can you explain what the significance of iftar is during Ramadan?

Iftar is the name given to the meal that Muslims break their fast with at the end of the day during Ramadaan. We fast from sunrise to sunset. In the morning we have Sehri or Suhoor.

Are there specific dishes that are used to break the fast during iftar?

There is always dates in some form. Our favourite is definitely medjool dates, fruit - especially now that it’s the end of summer fruit is really refreshing, Falooda is quite popular too - a drink made with milk, sabja seeds (basil seeds) and rose syrup.

We try not to eat too many savouries like samoosas and bhajias as they are fried food but delicious on occasion!

What are some of your favourite meals to prepare throughout Ramadan?

I love making soup, you tend to get full quite quickly so we enjoy eating lighter but still nutritious meals. Kashif’s favourite soup is chicken and corn soup or khowse which is a Burmese dish of coconut soup served with noodles and lots of accompaniments like crispy samoosa pur, fresh coriander, lemon juice, onion, garlic and chillies!

What are some of the foods to avoid and what can a non-practicing guest bring to an iftar dinner if invited?

Too many fried foods or savouries and heavy rich desserts tend to leave you feeling tired and sluggish.

A gift for the host like dates or flowers are always appreciated to brighten up their home, but giving back to the community during this time in any way is highly recommended.