In honor of the holy month of Ramadan, Musement offers you an overview of ten traditional foods savored during the iftar meal.
Tasty delicacies characterized by the presence of abundant hot spices, a rainbow of colors, and fragrant aromas that mingle with joyful voices and exclamations of delight—these are the trademarks of the iftar (or fatoor), the meal savored at sunset to break the Ramadan fast.
We are currently in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, the holy month of Ramadan, which falls this year from April 23 to May 23. To celebrate this occasion in our own way, we have decided to focus on ten specialties from the Maghreb countries, which are often present on the tables during iftar. The recipes for the Ramadan food are easily found on the internet and can be quietly made at home.
Andalusian in origin, harira is typical Ramadan food in Morocco and western Algeria. The most popular version is undoubtedly the harira fassia, which can be enjoyed all year round in the city of Fez and is often served with chebakiaa fried rose-shaped pastry flavored with honey and rosewater. This tomato, lamb and chickpea soup sometimes has other legumes, tlitli (bird tongue pasta), or vermicelli. Rich in spices and coriander, it is incredibly flavorful and the addition of tedouira (a mixture of flour and water) at the end of cooking adds creaminess.
Chorba is a traditional soup typical of Algeria. Unlike harira, it’s prepared without tedouira and is therefore lighter. Always comprised of vermicelli, chorba is consumed yearround, especially during winter, and usually accompanied by dates (especially during Ramadan) and chebakia.
3. Briouats with almonds
In North Africa, these triangles made of almond and honey brick pastry sheets are a must during holidays, special occasions, and of course Ramadan. Filled with marzipan and flavored with orange flower water, they are fried before being dipped in honey and sprinkled with peeled almonds.
Chebakia, m’kharqa, or griwech is a pastry rich in spices such as cinnamon, orange blossom, saffron and aniseed. It’s fried in vegetable oil before being covered with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
The mahjouba, mhajeb or msemen is a flaky Algerian pancake made from semolina that can be stuffed with vegetables, meat, or fish.
You’ve likely seen these pancakes with thousand holes in the Instagram feed of one of your friends on holiday in Marrakech. Always part of the dreamy breakfasts offered in the riads, baghrirs, soaked in butter and honey, are also quite popular during Ramadan.
These adorable round buns baked in a pan are often found on iftar tables. Easy to make and versatile, they may be stuffed with meat or fish and accompany a tagine dish, or even come in a sweet version with a little honey and melted butter.
If you’ve been to Fez, you’ve probably already eaten the famous chicken pastilla fassi. Wrapped in a crispy sheet of brick pastry, the pastilla is a sweet and savory preparation made with honey, chicken, almonds, eggs, raisins, all sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar.
It can be sweet or savory, but the important thing is that the M’hencha always has the characteristic snail shell shape that it’s named for, which means “serpentine” in Algerian Arabic. The m’hencha or mhancha is always found on the table, and not only during Ramadan.
Cigar-shaped or triangular, stuffed with minced meat or vegetarian, sweet or savory, there is never a shortage of bricks on the tables during the month of Ramadan. Crunchy and easy to eat, they are very popular with the whole family. In Tunisia, they are called the fingers of Fatma and their Turkish cousins are known as bourek.