During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and refrain from consuming any food or drink. It’s a time spent reflecting on the importance of patience as well as empathy with those who may be less fortunate than us. There are two main meals which take place during Ramadan, “suhoor” which occurs before dawn and should be full of nutrients since it will need to keep you going for the rest of the day. The other is “iftar” which is usually spent with family members and friends and is the fast-breaking meal.

Although it varies from culture to culture as well as which area of the world you live in, there is always a large emphasis given to the iftar meal because it is the culmination of a whole day of fasting. Other than water, here are a few of the typical items you would find on the table during the month of Ramadan.

1. Dates


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Usually, most people break their fast with three dates as per tradition. Aside from that, dates are full of nutrients and are high in sugar which makes them the perfect food to get your energy up and ready to take on the rest of the delicious items ahead.

2. Soups


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After refraining from any liquids during the day, having a nice warm bowl of soup is just the thing to quench your thirst and start to fill you up. In Morocco, this is usually the Harira soup, made from a mixture of meat, lentils and chickpeas, whereas in the Middle East it tends to be just a simple lentil soup.

3. Salads


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Obviously you have to get your daily veggies in there somehow and a salad is the perfect way. In the Arab region, for example, this tends to be the Fattoush which is a mixture of different vegetables topped with fried pita crisps, or the Tabbouleh, made of tomatoes, parsley, bulgur, and onion.

4. Meats


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Moving on to the real stuff, the meat. In places like Iraq, a common dish is Masgouf, which is a type of baked fish that is covered with different spices. Different variations of Kofta is another common one and is basically a combination of minced meat with onions and several spices. It’s consumed in The Balkans, Middle East, as well as in some parts of Asia.

5. Rice-Based Dishes


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Rice is basically found in almost every dish, ranging from the traditional Indian Biryani’s mainly composed of meat, rice, and vegetables, to the Arab Mansaf, a dish of lamb which is cooked with yogurt and served with rice. There’s even sometimes an assortment of vegetables like eggplants, zucchinis, and vine leaves stuffed with rice and meat to make what is commonly referred to as Mahshi.

6. Desserts


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A personal favorite of mine, dessert time basically equals chill time. This is when the pressure of preparing for the iftar meal is over and you can just sit back and enjoy the company around you. In Indonesia, a dessert made of palm sugar, coconut sugar, coconut milk and Pandanus leaf called Kolak is enjoyed, and in the Arab region, a popular dessert called Kunafah is served which is a pastry made up of dough and cheese and covered in sweet sugar syrup.

7. Sweet drinks


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Last but not least, the drinks. These are enjoyed during the meal or well after iftar time. Popular in the Indian subcontinent, the sweet drink of Falooda is made up of rose water, vermicelli, and tapioca pearls. Other drinks include Amar Al-Din a drink of dried apricots and water, as well as Tamar Hindi, made up of dates, sugar, and water.