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Journal entry

Fasting, feasting – Ramadan & Eid

A GUEST POST BY RIDA BILGRAMI

Last week, millions of Muslims around the world embarked on the month-long cycle of fasting, prayer and reflection that is Ramadan – the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. Despite the day’s length and the sun’s summer strength, no morsel of food or drop of liquid will pass their lips from dawn until nightfall, when they may finally break their fast.

But the spirit of Ramadan goes beyond the ritual of fasting and purifying oneself. The essence of this sacred month – during which the first chapters of the holy Qur’an were first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him – truly lies in the spirit of sharing and giving. This warmth of spirit is seen every evening in families coming together to joyfully break their fasts at nightfall, and in the many acts of compassion towards the less fortunate, from donations to charity to gifts of food to the poor.

During Ramadan, an early, hearty breakfast prepares the body for the challenging day ahead. The day passes, and towards nightfall, anticipation builds. As the sun sinks beneath the skyline, the family gathers around the dining table, recounting the day’s events, sharing jokes and complimenting the women in the household for their skilful preparation of the iftar meal. Or perhaps a visit to the mosque, to join with one’s Muslim brothers and sisters for a communal banquet, shared between tens or even hundreds. After dark, no-one goes hungry.

Ramadan culminates with Eid al-Fitr, this year in mid-August, following the sighting of the moon which marks the advent of a new Islamic month. The evening before Eid, which is known as Chaand Raat (night of the moon) is a celebration filled with joy and excitement. It signifies the end of a period of self-discipline and the beginning of great festivities – and of course, the copious amounts of delicious food that comes with them. The evening is filled with last-minute visits to tailors, adding the finishing touches to the brand-new outfits customarily worn at Eid; a trip to the barber’s may also be in order. The atmosphere buzzes with the chatter of cousins and friends decorating one another’s hands with intricate henna patterns; the air is scented with seductive aromas emanating from the kitchen, as the Eid feast is prepared.

At last, the morning of Eid al-Fitr dawns. Families wake, prepare, visit the mosque to perform the communal morning prayers. Dressed in their new clothes, they spend the day visiting relatives to pay their respects and receive their blessings. Feasting continues throughout the day, as every household invariably serves their guests a dizzying array of festive dishes, from hearty haleem garnished with ginger, green chillies and caramelized onions, to seviyan and Sheer Khurma, a signature Eid dish in Asian Muslim households.

But although the feasts are fondly recalled after the event, at its heart, Eid is truly a time for families to forgive past grievances, create treasured memories, and come together to rejoice in each other’s company.

Read more of Rida Bilgrami’s work on her blog

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So, in the spirit of the celebration, we’re serving a special Eid feast from Sunday 19th August (when Eid is likely to begin – depending on the moon’s sighting, of course). We’ll also have a paan-walla and mehndi-walli on hand for all to enjoy – so we really hope you can join in the festivities with us!

In the meantime, we wish Ramadan Kareem to all our Muslim friends. May your prayers and fasts be accepted.

(Oh, and we’ll have some dates available every day to break your fast – just ask!)

All chicken and lamb served at Dishoom is always sourced from HFA-certified suppliers.

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martin

You sell pork and bacon, how are you serving halal? Are you even muslim?

Sara

Hi Martin - thanks for your comment. I completely understand your concern. All of our lamb and chicken is Halal and is sourced from HFA-certified suppliers. The only place on our menu where we serve sausages and bacon is on our breakfast menu and we are incredibly careful about stripping out all the equipment we use to prepare these items and ensuring that it is thoroughly cleaned and stored separately before we serve lunch and dinner. All breakfast meats are contained and stored separately to our other food. Many of our chefs strictly only eat Halal - so they are very conscientious in making sure all of this is observed. Dishoom is very diverse - we are a team of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and people of many other faiths. We throw events for Holi, Christmas, Diwali and Eid. We work hard to make Dishoom a place where all are welcomed with warmth, and differences are celebrated rather than judged. Hope that helps - and look forward to seeing you soon!

Waseem

That was an excellent reply Sara. Love the philosophy behind Dishoom. Well done guys!

Nylah

I'm a Muslim and I see you serve alcoholic drinks. How can you assure me that there is no mixing between the alcoholic and non- alcoholic drinks as they are prepared at the same bar?

Sara

Hi Nylah, the team are very well trained in this respect. We all understand how important it is that alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are kept separate.

saffy

Hi, I came to Eid at Dishoom last year in Covent Garden and was wondering whether you're hosting another event this year? Thanks Saffiah

Sara

Hi Saffy - yes, on Sunday 19th July in King's Cross - we will be releasing details shortly!

Shamima

Is dishoom in Shoreditch halal??

Ginny

Hi Shamina, All of our lamb and chicken is Halal and is sourced from Halal certified suppliers. :-)