Fasting, feasting – Ramadan & Eid

Ramadan

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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Chef Rishi, on grilling

As a thirteen year old boy in Delhi with endless energy and appetite, I treasured Sunday mornings. I’d wake up early, jump on my rickety Hero Cycle bicycle and hurriedly pedal five miles to a park close to Shantivan and Raj Ghat. There, me and my friends would set-up makeshift stick stumps and play cricket for hours… or until our minds and bellies turned (inevitably) to food.

Eid al-Fitr

The Celebration of Breaking Fast

The festival of Eid al-Fitr (literally “the Celebration of the Breaking of the Fast”) marks the conclusion of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month where restraint and discipline must be practised.

Dishoom's Cheese & Masala Sticks Recipe

In India, mealtimes are very much a family affair and everything is shared which makes these cheese-and-pastry twirls perfect for making together this half-term. They’re incredibly easy to make, which make them just right for keeping little hands happily occupied during the holidays.

Chand Raat

The culmination of Ramadan will bring with it Chand Raat (the night of the moon), an evening of great excitement and unity. It’s the eventide or moment the first crescent moon of the month is observed, which marks the end of the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, a period of fasting, prayer and reflection, and the start of Eid, the beginning of great festivities.