In the Arab world, certain dishes remain exclusive to Ramadan. We hardly see, smell or taste them outside the holy month.
For those who are not familiar with “Ramadan only” specialties, we give you this tantalizing list of some of the most popular iftar dishes from 10 different Arab countries:
1. Harees in UAE
This dish goes back to the 17th century and can be found in different Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Dubbed "the master of the dinner table," harees is a staple iftar dish in the UAE. Harees, which means “mashed” or “squashed," consists of mashed wheat often cooked with meat or chicken.
These ingredients make harees a nutritious, filling meal full of protein and fibers - one that can sustain those fasting for long hours.
2. Sanboosa in KSA
An iftar table in the kingdom is never complete without these delicious fried dumplings that come stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables.
Sanboosa originated in India. Over there it is considered a snack or an appetizer and is usually consumed with soup or a yogurt based sauce.
3. Fattoush in Lebanon
No one can resist the tangy taste of a fresh batch of fattoush, let alone during iftar! Arguably the national dish of Lebanon (along with tabouleh), fattoush is a healthy way to break the fast thanks to its fresh ingredients which include cucumber, tomatoes, radish, watercress and lettuce.
4. Erseeyah in Oman
This rich and hearty dish is considered one of the most traditional dishes in Oman and is especially popular during Ramadan, Eid and at weddings.
To make erseeyah, عرسية, you need chicken, meat or fish mashed well with rice, spices and a dash of spicy sauce. You can think of it as the Omani version of Risotto a la frutti di mare!
5. Harira soup in Morocco
After dates, soup is the best way to break your fast and this traditional Moroccan soup is a great and irresistible option.
Harira ingredients include chickpeas, lamb meat, noodles, tomatoes and a lot of spices. It is believed that this soup used to be served on dinner tables in Andalusia.
6. Fattah in Egypt
Not to be confused with the Levantine fatteh. This traditional dish is served mostly during the holy month of Ramadan in Egypt.
Fattah is not a light dish. It packs volumes of flavor with ingredients like rice, beef, tomato sauce, vinegar and garlic. Yum!
7. Foul in Syria
Foul is a popular dish in Syria typically consumed on Friday mornings but in Ramadan, it is a staple of the iftar menu.
Foul is packed with protein and fibers and tastes even better when combined with fresh onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, tahini and a generous dose of olive oil. Grab some bread and dig in!
8. Aseeda in Libya
For a hearty post-iftar dessert, Libyans turn to the aseeda, عصيدة, to satisfy their sweet cravings. A combination of simple yet delicious ingredients such as flour mixed with water, butter, and honey compose the dish.
9. Zalabia in Algeria
This tasty Algerian dessert is made from flour, water, salt and sugar syrup. It is customary to have it with tea after iftar during Ramadan and to hand it out to the needy in mosques throughout the holy month.
10. Nuaimiah in Sudan
This unique dish is a must-have on iftar tables if you come from Sudan. Nuaimiah, نعيمية, is a soup like dish that consists of many components including dried onions, minced meat, crush peanuts, tomato sauce, flour, spices and a large portion of laban or yogurt.