Saturday, September 15, 2007


I've taken excerpts from an email I received on hosting an Iftar meal to share with you.

Iftar is the meal that ends the fast each day during the month of Ramadan. Iftar meal traditions will change from region to region, but here is a hint of what it looks like.

1) The meal MUST start on time. A Ramazan (what Ramadan is called here) calendar can be picked up from the local grocery store so one can be sure of the exact minute the fast can be broken. Just before it's time to eat everyone can sit down at the table and wait for the imam to start reading the call to prayer that officially ends the fast. The instant it starts everyone eats.
2) This is not a time to serve a one pot meal! This is the time to break out your nicer dishes and fix a formal dinner.
3)Dates are the traditional food served to break the fast. They should be on each end of the table in small bowls available for the moment your fasting friends hear the call to prayer and break their fast. Have water poured in their glasses and waiting for them. You can later offer cola or something else but have water ready for when they initially break their fast.
4) Fill up your table! Before the meal starts, I like to have at least two types of salad on the table -can be a green salad, cucumber/tomato salad, Turkish shredded carrot salad, potato salad, bulgar salad -anything. I would put a small bowl of each one at each end of the table, easily reachable by everyone seated. I usually have something pickled at each end of the table (karisik tursusu-or mixed pickled veggies work great) and olives. You can make your own zeytinyali (olive oil) appetizers or buy some ready made from most large grocery stores - Of course, have your fresh Ramazan pide (bread) in reach of each person.
5) The hostess will serve every course except for the self-service starters that are already on the table. Serve your guests first starting with the oldest man.
Remembering your salads and zeytinyali dishes are already on the table, I usually serve a menu something like:
1) As soon as you finish praying, serve your soup. I usually stick with something fairly traditional –maybe Mercimek (lentil), Tarhana (yogurt), Domates (tomato) or Ezogelin (spicy lentil).
2) You can serve your vegetables next. Green beens (Turkish style) work great, or biberli dolma (stuffed peppers).
3) After the vegetables, you can serve your main dish and pilav (rice). I often stick to a "sulu" type yemek, usually some type of meaty stew or stir-fry.
4) Our Turkish friends often serve a makarna (noodle) or manti type dish after the main dish. I don't always do it because people are generally not still hungry --but a proper Iftar might include manti (meat ravioli) at this point.
5) After offering (many times) to refill your guests plates, you all may finish the meal and move to the salon. After an hour or so you can serve your tea and desert. Feel free to serve an easy Ramazan desert like Kadayif (shredded wheat soaked in syrup). You can buy this ready made and after making your syrup and soaking it (recipe is on package) you have a great and easy desert.
6) A little while after desert we serve nuts. We usually serve a couple of varieties. You can give each person their own bowls and an empty bowl for shells. We offer Turkish coffee at this point.
7) We end the night with fruit. You can give each person a plate with several pieces of whole fresh fruit and a fruit knife.

If you want to know more email me and I would be happy to share with you.

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