Monday, August 1, 2011

Breaking the Fast on the First Day of Ramadan


Islam's holiest month, Ramadan, began last night. Tonight at sundown, therefore, will be the end of the first day of fasting, with denial of food and water during daylight hours this month being one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

The month of Ramadan is the time during which The Quran "was sent down from heaven (to provide) guidance unto men, a declaration of direction, and a means of Salvation ...," according to RamadanKareem.org. Fasting, then, is a form of self-denial intended to encourage reflection, introspection, patience, humility, and rejuvenation. And Ramadan is an extremely auspicious month, considered to be filled with blessings.

Iftar - the evening meal to break the fast - is one that is ideally shared with family and community. And it is necessarily both nutritious and fairly light. It is traditional for many to first eat a date when they sit down to their meal; this is then followed by a wide variety of foods, dependent upon country and culture.

I cooked up this chickpea dish over the weekend and offer it as an option for breaking the fast. It's quick and easy to make, features spices which are commonly used in the Middle East (the birthplace of Islam, of course), and is absolutely delicious!

Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Spinach

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sumac (available at Middle Eastern markets)
1 teaspoon shawarma spices (available at Middle Eastern markets)
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent. Add the chickpeas and tomato; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, sumac and shawarma spices; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley.

Serve over rice or stuffed into a pita or placed into a hollowed-out tomato.

Serves 2-4.

Please note: You can squeeze the juice from half-a-lemon onto this in place of the sumac. And you can substitute a mix of cumin, garlic powder, and a pinch each of cloves and cinnamon for shawarma spices.

10 comments:

Jenn said...

Healthy, light, delicious.. seems like a perfect way to break a fast!!

Karen Harris said...

Very interesting post Mary! Your recipe looks delicious.

Leanne said...

Pollo...I love chickpeas. This looks delicious!!!!

Leanne said...

(sorry for the pollo word - my iPad changes my words often and I didn't catch that one!!! Meant to say Ooooooo!!!"

Angela FRS said...

I make a really similar dish and love it--chickpeas are such a great "fast food!" This looks great.

Miriam said...

Great looking recipe! Fasting is not something that I enjoy (being a food addict), but when I do it those are exactly the things that I experiance: humility, enlightenment, understanding. It's worth doing every now and then :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Nicole said...

Impressed!

Candace said...

This looks delicious! Thanks for including the substitutions for the sumac and shawarma spices. They are not easily accessible in rural NH. Very informative post, Mary!

Judee said...

This is my kind of food. Looks absolutely delicious.

Dan said...

That looks really tasty - I'll be holding on to this recipe.

I haven't seen very many recipes that use sumac. I still have a container in the cupboard from a trip to Israel.

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