Ramazan is a time when Turkish families get together and spend extended periods eating, talking and socializing with relatives and friends while they enjoy a wide array of delicious foods. Most families go back to their roots during Ramazan and serve traditional dishes passed down through their families for generations. That’s why it’s one of the best times of year to enjoy classic Turkish cuisine and as well as regional favorites. Here is a list of recipes you can serve at each stage of... 'iftar.'
What Is ‘İftar’?
‘İftar’ (eef-TAR’) is the name for the first meal of the day which breaks the period of fasting between sunrise and sunset each day. The menu at the ‘iftar’ table is as important as the way it’s served. Equally important is the shopping, preparation, and suspense each day until the evening call to prayer when cooks, helpers and hungry diners alike finally relax and eat.
What To Expect At The ‘İftar’ Table
There are many customs surrounding the ‘iftar’ meal. When the evening ‘ezan’ (ay-ZAHN’), or call to prayer is heard, hungry diners always begin their meal with a sip of water, a bite of ‘pide’ bread, and a date or two.
Once the fast is broken, it’s time to move on to the soup and light fare resembling classic Turkish breakfast. After a short break, diners continue to tackle the main courses to come. The meal comes to a conclusion with a selection of classic Turkish desserts and Turkish coffee or tea.
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There are many foods that are standard at the ‘iftar’ table. Especially the items eaten to break the fast each day.
Breakfast items that follow can be as a sample of olives and white cheese or more elaborate including many kinds of cheese, deli items like ‘sucuk’ (soo-JOOK’) and ‘pastırma’ (pah-STIR’-mah) and fresh fruit preserves.
And don’t forget, a glass of water for everyone is a must!
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Turkish vegetable dishes are usually cooked in olive oil and served cold. Here are some Ramazan favorites.
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Meat can be very expensive in Turkey. Many families who don’t eat much red meat throughout the year splurge during Ramazan to serve at least one main course dish with meat.
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- 'Hunkar Beğendi', or stewed meat over hot eggplant mash
- 'Kuzu Tandır,' or roasted lamb shank
- 'Musakka,' or eggplant and ground beef casserole
- 'İslim Kebabı,' or oven-baked lamb and eggplant wraps
- 'İzmir Köftesi,' or baked meatball and potato stew
- 'Kadın Budu Köftesi,' or... 'lady's thigh' meatballs
- 'Spinach stew,' or 'etli ıspanak'
- 'Stuffed squash,' or 'kabak dolması'
- 'Karnıyarık,' or courgette squash stuffed with ground beef
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Side dishes rich in carbohydrates are always part of the ‘iftar’ table along with the main course.Here are some of the most popular.
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Ramazan is a time when traditional desserts take the forefront. The best choices are desserts steeped in syrup or milk-based desserts.
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