13 Apr How Are Falafel And Ramadan So Closely Linked?
From the first crescent moon to the last crescent moon of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the month of Ramadan is about gathering, about prayer and about reflection, all three of which are increasingly important aspects of life to maintain in a world that only seems to spin faster.
With most Muslims fasting from sunrise to sunset, the meals of suhur and especially iftar become incredibly important and meaningful celebrations as entire communities break their fast together.
As a result of this, some of the most treasured parts of Lebanese cuisine hold a particularly special heritage and meaning during this most sacred of months.
In particular, falafel, one of the most popular street foods throughout the world, is similarly one of the most popular foods eaten during iftar (and to a much lesser degree suhur), and the reasons why this is the case reflect the unique balance of elements that make fried falafel so special.
Here are some of the ways in which a cuisine that can be eaten seemingly a million different ways and a month dedicated to prayer and fasting are connected.
The First Fry Of Sunset
Part of the reason why falafel became so popular as an iftar food is a matter of practicality; falafel balls are nutritious, light yet hearty and are very quick to fry and cook, meaning that not long after sunset a hot, nourishing meal is quickly available.
As falafel fritters are primarily made with chickpeas, they are high in complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein, and contain essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc and vitamins B and C.
As anyone who has enjoyed a steaming hot falafel as part of a meze or in a pitta can attest, one bite can completely change your perspective on a day, and after a day of contemplation and reflection, enjoying falafel with your community after the Maghrib prayer can sometimes be exactly what you need.
Bringing People Together
Iftar is more than a meal and more than breaking a fast. It is a community gathering and a celebration of faith, family, community and charity, with large gatherings, dinners and arrangements made to ensure that everyone in the community can break their fast together.
As a result, some of the most popular and long-lasting iftar dishes are ones that can be easily shared and easily eaten as a group, and falafel is no exception to this, with the vegetarian fried fritters being almost designed to be shared around and enjoyed in nearly every type of dish.
Whether served steaming hot straight out of a bag, on a mezze tray or in a pitta with vegetables and tahini sauce, there are many different ways to serve it, and how it can be given to others.
Ultimately, what connects falafel and the month of Ramadan together is that it is a dish almost designed for breaking fasts, bringing people together and giving to people less fortunate. It is a dish of celebration and of charity and helps a community to unite, both between the two crescent moons and beyond Eid al-Fitr.