3 Chefs Share How Ramadan Spreads Differ In India Vs Middle East

Ramadan is the holy month for Islamic followers. Until the crescent moon is observed, ardent devotees fast for an entire month, where they only eat post-sunset and pre-dawn while abstaining from food and water for the rest of the day. In this holy month, Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (post-sunset meal) are crucial. Restaurants across the world organise special menus for their customers, especially Iftar treats.

The holy month of Ramadan is celebrated with fervour in the Middle Eastern countries as well. While the rituals in India and Arab countries are quite similar, there is a slight difference in the spread. Slurrp spoke to renowned chefs who have worked in both regions to bring you information on how people in the two countries enjoy their Iftar spread and how restaurants craft menus around this time of the year.

‘In Middle-East Iftar Is A Lively Affair’

Chef Sachin Malik, who is an executive chef at Radisson Blu MBD Hotel, Noida, has also worked in the Middle East. He said, “In the Middle East, Iftar is a lively affair with dates, lentil soup, mezze salads, and other iconic dishes like baklava and ouzi rice. Family bonding takes centre stage with the three-act meal of Iftar, Sehri, and Gabga.”

He added that in India, the celebration spread differs because one gets to see traditional Indian cuisine. People here like to indulge in biryani, samosa, malpua, sheer kurma, and pakora. “Despite culinary contrasts, the essence of family togetherness remains constant, bridging cultural differences and creating cherished memories,'' the chef added.

‘India Boasts Its Culinary Heritage On Ramadan’

Chef Ajay Thakur, who is known for creating the exquisite menu of Bayroute (Middle-Eastern restaurant in India), shared how celebrations during Ramadan are characterised by lavish feasts in the Arab countries. The spread includes traditional dishes like kabsa rice, kebabs, succulent lamb, and fragrant rice pilafs. 

“India boasts its culinary heritage of beloved tikkas, Mughlai paratha, biryani, and malpua for dessert,” he further added. The chef said that though the celebrations in the two countries differ, there are a few common food items that are a part of celebratory feats. The list includes dates, aromatic spices, and chickpeas. The chef said, “Whether it's the citrusy kick of sumac or the comforting warmth of cardamom, every bite narrates a tale of shared culture and culinary expertise.”

‘Iftar And Eid Meals In India Are Rich In Flavours’

Chef Mohammed Bhol, co-founder and CEO of House of Biryan, shared that Iftar meals in Middle Eastern countries include soups, salads, meat-based kebabs, and dates. However, in India, the dishes are rich in flavour and texture. While Eid celebrations in Arab countries are incomplete without lamb, chicken dishes, and desserts like kunafa, Indian feasts include jalebi, phirni, and gulab jamun along with savouries like fruit chaat, samosa, kebabs, and biryani. 

He said, “In the Middle East, a few unique dishes are added to the spread. This includes hummus, made from chickpeas, tahini, and garlic, and fattoush, a bowl of salad made with vegetables.” In India, seviyan, a vermicelli-based dessert topped with dried fruits, is a compulsory dish that completes the Eid feast.