Halal Delicacies for Ramadan: Preparing for Iftar and Suhoor

A happy family sitting at a dining table with a Muslim father pouring milk into his young daughter's glass. The mother, wearing a hijab, is smiling at them. There's a spread of various dishes on the table, and everyone appears to be enjoying a cozy, intimate meal together.

Ramadan is an extremely important time in the Islamic faith. Though it’s widely known as a time of fasting, this actually requires greater dietary considerations to prepare and break each daily fast. In fact, the entire holy month of Ramadan invites deeper introspection into one’s relationship with food as a vehicle for life.

During Ramadan, Muslims pay greater attention to the importance of Halal (meaning “permissible”) food and drink. Care must be taken to only consume Halal foods after the daily fasting hours, and consuming even Halal foods between dawn and dusk is said to invalidate the intentions behind one’s fast.

Preparing for a Ramadan fast requires stocking up on Halal staples, which largely excludes processed and starchy foods, certain meats, and alcohol in its entirety.

Some of the most important Halal foods and ingredients to maintain your strength during Ramadan include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Milk
  • Dairy (made without animal rennet, gelatin, and artificial ingredients)
  • Halal meat
  • Honey and other sweeteners made without cane sugar
  • Coconut water
  • Spices and vegetable oils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes

You can find an extensive range of Halal-certified ingredients at International Fresh Market, the greater Chicagoland area’s most well-stocked multiethnic grocer!

Ramadan’s daily fasts involve strict timing, which creates pressure to nourish oneself fully during the pre-dawn meal (or “suhoor”). Good Ramadan meal planning largely revolves around early dawn meals that instill a feeling of satiation as far into the day as possible.

This is best accomplished by omitting heavy reliance on carbohydrates, which are faster burning and leave you feeling hungry more frequently. Instead, acclimate to more fat- and protein-rich foods. Consider any of the following to get the nutrient-dense fuel you’ll need to ignore cravings as the day unfolds:

  • A thoughtfully prepared breakfast smoothie
  • Cheesy omelette with veggies
  • Yogurt topped with honey and nuts
  • Ful medames, a dish of cooked fava beans
  • Mushroom frittata with goat cheese, herbs, and spices
  • Oatmeal with coconut flakes, berries, nut butter, and cocoa nibs

Also don’t neglect the importance of good hydration, so avoid drying foods like toast. You might even consider washing down your pre-dawn meal with homemade golden milk, for an anti-inflammatory boost.

After dusk, self-control becomes even more important, as your appetite is at its peak. Especially at the beginning of Ramadan, breaking the fast (or “iftar”) is best done with lighter fare, like dates and fruits, or a lentil soup, like harira (often made with lamb, tomato, and chickpea).

As the month progresses or for more active lifestyles, you might consider more calorie-dense iftar meals, such as biryani, an aromatic whole-grain rice dish often made with meat or vegetarian staples (e.g., lentils, tofu). Whole grain rice is a better option than white rice, because the former provides complex carbohydrates that are more slowly digested.

Kebabs are another great option, which have the added benefit of being easy to create and supportive of a highly versatile range of ingredients. As for refreshments, rooh afza, a type of lemon mint juice, helps to replenish electrolytes – a very important consideration during fasts.

Fasting during Ramadan carries numerous benefits, giving the digestive tract a chance to cleanse itself. These benefits can even parallel the psychological, spiritual, and emotional benefits Ramadan adepts profess.

With the right intention and frame of mind, it’s not uncommon to experience greater confidence by the end of Ramadan, as fasting provides tangible proof of one’s willpower, using one of the body’s strongest driving mechanisms. This can also help you feel closer to, and a clearer connection with, the source of food and life.

That’s exactly the principle International Fresh Market was founded on, which is why we carry an extensive line of Halal grocery items. It’s our way of helping you focus the majority of your attention on the spiritual significance of Ramadan, and less on basic necessities.

Stop by Naperville’s own International Fresh Market today – your one-stop shop for authentic Halal ingredients and international flavors galore.

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International Fresh Market is a local, family-owned grocery store that serves the Chicagoland community.We are excited to serve the residents of Naperville, Aurora, Warrenville, Woodridge, Plainfield and the surrounding area!