With the holiest month in the Islamic calendar right around the corner, plans for suhoor and iftar meals, which bookend long days of fasting, are well underway across the globe. Below is just a sampling of recipes often found on tables across cultures and countries throughout the holiday, which begins Saturday in the United States and comes to a close with Eid al-Fitr on May 2. Some are savory, others are sweet, but all are sure to satisfy.
A traditional Palestinian dish, this striking mound of turmeric-tinged rice, tender meat and slivered carrots comes together in a single pot in one hour, making it a suitable option for concluding a day’s fasting. Reem Kassis’s version streamlines the often time-consuming recipe by opting for boneless rib-eye steak and good-quality store-bought broth.
While many versions of these delicate fried pastries can be found across North Africa and the Middle East, they are usually made with malsouka pastry sheets. In this version, which Jamel Charouel adapted from his father, spring roll wrappers are used to encase a ras el hanout-spiced chicken and potato filling.
Recipe: Fatima’s Fingers (Tunisian Egg Rolls)
A pre-sunrise plate of Turkish scrambled eggs with tomato can comfort and satisfy in advance of a day of fasting. This recipe from Joan Nathan invites inventiveness. Incorporate your favorite fresh herbs and spices, top it with crumbled cheese and sausage, or serve it tucked in a piece of warm flatbread. Or don’t, and eat it as traditionalists do: simply, without much more than the tomatoes and eggs.
Recipe: Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs With Tomato)
Ramadan is incomplete for many without these sweet stuffed pancakes. Qatayef asafiri are the smaller of two common varieties of this treat, filled with cream, partly sealed and drizzled with a thick syrup. In this recipe from Reem Kassis, the filling is scented with orange blossom and rose waters, piped into the pancake cones and dipped in pistachios.
For a simple and elegant iftar opener, dessert or a decidedly lavish snack, these crème fraîche-topped dates do the trick and then some. Adapted by Julia Moskin, this recipe requires only five ingredients and may just end up the most popular item on the table. “An iftar without dates would feel very strange to all the Muslims I know,” said Yvonne Maffei, who writes a popular cooking and nutrition blog, My Halal Kitchen, and from whom this recipe was adapted.
The Celebration of Ramadan
The Muslim monthlong holiday of Ramadan, a time of prayer, fasting and feasting, begins in the United States on April 2.
Recipe: Yvonne Maffei’s Dates With Cream and Chopped Pistachios
Perfect for special occasions, this stew is aromatic and luxurious, with tender chicken and a silky sauce with coconut milk. The recipe, which Tejal Rao adapted from the chef Retno Pratiwi, builds a curry paste on a base of caramelized shallots before flavoring them with ginger, galangal, lemongrass, salam and lime leaves, and ground coriander seeds.
Recipe: Opor Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Curry)
Semolina, the coarse, yellow flour ideal for making couscous and pasta, is great in baked goods because of its high gluten content. This sweetly scented cake, adapted by Tejal Rao from Amanda Saab, a social worker from the Detroit area, uses frothy, aerated yogurt, not eggs, to achieve its rich flavor and texture.
Recipe: Namoura (Syrup-Soaked Semolina Cake)
Subtly sweet, warmly spiced and extremely comforting, this porridge from Yewande Komolafe is a gentle way to break a fast. After a solid soak in water, a bit of puréeing, straining and some cooking, two simple ingredients — uncooked rice and raw peanuts — transform into a creamy base, ready to be dressed with tamarind paste, honey or chopped dates.
Recipe: Kunun Gyada
A fresh and flavorful salad is the perfect accompaniment to a more substantial and savory iftar main course. In this recipe adapted by Julia Moskin from the chef Sameh Wadi, a dill and dried mint-seasoned yogurt obscures bits of diced cucumbers and tart dried cherries, making each bite a surprising burst of flavors and textures.
Recipe: Cucumber Yogurt Salad With Dill, Sour Cherries and Rose Petals
These potato and pea samosas from Zainab Shah can be made in large batches and frozen for a quick and easy make-ahead finger food for iftar snacking. The vegan filling and crisp exterior are sure to satisfy every kind of eater, especially when paired with an herbaceous mint chutney.
Recipes: Aloo Samosas (Potato Samosas) | mint chutney
A long-cooked biryani, like this one from Tejal Rao that’s layered with rice, herbs, caramelized onion, braised lamb and milk golden with saffron, is a labor of love, for sure. But after an overnight marinade and several hours of cooking, it’s a dish that feels especially celebratory, and one worth building an entire evening’s menu around.
A light tomato and pita salad, seasoned with sumac and dried mint, and dressed in a garlicky dressing of pomegranate syrup, lemon juice and olive oil, is a refreshing way to break the fast. And this lovely recipe from Joan Nathan comes with rave reviews: “You won’t be disappointed,” wrote one New York Times Cooking reader.
Recipe: Fattoush (Lebanese Tomato and Pita Salad)
A savory bowl of cinnamon-scented harira is a soothing and delicious way to end a day of fasting. While the Moroccan soup traditionally incorporates lamb, this version from David Tanis is vegetarian. But the absence of meat makes it no less hearty, as the recipe includes fava beans, broken pieces of thin pasta and two types of lentils.
Recipe: Harira Soup
This fragrant lamb kebab recipe, adapted by Alexa Weibel from the chef Chintan Pandya, works just as well rolled into meatballs and pan-seared as it does molded onto skewers. Just don’t skip the deggi mirch, a chile powder that does double duty by imparting both flavor and color in the ground meat.
Recipe: Seekh Kebab With Mint Chutney
In this Moroccan tagine, Nargisse Benkabbou simmers supple lamb shanks in a stock generously seasoned with onion, garlic, ras el hanout, cinnamon and saffron, which is eventually reduced into a syrupy sauce with the additions of raisins and honey.
Recipe: Mrouzia Lamb Shanks