Iftar is the nightly meal that breaks the Ramadan fast. This year, it’s a chance to share more than food.

Source: Boston Globe

By Sheryl Julian

In a traditional long, aqua Pakistani tunic and slender trousers, a finely woven tan shawl draped over one shoulder, Farah Abbas doesn’t look like she’s dressed to make fritters in a fat bath that can be messy and splatter oil. She dips baby spinach leaves one by one into a spicy chickpea batter, and as the little leaves float in the fat bath, they puff and turn golden. These are palak pakoras, which translates as “spinach dumplings.” Not a drop of oil touches her. “We’ve cooked this way our whole lives,” she says.

She and her mother, Anjum Abbas, make pakoras for iftar, the nightly meal that breaks the sunrise-to-sunset fast each day of Ramadan, which began on May 27 and goes through June 24. “They’re like onion rings,” says Farah, who was born in Karachi. Every culture has its own specialties for breaking the Ramadan fast, but around the world, wherever Muslims live, iftar begins with plump dates, the food with which Mohammed is said to have broken his own fast.

Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection. This season, the holiday brings with it new thoughts, new concerns. Earlier this year, when President Trump signed an executive order to ban travel from predominantly Muslim countries, Farah Abbas was touched by the warmth of people who reached out. “So much love, so many cards. People I hardly knew have sent cards,” she says. Now her parents, who live in Pakistan, are visiting for Ramadan. Their daughter didn’t know how things would go at passport control. “I was worried,” she says. But they didn’t have any problems.

Abbas wants non-Muslims to learn about her traditions, and iftar is a particularly good time for that. The meal is shared with family, friends, and the wider community; it is an opportunity to ask others to join in.

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