One day, Muhammad was sitting alone in the wilderness near Mecca, when Angel Gabriel appeared before him. For the next ten days, the Angel taught him verses from the Quran, which he memorized. Islamic scholars believe that the first revelation occurred on the 27th night of Ramadan. This night is thus called Laylat-at-Qadr – Night of Power. According to the Quran, this is when God determines the course of the world for the following year.
Ramadan, the 9th month in the Moslem calendar, is a time when Moslems concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation.
Throughout Ramadan, Moslems fast the entire month. This is called the Fast of Ramadan. During this period, strict restraints are placed on the daily lives of Moslems. They are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. At the end of the day, the fast is broken with prayer and a meal called the iftar. In the evening following the iftar it is customary for Moslems to go out visiting family and friends.
For iftar, the food prepared is rather unusual and appears almost only during Ramadan. Iftar begins with dates, in imitation of what the Prophet ate during the iftar of the first Fast of Ramadan. Then kanji is served. This is very different to the kanji that Sri Lankans normally enjoy. Spices and herbs and often chicken or beef is added to this kanji, making this almost a meal in itself.
Some of the other dishes found during this month are surtapam – rolled pancakes with panipol (grated coconut mixed with treacle and lightly spiced with cardamoms), pillawoos – crunchy, deep-fried banana batter, drizzled with treacle, ada – soft, juggery cakes, addukku Roti – layers of pancakes with a minced beef or chicken filling, baked in a pastry covering, pastol – rice flour and coconut patty with tripe filling and al-basara – shredded beef or chicken with semolina and baked like a cake.
When the fast ends (the 1st day of the month of Shawwal) it is celebrated in a holiday called Id-al-Fitr – the Feast of Fast Breaking. Gifts are exchanged. Friends and family gather to pray in congregation and for large meals.
Visit http://www.bojoon.com for free recipes of the special food and drinks prepared for Iftar and the wonderful festive lunch of mutton biriyani and accompaniments.