Ramadan started yesterday. Just a little background for those who may be unfamiliar with it — Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting. Wikipedia did a great job of explaining it here. In a nutshell, during this month, Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, which means no eating, drinking, smoking, or anything “bad” during this time.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t fast at all the past few years for various reasons, which I won’t get into here since this is a food blog. We’ll just say that though I’m not very religious or observant and leave it at that.
I hadn’t originally planned on fasting this year. It really was just a whim. The Islamic calendar is lunar-based, so Ramadan moves up every year and this year it’s from approximately Aug. 22-Sept. 22. This means that the time between sunrise and sunset right now is about 15 hours. That initially drew a big “hell no!” from me, but I just thought of everyone who just does it, no questions asked. I also thought that it started on a Saturday, and that past experience for me has been that fasting on the weekends is easier. There was also the realization that a lot of stressful stuff has been going on for me this year and that I’ve gotten through it and feel grateful for having done so. So I thought I would just give it a shot and fast yesterday and see how I felt.
Now, I’d looked up sunrise times online and felt that waking up at 5:30 would be safe enough. Of course later during the day I asked around and according to the time charts from the local mosques, I should have stopped eating before 5:30. Oopsies, but I don’t think it’s a big deal, it was still dark outside and I had good intentions.
So I got up yesterday and stumbled downstairs to the kitchen and grumbled as I rooted around in the fridge and freezer to find something to eat. I had a very specific idea of what I wanted and in my sleep-clouded mind and contact lenses, wasn’t able to find it right away.
But luckily I had the presence of mind to have the camera nearby to document my early morning meal!
I had a Boca Spicy Chick’n and pepperjack cheese sandwich (LOVE these) and some cocoa-dusted almonds. And a ton of water.
After I ate, I went back to sleep and then got up around 10 in a panic since I was supposed to go into work. Yes, work on a Saturday, welcome to the world of taxes!
I only ended up working about 4 hours and that helped kill some time (and so did sleeping in until 10!) Sunset yesterday was around 8:25 pm, so I had plenty of time to kill.
Afterwards, I was kinda sorta near a Bangladeshi store, so I stopped in to see if I could find anything for Iftar, which is what we call the meal where we break our fast each night. This store is the only place I’ve been to so far that carries frozen dal and aloo puris, mango sticks (kinda like mango fruit roll-ups), and Bangladeshi achaar, which has its own taste. However, the store itself leaves much to be desired. It’s on Buford Highway, which is home to a gazillion ethnic restaurants and markets and really cool to explore. The store itself is not so nice looking and very crammed inside. I noticed that since the last time I’d been there they’d added an African food section (I found injera bread there!). I joke that whenever I walk into that store it smells like Bangladesh, and not in a good way. As I was trying to find the frozen puris, I walked past the section where they sell halal meat and cut and clean fish. Not good smells when you haven’t eaten all day. Then I passed the dried fish section and almost gagged. But I finally found what I was looking for and stocked up on a couple other things (mustard oil and some Bangladeshi potato crisps).
I have to say that up until then, I was doing fine and didn’t really feel hungry or thirsty. Once I got home, around 4 or 5 is when it started hitting me. I had a headache, would have killed for a Coke Zero or water, and was starting to get that gnawy feeling in my stomach. I was going to cook dinner and all that but my husband told me to take it easy and rest and that he’d take care of dinner (he wasn’t fasting)! So we watched some tv and I read a bit. I was definitely feeling lazy and exhausted by then — I think the getting up at 5:30 might have had a lot to do with it. But overall I still felt pretty good.
FINALLY, it was getting closer to sunset and Mr. Spice was true to his word and started on dinner. I came downstairs and started putting together some iftar stuff and cutting up some veggies for dinner.
Now, traditionally dates are eaten to break fasts. I don’t care for dates –they remind me of something I won’t say here and I don’t like the taste either. So I put out some orange juice, strawberries, and the chips I’d bought earlier. Then I figured since dinner was done I might as well just eat it all right then. That’s what I’ve done in the past — I’d rather just eat at once rather than do an Iftar, then wait for everyone to say prayers and then eat.
So here’s what the spread looked like for us:
This wasn’t all for me, don’t worry! So obviously, the juice, strawberries, and “Potato Crackers.” Then Mr. Spice heated up some frozen aloo parathas, which are a flaky Indian bread stuffed with spiced potatoes, and then heated up some frozen chicken seekh kababs. I did a quick salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and lime wedges. Our lettuce was dead, unfortunately. I sprinkled the salad with salt, pepper, olive oil, and za’atar for a little something different.
I started off with some juice, then some strawberries and some of the salad. I wanted something light since I hadn’t eaten for so long. Then I started on the rest of dinner and was careful not to inhale it in all at once and upset my stomach. That was the best damn meal. 🙂
Afterwards, Mr. Spice suggested we go out for ice cream. I was a bit surprised since he’s been trying to avoid dairy lately, but I guess he really wanted some! We ended up going to Bruster’s and decided to indulge and get 2 scoops each. Big mistake, since these were HUGE scoops. I got chocolate raspberry truffle and chocolate cake batter. I would have been happy with just the first and didn’t finish it all anyway. Mr. Spice was oh so original and got vanilla and chocolate. It was so nice out that we sat outside and enjoyed our dessert and talked a while.
All in all, it was a long day, but it went pretty well! I felt good, it was kind of freeing not to have to worry about food during the day. I missed the social aspect of it, of getting together as a group for Iftar. I talked to a friend of mine and we decided we’d try to find one weekend where we were both free and we’d all get together for that. I know lots of people go to their mosques for it, but I am just not comfortable going there and being with people I don’t know. So we’ll just do our own cozy ones!
I am not sure if I’ll fast during the week, just because it’s so crazy at work and I’ve been putting in long hours. But I will try to do them during the weekends and am fasting today, so hopefully if you check back tomorrow I’ll have more yummy eats for you!