Our Best Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr Recipes
If you're fasting, you ought to have an A-plus meal after the sun goes down.
Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Sauce and Caramelized Dates
Roasted veggies have never tasted so indulgent. Topped with an herbaceous tahini sauce and salty-sweet, caramelized dates and walnuts, these crispy cauliflower steaks are just the veggie side that you've been looking for. Use any leftover tahini sauce on salads, chicken, or fish for an added burst of vibrant, nutty flavor.
North African Veal Shanks
Buy smaller shanks if you can find them (3 lbs. or so each)--when crosscut, they make an ideal single serving size. Larger shanks will be just as delicious, though. This recipe works very well with beef shortribs too. The recipe comes from Tanya Holland, chef-owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side Baking Co. in Oakland. For another Seder-worthy main course from Holland, see her B-Side Brown Sugar Smoked Brisket recipe on sunset.com.
Sumac Hummus with Kale Ribbons and Roasted Delicata Squash
This beautiful, nourishing platter needs only some warm flatbread and a pot of herb tea to make you feel energized to face the world.
Chopped Israeli Salad
A fine dice allows the salt and lemon to penetrate the vegetables and draw out their juices. The longer it sits, the better it gets.
Instant Pot Kichidi
This comforting dish is nutty, earthy, and slightly lemony. It’s often given to people who are sick and is packed with nutrients thanks to the lentils, turmeric, and ginger. For optimal flavor, use cumin seeds rather than ground cumin, and temper them in ghee or oil. In a pinch, split yellow peas also make a good base.
“For me, nothing says Shabbat morning like sfiha,” says chef Roi Antebi, the former owner of Bertie, which was my favorite restaurant in Tel Aviv until it closed down. “My mother used to assemble it on Friday night and let it bake very slowly until Saturday morning. Then we would pull it out of the oven, warm and flaky, and serve it with tahini, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes.” These Lebanese open-faced meat pies, also known as pide in Turkey, are very easy to make (assuming you’re using prepared puff pastry), and the secret to success is the quality of the ingredients you use. Tamarind pulp or pomegranate molasses is a must. Both impart a sweet-and-sour note that complements the rest of the ingredients and makes these Turkish meat pies the unique treat that they are.
To arrange a sfiha Shabbat brunch, prepare tahini spread, hard-boiled eggs (I like them a little bit underdone, with the yolk very soft), boiled and sliced potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped chives or scallions, and a plate of vegetable crudités, such as radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, and celery. Lay out everything on a table, buffet style, and serve with oven-fresh sfiha pastries.
Sfiha (Open-Face Meat Pies)
Excerpted from Jewish Soul Food by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Charred Eggplant Dip with Tahini
Perfect for entertaining or a hearty spread to snack off of all week, this nutritious charred eggplant dip is as easy as to make it is delicious. Roasting the eggplant at a super high temperature leads to a creamy flesh that's the perfect backbone for a your dip. Don't worry if the skin is extra charred and looks burnt—this makes for a more flavorful end product. Mixed with Greek yogurt and tahini, this Meditteranean-inspired spread is ultra rich. Serve it with fresh veggies, warm pita, or smear it across a piece of toast. You could even use it as your sauce for a flatbread or pizza; simply top with roasted or fresh veggies and a sprinkle of crumbled feta or goat cheese.
Persimmon Salad with Dates, Cashews, and Honey
Grilled Lamb Kufta Kebabs
Kufta is the Hebrew word for meatball, similar to Lebanese kofta or Greek kefta. Ground sumac has a reddish-purple color and lemony flavor, a great addition to spice rubs and vinaigrettes. If you can't find it, substitute 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind.
Slow Cooker Cardamom Rice Pudding with Fresh Peaches
We love the slight tartness of ripe, juicy peaches with this fuss-free, no-stir pudding, but a blend of plump summer berries would be equally delicious.
During the ninth month of their calendar, Muslims observe the ritual fast of Ramadan. For the entire month, they abstain from eating during the day; in the evening, they take small meals and visit with friends and family. This is a variation of the soup that is traditionally eaten to break the fast at the Ramadan meal.
Moroccan Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew
A well-stocked spice cabinet is key for this stew. Each serving packs nearly half of your daily fiber, essential for better digestion and weight control.
Falafel, Feta, and Tomato Salad
Think of chopped falafel as a tasty, protein-packed crouton--it adds texture to the salad and instantly turns a simple side into a substantial main dish. We chose a Mediterranean theme here, but you could use any nuts, cheeses, or vegetables you like.
Our test kitchen gave this its highest rating. It can be made weeks in advance, frozen, and then baked the day before the party. You can also omit pistachios and use 1 pound walnuts, if desired. If butter hardens as you layer the baklava, microwave briefly on LOW to liquefy it.
Spicy Green Sauce
We took the flavors of the seasoning paste served at falafel shops and turned it into a salad dressing. To tame it, seed the chile.
Instant Pot Carrot Halwa
A comfort food favorite, carrot halwa is warmly spiced, saccharine, and rich—like hug in dessert form. The Instant Pot cuts down on the long process of simmering carrots in milk, slashing the prep time, cardamom adds a distinct floral flavor, and mace brings mild, warm pepperiness.
Khoshaf bil Mishmish (Macerated Apricots and Nuts)
Throughout the Middle East, the usual conclusion to a family meal is fresh fruit, and dried fruit and nuts or fruit preserves are offered with coffee. This simple, fragrant dessert (pronounced kho-SHAF beel mish-Mish), with macerated--rather than cooked--dried fruit, is a Syrian speciality of the Muslim month Ramadan, when it's eaten to break the daily fast. Rose water is the distilled essence of rose petals, a distinguishing flavor of Middle Eastern puddings and pastries (as is orange blossom water).
Creamy Tahini Hummus
The key to achieving this rich hummus’s creamy texture is an unexpected pantry staple: baking soda. Simmering dried chickpeas in a baking soda solution helps the legumes break down faster and more efficiently, resulting in an impossibly smooth spread. While 1/2 cup may seem like a generous measure of tahini, this is what will give your hummus its signature deeply toasty flavor—so don’t cut yourself short. We especially love Soom brand tahini, as this is a high-quality product made from single origin sesame seeds. Better than anything you’ll buy in your grocery store deli, this velvety and delicious homemade hummus is perfect served with warm, fluffy pita and crudite, or spread onto sandwiches.
Tah Dig (Persian Rice)
This cooling condiment pairs well with any spicy dish, like Stir-Fried Cabbage with Red Pepper and Peas or Tofu Saag. Fragrant tempering oil stirred in at the end gives a huge flavor boost. Look for curry leaves at Asian markets, or omit if unavailable. Add leaves to pan with care--they cause hot oil to splatter. Adding the salt just before serving helps keep the grapes from releasing too much liquid.
Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad
Adding tahini to the marinade makes the chicken buttery tender without an overwhelming amount of sesame flavor in the finished dish. It also helps the chicken to char nicely on the grill.
Beet and Labneh Salad with Duck Fat Granola
This stunning beet salad is a looker for sure, but don’t be fooled—it couldn’t be easier to make. It’s a perfect pick for holiday entertaining; with a sprinkle of Duck Fat Granola, this opening course is dressed to impress.
Instant Pot Dal Makhani
This warm hug from a bowl of lentils made our developer want to buy an Instant Pot in a way that no other recipe has. The stew is buttery and slightly spicy with a creamy texture that still has a little bite, thanks to the lentils. While the ghee is optional, it really does take this indulgent dish to a real over-the-top place that you definitely want to go. You can get a head start by chopping your onion, jalapeño, garlic, and ginger the night before. You can also make the toasted buttery spice mixture a day ahead and stir into the hot lentil mixture.
This delightful tabbouleh, which uses Israeli couscous in place of bulgur, follows the Lebanese tradition of including more herbs than grain. Grace Parisi adds both parsley and lovage, which has a light, bright flavor similar to celery leaves.
North African Marinated Lamb
This vibrant lamb dish features an incredibly vibrant North African-inspired marinade, also known as chermoula. Though simple to whip up, the combination of fresh herbs and bold spices in the marinade help to bring out the richness of the lamb and really make this grilled dish (which became a fast staff favorite in the test kitchen) shine. When purchasing the lamb leg, ask your butcher to go ahead and cut it into your desired portions. And If you have trouble finding lamb, feel free to swap it for beef or pork in this recipe—you’re still going to have a delicious dinner, no doubt. Serve this meaty entree with roasted potatoes and/or grilled veggies.
This spin on a traditional shakshuka incorporates cauliflower for added heartiness and texture. The capers deliver a briny, salty kick that livens up the tomato sauce in this flavorful vegetarian entree. Eat it on it’s own or serve with slices of crusty bread to sop up the sauce and runny egg yolk. The heat level in this brunch-ready skillet is on the low side, but feel free to increase the red pepper if you're feeling spicy. This play on eggs poached in tomato sauce is a delicous way to slip in an extra serving of veggies, so if you want to make it feel more like a dinnertime meal, serve the saucey eggs over a serving of al dente pasta.
Persian Street Vendor Kebabs
These flavorful skewers are reminiscent of food sold from street carts in Manhattan. Sumac is a tart spice commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes; look for it at specialty stores. You can also broil the kebabs for about eight minutes, turning after five minutes.
Instant Pot Mango Chutney
This chutney is slightly sweet and spicy, with a pleasant lingering heat from the Serrano and del arbol chiles. The sharp pops of flavor from the pickling spices mimic the flavors you’d find in North Indian cuisine. The orange juice and lime juice add some acidity and sour flavors to balance the natural sweetness in the mangoes. It’s the perfect cooling accompaniment for curries or fried samosas, but it would also work well on a cheese board.
Preserved Lemon Labneh
This is the ideal condiment: tangy, rich, salty, and lemony, all without trying too hard. It works well with Greek yogurt or sour cream if you can't find labneh (strained yogurt).
Smoky Red Lentil Hummus
Use this fun riff on classic chickpea hummus to anchor a tray of fresh, seasonal vegetable dippers—we recommend multicolored carrots, radishes, and cauliflower florets. You can prepare the hummus up to three days ahead; wash and trim the crudités a day in advance, and store them in ziplock plastic bags lined with paper towels.
Instant Pot Rajma Masala
Rajma Masala is a popular dish in northern India with bright and fragrant qualities. It’s very flavorful, and the depth of flavor from pairing fresh ingredients and spices creates something that’s refreshing and comforting at the same time. Adding some yogurt at the end helps thicken the dish, but the most important ingredient you can use here is good quality vegetable broth. Serve over basmati rice with ghee, extra yogurt, herbs, pickles, and lime wedges on the side.
Armenian Pilaf with Pine Nuts
Reader Christine Datian, from Las Vegas, suggests serving her traditional Armenian pilaf, made with both rice and toasted pasta, alongside roasted lamb or chicken and a green salad.
Curried Cauliflower Salad with Yogurt
Composed salads are more thoughtful than fussy; this one couldn't be easier to assemble. They're also more about what's left out (no ubiquitous cherry tomatoes or carrots) than what's included. Every ingredient here fits the Indian-inspired theme.
Instant Pot Saffron Rice
Dates are naturally so sweet that using frozen yogurt in the shakes proved too cloying; we opt instead for plain whole-milk yogurt frozen in ice-cube trays. For a fitting garnish, rim glasses with white and black sesame seeds.
Instant Pot Kheer
No need to wait hours for whole milk to thicken: Using half-and-half and cooking in the Instant Pot gives this rice pudding a head start. The delicate and lovely rose syrup highlights the floral notes in the cardamom, while the tart apricots tame the richness in the pudding. If rose water isn’t your thing, try orange blossom water, which can easily be found in an international market. Don’t, however, substitute standard long-grain rice for basmati.