By Michelle Locke

What’s on the table for Ramadan? Plenty.

If you were expecting kebabs and more kebabs, think again. Food served during the Islamic observance is as diverse as the Muslim world itself. Ramadan, which lasts one month and falls on July 20 this year, focuses on spirituality and inner reflection, with observers fasting from just before sunrise to sunset.

The structure of Ramadan (ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is fairly simple. Two main meals are eaten, often with the family and with friends — “suhoor” before dawn, and “iftar” just after sundown. During the day, observers take in nothing — no food or water — although there are exceptions for people who can’t maintain the fast for health or other reasons.

The month ends with Eid-ul-Fitr (eed-ull-fitter), sometimes a big feast and other times a more humble affair, where friends and family often get together to share food and celebrate. [Read more…]