Ramadan After Sunset: Breaking Fast in the Valley

Last week, we blogged advice on how to deal with fasting during the summer for Muslims in the Valley. This week, we spoke with a few locals, asking for their tips on where the best places to break fast are--and what some of the best methods are.
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Whether it's a traditional home-cooked meal, iftar (the Arabic word for breakfast, but in Ramadan is used to literally refer to the meal that breaks a person's fast) with members of the community at a mosque or hunting down the "best damn burger," our sources offered plenty of options to consider.  

If you do find yourself in the mood for a larger gathering, the

Islamic Community Center of Phoenix

offers a wide array of ethnic dishes throughout the holy month, for the community, provided by the community.

"Usually every Ramadan we have a calendar and we ask that people who want to donate put their names on the calendar. For the days without names, the masjid provides food," says Usama Shami, President of the ICCP. "Some people pay money to ask the masjid to cater from a restaurant, some people choose to make it [food] themselves and bring it. It can be Middle Eastern, Somali food...It varies from night to night."

So, you can play Russian roulette with your iftar, or if you're wanting something more specific, there are certain things to consider even more than usual when fasting. For one thing, good service is absolutely crucial after a long, exhausting day.

"I would definitely say Pita Jungle," says Serine Abdelhaq, a Speech and Hearing Science major at ASU. "I love it, especially because it has a little Arabic taste to it. And their service is great. I don't like to go to a restaurant and have people ask a million questions."

And Abdelhaq has just the suggestion for a good burger:  Habit Burger.

"I am so serious, it's the best burger I've ever had," says Abdelhaq. "I had the Avocado Charbroil and it was so delicious. Best. Damn. Burger."

Many folks opt to stay in rather than go out. After all, Ramadan is meant to be spent with family. If you're wondering what foods to make and what to avoid--or at least have in smaller portions--we sought advice from a family friend, Abdelhaq's mother.

She stresses the benefits of starting the meal with dates. Aside from the fact that the Prophet Mohammad is believed to have broken his fasting with them (bonus points!), dates are known for being very nutritious.

"Each one has the seven minerals your body needs," says Fatima Abdelhaq, a first grade teacher at the Phoenix metro Islamic School. "And I read yesterday [on an Arabic recipe website] that frying food makes it harder to digest during Ramadan, so try to avoid it." 

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