Ramadan is a time in the Islamic religion when all Muslims fast from sunup to sundown for the period of one lunar cycle. This means no food, no water, no cigarettes and no sex during the day for twenty-eight days. The truly orthodox will also not swallow and spend the day spitting. The reasoning behind this self-deprivation is to give people a chance to contemplate those less fortunate than themselves. By experiencing hunger, you will learn to be more sympathetic to the poor who often do not have enough food.

"Futare" is the meal at sunset which is eaten when the fast is broken. It traditionally begins with a cup of strong Arabic coffee and is then followed by dates, a symbolic sweet treat that is eaten to remind the faster of his good fortunes. The rest of the meal is usually a rice pilau with fish or meat, cassava or sweet potatoes, and coconut flavored vegetables.

The following is a passage from a letter I wrote a couple of years ago describing my first Ramadan in Zanzibar. I think still captures the feeling of the holiday in the Stonetown.

"I am looking forward to Ramadan this year from a photographer's point of view since there is a photo I didn't take last year that I've been regretting ever since. Picture the narrow street outside of my house, a mixture of cement, cobblestones and dirt. Along the sides of the old limestone buildings are barazas, benches which are built into the walls. It's 6:45 p.m. and all of the wazee (old men) are sitting anxiously, quietly. The sun is setting and although it can't be seen as it sinks behind the Stonetown, the light is noticeably softening and slowly fades. Suddenly the serenity is interrupted by a loud foghorn echoing throughout the town--the signal that the day is officially over. A cheer goes up from the children as they impatiently stuff dates into their cheeks. But along my street where the old men sit, it is not dates the old men reach for as the foghorn sounds. In unison, twenty to thirty men take their lighters, or matches, and ignite the cigarettes which were already awaiting impatiently in their lips. A small cloud of smoke rises through the din and I wonder if their sentiment of satisfaction can be portrayed on film as they all, in unison, exhale that long first drag."


1 cup chopped dates

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon baking soda

cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter

1 egg

teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

cup coarsely chopped nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Pour boiling water over the dates and baking soda. Let cool. Cream sugar, butter, and eggs. Sift salt with flour and mix into butter mixture. Add vanilla, nuts, and the date mixture. Bake in a loaf pan in a moderate oven for approximately 45 minutes until golden and top springs back when touched.


Serves 6.


country : Tanzania

course : baking


source : internet