Green Prophet: Vegetarian Ramadan Recipes From the Middle East

ramadan-green-vegetarian-iftar-maamoul-eidFrom Ma’amoul to Couscous, why not try a new vegetarian dish from the Middle East and North Africa region this Ramadan?

There are some dishes that evoke such strong memories of a festive occasion, that eating them any other time of the year feels wrong. For me, Qatayf (mini nut pancakes) and Mamoul (date cookies) are two things I only ever eat during Ramadan and so just seeing them gets me in the Ramadan spirit. Another great thing about these two succulent sweet pastries is that they are vegetarian and with enough sugar and calories to give you a post-fast energy boost. Indeed there is an amazing array of special Ramadan dishes from around the Muslim world that are suitable for vegetarians. In an effort toencourage more Muslims (and non-Muslims!) to reduce their meat intake during this holy month, I have collated a list of delectable dishes and pastries that would make the perfect Vegetarian iftar.

After a long day of fasting, the last thing I want to eat is heavy, greasy food. It’s too demanding for your stomach and means you end up feeling very uncomfortable and lethargic. Vegetarian food is the answer. As long as you go easy on the pastries and sweets, vegetarian dishes tend to be fresher, healthier and lighter on the stomach. 

I think soups are an absolute must during Ramadan. After a long day of fasting, nothing helps ease your thirst and hunger like a bowl of hot soup. I was lucky enough to try some tasty Moroccan Harira Soup when I was in Tangiers and I highly recommend it. It’s a lovely mix of lentils, chickpeas and vermicelli which is a particular Ramadan favourite.  You could also try our Moroccan wheat soup recipe here which promises a hearty and warming bowl of goodness.

Salads are another must have and you can’t wrong with Tabbouleh and Fattoush. Check out this recipe for Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad for a modern twist on the traditional Tabbouleh by our resident cook Miriam Kresh.

You could also give Fattoush a try – made from leftover pitta bread, tomato, cucumber, mint and lots of other things you should have lying about in your kitchen, it makes a lovely starter. Here’s a great recipe for the traditional Lebanese dish and you could also throw in some avocado to give it a bit more weight.

For main dishes, give couscous a whirl this Ramadan with our very own lemon-scented vegetarian couscous. We even have a special vegan-friendly couscous recipe that you can try out.

Freekah, an ancient grain makes a lovely, hearty soup but could also be cooked as a main and stuffed in a Kobocha squash as you can see below.

Another great vegetarian dish which is a firm favourite even amongst the non-veggies is Imjadarra/Mujaddara. A very traditional Middle Eastern dish, Imjadarra it is made using either rice or bulgar wheat with green lentils, onions and some basic herbs and spices.

Finally to finish off any meal, something sweet. Arabic sweets in my personal opinion are quite tricky to pull off (but I find all pastries and cakes a conundrum to make…) but this recipe for Baklava looks simply enough.

You could also try to make the traditional Ramadan date cookie called Ma’amoul which would really impress your friends. Or even better, you could make the ultimate half-moon shaped Qatayef for a real taste of Ramadan.

: This article was inspired by a post on My Conscious Eating.

::Originally published at GreenProphet.com

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