As a child, Ramadan would be one of my favourite times of the year. You would find Mum in the kitchen making her well-loved Iftar specials – deliciously fried samosas, flaky meat pastries, creamy Faluda, a feast! – whilst Dad would be busy packing us into the car to take us to the mosque to break our fast.
Come the weekend, there would be Sehri and Iftar gatherings at different relatives and family friends’ houses throughout the month, and it was great fun to see my friends all the time.
Growing up, things started to change. My siblings would opt to stay at home more to study or work, and eventually move out once married to start their own lives. Our enjoyable, social sehri get-togethers soon became a quick and lonely bowl of cocopop before bed, and those close childhood friends of mine were a distant memory.
Now, as a young professional living in London with my lovely husband, Ramadhan is definitely not the same as it once was. I can’t just waltz into the kitchen and nab one of Mum’s heavenly buttery pastries anymore, nor do I have the time to drive all the way to the mosque for Iftar on a weekday. Not to mention that as a food writer, a quick bowl of cereal before bed just won’t suffice for me.
So, what is Ramadan like for a young professional living in London?
Dreaded Ramadan breath and that hangry feeling (yes, it’s a real thing!) aside, I’ve grown to appreciate and connect more spiritually with this annual fasting period. I like to look at it as a 30-day life detox; no more overpriced morning caffeine fixes nor a cheeky sugar filled pastry to snack on to make a day spent at my desk more pleasant, but instead, there is a new sense of mindfulness.
Above all else, as times have changed, so has the halal food business.
Not only do we suddenly have more options available to us but I would go so far as to say we are spoilt for choice, and several restaurants are now even starting to offer special Iftar menus or extending their opening hours to accommodate for Sehri. While nothing will really compare to Mum’s cooking, I find I do not need to be loitering around her kitchen to be fed. Instead, it seems, and rightly so, that in an age of convenience, whatever we desire is well and truly catered for.
With my work keeping me on my feet all the way until my husband finally manages to get home after years of what I have been telling him are unreasonable working hours, we are only left a narrow window to squeeze in an evening together, or if lucky, enough time to meet up with friends and family.
It’s a relief, to that end, that Iftar time is no longer a matter of what to make, but where to go for a meal.
Ramadan is once again a time of gathering and sharing, although without the struggle of slaving over a hot stove. Perhaps when we have a family, things will be like the old days again, but as young professionals, the current state of things seem to work just fine for us!
You can check out more from Halal Girl About Town and her foodies’ adventures over at halalgirlabouttown.com