When a cook like Rima Kasm prepares for Ramadan, the holy month-long period of fasting during daylight hours that begins on Friday at sundown this year, she knows that planning is even more essential than usual.
“I will write down what I want to cook each day and get everything I need,” says the Newport Beach, Calif., resident who came to America from her native Lebanon 25 years ago. She will rise before dawn to make and share the morning meal known as suhoor, and cook the evening meal, iftar, without tasting it, before the sun sets.
“Following my good recipes makes it okay for me,” Kasm says. “I rely on them.”
At the top of the list: foods that hydrate and don’t take long to make, such as soups, because the fast also prohibits the intake of any liquids. Spicy dishes such as curries are avoided, since they bring on thirst. She makes a soup almost every day, as well as the pita and vegetable salads known as fattoush. Dates and dessert sweets are on her daily menu, admitting to a particular craving for them during the holiday.
Kasm says you’ll find a pressure cooker in many Ramadan kitchens, an invaluable aid that allows her to make bean stews, lentils and fragrant chicken with rice and warming spices in as little as 20 minutes. For cooks who might not be quite as organized as she or are looking to add variety to their pressure-cooker repertoire for the holiday, here are four recipes that work for the holiday — including dessert.