Ramadan, which begins on Monday night, April 12, is a month-long interval of fasting throughout the day and breaking the quick after sundown at a meal often called iftar, usually with household and pals.

What folks eat for iftar varies based on their origins. At an Afghan iftar, for instance, we had aushak —Afghan dumplings full of leeks and chives and topped with meat and break up pea sauce; at a Pakistani iftar we ate peppery hen curry and pakoras — vegetable and chickpea flour fritters; a Ramadan meal we savored at a Sri Lankan restaurant featured biryani — meat cooked with spiced rice. It doesn’t matter what the culinary model of the Ramadan dinner is, it may be a veritable feast.

Center Jap cuisines are identified for meat dishes, however quite a lot of vegetable dips can function appetizers or aspect dishes. Turkish, Syrian and Palestinian iftars typically start with an array of such dips.

One is muhammara, a spicy walnut and pink pepper pâté seasoned with cumin, pink pepper and pomegranate molasses. We tasted our most memorable muhammara served with just-baked flatbread close to Gaziantep in southeast Turkey at a restaurant on the banks of the Euphrates River.

Baba ghanouj or grilled eggplant dip, enriched with tahini and flavored with lemon and garlic, is one other favourite of ours. For a reddish unfold with a contact of sweetness, we add pureed grilled candy pink peppers. For delicate taste, we substitute yogurt for the tahini.

Hummus, the acquainted chickpea and tahini dip, is the quickest of all to organize if you happen to use canned chickpeas. Center Jap cooks usually drizzle olive oil within the heart and garnish it with chopped parsley and floor pink pepper.

Muhammara (spicy walnut pink pepper pâté) garnished with pink walnuts, contemporary oregano, thyme, roasted garlic, drizzled with olive oil. (Picture by Yakir Levy)

Spicy Walnut and Purple Pepper Pâté (Muhammara)

Serves 8


2 medium-size pink bell peppers

2 cup walnuts (about 7 ounces), plus walnut quarters or halves for garnish

½ cup dry breadcrumbs

1 or 2 pink Fresno peppers (optionally available), seeds eliminated, finely chopped

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or strained contemporary lemon juice

2 to three tablespoons further virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1½ to 2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon floor cumin

Sea salt to style

1 to three teaspoons crushed semi-hot Turkish pink pepper or Aleppo pepper, or ½ teaspoon cayenne

Halved mini candy peppers, mini cucumber slices or contemporary flatbread for serving

Chopped Italian parsley to garnish

Muhammara (spicy walnut pink pepper pâté) served in mini candy peppers and on mini cucumber slices, garnished with pink walnuts and parsley (Picture by Yakir Levy)


Warmth broiler. Set bell peppers on a slotted broiler pan or in a foil-lined roasting pan. Broil, turning peppers a couple of instances, till they’re charred on all surfaces, 7 to 12 minutes.

Wrap the peppers in foil or place them in a plastic or paper bag and shut bag. Let stand till cool sufficient to deal with. Peel with support of a paring knife. Reduce them in half, draining off any liquid. Reduce peppers in items, discarding cap and seeds.

In a meals processor, grind walnuts and breadcrumbs till effective. Add chopped pink Fresno pepper and peeled candy pepper items and course of to combine. Add pomegranate molasses, 2 tablespoons olive oil, sugar, paprika and cumin and course of to a paste, leaving a couple of chunks if you happen to like.

Switch combination to a serving bowl. If you want, stir in 2 to three tablespoons water, a teaspoon at a time, to skinny the combination. Season to style with salt, pink pepper or cayenne and extra pomegranate molasses or sugar. Refrigerate for 1 hour to mix flavors.

Serve the pâté drizzled with olive oil and garnished with parsley and walnuts.

Grilled eggplant dip with yogurt is garnished with roasted seasoned almonds, pink pepper and parsley, and drizzled with olive oil. (Picture by Yakir Levy)

Grilled Eggplant Dip

Serves 4 to six


2 globe eggplants (complete about 2 kilos)

3 massive garlic cloves, minced

4 to five tablespoons tahini (stir nicely earlier than measuring)

3 to 4 tablespoons strained contemporary lemon juice

1 to 2 tablespoons water

Salt and freshly floor black pepper

Further virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

2 or 3 teaspoons minced Italian parsley to garnish

Aleppo pepper, scorching or candy paprika or cayenne to garnish


Heat broiler or put together grill with medium-hot coals.

Prick every eggplant 5 or 6 instances with a fork. Set eggplants on a foil-lined broiler pan or on grill. Broil or grill, turning eggplants a couple of instances, till they’re very tender, about 20 minutes. They need to look collapsed and their skins needs to be charred; examine for tenderness with a fork — the tines ought to go in simply. Take away eggplants from warmth. Let stand till cool sufficient to deal with.

Reduce off eggplant caps. Halve eggplants lengthwise. Scoop and scrape out eggplant pulp from inside pores and skin. Put pulp in a colander; let drain 5 minutes. Chop pulp effective with a knife or by pulsing in a meals processor. Switch eggplant to a bowl. Add garlic and blend nicely.

Spoon tahini right into a medium-size bowl. Regularly stir in 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water. Add to eggplant and blend nicely. Season generously with salt, add pepper and extra lemon juice or tahini to style. Refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours to mix flavors.

To serve, unfold eggplant combination in a thick layer on a plate with a despair within the heart. Drizzle heart with olive oil. Garnish with parsley and Aleppo pepper.

Grilled eggplant dip with pink peppers is drizzled with olive oil and garnished with chopped parsley. (Picture by Yakir Levy)

Variation: Grilled Eggplant and Purple Pepper Dip

Broil and peel 1½ to 2 kilos pink bell peppers, following steps 1 and a pair of in recipe for Spicy Walnut and Purple Pepper Pâté. Purée broiled peppers in a meals processor. Add chopped broiled eggplant, minced garlic and tahini sauce to processor and mix till clean. Style for salt, and add ½ teaspoon Aleppo or cayenne pepper to style. Serve drizzled with olive oil.

Hummus (chickpea tahini dip) garnished with chickpeas, chives, edible flowers, pink pepper, drizzled with olive oil. (Picture by Yakir Levy)

Chickpea and Tahini Dip (Hummus)

Serves 8


1/2 pound dried chickpeas (about 1¼ cups) or two 15-ounce cans

2 massive garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup tahini (stir nicely earlier than measuring)

1/3 cup strained contemporary lemon juice

1 teaspoon floor cumin (optionally available)

1/2 cup chickpea cooking liquid or water

Salt to style

Garnish: 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; Aleppo pepper, paprika or cayenne; chopped Italian parsley


If utilizing dried chickpeas, decide them over, discarding any pebbles and damaged or discolored peas. Rinse nicely. Soak chickpeas 8 hours or in a single day in water to cowl generously. Drain soaked chickpeas and rinse. Put chickpeas in a big saucepan and add 5 cups water. Carry to a simmer. Cowl and prepare dinner over low warmth for 1½ hours or till very tender.

Drain the cooked or canned chickpeas nicely, reserving the liquid. Should you like, rub chickpeas gently to take away their skins.

Utilizing a meals processor, chop the chickpeas. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and ¼ cup chickpea cooking liquid or liquid from the can. Puree till blended and chickpeas are finely floor. Switch to a bowl. Regularly stir in additional chickpea cooking liquid or water till puree is a clean unfold. Season with salt to style. Refrigerate, lined, till able to serve.

To serve, spoon hummus onto a serving plate, leaving a despair within the heart. Drizzle olive oil into heart. Garnish with pinches of Aleppo pepper and chopped parsley.

Faye Levy is the writer of “Feast from the Mideast.”


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