Secrets From The Sahara Ramadhan’s Tunisian Kitchen
As people are fasting in Ramadhan during the day, the nutrition systems change, the body will call for more supply to cover the needs, so in Ramadhan, there is an excessive consumption of foods. This holy month can be divided into three periods or phases ; before Ramadhan, Ramadhan, and after Ramadhan.
Phase 1 : Before Ramadhan
During that period, people are in a rush of preparations to get themselves ready for the upcoming lifestyle change, markets become overcrowded, people are buying all kinds of foods and stuff that are needed for fasting era ; all kinds of flavoring and spices, vegetables, foodstuffs, Dates…etc, also some are home made such as pickles.
Phase 2 : Ramadhan
During these 30 days of Ramadhan, there are some foods that do always exist on the tables every single day. After fasting, it is common to start with some ‘Dates دقلة – تمر’ and some ‘milk حليب’, may be it’s something medical or religious or traditional, i don’t know but we get used to that. Then, it goes to the soup that warms the stomach so it be ready for the coming. The soup consists of barley that has been harvested before Ramadhan, it’s cooked either with chicken meat or fish. ‘Barley soup شربة شعير’ is easy to make, take a vessel, put in some spoons of tomato paste, add the spices you like, add some spoons of olive oil, very small pieces of onion and garlic and the kind of meat you like, put them on fire to cook a little, then add water to them, let it boil then add the barley seeds and let it stabilize, do not forget the salt like my mother always do which i think she do it on purpose. ‘The Brik البريك’ in plural, ‘Brika بريكه’ singular feminin, or miss Ramadhan, i’ve talked about it in a previous article and preparing it is easy, it only needs some flour mixed with water to prepare the dough for the ‘Brik’ then prepare its mishmash which is made from boiled potatos, parsley, eggs, tuna and some spices put in the ‘Brik’ then fried. So, Dates, milk, soup and Brik are Ramadhan’s companions in every day for thirty days. That main menu is accompanied with whatever people would like to add for the table, such as salads which vary ; green salad made of fresh vegetables initially cocumber, onion, tomatos cut into small pieces, boiled salad initially made of potato and carrots boiled, grilled salad which is spicy initially made of grilled onion, peppers, garlic, tomatos, decorated with tuna, olives and boiled eggs, rice salad made of boiled rice and carrots and potatos, and the list of salads is unlimited. There should be also one or more main meal that has to be heavy and energetic and lusty, i personally like pea broth and spaghetti alot. As we get so thirsty when fasting, at night people drink alot of liquids, water, juice, cokes, cocktails..etc, here in Kébili, we have a unique natural juice that is so popular in my city, Kébili is very known in the country with that ‘palm juice’ referred to here and everywhere as ‘Lagmi’. ‘Lagmi’ is a very sweet liquid that is coming from the heart of the Palm tree after it is prepared in a special way for that, usually from the trees that are no longer able to produce Dates, it comes out like the honey so it is mixed with water so it can be drunk, it is very common to sell it in Ramadhan but it’s also sold during ordinary days.
From sunrise to sunset is fasting, so there exist two major meals that are so necessary in Ramadhan, the one which is just at the end of fasting and it is called ‘Iftar إفطار’, and the one which is before the sunrise, before fasting and it is called ‘suhoor السحور’. In between these two periods is a free choice of foods or sweets.
Fruits in Ramadhan are so important especially those that meet the body need of water such as watermelon, and as Ramadhan isn’t far from the summer, fruits are so diversified.
Phase 3 : After Ramadhan
Right afetr Ramadhan comes the ‘Eid’. The ‘Eid’ consists usually of three days of celebrations, people and families and friends make visits to each others, all types of sweets and cookies are made and shared, people give what we call ‘Zaket Iftar زكاة الإفطار’, new outfits while people celebrate their victory in Ramadhan against the bad them.
Buying new outfits and costumes is one of the features of ‘Eid’, but as we grow up and as life is way more difficult then it was, we kept that tradition for children and we just wear what we have.