Just to refresh your memory, Ramadan happens every year for a month, when Muslims around the world don’t eat, drink, or smoke during daylight hours. Last week we spoke to Quddus, an imam in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and now we’re speaking to the Rouf family who have Bangaldeshi, Spanish, and Puerto Rican members. This year, each family is taking turns to host their own version of Come Dine With Me, and with points to be scored, the stakes were high.
Tell us about yourselves We have a big family, forever growing. Every year, we do a minimum of one iftar at the parent-in-laws. As the families are growing, we wanted to make them memorable and enjoyable, plus share the responsibility of cooking. We thought Come Ramadine With Me would be a great way of breaking our fasts and also have fun by scoring everyone’s efforts. This also helped to move away from typical ‘Asian’ iftars, which is nice for the non Asian members of the family. And some of us contribute very little when it comes to cooking, but offer a lot by way of eating.
What kind of food did you have for your other Ramadine episodes? Last week we had an international menu and we called it UN Day, putting on different cuisines from across the globe. We had a range of starters: chicken wings, prawn tempura, tuna pastries, and a bosco salad. For mains we had shepherd’s pie, garlic bread, and salad. For dessert we served baklava with ice cream, chocolate strawberries, homemade flapjacks, and Moroccan mint tea.
What does Ramadan mean to you? Ramadan is an opportunity to get close with family, friends and neighbours. It helps remind us of the blessings we have and to remember the less fortunate. It’s about self control and discipline of the mind, tongue and obviously, body. It helps us remember Allah. It is a means of cleansing the mind and getting close to Allah. Ramadan also means family. Normally it’s very hard to get everybody together at the same time, but Ramadan is the one time in the year we get to sit down together as a family and eat at the same time.
Do you have any traditions or rituals during the month? One thing we did growing up is waking up before fajr (dawn) and having a feast. My mum would wake up before us all and prepare fried fish, chicken and many other dishes. We’d all eat together and for dessert we would have mango, rice, and cream. We enjoyed breaking our fasts with a salty rice soup and chickpeas. Also, every year we do secret Santa which we call Secret Salam; ballots are drawn the first weekend of Ramadan and presents opened on Eid.
Is it difficult to fast and work? Working while fasting is not a problem as it helps the time go quicker. However it’s difficult to come home, catch up on your prayer, read the Quran and help prepare food to break your fast. Know any good fasting-related jokes? ‘Ramadan, the only month I have a date every night’. Brilliant.