‘God made us into tribes so that we might get to know one another’. (The Quran 43:19)
Do you remember Recipes For Ramadan last year? When face-to-face iftars with extended family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and the wider community were impossible, a group of us got together to offer food and conversation in the form of recipes and family stories, delving back into different countries across the globe where Australian Muslims have historical roots. We called it an invitation to a virtual iftar.
We wanted to celebrate the rich diversity of Australian Muslim culture and heritage, share food and stories of our lives and our family’s past, and to celebrate our ancestry and the people and places (and food memories) that make us who we are – just as we might at a face-to-face Iftar.
These stories help us explore what it is to be Australian in 2021: a kaleidoscope of cultures and stories. And help increase understanding of Ramadan and secure Ramadan a place in the Australian annual calendar so that the wider non-Muslims community can appreciate what it is.
We gathered 33 recipes from 15 different countries and cultures, shared via a dedicated website (www.RecipesforRamadan.com), social media (Instagram @recipesforramadan), AMUST and coverage on SBS and ABC Radio.
This year, we’re adding more recipes and more countries of origin and are excited to be looking at contributions from Albania, Bosnia, Fiji, Italy/Croatia, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Lina Jebeile (aka The Lebanese Plate) sums up what we are trying to achieve as, “Food nowadays plays a vital role in mending that dislocation of my Lebanese culture and identity. It has allowed me to ignite my passion for my heritage and my determination that our culture and heritage is not lost to coming generations.”
Likewise, for Mehar Ahmad, President of Seena Inc, publisher of AMUST who is intent on passing down her family’s favourite recipes and her memories to her grandchildren, “Cooking in the last few hours of fasting was always very tempting. The aroma of samosas frying was just irresistible. The clock seemed to slow down and I kept asking my dad if it was time to break the fast yet? My dad used to say to read the Quran and the time will move fast. And he was so right.”
For those involved, it’s a passion project which relies on Australian Muslims from different walks of life contributing and sharing their recipes, hearts and stories just as they might open their home as hosts. And on visitors interested to do the same.
So we invite you to check out the website, try the recipes, meet the people you find there, get a taste of their family’s story. And if you have a family recipe that you’d like to share, one that unlocks family stories and family history, share it here.
In addition to introducing different cultures and the different stories and pasts everyone brings with them – often through parents and grandparents – it’s great to introduce lots of interesting people and a chance to tell others who you are, where your family came from, what you do and what you believe.
This year, Guardian Australia is helping us (metaphorically speaking) invite a wider Australian and non-Muslim audience to the table, publishing a Recipes for Ramadan series every Saturday from last week until Eid.
Starting with starters including a Moroccan Harira soup (https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/apr/10/recipes-for-ramadan-quick-and-easy-moroccan-harira-soup-from-jane-jeffes); tomorrow, the Shahrouk Sisters Fattah, their family recipe and story from Lebanon; next week Greens Senator for NSW Mehreen Faruqi’s mother’s recipe for Pakora and Mehreen’s reflections on her childhood in Lahore… then a selection of main courses and desserts.
“Recipes for Ramadan is exactly the kind of project I love in the lifestyle space, because it takes something universal – delicious food – and situates it in a context that’s both wider and more intimate than you’d normally expect. Each story and dish is personal, but taken together it’s a social mosaic and a multi-course feast. The reason Australia has a brilliant food scene is because we’re a melting pot, and this project really celebrates that. I’m really excited to be bringing some of it to Guardian Australia’s pages.” (Alyx Gorman, Lifestyle Editor, Guardian Australia).
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of the recipes in AMUST’s online pages and in the May paper but in the meantime, do check out some mouth-watering recipes and stories on the Recipes for Ramadan website; and follow the project on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. Like, follow, share etc! And ask colleagues, friends and family to do the same.