“No matter how far apart we are, our family, our roots, remembering and celebrating our culture and reinforcing our sense of being together is important.”
(Fathia Abdullah, Amity College parent)
One week into Ramadan and we are delighted by the public response to the second year of Recipes for Ramadan! Read on for mouth-watering recipes and stories to share.
Our community partners and contributors are ‘virtual hosts’, sharing recipes and family stories and audiences online, on social media, here and at Guardian Australia are ‘guests’, enjoying the stories, photos and videos and trying the recipes – from our tables to yours with love and lots of flavour!
Recipes for Ramadan began in 2020 when face-to-face iftars beyond our immediate household were impossible due to the extraordinary impact of COVID-19. Extended family and wider community iftars were not an option and hospitality temporarily unlawful, reinforcing the trending hashtag #lockdownramadan.
In unprecedented circumstances, Recipes for Ramadan aimed to share the rich historical stories and experiences of Australian Muslim families whose parents, grandparents, great grandparents and great-great-grandparents came from all over the world. Australian Muslims shared not only a serving of their traditional family recipes but the extraordinary stories behind them.
As the president of the United Muslims of Australia, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, explains, “At the end of the day, it’s important to reinforce our family values, our religion and our cultural identity and heritage. Doing that and sharing those things with others is what makes Australia a successful multi-cultural society, not just accepting each other’s’ differences but valuing them. Commitments like this,” he says, “are what makes the United Muslims of Australia proud to be part of projects like Recipes for Ramadan.”
One plateful at a time, different recipes and stories from around the world allow us to gain insight into other people’s life-changing experiences and to learn something of the history of the places from which their families have come.
The Abdullahs, a family from Amity College in southwest Sydney, have shared their traditional Somalian Pilaf rice and their story of a family separated by civil war.
Fathia’s parents moved to the UAE temporarily for work opportunities in the 1970s but after civil war broke out in Somalia in the 1980s, they were unable to return home. As Fathia was growing up, her parents made sure they were in touch with grandparents and aunts and uncles through letters and voice recordings on cassettes.
The mother of five boys and a girl, Fathia keeps her children in touch with their grandmother and cousins in the UAE and extended family in Somaliland through Skype and WhatsApp and emphasises to her children that “no matter how far apart we are, our family, our roots, remembering and celebrating our culture and reinforcing our sense of being together is important”.
Fathia and her husband were able to take their children to meet their great grandmother, great aunts and uncles and cousins in 2015 and experienced a life very different from their life in Sydney.
Beyza Koca, an Amity College alumni, now studying a Bachelor of Science and Education at UNSW, has shared that “In Gaziantep (her father’s hometown in Turkey), iftar means not only sharing with your relatives but also sharing with your neighbours and with those in need”.
Beyza’s father’s childhood memories of iftars and of Ramadan have passed down to the next generation and the “theme of giving” continues to characterise the Koca family’s Ramadan. When COVID-19 restrictions crushed traditional hospitality last year, Beyza leapt at the opportunity to partake in Recipes for Ramadan as a way to give back to the Australian-Turkish community.
“My father told me that he remembers at iftars in his youth, there would be hundreds of people sitting on their knees around safras (pieces of cloth on the floor used to serve food on)”.
“Young men and women are serving many dishes… Then when everyone was seated and has their plates, no one talks and everyone waits for the Adhan (call to prayer) which tell us to break our fast. And then come the sound of spoons touching plates, drinks pouring into glasses…”
We cordially invite you to join us at our virtual table – or on your knees around safras – and to enjoy recipes, stories, photos and videos at https://recipesforramadan.com/. There may be faces you know, others you don’t but we hope you enjoy getting to know them a bit more and trying their favourite foods.
Enjoy Fathia’s recipe and story here https://recipesforramadan.com/recipes/fathias-somali-pilaf-rice/.
Enjoy Beyza’s recipe and story here: https://recipesforramadan.com/recipes/alizazik/
If you’d like to share your own recipe and unlock your family story, please reach out on our social media handles!
AMUST is the Community Media partner for Recipes For Ramadan. This year, Guardian Australia is also publishing a recipe and a story every Saturday. Follow us on social media @recipesforramadan and on Facebook and YouTube, using links on the website.