Its the month of Ramazan, which means majority of Muslims are fasting through the day and abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, water and all the negativity in their life. This month people are mostly focused on fasting and improving their inner spirit and helping the others.
The fast is break two times per day, once before the sunrise, which is called suhoor, and upon the sunset, which is called iftar.
Suhoor is a simpler affair than iftar but still needs to be wholesome to provide enough energy to last during the long hours of fasting. Most muslim Turks indulge in a protein rich “kahvaltı” or Turkish breakfast, which allows the person fasting to avoid crankiness and weakness caused by the fast. A traditional “Suhur” includes eggs, omelettes or menemen (runny scrambled eggs mixed with tomatoes, chillies, onions, peppers and olive oil), turkish cheeses, honey, preserves, olives, dates, vegetables and bread.
Some neighborhoods preserved the tradition of drummers walking around the streets while beating rhythm to wake up to people so they can prepare for suhoor.
Iftar is the more important meal and usually it is a generous dinner, rich meal with plenty of foods of all types.
The foods that were bought or prepared ahead in large quantities and known as ramazanlık or ramazaniyelik .Some foods bought for Ramadan which indicate the richness of our cuisine include pastırma, sucuk, kavruma and other meat products, dried green beans, eggplant and red peppers, various pickles, cheese and oils, soup ingredients, especially tarhana, preserves, marmalades and fruit leathers, ingredients for compotes such as sour cherries, apricots, plums etc., bulgur, noodles, rice and pasta, tomato and pepper pastes, dried yufka and other breads.
The fast is usually break with water and dates and after that they are starting a meal with sort of meze and corba (Turkish soup). Favourite soups of Ramadan include “Ezogelin Çorbası” or red lentil soup, “Yayla Çorbası” or rice, yoghurt and mint soup, “Tarhana Çorbası” or “Süzme Mercimek Çorbası”, a lentil and potato soup.
Some indulge in Turkish coffee or tea during “Iftar” with sips of water on the side, or perhaps the national yoghurt drink “ayran”, but over the years the Turks have created two massively hydrating and delicious drinks to accompany meals; “şerbet” and “hoshaf”.
“Şerbet” is a sweet drink prepared from seasonal fruits or flower petals and herbs, boiled with sugar and spices, then strained to serve chilled. The more popular variations include rose water, sandalwood, lemon, orange, apple and tamarind. “Hoshaf” is made from cooking different kinds of dried fruits, such as raisins, apricots and cranberries, with sugar and spices and a lot of water. Once the fruits are soft and swollen, they are taken off the heat and served cold or at room temperature. Both types of drinks contain lots of nutrients and fibre and as long as the sugar content is kept low, both are healthy refreshments essential to curbing dehydration.
The special dish that can be found only during the month of Ramazan is Ramazan pidesi. Round and rather flat in form, and having a weave-like patterned crust, Ramazan pidesi is made of wheat flour with yeast, and topped with sesame and Nigella sativa seeds. Also eggs and butter can be ad inside or on the top.
The special dessert is called güllaç. As with other Turkish desserts, yufka (phyllo pastry) is the main ingredient in güllaç. The thin layers are white because the main ingredient is corn starch, unlike the golden color baklava has. Dry and paper-thin, this type of dough was first made in the Ottoman era as a way to preserve food for long periods. Before people would turn this type of food into a meal—what would they call aş (food) in general—they would soften the dough with milk and add sugar to it.
This dish later had rose water and various nuts added to it to improve the taste. Because of the added rose water, the name of the dessert changed to güllü aş (literally, food with rose.) In time, the name evolved into one word, güllaç.
Iftar is family and friend time, but unfortunately due to pandemic all the bigger and public gatherings are forbidden.