Welcome back to another post!
Ramadan is right around the corner, and I cannot be more excited! For my non-muslim readers who aren’t very familiar with the month of Ramadan and the reasoning behind it, I will briefly explain it as best as I can (but I do recommend further research if you’re interested) and then share how I get ready for this holy month 🖤
The simplest explanation to Ramadan is, muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. It is a complete fast, which means no eating anything or drinking (and yes that includes water). We call it a holy month, as it is the month when the holy Quran was sent down, amongst other reasons such as grounding ourselves, become equal (no difference in rich or poor, weak or strong, sick or healthy), give back to the community (Zakat), meditate and self-reflect, self-control and self-discipline, sacrifice and many more important traits to practice. During this month as well, we are encouraged to recite the entire Quran, which brings us closer to Allah (God) and gives us the chance to appreciate and be thankful of what we have. It is my favourite time of the year, and it is followed by Eid (which I will discuss in a different post).
How I prep for Ramadan!
I am a visual person, and truly enjoy decorating my house into different seasons throughout the year. This is my first Ramadan being married, and I want to create my own small traditions that I (and my future children) would enjoy doing every year. Since this year we are in self-isolation and most shops aren’t open, I decided to explore Amazon and Etsy for some small affordable Ramadan themed decor, and here are what I found:-
The circular containers are scented candles which reminds me of Middle Eastern smells, the painting at the back is something I played around with while I was bored and had nothing else to do, everything else were purchased from my home country and I assembled them on the dinning table as a centrepiece for the month. The image on the right are banners that did not get delivered in time for this post, but I plan to hang it across my fire place in the living room (a picture will be posted on my instagram). Due to budgets and different priorities, this year I decided to just decorate the living room (as its the most used room) and the kitchen dining table as we will be breaking our fasts (iftar) here every night. However as time goes by, I am looking to fully decorate each room in future Ramadans such as themed bed sheets, dovets, pillows, and maybe even plate sets!
- Setting a menu
Studying in university abroad resulted in me spending 2-3 Ramadans away from home, which I was fine with because I only had to prepare food for myself. I never pre-planned my meals, I would cook them on the day, a couple of hours before breaking my fast, which wasn’t the best idea because it made me have a very unhealthy diet, and some days ordering food for delivery.
Having not to eat throughout the entire day, makes the food you eat even more crucial to your physical and mental health during this month. Many studies highly recommend meals that are high in fibre, fruits and vegetables of course for the vitamins and nutrients, plenty of liquids such as soups, and most importantly water! Lots and lots of water is the trick to a successful month of fasting. Food to avoid in Ramadan is any meal that is high in oil (fried or fatty), caffeine, salt and sugar as these tend to make you thirsty and are generally not good for you anyway.
This year I decided to get a head start and actually create an entire folder on my laptop dedicated to collecting different recipes. Starting early is extremely important for this year as grocery shopping is becoming harder, especially getting halal meat and Arabic ingredients in foreign countries. This is great practice as I want to make it a habit to plan ahead to ensure a stress free month.
- Pre-cooking some dishes
If you live alone, or is the person responsible for cooking in your household, then you understand the effort and stress of cooking iftar when you can’t even taste the food. This year I’m approaching cooking in a new way, and will definitely share my experience at the end of the month. As shown in the picture, this year I’ve pre-planned what dishes I’m cooking and decided to cut some fresh veggies and fruits and freeze them in reusable bags. Especially with how hard it is to leave home and shop this year, I highly recommend freezing as much fresh veggies as you can to avoid the stress of going out during this month. Additionally, I’m planning to pre-cook and freeze some easy dishes to avoid cooking multiple times during the week. For example, freezing dishes such as curries, pastries, soups, and even desserts. On the day, I can take them out in the morning to defrost, and I would only need to prepare the salad and rice before iftar. A very simple and stress-free way to approach cooking during this holy month.
For this month, I will dedicate a post each week sharing the recipes I tried, what I recommend and a small Ramadan update in the Lifestyle section of the blog, so stay tuned!
While shopping for decor on Amazon, I stumbled upon many Ramadan journals and diaries, which I didn’t know existed but truly made me think of how great it is for tracking progress throughout the month, and setting goals as well. This is what I picked:-
It’s a simple straightforward journal that has set templates for you to fill at the beginning of the month, at the end of the month, and in each day of the month. Some templates include setting goals in different categories (religiously, personally, after-life, etc.), a Quran checklist for tracking how much you’ve recited during the month, a prayers list, charity list, (my favourite part) meal prepping list, daily reflection pages, and finally, an after Ramadan reflection list (which I might share in a future post).
(This journal is currently £6.90 and can be found in Amazon)
- Scents and smells.
Scents are the finishing touches in my opinion in setting the right ‘vibe’. Growing up in the Middle East, the only scent I’m used to is the smell of oud and bukhoor. For those who aren’t familiar with what this is, it’s a very traditional Arabic version of a candle. Burning small woodchips that have been submerged with perfumed oil and other natural ingredients to create traditional incense, making the house and clothing smell amazing.
This concludes how I prep for Ramadan. Let me know if you celebrate Ramadan and how you prepare for the month! And share any tips or recipes that you will be trying this year as well!
Take care and stay safe!
Ramadan Kareem 🖤