I want to share another Ramadan tradition that is still alive especially in small cities. As it’s hard for traditions to survive in big cities, they are mostly seen in towns or small cities where people have more intimate relationships. On the other hand, people in big cities are always complaining that they don’t have these old traditions any more. One of theRamadan traditions I love is that neighbors send dishes to each other. And this is mostly the responsibility of the youngest family member. It was mine when I was a child. I remember that mom used to prepare a bowl of the dish of the day for one of our neighbors and tell me to take it to the neighbor. I must admit that I always wonder what our neighbor cooked on that day as she used to empty my bowl and fill it with the dish she cooked and give it in return, which is the second part of this tradition. That’s why I love it, it’s a very good way of sharing. In this way, you have a richer dinner table. And I think the significance of giving this responsibility to children is to teach them sharing. Mom used to decide on another neighbor next day and I used to take the dish to them. I used to walk so fast going and coming back form our neighbor as I didn’t want to miss the time of iftar. And when I heard imam’s voice on the way home, calling for the prayer (which means we can break our fast), I used to start to run! Everything was more exciting those times. But if there is no child in a house, you yourself take the dish to your neighbor. When I talk to mom on the phone these days, she says they still have this tradition in Tarsus, my hometown.
After breaking their fast, peole generally start their meal with a soup to warm their empty stomach. It also has a control on your appetite. When you start with a soup, as it removes the feeling of hunger, you eat enough from the other dishes. You always want to eat more if you don’t have a warm soup at the beginning. Among the soups I learnt from mom, red lentil soup is my favorite. Our negihbors used to love it, too. One bowl was never enough for them, so mom used to send them a small pot full of this soup. This is a traditional Turkish soup and you may find it at every Turkish restaurant at any time. Its cooking style may change although the ingredients are mostly the same. Here is mom’s style red lentil soup.
Ingredients (servings 6)
- 1 medium sized onion, diced
- 1 medium sized carrot, finely chopped
- 1 medium potato, finely chopped
- 1 cup red lentil
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 ½ tbsp butter
Heat olive oil in a pot. Saute onion, then add carrot and potatoes. Stir occasionally.
Wash red lentil, drain and add it to the pot. Saute it for 3 minutes. Keep stirring. Pour 6 cups water, add the spices and salt and boil it until the vegetables and lentils get soft enough. If they can easily be mashed when you press with a spoon, it’s done. It takes about 30 minutes over medium heat. Do not cover the pot during this time as it can rise and overflow.
In a small pan, melt the butter. Add flour and mix it continually. When it becomes creamy, pour it into the pot with lentils.
To have a smooth soup, mash everything in the pot using a blender. Then put the pot back on the fire and boil it for 5 minutes. It’s ready to warm your stomach now.
Traditionally, this soup is always served with lemon wedges. When you squeeze it on your soup, its taste is completed. To have the utmost pleasure, I always sprinkle extra red pepper flakes and dried mint on my soup.