Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) is a holy month for muslims and they fast during this month as a worship. It started about a week ago and you can feel the excitement of people everywhere in Turkey now. Although we can’t say that Turkey is a muslim country, a big number of its citizens is muslim. The time of Ramadan was arranged by Islamic calendar and as this calendar is a moon calendar, it is 11 or 12 days shorter than Gregorian calendar. As a result, the month Ramadan starts about 10 days earlier each year.
Fast (oruc in Turkish) as a term means not eating or drinking anything and no sexual intercourse from sunrise till sunset. So the starting time and ending time of fast changes in each city depending on their direction.
The first step of fast begins after midnight, which is called suhoor (sahur in Turkish). People must prepare for the fast during suhoor. They can’t have any food after they hear the voice of imam calling all muslims to prayer (there are one or more mosques in a neighborhood and imams call to prayer from these mosques with loudspeakers). Imam’s voice is the reminder for the starting time of fast.
Do you think all muslims wind their alarm clocks and they wake up in the very early morning for suhoor with its striking? As Ramadan is the month of ritual like traditons, there must certainly be something more interesting to wake people up. Believe or not, some men walk around the streets banging drums during suhoor time to wake residents of that neighborhood. These men are called Ramadan drummer. They share the streets, so each street has its own Ramadan drummer. Although, some people are afraid of the sound of drums during night, this is one of my favorite traditions about Ramadan. When I was a child, I used to love watching the Ramadan drummer through the window every single night of the month. I found them…well…how can I say? Different from others. Maybe they look like people from a different world or maybe I find them so brave. Can you grab a drum and go out after midnight and bang it with all your might? I can’t. But Ramadan drummers can easily do it. I have many times wanted to ask one of these drummers to borrow me their drum and try it once. However, I could never even dare to ask it. At the end of Ramadan, each Ramadan drummer walks around the street he is responsible for during day time and rings the doorbells to get some tip. And people give them how much money they want.
At suhoor time, people wake up and prepare some food to eat. This is so exciting to wake up at a very unusual time of night and eating some food with all family members. Doesn’t it sound enjoyable? Doctors say that people shouldn’t have heavy foods at suhoor not to have any health problems. And of course they shouldn’t forget to drink enough water at suhoor. People should prefer healthy and filling foods. People sometimes prefer having Turkish breakfast foods such as olive, cheese, sliced cucumber and tomatoes and of course boiled eggs (egg makes people feel full for a long time) and they have Turkish black tea as a drink. They sometimes have a warming soup and rice or bulgur pilaf or a kind of borek (doctors advice borek with vegetable filling, no meat). And most people follow doctors advice and they always have compote (komposto or hosaf in Turkish) with their meal at suhoor. Compote is a very significant dish at suhoor as it prevents low blood sugar during the fast. When you have compote at suhoor, you don’t have vertigo caused by hunger and low blood sugar during day time. The other importance of compote is that it meets your need of drink during fast.
As we remember how compote is important for our health during Ramadan, I wanted to share how to make compote of cornelian cherries, which we can find during summer.
- 250g cornelian cherries
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 cup water
- A few cloves
Put the water in a pot and heat it. When it boils, add sugar. I don’t like it too sweet, so you can add extra sugar if you like. Taste and decide. Boil it for 1 or 2 minutes. Then add cornelian cherries and cloves. Boil it until the color and texture of cherries change, for about 20 minutes. Let it cool and put it in refrigerator. Serve it cold. This can also be a very good cold drink during hot summer days.
What do people generally have first to break their fast? Do you have any idea? I’m going to tell about this in my next post.