30 Ramadan recipes to nourish the body between fasting

Amanda M. Rye

Ramadan, one of the most sacred times of the year in the Islam faith, begins on Tuesday, April 13, after sunrise. During this holy month, Muslims around the world will take time to pray and reflect, as well as fast from sunrise to sunset.

Throughout this holy time, those who observe will fast during the day from dawn (after eating the first meal known as suhoor or sehri), until sunset, when they break the fast with iftar, a meal enjoyed among friends and family. Children, typically younger than 14, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating and anyone who is ill, elderly or traveling, are exempt from fasting.

Fasting during Ramadan can be quite rigorous, especially during long, hot days, so it’s of utmost importance to eat well-balanced, nutritious and filling meals when not fasting. So, here are a month’s worth of recipes to keep one feeling focused and satiated until Eid al-Fitr celebrations on May 12.

Recipes for Iftar

Chicken Shawarma

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

With just a little advance prep, you can serve up this Middle Eastern classic in just a few minutes when you and your loved ones are ready to break the fast.

Chicken Biryani

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

A family-favorite dish that originated among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, biryani gets its warm and comforting flavor from a variety of spices like cumin, coriander and garam masala.

Kofta Kebabs


A kebab is simply any meat or seafood cooked on a skewer or spit, with origins in many Middle Eastern cuisines: It’s a technique you need to know because of its limitless applications using a wide range of proteins that make for a wonderful main dish accompanied with rice, hummus and salads.

Roasted Vegetable and White Bean Salad

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Samin Nosrat believes that cooking a bunch of vegetables is one of the most luxurious things you can do for someone. This dish shows that simple, humble ingredients can be extraordinarily delicious — and nourishing.

Pita Stuffed with Meat (Arayes)

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Arayes, pita bread stuffed with a mixture of beef, lamb and spices and then grilled, are popular throughout the Middle East. Here, the dish is served with a refreshing herb salad and creamy tahini sauce.

Za'atar and Lemon Grilled Chicken with Eggplant and Tahini

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

For this za’atar and lemon grilled chicken, you marinate juicy chicken thighs in olive oil, lemon juice, zest, zaatar, sumac, garlic, salt and black pepper, then grill them and serve them with fire-roasted eggplant, tahini sauce, juicy pomegranate seeds and flatbread.

Prawn and Chicken Fried Noodles (Mie Goreng Udang)


Enjoyed by both young and old folks alike, this comforting Indonesian meal is an incredibly satiating dinner for the whole family. It’s a dish that can be made from whatever is lurking in your fridge or pantry, so feel free to swap out the prawns and chicken for tofu and include any greens that need using up. Serve with kerupuk or prawn crackers for extra crunch.

Baked Falafel

Laura Vitale

After a day of fasting, try baking crispy falafel in the oven, instead of deep-frying them, for a lighter, healthier plant-based meal.

Spice-Roasted Carrots with Lentils

Yossy Arefi / Courtesy of Modern Potluck, Clarkson Potter

A vegetarian spin on shawarma, this warming dish has plant-based proteins, fragrant spices and sweet dates, which are rounded out by a creamy yogurt topping.

The Most Basic Dal

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Dal is both an ingredient and a staple dish in Indian cuisine using lentils or legumes. Though many stews may simmer for hours, this version is perfect for a weeknight, since it’s both easy and flavorful. It cooks really quickly, it has the depth of flavor of a dish that has been sitting on the stove all day, and served with rice or roti (and maybe some sliced cucumbers on the side), it’s a complete meal.

Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt

Christopher Testani for The New York Times

This all-on-one-sheet-pan meal has everything to complete a day of fasting. Bone-in chicken gets bathed with harissa for some tangy heat that’s perfectly balanced by bitter arugula, comforting potatoes and garlicky yogurt.

Sumac-Dusted Chana Masala

Mike Smith / TODAY

Chickpeas and other legumes are packed with fiber and plant-based protein and therefore deeply satisfying and healthy. The spices in this recipe are not just belly-warming and flavor-enhancing but also help the digestibility of the legumes, which can be challenging for some.

Lamb Burgers

Dan Churchill

Make a large batch of lamb burgers to repurpose throughout the week to enjoy at iftar on your busier day
s. You can serve them with pita, grains or salad — whatever you’re craving.

Sheet Pan Vegetable Coconut Curry Rice

Jerrelle Guy

Grab the sheet pan and make an iftar feast for six with this hearty vegetarian recipe filled with your favorite vegetables, curried rice, crunchy cashews and plump raisins for added sweetness.

Flank Steak Shawarma with Garlicky Tahini and Beet Tabbouleh

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Sumac, the lip-smacking, sour berry, is dried, ground and then savored throughout the Middle East on everything from salads and spice blends to grilled meats, like in this instance. This shawarma gets smothered in a garlicky tahini sauce and packed in a flatbread wrap with a vibrant beet tabbouleh.

Roasted Eggplant with Tahini and Pine Nuts

Tyler Essary / TODAY

Roasting eggplant turns its white flesh golden-brown and gives it a wonderfully tender texture — perfect for an appetizer, side dish or even a vegetarian main. The smoky tahini sauce, crunchy pine nuts and fresh herbs enhance the delicate, mild flavor of the eggplant.

Pomegranate Molasses Turkey Breast And Drumsticks

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

If you like cranberry sauce with your turkey, you’ll love it with pomegranate molasses. It’s a little more tart, sweet and sticky but still brings the same fruity flavor.

Pan-Seared Scallops, Citrus and Avocado Salad

Nathan Congleton/TODAY

On warmer days when you’ve been fasting, a refreshing dish made with shellfish, avocado and citrus will feel light and filling at the same time. Plus, it’s super simple to throw together and takes only 30 minutes to make.

Baked Masala-Spiced Salmon

Courtesy Madeline Smithburg

This fish recipe is quick, easy and flavorful. It is also a cinch to adapt to a small or large group, depending on the night or size of your family. The basic recipe is one part mustard to three parts maple syrup with one generous part masala. It goes great with a simple green salad.

Spiced Chicken with Lebanese Couscous

Zach Pagango / TODAY

The moist, tender chicken shares the stage with pearl onions and cremini mushrooms, all finished with fresh herbs, butter and white wine sauce over Lebanese couscous. This can be presented as a formal, special-occasion meal or as a rustic comfort food served straight from the pot.

Short Ribs with Spiced Couscous and Raisin Salad


Spiced couscous provides a fluffy bed for tender braised short ribs, while the sweet and spicy raisin salad adds brightness to this flavorful dish. This succulent dish is definitely a showstopper. Plus, short ribs have the perfect amount of intermuscular fat, so it’s very hard for them to dry out.

Recipes for Suhoor

Indian-Spiced Khichdi

Courtesy Kanchan Koya

As easy on the stomach as it is nourishing, this rice porridge is packed with plant-based protein from the lentils, hearty vegetables and healthy, root-based spices like stomach-soothing ginger and its inflammation-fighting cousin turmeric. It’s a savory start that will sustain you through sundown.

Baked Eggs in Spiced Tomato Sauce (Shakshuka)

Getty Images stock

Shakshuka is a flavorful and nourishing dish that comes together with minimal effort — something that can easily be made before sunrise. The sauce and yolk combined make a glorious dipping sauce for crusty toast.

Crock-Pot Coconut Cinnamon Oatmeal with Dates

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

This comforting oatmeal is perfect for early risers, as it cooks overnight in the crockpot and is ready to go by morning.

Golden Hummus Avocado Toast

Tyler Essary / TODAY

Forget store-bought hummus and whip up this super simple recipe with warm, earthy notes of cumin and turmeric. Keep it on hand to top on suhoor and iftar dishes throughout the week, like on this well-rounded recipe for avocado toast with nutrient-dense microgreens and protein-rich goat cheese and soft-boiled eggs.

Spice-Rack Omelet

Maneet Chauhan

The bold spices, aromatics and fresh herbs make this omelet extra flavorful and healthful for any egg lovers’ ideal breakfast dish.

Yogurt with Honey and Pomegranate


This five-ingredient breakfast bowl is made with plain Greek yogurt (which has the most protein and no added sugar), juicy pomegranate seeds and a generous drizzle of honey.

Divine Start Smoothie

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

When you drink this green machine, you have all of your bases covered: a handful of kale and spinach for a mild greens flavor and a ton of antioxidants, banana and date for just the right amount of sweetness, chia seeds for protein and omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds for fiber and frozen coconut meat and coconut milk for healthy fat and plenty of tropical flavor.

'1 Banana Only' Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Zach Pagano / TODAY

This small-batch vegan, gluten-free recipe uses just one banana and is perfectly portioned for one or two people. It can be multiplied, of course, for a bigger group, but only takes 30 minutes for a filling start to the day.

Egg, Spinach, Quinoa and Feta Power Breakfast

Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Combine four nutrient-rich foods for a delicious, protein-packed breakfast.

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