Ramadhan Mubarak Fam!
In recent years there have been movements created on social media by Black Muslims from around the world to black-out Ramadhan, Eid, weddings and now even iftar (the breaking of the fast meal)! Many Black and Brown Muslims and allies have found these hashtag movements to be necessary to represent the lives and cultures of Muslims who are often left out and uncounted for in the media and even within Muslim communities around the world. Too often South Asian and Arab culture has been used to exclude other Muslim culture, especially Black American Muslim culture from the larger lens.
According to the Pew Research Center's Demographic Portrait of Muslim Americans (July 2017) half of all Muslims whose families have been in the United States for at least three or more generations are Black Americans. Yet, you wouldn't know it or see it if you went to your local suburban masjid for iftar during Ramadhan. Suburban - bigger masajid are often represented by South Asian and Arab Muslims who have boards who control just about everything including the menus on Jumu'ah and Iftar during Ramadhan.
Black American Muslims gather together in safe places to not only avoid being marginalized in larger Muslim communities but to also celebrate the foods and culture that they represent. Iftars in suburban and city masajid are being put together and sponsored by Black Americans to acknowledge, celebrate, and teach immigrants and second generation Muslims about Black American cuisine. Black American Muslim culture has spread around the world and infused pop culture and culinary arts. The time is ripe for the Muslim world to embrace and properly welcome Soul Food!
Soul Food, as coined by Black Americans in the 1960's is now used for any and all Black American cooking. However, it really is a mixture of cuisines from West Africa, Southern American, and even a bit of European cuisines that American slaves were introduced to as they learned to cook for their slave owners. The soul part definitely is a well deserved nod to Black American Soul Music and the feeling that the food gives you, just like the music does as well. The interesting part is that as Black American Muslims continued to return to Islam they brought those recipes and memories and either halalified it (yep, that's my word) by replacing pork with beef or turkey to make it permissible to eat or invented something similar to it altogether! And since as many as 30 percent of African slaves in the Americas were Muslim and were the first to practice Ramadhan in the United States - it is really an honor to them, all of our predecessors and ancestors, that we continue to cook and share these meals in our communities all year round, but especially during Ramadhan!
So what sort of food can you expect to savor at a Black American Muslim style Soul Food Iftar? I'm about to tell ya, here it goes:
1. Fried Chicken ~ This is a delicacy in the Black community. Those who are privileged to fry the chicken: the Jeddahs, Umms and Abus, are bona fide elders and respected cooks in the community. Their recipes are tried and true and passed down from another elder in the community. As a courtesy, don't bring fried chicken to a Soul Food iftar, if you have not been sanctioned to do so. Better safe, than sorry! Stick with water, dates, and salad.
2. Jerk (or Curry) Chicken West Indian Style ~ Pimento, scotch bonnets, nutmeg, brown sugar, garlic and ginger give this Island dish a sweet and spicy taste. Jamaican jerk sauce was developed by enslaved Africans from the Spanish colonies who later resettled in Jamaica. For many Black American Muslims of West Indian descent, Jerk and Curry chicken are staples for iftar meals. And once again, for the Soul food iftar, make sure your recipe is cleared and approved first! Or, just contribute the water, dates, or a side salad!
Some other meats that you might see at a Soul Food iftar are liver and onions, Shepard's pie, meat loaf and a variety baked meats. For our vegetarian and vegans, seasoned seitan protein can replace most of these meats for you or just double up on your sides.
Ready for the sides? Yeah, me too! I actually love my Soul food sides much more than the meats. But don't tell too many people I said that! Many of these dishes are E for everyone to cook and bring out to a Soul Food iftar. But be careful with a few! Some are just as important as the meats and are strictly reserved to be cooked by sanctioned community members.
|Daff Roll for Ramadhan|
Many of these dishes can be made vegetarian or vegan, if you'd like to make them so. But I think I will try to make a separate blog with some vegan Soul Food recipes for Sahoor and Iftar! Keep me in your prayers on that one! I hope you enjoyed the ride! Ramadhan Mubarak!