I love being in Saudi during Ramadan. If you have never experienced a Ramadan in a Muslim country, I sure hope that you can one day. During the holy month most jobs are let out early around asr so that everyone has time to get home and rest and spend iftar at home with their family where they belong. All of the stores are closed all throughout the day and restaurants start opening about an hour before magrhib so that people can buy take out. Most women do not attend the mosque in Saudi mainly it’s just men and most try to go to the mosque for every prayer during the holy month. Some men go to the mosque for magrhib and then rush home to have iftar while others do salat at home so they can eat.
While families love to eat all types of food throughout the year you will only see tradiontal things on the table during Ramadan. Families will eat iftar and then sit and have desserts and chai. Ramadan is the month all the new shows start in Saudi so families love to gather around the television and watch these shows. After isha many families go to the mosque for taraweeh prayers. After taraweeh all of the shops open up and the nights are always busy with people enjoying themselves, having coffee and shopping. The malls and stores are open very late during Ramadan usually around 1-2am in the morning because of this.
The majority of Saudi women and younger people stay up all night. They will prepare and eat sahoor, pray fajr and then go to bed. My family does not do this though we sleep before midnight all through the year and my son goes to bed early like a six year old should. I always set my alarm and get up to eat something small before fajr. Also, most people think Saudis eat breakfast style food for sahoor which is not true at all. They eat the same types of things for sahoor that they do for iftar so that they are full all day, usually it is leftovers from the night before.
The pictures above are a few that I took at the grocery store here a few weeks ago to show you how the country is already preparing the month. Every shop decorates itself with fabrics and lanterns. Food and deals are everywhere, but most grocers charge more during Ramadan than usual, so a lot of people choose to buy before the month starts. I thought I would make a list for you of Ramadan staples that every Saudi home has to have during the month.
VIMTO AND TANG
These two drinks are on every table during the month. Both are mixes that you add to water. It would not be Ramadan without them.
Saudi women do not cook without maggi. These are bullion cooking cubes and they buy chicken, beef and rice flavored ones to add to pretty much every dish.
Quacker soup is on every Saudi table during the month, so this is a very important ingredient.
It has to be Basmatti of course. What’s a meal without rice?
These are the wrappers used to make samboosas which are made every single day.
You can easily make this dessert at home, but from what I see most just buy it in the box and just add water, etc. This is a big dessert here.
Nuts are used in savory and sweet desserts and also ate alone. They are pretty important.
This is used in Saudi sweets.
MINT AND HABEK
These two types of mints are used all year long, but chai is a must after iftar.
Usually this is drunk by people with a few dates before iftar starts.
In Riyadh black tea is what is always served. They use Lipton or Rabea Tea.
Raisins are usually added to rice dishes.
This is used to make the popular Ramadan dessert kunafa.
Oil is always bought in bulk since a lot is used especially in frying samboosas.
Date shops make the most money during Ramadan. It is sunnah to break your fast with three dates, but also many Muslims enjoy dates alone plus we also use a lot in other dishes.
Most Saudi men like to drink Laban during the holy month. It’s also great for digestion on a stomach that has been fasting all day.
The most popular lentil in Saudi is the red lentil which is used to make soup. Also black lentils are used in rice and meat dishes.
Fine semolina is usually what is bought in the Kingdom to make dishes like basboosa, but also breads and soups use it.
This is a very traditional ingredient and used in a lot of dishes.
From soups to main dishes harees is used all over the Kingdom during Ramadan.
While a lot more are used these are some of the main staples in a Saudi home during the month of Ramadan.