Ramadan started on August 1st and marked the start of a month of fasting and prayer for Muslims all over the world. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and at sunset they gather to share in a fast breaking meal called Iftar in arabic or Afur in Somali. You will find that Muslim-owned restaurants and bakeries will often change their hours during Ramadan to accommodate tradition.
Solay Bistro, one of our Alt Eats tour partners, invited us to experience an Afur meal. When we arrived just before sunset (8:46pm) we were alone in the restaurant. Right at 8.46pm exactly, a car full of Somalis arrived to break their fast. Others arrived shortly afterwards.
Traditionally the first thing to be eaten are dates, which are symbolic as the Prophet Muhammad is said to have broken his fast with dates. After the dates are eaten, sunset prayers are said and then it’s time for the meal.
The Somali Afur is mostly comprised of snack foods. Our hostess told us that people find it hard to eat a heavy meal after fasting all day. The most common Afur food is sambusas (a savory triangular pastry – the Somali equivalent of an Indian samosa) and these will commonly be eaten every night during Ramadan. Last night we had beef and vegetable sambusas.
Other foods that were offered last night were: mulawah – a sweet eggy crepe, mandazi – a slightly sweet fried yeast bread, beef suqaar – a Somali staple of small cubes of beef in a rich sauce, potato cutlets, and mildly curried lentils. They may have been snack foods but it made for a filling meal. All of this delicious food is washed down with Somali chai, which is made at Solay with freshly ground spices.
We will be eating Afar again on our Alt Eats tour this Friday and are excited to share this unique experience with our tour guests. If you want to experience an Afur meal it will be available at Solay bistro at sunset every night from now until August 30th. Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr on August 30th. Solay is open 2pm-midnight during Ramadan and will still be serving regular meals to non-Muslims as well as the Afur.