THE BLOG

Ramadan: Breaking Fast with Hillary Clinton

State Deparment Photo by Michael Gross

Who wouldn't love to end a long day with sparkling lemonade, dried figs, and medjool dates? That is what 200 lucky Muslim men and women enjoyed as they broke their fasts with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Annual State Department Iftar in Washington, D.C., on September 7, one of the last nights of Ramadan.


Muslims around the world have spent much of August and part of September fasting from sunrise to sunset for the holy month. Iftar is the term used to describe the meal that breaks each day's fast during Ramadan.


The pan-cultural group of American Muslims who'd gathered in Washington enjoyed a menu that mixed Western ingredients like puff pastry and Brie with Middle Eastern staples such as saffron and halal lamb. 

SAVEUR Recipes: Flavorful Lamb Dishes


Farah Malik, one of the socially minded entrepreneurs behind A Peace Treaty, attended the event as an honoree in a group of young American Muslim leaders dubbed Generation Change. Abstaining from food during the high summer, when produce is at its most luscious, can be a challenge, she said. "Now that Ramadan is starting to fall in the hotter months, I think about watermelon and heirloom tomatoes all day." A 31-year-old of Pakistani descent, she said she usually enjoys fresh fruit, juices, and sweet dates for Iftar. "My family makes a spiced fruit salad and some yogurt dishes with chickpeas, potatoes, and gram flour patties." SAVEUR Recipes: Middle Eastern Meze


At the event, Secretary Clinton encouraged her guests to nourish themselves with the Middle Eastern–influenced dishes while she gave her remarks. "As I said when I welcomed Israeli and Palestinian delegations, peace needs champions on every street corner and around every kitchen table, and not just there, but everywhere," Clinton said. 


Malik said she'd been especially moved to be given the opportunity to celebrate with a big group in a festive setting instead of breaking her fast alone. "I was reminded about the essence of Ramadan—community, spirit, generosity, giving back, and togetherness," she said.


The menu:


Grape leaves

Halal chicken, rice, and herbs with raita


Salad of red and yellow beets

Whipped goat cheese

Raspberry–white balsamic vinaigrette

Puff pastry with Brie and fig preserves


Sea bass with Mediterranean herbs


Pistachio-crusted medallions of halal lamb tenderloin


Saffron rice with dried currants

Citrus beurre blanc


Haricots verts


Sautéed peppers


Coconut meringue cake

Artful shortbread

Passion fruit coulis and salted caramels


Pomegranate–açaí tea


Try one of SAVEUR's Middle Eastern recipes tonight: tabbouleh, chickpeas with tomatoes and sweet peppers, rose water pudding and more.