Ramadan recipes: Saudi roasted lamb shoulder on a bed of fragrant rice

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All photos by Kristin Perers.

During Ramadan, practicing Muslims will fast, or sawm, from dawn until dusk. The fast is seen as a way to spiritually purify one’s self and to become closer to God by recognizing the suffering faced by those less fortunate.

Middle Eastern and North African cuisine expert Anissa Helou’s latest cookbook addresses the food of the Islamic world by explaining the seasoning and ingredients each culinary region relies on.

Evan Kleiman’s favorite part of Helou’s book? The first chapter is all about the bread. In many cookbooks, Kleiman notes, the section on bread will come at the back of the text because it is considered supplemental to the meals. According to Helou, “bread is essential” to the Islamic culinary tradition.

Besides the remarkable outline of the various types of bread common in the Islamic world, Helou offers a handful of recipes to share with family and friends. Her favorite recipe? Saudi roast lamb shoulder on a bed of fragrant rice.

Try her recipe at home.