Afghan mantu, kalimati are on Zaynab Issa’s iftar menu

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Zaynab Issa is serving Afghan mantu during the iftar meal she is hosting this Ramadan. Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims. The month-long observance includes fasting between sunrise and sunset. Iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast, is anticipated all day, and hosting this dinner can be a recipe for added pressure and stress. Bon Appétit food editor Zaynab Issa shares her house rules.

Many Muslims traditionally break their fast with dates, which rebalance blood sugar after a day of fasting. Issa recommends having dishes for pits scattered around when hosting iftar. 

When Issa was younger, she remembers her parents encouraging her to half-fast on one or two weekends during Ramadan, officially beginning fasting at puberty. She remembers enjoying the community of fasting with her family and began observing full time at 8 years old. 

Let guests know what to expect on the menu when hosting iftar, Issa recommends. That way, special dietary restrictions and requests can be figured out in advance, and guests will have something to look forward to. This year, she will be serving Afghan mantu, a carb-heavy pasta dish, and kalimati, a East African doughnut and childhood favorite.