Ramadan is here again – a month of fasting during daylight hours, including no water. It is the Islamic version of Christmas, except that it moves every year. Worked out based on the moon, each year it is earlier by about 10 days. This year – 2024 – it is expected to start on the 10th of March. 

What does Ramadan mean?

Ramadan is a spiritual festival with similarities to Lent in the Christian calendar. It is a month of restraint, from food, from sex, from smoking. Alcohol is not normally approved in Islam, but those who fast also abstain during Ramadan.
Fasting starts at puberty – for girls this means when their periods start – although children often imitate adults and start fasting for short periods from the age of 8. There are some exemptions, if travelling, if sick, if pregnant or during menstruation. But this creates a debt that must be me made up afterwards.

Henna Tattoos

Girls will typically get henna prints on the first day of fasting – a beautiful tattoo of patterns covering the back of their hands. Henna is an organic red dye from the henna tree, used since ancient Egyptian times. It is temporary and will wear off from exfoliation over about 3 weeks. 

The henna tattoos are used on occasions of celebration year-round. If you would like your own tattoo, henna artists can be found in Tangier at Sur Magasin, where the canons are next to Gran Café de Paris, overlooking the bay and Spain – a cool reminder of your visit to Morocco.

Breaking the Fast

If you are lucky, you may get invited to breakfast for Ramadan – to f’tour. The first time I was invited for breakfast, I was completely confused by the time. I was invited for 7pm.
F’tour is at dusk. The same as the word in English, f’tour literally means ‘breaking the fast’. In Ramadan this means at the end of daylight.
Traditionally, this means you start with a glass of milk and 3 dates – well, an odd number of dates, but 3 is the usual. But however hungry and thirsty you may be, it is not polite to gulp down the milk in one go. The etiquette is: 2 small sips – and then you can gulp down the rest. This makes for 3 mouthfuls.
And in the north, chbakia – the traditional Ramadan sweet, a ribbon of pastry tied into a very particular knot, deep fried and covered in a honey syrup. They can be found at any time of the year, but during Ramadan they will be everywhere.
Maybe check out Blue Door Cuisine and see if they are running an event on Ramadan food – find out for yourself how to make them.

Ramadan Breakfast – F’tour

While most eat at home, there are also many who eat at a restaurant or café. The streets will be rush-hour busy during the last couple of hours of daylight as people rush around buying food for f’tour. Then just before dusk the streets will suddenly empty out – from rush hour crowded to empty in the space of just 15 minutes.
You will see people lined up in cafes, their milk and dates already in front of them as they sit and wait for the call to prayer. They will sit quietly, checking the time and waiting. Then with the call to prayer, everyone eats.
Just like at Christmas, there are special Ramadan foods, especially for f’tour.

The Soup

After the dates and milk, soup comes first with hard boiled eggs halved, either with the soup, or sometimes in the soup itself. The soup will often be harira, one of Morocco’s main soups. This is a delicious tomato based soup with vegetables, green herbs, finely chopped chicken or beef  – never fish – chick peas, lentils and charia – fine and very short spaghetti maybe 2 cm long. 

If Blue Door Cuisine has an event on cooking harira, you will unquestionably gain a new favourite recipe. 

Another soup which is also eaten is called t’cha in the north, bilboola in the rest of Morocco. This is a barley soup, also tomato based, and seasoned with spices including especially cumin and pepper. This one works best with fish.

The idea of the soup is that it’s a gentle food on an empty stomach after fasting all day. It’s also refreshing, plus plenty of energy giving ingredients like the lentils.

The Meal

So what about the meal? Because no, that is not it. It is more than 3 dates, a soup and a mini syrup pastry.

Ramadan breakfast or f’tour foods can include:

Meats:- A variety of halal or kocher meats.

Cheese:- The ever popular Kiri or Cow brand cheese, and the soft white Moroccan cheese which is very like a cottage cheese.

Breewat:- Small triangular pastries with can be filled with sweet chicken, or fish with the charia noodles. There are other breewat, but they are not typical at Ramadan.

After this a variety of foods may be eaten – and of course Morocco’s traditional tagine is a common one.


Coffee:- Immediately after the meal, coffee is served with s’foof

S’foof:- A mixture of nuts moistened with a little honey until it sticks together. It is grainy and loose, frequently seen in shops as a big mountain, and generally eaten with a spoon. S’foof is a northern version. The rest of Morocco adds a lot more honey, called s’lou, and often molded into a variety of shapes, even mini ‘art works’.

Rziza:- Another dessert found during Ramadan is rziza. This is made of a bread which comes looking more like a cake of noodles, with lots of honey.


People are up all night, and often sleep all day. Work hours are shorter, the work day starts later. At night the cities are alive. Many are up all night and the city streets bustle. Morocco stays awake all night, which is especially fun in the summer.

Everyone has dinner around midnight, and then before dawn, for those who have been asleep, there is s’hour.


Since no one can eat or even drink water for the daylight hours, everyone wakes up just before dawn for  meal called s’hour.

This meal will typically include dates, sfoof, cheese, smoked meats, Moroccan sandwiches, lots of water and leftovers – sustenance for the day of fasting to come. The one thing that is not a part of this meal is coffee.