In the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Turkish families gather around huge tables prepared to eat the meal before the fast begins at sunrise. Eating, talking and socializing are indispensable parts of Ramadan. Some foods are special to Ramadan, and they are indicators of this holy month from the first day. People break their fast with the iftar meal, which has been prepared all day long, at sunset. After the call to prayer in the evening, iftar starts with either a piece of Ramadan pide, a sip of water or a date. Later, people continue with soup and main dishes. The culture of Ramadan is quite changeable from east to west, as each province has its own Ramadan cuisine, but basic Ramadan treats, such as pide, güllaç and sherbet are generally there. To feel the spirit, some dishes and drinks can only be found during Ramadan: They are reminders that this month is to fast, help and share.
Güllaç is the princess of Ramadan. Barely seen in homes or restaurants during Ramadan, it is special for this month. Güllaç, a legacy of Ottoman cuisine, is an exquisite dessert due to its lightness and milk. After the fasting ends, mouth-watering güllaç comes to iftar tables. In Turkish, gül means rose and aş means food, the abbreviation of güllü aş, güllaç means food with rose water. The relation of rose and güllaç comes from the past when people used organic rose water to make güllaç, as it is refreshing. But today, seeing güllaç with rose water is very unique, as some people use it, some do not. During Ramadan, güllaç pastries using milk to soften them are found in markets. After dozens of layers, güllaç is decorated with pomegranate, coconut and pistachio. When you taste it, you think that this amazing dessert should be found all year round. But what makes it so tasty is that it is only available during Ramadan.
Pide, a special round bread, is in bakeries during Ramadan. Regular bread is replaced by pide this month, and nothing symbolizes Ramadan better than pide. In some small neighborhoods, there are long queues to buy pide for iftar tables. Along with the main dishes on the iftar tables, pide is a reminder of the abundance of the month. Pide also has fancy forms with bakeries adding eggs and sesame seeds if you are willing to pay a little more.
Once popular Ottoman drinks, sherbets today are only found during Ramadan, as Turkish people are not keen on drinking them any other month. There are dozens of sherbets in Ottoman cuisine, but only a few are found today. Demirhindi sherbet is an Ottoman drink found on today's iftar tables. But do not drink tamarind sherbet with iftar dishes, wait until the meal is completely over. Tamarind, wild ginger, rose, turmeric and anasone are the ingredients in demirhind sherbet. Rosehip sherbet is also found during Ramadan. Compared to demirhindi sherbet, rosehip is sweeter and easier to drink. Rosehips, turmeric, wild ginger, cinnamon and honey are its ingredients.