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Ramadan Iftar Meal: Global Costs Exposed Based on Facts!

The Cost of a Ramadan Iftar Meal Around the World

The Cost of a Ramadan Iftar Meal Around the World: A Comparative Analysis

As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan approaches, millions of Muslims from around the world prepare to observe this sacred time with fasting, prayer, and reflection. As the sun sets, the daily fast is broken with a meal known as iftar, which traditionally includes dates and water followed by a variety of dishes.

However, rising food prices have impacted many households, causing them to consider cutting back on some of their favorite Ramadan dishes. In order to understand the extent of these price increases, Al Jazeera compared the prices of dozens of ingredients from a variety of supermarket chains across 14 countries. Traditional iftar meals from around the world were also documented, along with their corresponding prices.

Key Takeaways

  • Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan with fasting and prayer.
  • Rising food prices have impacted many households, causing them to consider cutting back on some of their favorite Ramadan dishes.
  • Al Jazeera compared the prices of ingredients from a variety of supermarket chains across 14 countries and documented traditional iftar meals along with their corresponding prices.

Argentina

Argentina’s iftar meal features a locally inspired main dish with beef asado, which includes various cuts of grilled meat with chimichurri – a tangy parsley dipping sauce. For a side dish, Argentinians often serve empanadas, a popular savory pastry consisting of ground beef or vegetables. For dessert, dulce de leche pancakes with a sweet and creamy caramel sauce, topped with fresh fruit are served. To drink, they often enjoy traditional herbal tea made from the yerba mate plant.

However, Argentina has experienced one of the world’s highest levels of inflation, with the cost of food increasing 303 percent in February 2024 compared to February of the previous year. Al Jazeera calculated that a single serving of the iftar meal would cost about 7,200 pesos ($8.4) today, compared with about 1,782 pesos ($2) in 2023, reflecting an increase of more than four times. Despite this, Argentinians continue to celebrate Ramadan with their traditional dishes.

Australia

Australia’s iftar experience is a reflection of the country’s diverse cultural landscape, blending flavors from across the globe. At the heart of the meal is a popular street food turned staple dish, the “halal snack pack.” It consists of shaved lamb over a bed of hot chips and topped with garlic and barbeque sauce. For the side, a hearty lentil soup with vegetables is often enjoyed. Those with a sweet tooth can indulge in lamingtons, sponge cake coated in chocolate, filled with jam, and blanketed with desiccated coconut.

To rehydrate after a summer day of fasting, cordial, a sweet and refreshing fruit concentrate, is best served chilled. However, Australia has also struggled to curb inflation, and the cost of an iftar meal has increased. According to Al Jazeera, it costs about 12.5 Australian dollars ($8.1) to have this meal in 2024, up from about 11 Australian dollars ($7) the year before. The biggest price increases came from key ingredients, including meat and eggs.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to one of the highest Muslim populations in Europe, and its traditional foods reflect its multicultural heritage. A popular dish for iftar is pita krompiruša, a baked dish made with layers of thin phyllo dough filled with mashed potatoes, onions, and spices.

After the hearty start, the meal transitions to topa, a slow-cooked side of melted cheese and butter. The transition to sweetness is marked by hurmašica, a syrup-soaked dessert that is both sweet and comforting. Finally, the iftar concludes with sok od drenjina, a popular beverage made from the fruit of the Cornelian cherry tree.

In 2024, the cost of a single serving of the Bosnian iftar meal was calculated to be about 2.9 BAM ($1.6), which is a 7 percent increase from the previous year. The higher cost of potatoes, sugar, and butter was mainly responsible for the increase.

Below is a table summarizing the components of the Bosnian iftar meal:

Dish Description
Pita krompiruša Baked dish with layers of thin phyllo dough filled with mashed potatoes, onions, and spices
Topa Slow-cooked side of melted cheese and butter
Hurmašica Syrup-soaked dessert
Sok od drenjina Popular beverage made from the fruit of the Cornelian cherry tree

Overall, the Bosnian iftar meal is a delicious and satisfying way to break the fast during Ramadan.

Egypt

Egyptian cuisine is rich in tradition and heritage, and the iftar table is no exception. A popular local delicacy is grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, minced meat, and spices. For a comforting soup, chopped molokhiya, a plant similar to spinach, is prepared with garlic and coriander. A sweet and cheesy dessert staple eaten across the Middle East and North Africa is kunafa. To quench thirst, qamar al-din, a traditional apricot drink, is a crowd favourite.

However, the current economic situation in Egypt has led to record levels of inflation and a depreciating currency, causing the prices of many ingredients to rise significantly. Ghee and sugar, in particular, are nearly three times more expensive than they were last Ramadan. Al Jazeera calculated that this Ramadan, it will cost roughly 68 Egyptian pounds ($1.4) to prepare a single serving of the above-mentioned meal, an increase of 74 percent from 2023 when the same meal cost 39 Egyptian pounds ($0.8).

India

India has a diverse range of iftar meals to choose from. One of the most popular dishes is ghugni, a vegetarian curry made with peas or chickpeas, cooked with onions, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. For sides, pakora is a deep-fried vegetable fritter made with onions and green chillies. For dessert, suji halwa is a semolina pudding cooked with ghee and sugar and topped with nuts.

To cleanse the palate, one can enjoy a glass of refreshing rose drink made from rose syrup, water, and often a dash of lime or mint. According to Al Jazeera, it costs approximately 149 rupees ($1.8) to prepare a serving of this meal this Ramadan. Interestingly, the cost of the same meal last year was 162 rupees ($1.9), which is a decrease of 9 percent. This was mainly due to the drop in onion prices, which are widely used in this dish.

It is worth noting that India is the world’s largest exporter of onions. In December, the country imposed a ban on all onion exports to increase domestic availability and drive down prices, which have more than halved since the ban took effect. On March 23, the ban, which was due to expire on March 31, was extended indefinitely.

Overall, India’s iftar meals offer a delicious and diverse range of flavors and textures, with a focus on vegetarian dishes. The use of spices and herbs in these meals creates a unique and flavorful experience. The decrease in the cost of the meal this year is a welcome change for those who enjoy these traditional dishes.

Indonesia

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, has unique iftar traditions influenced by local flavors. One such dish is bubur, a traditional rice porridge topped with shredded chicken, peanuts, greens, and an array of spices. Bakwan, a crispy vegetable fritter containing shredded carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts, is a popular side dish. For those with a sweet tooth, kolak pisang is a sweet dessert made with bananas cooked in coconut milk, sugar, and pandan leaves. To wash down the flavorful meal, Indonesians enjoy es timun suri, a refreshing melon and coconut-infused drink.

The cost of preparing an iftar meal in Indonesia has increased from 62,600 rupiah ($3.9) in 2023 to 66,600 rupiah ($4.2) in 2024, according to Al Jazeera’s calculations. This represents an increase of about 6 percent.

Dish Description
Bubur Traditional rice porridge topped with shredded chicken, peanuts, greens, and an array of spices
Bakwan Crispy vegetable fritter containing shredded carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts
Kolak Pisang Sweet dessert made with bananas cooked in coconut milk, sugar, and pandan leaves
Es Timun Suri Refreshing melon and coconut-infused drink

Indonesian iftar meals are a delicious and unique way to break the fast during Ramadan.

Malaysia

Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country with a rich and diverse cuisine. One of the most popular dishes is beef rendang, a spicy and flavourful coconut milk-based beef dish. Malaysians often enjoy sayur lodeh, a fragrant vegetable stew made with coconut milk, eggplant, beans, and nuts, as a side dish. To complement the rich flavours, many Malaysians will reach for a glass of sirap bandung, a sweet rose syrup-infused milk. For dessert, a popular option is seri muka, a two-layered rice and pandan custard.

According to Al Jazeera, in 2024, it costs around 6.9 ringgits ($1.5) to prepare a single serving of this meal in Malaysia. This is an increase of 7 percent from 2023 when the same meal cost about 6.4 ringgits ($1.3). The largest price increases for Malaysia’s iftar over the past year were in fresh food items, including eggs and coconut milk.

Nigeria

Nigerian cuisine is renowned for its diverse ingredients and lively spices. For the main course, Nigerians usually savor jollof rice, a red aromatic rice, served with chicken. To enhance the flavors, one could relish moi moi, a savory pudding made from black-eyed peas or beans. For dessert, a fresh fruit salad is a good choice.

During Ramadan, a Nigerian iftar is best served with zobo, a popular beverage made from dried hibiscus flowers. However, the inflation rate in Nigeria has been worsening, leading to a significant increase in the price of poultry and other fresh food items. In 2024, it costs about 6,500 naira ($4.4) to prepare a serving of this meal, compared with about 3,860 naira ($2.6) the year before – an increase of about 68 percent Al Jazeera.

Pakistan

In Pakistan, the arrival of Iftar time is marked by a sense of excitement and warmth. One of the popular dishes served during this time is dahi baray, which are lentil fritters soaked in yogurt and topped with sweet and spicy chutneys. Another dish served on the side is fruit chaat, a sweet and savory fruit salad sprinkled with chaat masala. For dessert, jalebi, a popular street food made with flour and sugar with a gooey center, is served. To wash it all down, a rose-flavored drink is the perfect end to the meal.

According to Al Jazeera, the total cost of groceries to prepare a serving of this iftar meal in 2024 is 172 Pakistani rupees ($0.6), which is an 18 percent increase from 2023 when the same meal cost 141 Pakistani rupees ($0.5). This increase is likely due to the high inflation levels in Pakistan, with food inflation reaching a record high of 48.65 percent in May 2023. The cost of vegetables, sugar, and ghee has seen the most significant price hikes.

Palestine

Maklouba is a popular dish in Palestine and the Levant region. It is a rice dish that is cooked with layers of sliced eggplants, meat, and other vegetables in a pot. The dish is then flipped upside-down onto a serving platter before eating. Dagga is a traditional spicy tomato and cucumber salad that is usually served with maklouba.

For dessert during Ramadan, katayif is a popular choice. It is a semi-circular stuffed pancake that is often filled with walnuts or cheese and then dipped in syrup. Tamir hindi is a drink that is made with tamarind and sugar.

The grocery cost of preparing an iftar meal in the occupied West Bank during Ramadan is about 31.5 shekels ($9) per serving, according to Al Jazeera. This is an 11% increase from the 28.5 shekels ($8) that the same meal cost in 2023. The price of olive oil has nearly doubled from 30 shekels ($8.2) per litre in 2023 to 55 shekels ($15) this year. Meat has also seen a 10% increase in price.

Many Palestinians in Gaza are facing challenges in observing Ramadan due to Israel’s continuing assault. Preparing a meal is a luxury that many cannot afford, with a single egg now costing 6 shekels ($1.64). Despite this, families are trying to keep their spirits and traditions alive by preparing whatever meals they can. Al Jazeera spoke to some of these displaced families who are now living in tents in Rafah.


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