July 22, 2013 12:00 AM | by Nada Allam
Tips for Preparing Ramadan Gatherings as Newlyweds
So you're back from your honeymoon and Ramadan gatherings have begun. Your family is probably just dying to see what you have done with the house, and people want to bring you a house warming gift. You might as well host your first Iftar gathering, I would recommend splitting the friends from the family.
You will probably be having the in-laws, the aunts and the cousins over, the ultimate test for your cooking skills is underway. If you are a whiz in the kitchen, then by all means work your magic on all the food. If not, ask your parents to help you out with stuff like vine leaves and shawarma.
Go for one lavish main dish, and keep the rest simple. For example, perhaps some fatta with chicken. Now that you have your main item done, it's time to add the simplistic foods like fattoush, lasagna, fried chicken etc... That way you have enough time to perfect your main dish and you can't go wrong with simple foods.
For dessert, send out your hubby to the best oriental sweets shop to get the family's favorite desserts. Let's face it, you're not going to make everyone's favorite dessert, so purchase a variety. However, you must make good home made kunafa, it means a lot to your family that you went through the effort to make it. The purchases are extras for people's picky tastings.
Setting the table, yes it's time to bring out that fine china you spent a fortune on. Your china will not come out often in your lifetime so take advantage of it while you can. Your entire family showing up to Iftar, who are less likely to break anything, is the perfect opportunity.
Don't overcrowd the table trying to fit everything it. If you have quite a large family then prioritize. The grandparents get to sit at the table along with some older family members. As for the rest, place the plates in a stack on the buffet with some napkins and utensils. Don't stress too much, after all this is a family gathering not the queen visiting. It's okay for the people to be sitting around your house while you're mingling among them, perhaps place a table in the terrace and leave the people to maneuver around and pick where they choose to sit.
Once done with Iftar replace the meals with the desserts across the table and make sure you change the table cloth in case it got stained. Stack the plates near the desserts and let the people be. Sure it is in our culture to insist on people that they must have desserts, but do bare in mind some people are really full from your good food they need some time to digest. Leave the plates aside and prepare a big pot of hot water and bring out a selection of teas and coffees.
The key is to maintain a comfortable yet appealing atmosphere for your family, make them feel welcome into your cozy home. With friends, it is a whole other scenario, newlyweds homes are the new destination for their friends.
When having friends over for Iftar, don't stress so much on cooking, make it a dish party. Each one of your friends should make their, or at least their parents' specialty and bring it along. As for you, you want to find out what your friends are making and work around them, basically the things that need frying and can't be reheated. Stuff like soup, samboosak, kobeba and a selection of salads. With friends you don't need to go very traditional with the foods, so you can go for pastas, and Chinese noodles.
Desserts, yes you probably will be asking your hubby to go to the oriental sweets shop to get some dessert. However, perhaps you can purchase some yogurt and raspberry ice-cream cake, and some atayef. You can even make that bread soaked in syrup dessert.
Setting the table, no your china will not be making an appearance in this Iftar. Bring out some colorful table settings and place them stacked at the end of the table. Your dining table will serve as an open buffet, all your friends will need to do is grab a plate and prepare themselves a delicious plate.
Once done with Iftar, your dining table will still remain a buffet but for the desserts. Bring out bowls and and small plates and snack away. Bring out some small glasses, tea and fresh mint.
You will have a lot of leftovers after this gathering, you can choose to keep them all. However if your friends did enjoy the food, prepare some take away plates for your friends, they will have something to eat for Sohour.