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Edible: Atlantic Avenue Grocers Prepare For Ramadan

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With Ramadan upcoming, groceries and shops along Atlantic Avenue are preparing for celebrations with Middle Eastern cuisine. Edible Magazine’s Rachel Wharton filed the following report.

On Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, shopkeepers are getting ready for Ramadan.

At groceries like Fertile Crescent and Sahadi’s, Muslim shoppers from across the Middle East stock up on chicken, lamb, rice, nuts, sweets and dried fruits.

Until August 18, Muslims can’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset, but the second the sun goes down, they feast.

“It's a strong fast during the day, and it's a strong party at night,” says Sahadi’s co-owner Charlie Sahadi. “It's a celebration for getting through the day.”

In many ways, Ramadan foods are typical Middle East treats: apricot paste made into a sweet drink, fava beans stewed with tomatoes. There's hummus and baba ganoush, roast meats and rice, lamb patties called kibbi and lamb-stuffed pastries, plus yogurt, baklava and sweets. It’s often all on the table at the same time.

“We make a lot of food, like rice and chicken and whole lamb and stuff. It's really, really good. A lot of food,” says Ayham Ghuraibi of Sahadi’s.

For the three-day party at Ramadan's end, many roast a whole lamb, or at least a piece of one.

Still, the most important Ramadan food is the date. At Fertile Crescent, they’re currently stocking a dozen kinds from the floor to the ceiling. Shoppers buy the super-filling sweet fruit in bulk to eat both before and after the fast.

“We usually eat the dates a lot because it has a lot of vitamins and stuff, doesn't make you hungry during the day. It makes you full,” says Ghuraibi.

Still, dates don’t quench your thirst. At Fertile Crescent, manager Mohamad Abouelnas says the hardest part of his 16 hour fast when it arrives in summer is the heat.

“It’s very difficult at this time because it’s too hot. At this time it's like 95, and it's too hot,” says Abouelnas.

“We think Lent is difficult. We think that's a fast,” says Sahadi.

To read more about Ramadan customs in New York City, visit EdibleManhattan.com.

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