Celebrating Ramadan: Iftar with Kids and Our Persian Friends in Toronto

It’s always a joy to hear from friends. Especially ones you’ve met overseas who recently move to a city you are currently visiting!

While in Toronto, we heard that very good friends of ours from Dubai had moved to Canada and so we called them. The Nassari Family who have been friends with us since 1994—back when my husband and I lived in Dubai—lived only a 1/2 hour drive from where we were visiting. So, naturally we drove out to see them and have iftar with kids and the family.

The Nassari’s are originally from Iran and have lived in the UAE for a long time. After immigrating to Canada, it was wonderful to see them and see how their children have all grown up. With only a few hours notice, we didn’t expect them to arrange to cook an entire meal for us upon arrival, but that’s just Iranian hospitality.

Also, it was the 2nd day of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims, and they had been fasting all day since sunrise.

So, what happens during the holy month of Ramadan?

During the fast, no food or drink is consumed, and thoughts must be kept pure. Followers of Islam believe that fasting helps the Muslim learn patience, modesty, and spirituality. Meals are served before sunrise and after sunset, and eaten with family or with the local community during a period that is known as iftar or breaking the fast.

At sunset, (Iftar) it is time to break-the-fast (hence “breakfast”) and everyone will eat something very light to settle the stomach. First thing that is normally taken in is water, then perhaps a few dates and a bowl of soup.

Usually after a half-hour or more there’s a larger meal—read on to find our kid-friendly iftar recipe recommendations—when the family gets together and then lighter meals as the night progresses just before the pre-dawn meal called Sahoor.

Iftar with Kids in Toronto

Prepping the table for iftar…

We were so lucky to spend this time with the Nassari’s, and looked forward to the wonderful dinner that was prepared.

Here’s everything we got to eat:

  • Dates
  • Hummus — always a staple in our household. We even have a hummus recipe, part of our How to Cook That series
  • Persian tomato sauce
  • Joojeh Kebabs — grilled chicken kebabs with lemon
  • Saffron basmati rice
  • Tahdeeg — burnt crispy rice, quintessentially Persian
  • Pita bread
  • Abgoosht—Beef & Bean Stew
  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • Fresh fattoush salad

[one-half-first]bowl of freshly made hummus with chickpeas on top[/one-half-first]
[one-half]small bowl of medjool dates on the iftar table[/one-half]

small serving of Persian tomato sauce saffron basmati rice


Abgoosht (bean and meat stew)


Joojeh kebabs – chicken kebabs with lemon and spices


Tahdeeh…the kid-foodies favorite

I must say the part my children enjoyed the most was eating “Tahdeeg,” which is formed on the bottom (taht) of the pot (deeg) after the rice is cooked. Making Iranian rice is no easy task. It involves a series of cleaning, washing, soaking, boil and steaming techniques. All of which makes the “burnt rice” you see so much more worth eating. It’s crisp, buttery and crunch texture is really to die for!

The kids ate everything, emptied their plates and quickly rushed off to play with their friends in the darkness.

Leah and Jaffer sitting in the backyard with a plate of iftar food on the table
“Mom, I’m gonna try everything ok?”

Kid-Friendly Iftar Recipes You Have to Try

Here are some kid-friendly iftar recipe recommendations to help you break the fast and prep for your next iftar spread.

It was wonderful to spend time the Nassari’s, especially during the month of Ramadan. We were sad to leave and hope to return to see them again soon. But boy, will we miss their Persian food…



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