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Celebrating Ramadan: Lemon Ricotta Dip

dip, lemons and appetizers

Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar (which is lunar), is the holy month of fasting for Muslims worldwide. Those who are able to fast will do so from just before dawn until sunset. No food or drink -- not even a drop -- will be consumed during this time.

Suhoor And Iftar

Muslims typically have two daily meals during Ramadan -- the Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (breaking of the fast meal). Since Muslims come from an array of cultures worldwide, the food served during Ramadan is quite varied. It should always be halal (permissible according to Islamic guidelines), however.

After a long day without eating or drinking, the Iftar time is a special one savored by Muslims. We tend to like to break our fast with dates (as was the tradition of Prophet Muhammed -- peace be upon him), but the fast can be broken with anything from water and juice to fruits.

Something savory typically follows as a sort of precursor to the main meal, which is served after the Maghreb (sunset) prayer.

Creamy Dips

Bite-size appetizers like samosas, empanadas or turnovers are commonly served at Iftar time and often come with creamy dips, chutneys or harissa.

Since we love to have dates with all sorts of creamy toppings in our house, I developed this Lemon Ricotta dip that can be served with dates or with any other sweet appetizer. Something creamy with a bit of fresh citrus zest to celebrate the tastes of summer is just perfect this time of year. The dip can also be poured onto pitted dates and served with fresh almonds or pistachios on top.

It's simple and quick to make and a real crowd-pleaser, too. Just be sure to use fresh organic lemons, especially since you'll use the citrus zest directly in the dip. Add some evaporated cane juice or turbinado sugar or even honey to the ricotta if you like things on the sweet side.

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