Sulaimaniyah residents sweeten the iftar table

[Hussein al-Assaf/Mawtani] Sweets are piled high at dessert stores to accommodate the high demand during Ramadan.

[Hussein al-Assaf/Mawtani] Sweets are piled high at dessert stores to accommodate the high demand during Ramadan.

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Dessert stores in Sulaimaniyah are packed with customers rushing to buy barma, konafa, beqlawa, zalabia, man sama, and other famous Iraqi desserts.

"Every day, we receive a lot of customers who look for good desserts, especially beqlawa, zalabia and konafa, which are in high demand during Ramadan," said Sulaimaniyah dessert-seller Hayman Mohammed, 23.

Desserts in Sulaimaniyah are made entirely of natural ingredients without any preservatives, and use fat instead of artificial oils and honey instead of sugar.

"We use high quality flour here to make desserts, as well as organic oil, animal fat, fine sugar, special rose water, nuts, and qaymar," said Ashun Mahir, a dessert-maker in Sulaimaniyah.

"Therefore, you see customers flocking to buy desserts in Sulaimaniyah," he said. "Our desserts have a special flavor."

Like residents in all Iraqi cities, people in Sulaimaniyah visit each other almost daily during the month of Ramadan. Large iftar banquets are prepared with enough food to meet the needs of many fasting people.

According to Umm Sorou, a city resident buying desserts at Abu Abdullah bakeries, Sulaimaniyah desserts top the list of necessary food items for iftar.

"The presence of desserts at the iftar table is a necessity," she said. "When my children, their wives, and children come and the big family gets together around one table, there must be desserts to sweeten the meal."

"My grandchildren love dessert a lot, just like their fathers and I do," she said.

Beshtewan Honar, who sells desserts in Sulaimaniyah, said Ramadan is an important time of year for people in his industry.

"We sell much larger quantities of dessert during Ramadan. To us, Ramadan is an opportunity that we must take advantage of," he said.

Hajji Salim Othman, 54, a famous dessert-maker in the city, said his profession use to be restricted to a few families in Sulaimaniyah.

"Some old dessert-makers were trained at the hands of masters in Baghdad and other cities," Othman said. "Therefore, famous desserts in Sulaimaniyah moved to Baghdad and other cities, and famous desserts in those cities came to Sulaimaniyah."

Othman experienced this himself in Najaf, which is famous for its daheen, a dessert made of flour, sugar, fat, and coconut.

"I learned how to make daheen from one of the brothers in Najaf," Othman said. "The Najafi daheen is considered the most famous in Iraq. I have brought this type of dessert with me to Sulaimaniyah."

Iraqi citizens who visit Sulaymaniyah on vacation buy large quantities of desserts and offer them as gifts to their families and friends when they return home.

Basra citizen Abu Tahseen has been moving around dessert stores in Sulaimaniyah to buy gifts for his friends.

"I buy all types of desserts, especially man sama, which is famous in Sulaimaniyah. I will present it as a gift to friends and family. It is the most beautiful gift."

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    عصام الحجي

    2010-9-9

    Sweets are one of the characteristics of the holy month of Ramadan. Iraqi families are famous for buying them from shops or buying their ingredients and preparing them at home. In fact, Iraqi families eat sweets after breaking their fast, following an ancient tradition. For this reason, you see huge numbers of people rushing to buy sweets during this holy month. Shop owners manufacture a variety of sweets in large quantities to serve the huge demand. In fact, the issue of sweets is not only characteristic of one Arab country, but all people in the Arab World enjoy buying and eating sweets during the holy month of Ramadan, and there are original shops known for manufacturing them, their professions is one inherited from their ancestors. Thus, everyone tends to buy from these well-known shops.