Ramadan is about fasting — but at the end of the day, it’s also about food.
Balady Halal Foods hosted its eighth-annual evening feast on July 17 to celebrate the Muslim holy month, feeding dozens of Ridgites of all faiths a multitude of classic Middle Eastern dishes from tables set up on the street in front of the Fifth Avenue storefront.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and most drinks all day and break their fast with a feast when the sun goes down. Balady co-owner Essa Masoud said the annual street-feast tradition was started by his late father as a good way to connect with neighbors and give back to everyone in the community — regardless of their religious affiliation.
“It has been a tradition of ours to give back to the community as a family,” said Masoud. “It is open to everyone.”
The family-owned halal market served up a wide array of foods — dates, lentil soup, salad, bread, lamb, chicken, rice, and desserts — laid out buffet-style for locals to feast on. And the event, which grows larger every year, is well-known for its food.
“The food is always good,” said Masoud.
But Ramadan is about more than just fasting and feasting, he said. The holy month is about cleansing oneself — physically and spiritually.
“It’s about reflection, purification of the heart, donating, and trying to reconnect with the creator,” said Masoud.
Masoud said he hopes attendance at the annual feast will grow so large that one day he can apply for a permit to close the street to traffic for the event. In the meantime, he’s just planning to keep up the family tradition.
“We plan on continuing this every year,” said Masoud.