They made fast work of this dinner.
Bay Ridge’s Balady Foods welcomed locals breaking their Ramadan fasts during a massive Iftar dinner in front of their Fifth Avenue market on June 22. It was the 10th such dinner the popular halal grocer has thrown for locals, and one brother who manages the family business said he is more than happy to share a meal.
“We had a very good turnout,” said Essa Masoud. “It’s a joyous event — the whole point of getting together is to break our fast, and we want to experience that with our community.”
Observant Muslims do not eat any food or drink any water between sunrise and sunset during the holy month of Ramadan, but the observant hold large meals known as Iftar dinners at sundown. Balady threw its nosh fest two days after the longest day of the year — days last roughly 15 hours throughout June — and folks were certainly hungry.
More than 200 hungry Ridgites polished off five whole lambs, 10 trays of chicken, 10 trays of meat patties called kifta, and roughly eight trays of rice the market laid out, Masoud said.
The tradition started when Masoud’s mother began bringing his father dinner while he manned the cash register at the family market during Ramadan — because he did not want to leave the store to eat. In the spirit of giving during the holy Islamic month, the elder Masoud offered some of the home-cooked food to his customers, so Masoud’s mother cooked more and more food each day — and it grew from there, Masoud said.
“The following year she said, ‘You know what, he’s always giving it out,’ so she made larger dishes, and we’d have to set it up on a big table,” he said.
Soon she was cooking for all the employees and customers who came in and could not fit all the food in the market, so they moved the feast outside and started offering food to passersby — Muslim or not. Masoud said he hopes to see it continue to grow.
“We enjoy doing this, we hope one day to cater to more than just the few hundred that come every year,” he said.