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ChaïShaï’s signature cheesecakes adorned with jalebi or gulab jamun.
ChaïShaï’s signature cheesecakes adorned with jalebi or gulab jamun.
Maison ChaïShaï/Supplied

In-Person Iftar: Where Montreal’s Muslim Community Goes to Break Fast During Ramadan

Full Iftar feasts that run the gamut from complementary sweets to house specialties

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ChaïShaï’s signature cheesecakes adorned with jalebi or gulab jamun.
| Maison ChaïShaï/Supplied

There’s an excitement beyond the usual anticipation for the upcoming month of contemplation and worship: Ramadan begins on Saturday, April 2 this year with the sighting of the moon and ends on May 2 with the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The difference is that Montreal’s Muslim Community can once again gather, joining those fasting around the world during daylight hours before eating an early Suhur meal before the first light of dawn. The fast breaks at nightfall with the Iftar meal, anywhere between 7:23 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., ending later as the days get longer.

For those following the fast, or for those who want to experience some of the special dishes for the month, here are some suggestions from different regional traditions.

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For updated information about the coronavirus situation and related regulations, please visit the official sites of the Quebec government and Montreal’s public health authority (Santé Montréal).

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

La Rose des Sables

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This Tunisian restaurant in Rosemont continues with traditional special meals for Iftar, starting with brik à l’oeuf, a choice of soup, two salads, and a choice of main course. Owner Elyes Chaabani believes strongly in the charitable element of the holy month, with students eating here for free during the holiday.

Appayon

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This Parc-Ex Bangladeshi restaurant is pulling out all the stops for Iftar. The family-owned restaurant opened for Ramadan in 2018 and they’ve been waiting, like everyone, to enjoy breaking their fast as a community. Appayon is planning a buffet to meet the initial needs of hungry fasters, opening up the kitchen for other dishes after the rush. Special Bangladeshi offerings include the vegetarian snack piaju—deep-fried lentils with turmeric, onions, and ginger, and chana (black chickpeas and potatoes)—as well as beef halim and biryani also on the menu.

Appayon/Supplied

Halal 786

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The banquet room at Halal 786 was unused during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this Ramadan, everything will be back to the way they were before, says manager Lydia Mamri. The extensive menu of the flagship Parc-Ex restaurant is a perennial crowd-pleaser at Ramadan, especially dishes like chicken and mutton karahi, seekh kebab and their grilled fish. It’s the mango lassi that hits the spot, though, to break the fast.

“For the last two years, we couldn’t do anything in person,” says Nail Salem, owner of the Yemeni restaurant Mazbi in the Plateau. This year, Salem is looking forward to feeding hungry guests with a classic barley shorba (soup), tender-cooked lamb or chicken mandi, edam bamia okra stew, and fowl (fava beans with onion, tomato and olive oil). Mazbi’s khobz breads, served with the main dishes, are worth the visit, as is the chai adani, the classic Yemeni tea made with red tea leaves, milk, cloves, ginger and cardamom.  

Abu Elias

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After two years of restrictions, Elias Mustapha is extending the hours of the shop until 9 p.m and adding new savoury menu items to make this Ramadan even more special, mixing modern Lebanese dishes with more traditional fare. Quebec lamb continues to be featured here, with grilled dishes and vine leaves stuffed with lamb. Osso buco Lebanese-style, stuffed zucchini and lasagna are also in the works, with sweets like bassboussa, a semolina cake with coconut, are sure to satisfy at the end of the meal. The Iftar menu is also available through delivery apps.

Plateau favourite Rumi is ready for those observing the fast with a special Iftar menu starting with the classic welcome of dates and milk, followed by chorba frik, a traditional soup from the Maghreb, made with Algerian freekeh and Quebec lamb. The soup course is followed by mrouzia, a unique dish from Fez with Quebec lamb shank confit in a sauce made of spices and smen, a fermented, aged butter. The final course could be the showstopper: Turkish and Moroccan desserts with homemade mint tea.

This Uyghur restaurant in Ville Saint-Laurent offers the fasting faithful complementary watermelon, dates, and traditional naan bread before the hearty main meal event: Meat—grilled, stewed, and braised—play a major role in this cuisine, with the restaurant’s signature da pan ji made with quail, lamb kebabs, lamb soup, and homemade, hand-pulled laghman noodles. Don’t miss the tandoor samsa, half-moon shaped meat pastries baked in a tandoor.

Maison ChaïShaï

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This newly-opened Concordia-adjacent restaurant features Nahid Aziz’s family recipes in a gracious setting with furniture and furnishings brought from India and Pakistan. “We want to provide a nice experience for those breaking the fast,” says Aziz, and the Iftari menu reflects that generosity, with recipes from both countries. Diners can expect dates and Rooh Afza, an herbal, fruit, and citrus drink often enjoyed when breaking the fast on arrival before snacks like onion bhaji, dahi balla, pakoras, fruit chaat, and main dishes of haleem and biryani. Finally, ChaïShaï’s signature cheesecakes, adorned with jalebi or gulab jamun, along with rasmallai and kheer sweetly finish off the meal.

Maison ChaïShaï/Supplied

Château Kabab

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“We want to have something different for our daily customers,” says Hassanin Salih, owner of the Persian-Iraqi restaurant Château Kabab’s downtown and Litle Italy locations. Meal deals for Iftar include complementary dates and yogurt or juice, and shorbat addas, a red lentil soup, with new menu items on offer every day. Salih shared some of the traditional dishes he’s planning with Eater: Musakhan dajaj (chicken with sumac), kabsa lamb, a rice dish redolent with onions and warm spices, molokhia stew with chicken, and dawood basha, a meatball stew with green beans potatoes, always served with rice.

Falafel Abou Hanna

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Chickpea and hummus lovers will find their paradise at Abou Hanna in Pierrefonds. The all-vegetarian menu satisfies with several varieties of falafel sandwiches, balilla—chickpeas with lemon, garlic, and spices—and musabbaha, a whole-bean hummus. 

La Rose des Sables

This Tunisian restaurant in Rosemont continues with traditional special meals for Iftar, starting with brik à l’oeuf, a choice of soup, two salads, and a choice of main course. Owner Elyes Chaabani believes strongly in the charitable element of the holy month, with students eating here for free during the holiday.

Appayon

Appayon/Supplied

This Parc-Ex Bangladeshi restaurant is pulling out all the stops for Iftar. The family-owned restaurant opened for Ramadan in 2018 and they’ve been waiting, like everyone, to enjoy breaking their fast as a community. Appayon is planning a buffet to meet the initial needs of hungry fasters, opening up the kitchen for other dishes after the rush. Special Bangladeshi offerings include the vegetarian snack piaju—deep-fried lentils with turmeric, onions, and ginger, and chana (black chickpeas and potatoes)—as well as beef halim and biryani also on the menu.

Appayon/Supplied

Halal 786

The banquet room at Halal 786 was unused during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this Ramadan, everything will be back to the way they were before, says manager Lydia Mamri. The extensive menu of the flagship Parc-Ex restaurant is a perennial crowd-pleaser at Ramadan, especially dishes like chicken and mutton karahi, seekh kebab and their grilled fish. It’s the mango lassi that hits the spot, though, to break the fast.

Mazbi

“For the last two years, we couldn’t do anything in person,” says Nail Salem, owner of the Yemeni restaurant Mazbi in the Plateau. This year, Salem is looking forward to feeding hungry guests with a classic barley shorba (soup), tender-cooked lamb or chicken mandi, edam bamia okra stew, and fowl (fava beans with onion, tomato and olive oil). Mazbi’s khobz breads, served with the main dishes, are worth the visit, as is the chai adani, the classic Yemeni tea made with red tea leaves, milk, cloves, ginger and cardamom.  

Abu Elias

After two years of restrictions, Elias Mustapha is extending the hours of the shop until 9 p.m and adding new savoury menu items to make this Ramadan even more special, mixing modern Lebanese dishes with more traditional fare. Quebec lamb continues to be featured here, with grilled dishes and vine leaves stuffed with lamb. Osso buco Lebanese-style, stuffed zucchini and lasagna are also in the works, with sweets like bassboussa, a semolina cake with coconut, are sure to satisfy at the end of the meal. The Iftar menu is also available through delivery apps.

Rumi

Plateau favourite Rumi is ready for those observing the fast with a special Iftar menu starting with the classic welcome of dates and milk, followed by chorba frik, a traditional soup from the Maghreb, made with Algerian freekeh and Quebec lamb. The soup course is followed by mrouzia, a unique dish from Fez with Quebec lamb shank confit in a sauce made of spices and smen, a fermented, aged butter. The final course could be the showstopper: Turkish and Moroccan desserts with homemade mint tea.

Miran

This Uyghur restaurant in Ville Saint-Laurent offers the fasting faithful complementary watermelon, dates, and traditional naan bread before the hearty main meal event: Meat—grilled, stewed, and braised—play a major role in this cuisine, with the restaurant’s signature da pan ji made with quail, lamb kebabs, lamb soup, and homemade, hand-pulled laghman noodles. Don’t miss the tandoor samsa, half-moon shaped meat pastries baked in a tandoor.

Maison ChaïShaï

Maison ChaïShaï/Supplied

This newly-opened Concordia-adjacent restaurant features Nahid Aziz’s family recipes in a gracious setting with furniture and furnishings brought from India and Pakistan. “We want to provide a nice experience for those breaking the fast,” says Aziz, and the Iftari menu reflects that generosity, with recipes from both countries. Diners can expect dates and Rooh Afza, an herbal, fruit, and citrus drink often enjoyed when breaking the fast on arrival before snacks like onion bhaji, dahi balla, pakoras, fruit chaat, and main dishes of haleem and biryani. Finally, ChaïShaï’s signature cheesecakes, adorned with jalebi or gulab jamun, along with rasmallai and kheer sweetly finish off the meal.

Maison ChaïShaï/Supplied

Château Kabab

“We want to have something different for our daily customers,” says Hassanin Salih, owner of the Persian-Iraqi restaurant Château Kabab’s downtown and Litle Italy locations. Meal deals for Iftar include complementary dates and yogurt or juice, and shorbat addas, a red lentil soup, with new menu items on offer every day. Salih shared some of the traditional dishes he’s planning with Eater: Musakhan dajaj (chicken with sumac), kabsa lamb, a rice dish redolent with onions and warm spices, molokhia stew with chicken, and dawood basha, a meatball stew with green beans potatoes, always served with rice.

Falafel Abou Hanna

Chickpea and hummus lovers will find their paradise at Abou Hanna in Pierrefonds. The all-vegetarian menu satisfies with several varieties of falafel sandwiches, balilla—chickpeas with lemon, garlic, and spices—and musabbaha, a whole-bean hummus. 

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