Healthy Iftar Recipes: 10 Delicious Ideas To Try In Ramadan 2024

March 15, 2024

With the holy month of upon us, everyone’s search history is likely dominated by one query: healthy iftar recipes. If you are looking to make the most of this month of fasting and feasting without over-indulging, it helps to have a roster of healthy ideas up your sleeve. 

Sea bass fillet

Photo: Courtesy Novikov Café

The good news is that we have already done the legwork for you. From healthy Ramadan recipes to tips for healthy Ramadan fasting, consider this your all-purpose guide for enjoying the bounties of this month without feeling guilty for cheating on your diet. Ahead, we list all the healthy iftar meals to try this month without compromising on your tastebuds. The only question remaining to be asked is: Are you ready to cinch your title as the best host? 

What foods to avoid at iftar?

  • Before we get into the nitty-gritties of Ramadan recipes, it helps to understand which foods you’ll want to leave off your grocery list this month. 
  • Fried and fatty foods are unsurprisingly topping the no-no list. Given the high amounts of fat and sodium in these foods, excessive consumption is known to cause fatigue that can impact your fasting cycle. 
  • Chocolates and other foods that are high in caffeine are also best avoided, as the diuretic properties of caffeine can make you feel dehydrated faster. 

What are the best foods for iftar?

  • And now, for the good news. Eating right during can keep you hydrated through the day, and making healthy choices for iftar can give your body the sustenance that it needs after a day of fasting. But that doesn’t mean chomping on celery sticks. 
  • Indeed, the top chefs of Dubai are in agreement that there are ways to introduce more greens on your plate in a way that will excite your tastebuds. 
  • As for those guilty indulgences? You can still enjoy your favorite cuisines by limiting the use of oil and switching to alternative methods like grilling and shallow-frying wherever possible. There is an exciting new world of to be explored and you’ll want this round-up of iftar food ideas to get started. 

Healthy vegan iftar recipes to try in Ramadan 2024

Lentil soup

Nourishment should be beneficial as well as comforting after periods of fasting, believes sous chef Elias Mansoor from at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort. “ This lentil soup is a testament to that philosophy with its lightness and nourishing qualities that offer a gentle yet satisfying way to replenish energy while supporting optimal digestion. Healthy eating is, after all, about respecting the body’s needs and offering a delicious solution that promotes overall well-being,” she smiles.

Lentil soup recipe

Photo: Courtesy Al-Maeda Restaurant

You will need:

  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 1 potato
  • 1 carrot
  • Salt for flavoring
  • 10g cumin powder
  • 10g turmeric powder
  • 1 liter water

How to make lentil soup:

  1. Soak the lentils in cold water for 30 minutes and then strain them.
  2. Peel and chop the onion, potato and carrot.
  3. In a pot, heat oil and sauté the chopped onion, potato, and carrot until slightly softened.
  4. Add the lentils, cumin powder, salt and turmeric powder to the pot. Toss everything together with the vegetables.
  5. Pour in the water and mix well.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup directly in the pot using an immersion blender until smooth.
  8. Serve the soup with lemon wedges and croutons.

Fattoush salad

Fattoush is an exemplary choice for your Iftar spread during Ramadan, as it embodies the essence of health and vitality. “Bursting with an array of fresh vegetables, this dish delivers a bounty of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, replenishing and nourishing the body after a day of fasting. Furthermore, the dressing, crafted with the richness of olive oil, brings forth not only exquisite flavor but also the benefits of heart-healthy fats,” says chef Mansoor.

Fattoush salad recipe

Photo: Courtesy Al-Maeda Restaurant

You will need:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 red radish
  • 1 spring onion
  • 10g mint leaves
  • 5g parsley
  • 30g watercress
  • 30g fresh za’atar
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 pinch of sumac powder
  • Salt and lemon juice to taste
  • 10g olive oil
  • 10g pomegranate molasses
  • 50g croutons
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (for garnish)

How to make fattoush salad:

  1. Wash all the vegetables thoroughly.
  2. Cut the cucumber, tomato, lettuce, red radish, spring onion and green pepper into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Finely chop the mint leaves and parsley.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine all the prepared vegetables, mint leaves, parsley, watercress and fresh za’atar.
  5. Season the salad with salt, lemon juice, sumac powder, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly coated.
  6. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl. 
  7. Garnish the salad with croutons and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Grilled eggplant with vegan cheese

According to chef Mansoor, grilling eggplant with vegan cheese for iftar isn’t just a flavorful choice, but a healthy one too. “This plant-based dish is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-friendly option for breaking your fast during Ramadan. Eggplant, being rich in fiber and antioxidants, not only satisfies your hunger but also nourishes your body. Plus, grilling preserves its nutrients while infusing it with a delightful smoky taste,” she says. 

Grilled eggplant

Photo: Courtesy Al-Maeda Restaurant

You will need:

  • 1 eggplant 
  • 50g vegan cheese
  • 10g pomegranate seeds
  • 5g radish, thinly sliced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 5ml pomegranate syrup
  • 5ml olive oil
  • 10g bell pepper, diced
  • 5g onion, finely chopped

How to make grilled eggplant:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until softened.
  3. Scoop out the center of the eggplant halves, leaving enough flesh inside the skin to hold its shape. Chop the scooped-out eggplant flesh and set aside.
  4. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat. Add olive oil to the pan.
  5. Sautee the chopped eggplant flesh along with diced bell pepper and finely chopped onion until tender.
  6. Season the mixture with salt and black pepper according to taste.
  7. Stuff the sautéed mixture back into the eggplant halves. 
  8. Place a slice of vegan cheese on top of each stuffed eggplant half. 
  9. Return the eggplant halves to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  10. Garnish the grilled eggplant with pomegranate seeds and thinly sliced radish. 
  11. Drizzle with pomegranate syrup before serving.

Healthy vegetarian iftar recipes to try in Ramadan 2024

Varanasi cherry tomato chaat

For negating the deep fat frying present in conventional chaat recipes, head chef Akshay from in Dubai has a healthier alternative to suggest. This recipe contains a fairly low amount of calories as compared to other recipes and the use of cherry tomatoes and ginger further makes it nutritious,” he says. 

Tomato chaat healthy iftar recipes

Photo: Courtesy Bombay Borough

You will need:

  • 200g cherry tomatoes 
  • 10ml mustard oil 
  • 3g fennel seeds 
  • 5g ginger julienne 
  • 3g chopped chilies 
  • 3g red chili powder 
  • 3g garam masala powder 
  • 3 basil leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 30g namkeen 
  • 50g curd 
  • 20g tomato paste 

How to make tomato chaat:

  1. Heat the oil and add fennel seed, let it crackle. Add ginger julienne and chopped chilies into the oil and sauté.
  2. Halve cherry tomatoes and add it into the pan. Add the powdered spices and let it cook for 5 minutes on a low heat. Finish with basil and seasoning. Chill the mixture.
  3. Make tomato foam using a siphon, add curd and tomato paste to it.
  4. While assembling chaat, add the tomato base to a plate and top it up with namkeen. Add the foam on top and enjoy.

Shish kebab biryani 

While vegetarian biryani recipes are not common, chef Akshay recommends making the switch due to its high protein profile and fibers from the use of corn and soya. “The use of less oil and more ghee make it healthier for your heart. Furthermore, cardamom powder helps balance blood sugar and lower blood pressure.”

healthy iftar recipes

Photo: Courtesy Bombay Borough

You will need:

For shish kebab

  • 200g corn 
  • 100g soya nuggets 
  • 5g ginger 
  • 5g garlic 
  • 3g green chillies 
  • 2g turmeric 
  • 2g garam masala 
  • 3g yellow chillies 
  • 3g coriander powder 
  • 2g jeera powder 
  • 40g paneer 
  • Salt to taste

For biryani rice:

  • 200g basmati rice 
  • 1g saffron 
  • Salt to taste
  • 50g ghee 
  • Whole garam masala: A blend of bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and clove

For Awadhi biryani masala:

  • 20g oil 
  • 5g ginger julienne 
  • 10g chopped onion 
  • 10g curd 
  • 2g garam masala 
  • Salt to taste
  • 2g cardamom powder 
  • 2g fennel powder 
  • 4ml kewra water 
  • 3ml rose water 
  • 2g turmeric powder 
  • 10g cashew paste 

How to make shish kebab biryani:

  1. Soak rice for the biryani for at least 30-45 minutes. Heat ghee and add whole garam masala. Add rice and water and cook.
  2. For the shish kebab, mix the ingredients mentioned and make a fine mince.
  3. Use grated paneer to adjust the consistency of the mixture.
  4. Make a seekh by using flat shish skewers.
  5. Cook in tandoor or over charcoal.
  6. Heat oil, add ginger julienne and chopped onion. Cook it until brown and add curd. Add the mentioned spices and finish it with cashew paste. Flavor it using kewra and rose water.
  7. Add the cooked biryani rice in this mixture and mix gently. Cook on steam for a few minutes.
  8. Present the aromatic rice on a plate, garnish it with nuts of your choice, mint and coriander leaves. Top it up with the corn shish kebab and enjoy.

Healthy iftar recipes to try if you have a keto-friendly diet

Veggie tray with low-carb ranch dressing

If you are looking to step away from the unhealthy oils and added sugars present in over-the-counter ranch dressings, it helps to have a low-carb option at hand for serving with salads or using as a dip with other iftar favorites like pizzas, chicken wings and more. 

You will need:

  • Assorted veggies of choice
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or nut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

How to make the ranch dressing:

  1. To a small bowl or a mason jar, add mayo, sour cream, heavy cream, dill, parsley, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk ingredients until combined or close the mason jar with the lid and shake until combined.
  3. Serve it on a tray with an assortment of sliced, colorful veggies of choice. 

Grilled sea bass fillet 

When crafting a Ramadan menu, it is essential to focus on dishes that don’t just tantalize the taste buds but also nourish the body, believes Riccardo Stevan, head chef at , Dubai. “Packed with wholesome ingredients like fresh sea bass, tomatoes, olives and aromatic herbs, a grilled sea bass filet is a celebration of Mediterranean flavors. But what makes it special are the health benefits: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lean protein and antioxidants. This makes it a light yet satisfying option for iftar, supporting your wellness journey during this holy month,” he shares. 

Sea bass fillet healthy iftar recipes

Photo: Courtesy Novikov Café

You will need: 

  • 1 Sea Bass filet 
  • 80g crushed tomatoes
  • 10g capers
  • 10g kalamata olives, pitted
  • 10g garlic, minced
  • 10g onion, finely chopped
  • 10g rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of basil
  • Baby basil leaves, for garnish

How to make grilled sea bass fillet:

  1. In a saucepan, combine crushed tomatoes, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, pitted kalamata olives and capers. Bring the sauce to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes until flavors meld together. Set aside.
  2. Marinate the sea bass filet with minced garlic, finely chopped onion and rosemary for two hours before grilling.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. 
  4. Grill the marinated sea bass filet for about 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through and golden brown.
  5. To serve, place a portion of the tomato sauce on a plate, then place grilled sea bass filet on top.
  6. Garnish with baby basil leaves.

Healthy iftar recipes to try if you love Middle Eastern cuisine

Grilled beef fillet with mushroom sauce

By selecting a lean cut of beef and skillfully trimming excess fat, chef Stevan believes that beef filet can serve up a high-quality protein and also make for a healthier culinary experience to be counted among your favorite healthy iftar recipes. “By opting for grilling over frying, you can enhance both the flavor as well as the nutritional value. While store-bought mushroom sauces are readily available, the homemade version allows for control over ingredients and portion sizes, ensuring that each bite is as nutritious as it is satisfying,” he explains. 

Healthy iftar recipes beef fillet

Photo: Courtesy Novikov Café

You will need:

  • 220g beef filet
  • 100g king mushrooms
  • Potatoes, sliced
  • 50g mushrooms 
  • 10g sage
  • 10g rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Ground pink peppercorn
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup sliced king mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make mushroom sauce:

  1. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted.
  2. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Reserve some for plating.
  3. For the remaining mushrooms in the skillet, add minced garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Sprinkle flour over the mushroom mixture and stir well to combine. 
  5. Gradually pour in the chicken or vegetable broth while stirring continuously. Allow the mixture to simmer and thicken.
  6. Pour in the heavy cream and continue to stir until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Let the mushroom sauce simmer for a few more minutes, then remove the skillet from the heat.

How to make beef filet:

  1. Marinate the beef filet with minced garlic, rosemary, sage and olive oil for 2 hours.
  2. While the beef is marinating, peel and slice the potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil, then bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C (350°F) for 20 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat. 
  4. Place the marinated beef filet on the preheated grill. Grill for approximately 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steaks.
  5. Once the steaks reach the desired temperature, remove them from the grill and let them rest for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Arrange sliced potatoes on a plate and place sautéed mushrooms on top. Cover with grilled beef filet, drizzle generously with mushroom sauce. Garnish with sage leaves and ground pink peppercorn.

High-protein lamb shoulder

Satisfying food for the body as well as the soul is the mantra behind chef Stevan’s healthy iftar recipes, and his take on lamb is no different. “Packed with protein, vitamins and antioxidants, it’s the perfect sustenance after fasting the entire day. The sour cherry sauce adds natural sweetness and vibrant flavors to make it a balanced meal and one of our favorite healthy iftar recipes,” he says. 

Healthy iftar recipes lamb shoulder

Photo: Courtesy Novikov Café

You will need: 

  • 3 kg sour cherries, frozen
  • 75g minced garlic
  • 35g rosemary, finely chopped
  • 100g Sugar
  • 25g Salt
  • 40g black pepper
  • 10g chili flakes
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 600ml yuzu juice
  • 450g lamb shoulder
  • Butter for coating
  • Parsley for garnish
  • Lemon slices for garnish

How to make lamb shoulder:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 100°C (212°F).
  2. Place lamb shoulder in a baking dish and coat with butter.
  3. Place the butter-coated lamb shoulder in the pre-heated oven and steam it for 90 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, remove the lamb shoulder from the oven and allow it to cool. Then transfer to a fridge to chill thoroughly.
  5. Prepare the sour cherry sauce: combine the frozen sour cherries, minced garlic, finely chopped rosemary, sugar, salt, black pepper, chili flakes, olive oil and yuzu juice.
  6. Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are softened and the sauce has thickened slightly. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
  7. Marinate the chilled lamb shoulder with the sour cherry sauce. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. 
  9. Grill the marinated lamb shoulder for about four minutes on each side or until cooked to your desired doneness.
  10. Once cooked, remove the lamb shoulder from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes.
  11. Serve the grilled lamb shoulder with parsley and lemon slices as garnish.

Grilled lamb seekh

When looking for healthy iftar recipes for the month of Ramadan, it is helpful to dial back the use of fat wherever possible. Chef Akshay recommends making the switch to grilling instead which can help reduce the overall calorie count of your iftars. “The use of ghee as a fat source enriches it with good cholesterol,” he adds. 

Healthy iftar recipes grilled seekh

Photo: Courtesy Bombay Borough

You will need:

  • 300g boneless mutton 
  • 30g ghee
  • 4g chili powder 
  • 3g garam masala powder 
  • 5g green chilies 
  • 5g ginger 
  • 7g garlic 
  • 10g fresh coriander 
  • Salt to taste

How to make grilled lamb seekh:

  1. Marinate mutton with the ingredients mentioned above and keep it for 2-3 hours. 
  2. Grind the mutton into fine mince and mix in a generous amount of ghee into it. 
  3. Prepare a seekh by using thick tandoor skewers. 
  4. Cook the seekh in the charcoal tandoor.
  5. Enjoy it while it’s still warm with a bread of your choice or as it is.
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