During Ramadan, which runs this year from May 5 to June 4, Muslims abstain from food and drink for the greater part of the day by fasting from dawn until sunset, when they break their fast during iftar – the meal that ends the day’s fast.
The sounding of the cannon marks the time of iftar
Since 1997, Smail Krivić has been responsible for firing the cannon up on Žuta Tabija that marks the time of iftar at sunset. This tradition of firing the cannon during Ramadan has been going on for a few hundred years and, while it was stopped during the communist period, it was reinstated after the last war.
The Sarajevo Ramadan Festival has been taking place on Žuta Tabija for the past few years, and both Sarajevans and tourists gather here to observe the firing of the cannon and to enjoy iftar, while taking in a lovely view of the city.
The fast is usually broken with dates and a glass of water, lemonade or juice, and then followed by dishes like topa, soup, pita, dolma, different varieties of meat and side dishes….
Iftar ends on a sweet note, with compote, plum or rose jam and, more commonly, sweets that are covered in a sugary syrup, such as kadaif, hurmadžik, tufahija, baklava, pita od jabuka (a kind of apple pie)….
Bosnian coffee is a must-have at the very end!
The first item on a Ramadan menu is usually topa, which is specific to Sarajevo and is made by mixing kaymak, butter and different kinds of cheese, and even egg yolks, and letting them melt together over low heat. Topa is made right before iftar is served and is eaten while it’s still warm, along with hot somun that is broken into pieces and dipped into it.
You can try topa in any of the following restaurants, all of which offer a full iftar menu: Aeroplan, Staklo, Nova Bentbaša, Sedef, Fan Ferhatović, Prava Priča, Maroko, Lovac, Plava Prizma, Pivnica HS, Mali Raj Mošćanica, Europe Hotel….
Sarajevo somun is a central component of any table during Ramadan and it differs from somun that is served during the rest of the year in that it is sprinkled with black cumin seeds.
Sarajevans usually spend the time right up to iftar waiting in line for hot somun in front of some popular Sarajevo bakeries like Imaret, Poričanin, Alifakovac, Aišina Pekara….
Soup can be served as a starter and Begova čorba, Sarajevska čorba, škembe or tarhana are the most common ones.
National cuisine features heavily in Sarajevo iftars, and the most well-known dish is Sarajevski sahan, which actually features several items in one: stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage leaves or grape leaves, small veal kebabs and stuffed onions. All of these items are served in sahans, deep metal dishes that kazandžijas (coppersmiths) in Baščaršija have been producing for centuries.
Iftar with a view of the city
If you’d rather opt out of the full iftar menu, you can find a range of foods that are perfect during Ramadan at the aščinicas, Hadžibajrić and ASDŽ, or at the restaurants, Kibe Mahala, Imidž-T, 4 Sobe Gospođe Safije, Inat Kuća….
If you’re on the lookout for traditional Bosnian desserts, Baklava Dućan not only offers hurmašica, ružica and baklava, but also has outstanding džandar baklava and kajmak pituljice.
Generally, iftars are followed by an easy stroll up and down the streets of Sarajevo which, during the summer months, are usually full of both locals and tourists who are looking for the perfect place to stop and enjoy some coffee.
Socializing after iftar can go on for hours, even into the wee hours of the morning, right up to when it’s time to start the next day’s fast!
The meal eaten before the fast begins is called sehur, and it’s customary to have something rather filling that will hold you throughout the rest of the day and to take in plenty of fluids, so as to avoid dehydrating during the day-long fast.
Sarajevo restaurants that serve sehur include Konyali and Casa United, as well as places that work 24/7, like Pirpa and U2 Pizzerija.