Every Ramadan it’s the same routine with Hiba Al Rubaie and her family — suhoor, prayers and iftar together.
However, this year the family is spending it with one less person — Hiba’s mother.
Lamya Al Zubaidi died on September 17, 2011 of cancer.
This Ramadan, Hiba, her father and her brother, who lives in London but visits often, decided to pay tribute to the mother and wife by holding on to their family traditions.
Hiba, an Iraqi national living in Dubai, said: “We’re trying to keep our family strong and honouring my mother through it.”
Hiba and her family always end their fast with dates and yoghurt before going to offer sunset prayers together. They would then set up the table for the ‘mini’ main course, as Hiba called it.
She said: “We usually don’t eat a lot during iftar. So we pack the food and save it for dinner.”
When dinner time comes the Al Rubaie family sits in front of the television and watches Ramadan programmes while chatting and eating the extra food from iftar.
Hiba said: “We don’t usually go out a lot as a family, so all of our activities are at home together.”
Hiba and her father Muwafek are sticking to these activities this year.
Lamya’s ability to ‘create magic in the kitchen’, as described by Hiba’s friends, are being missed badly by the family this Ramadan.
Hiba said: “No one cooks better than my mother can. Every year my friends ask me when I’m going to invite them for iftar, which in itself became a tradition, so that they could eat my mother’s food… but this year there won’t be such a thing.”
Two popular Iraqi dishes Hiba’s mother would prepare are dolma (rice and meat stuffed in vine leaves or onion) and kobat hamoth (meatballs in a tomato-based sauce).
Hiba says: “Everybody loved those dishes and she was known for cooking them during Ramadan, but we don’t even have the recipe to make the dishes.”