(MENAFN) In Sudan, the holy month of Ramadan is not complete without the traditional drink "helo-murr," which means "bittersweet." For generations, Sudanese families have passed down recipes for the arduously made drink, which is enjoyed at the end of the day's fast and is synonymous with the holy month of Ramadan. The drink is so popular that it can be found on almost every table across the northeast African country during Ramadan.
Wissal Abdel Ghany is one of the many Sudanese women who continue to prepare the drink in the traditional way. Abdel Ghany, who lives in the village of Om Eshr on the outskirts of the capital Khartoum, crouches next to a fire to prepare the drink. The process involves grinding corn and mixing it with spices like fenugreek, cumin, or even hibiscus, which is Sudan's other essential Ramadan beverage. The mixture is then soaked in sugar and water for several days before being spread over a grill plate above the coals of a wood fire. The resulting crepe-like layer is then peeled away and stored, ready to be soaked in the final step to create the beloved drink.
The drink is served as cold as possible and is one of the ways that fasting Sudanese cool off during the daytime fasting month of Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Observant Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, after which they traditionally gather with family and friends to break their fast.
For Abdel Ghany and many other Sudanese, the drink is more than just a thirst-quencher during Ramadan. It is an essential part of their cultural heritage, with recipes passed down from mothers and grandmothers. Without it, Abdel Ghany says, "our table feels empty."
Despite the challenges posed by the hot weather and the arduous process of making the drink, Sudanese families continue to prepare it every year, keeping the tradition alive for future generations.
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