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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ramadan in Jordan part 2 - The Ramadan Cannon Tradition & Jordanian Zalabia

Jordanian Bedouin

"Back in the day, when people in Jordan did not have televisions, radio or speakers to hear the Athan الأذان (call for prayer), the kids used to go to the Mosque before Iftar and wait there until the Athan, then run back home to tell their families that they can now break their fast. Then came out the Cannon. When people heard its sound, they gathered at the table for Iftar."
- Rawan Otoom, Jordanian Food Blogger

The Ramadan Cannon
Then came the Cannon...
which when fired signaled the time to break the fast. When exactly did the Cannon tradition start, remains debatable. Some believe it started during the Mamelukes era, while others argue that it started during Ottoman times.

Since cannons were not properly designed and used until the times of the Ottoman's, it makes sense to conclude that the tradition started then. With that said, towards the end of the Mamelukes era, both they and the Ottomans existed, so it is possible that the cannon could have originated at that time.

Photo by Rawan Otoom
Because the cities were not as highly populated as they are today, the sound of firing the cannon would have reached very far as it would have echoed between the mountains. With today's highly populated cities, a cannon would have to be assigned to each city (bear in mind the cannon has no live ammunition, it is just a sound bomb), and with the speakers attached to mosques a real need no longer exists for its use. For that reason, the cannon is no longer the means to tell the time of Iftar, however still exists and fires in most cities today, as to reserve the tradition.

Telling Time in Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) Times
During the prophet's time people used a method called "following the shadows" to tell the time. People would have a stick planted in the ground and would follow the shadows of the stick on the ground to tell times for prayer. It was also said that making certain of Iftar time, was when one could not tell the difference between a white thread and a black one.

We have watches and clocks everywhere and there are many internet sites that tell prayer times in different cities, that is of course besides the Athan of mosques going through their speakers to ensure everyone knows the prayer times. Even if all that does not help, there are apps that can be downloaded on mobile phones that will tell prayer times, and who knows what is to come next... One thing for sure though, worry not as you shan't miss Iftar! Once it is the time for prayer and breaking fast, you will definitely know! :)


Jordanian Zalabia
Photo by Rawan Otoom

Rawan Otoom's 
Jordanian Zalabia
You Need
1.5 Kg all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup corn oil
1 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tbsp powdered milk
1 tsp Mahleb
1 tbsp black sesame seed
1 tbsp white sesame seed
1 tsp grounded fennel seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sugar
Warm Water for kneading the dough
Mixture of extra virgin olive oil and corn oil for frying
Sugar syrup for serving

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the oil and rub it with the flour between your palms, until it coats the flour and resembles sand. Add the warm water gradually and knead until you get a smooth dough.

Place some oil on a tray, cut the dough into small balls and put them on the tray. Cover and let rise for one hour.

Roll each ball into a small thin round and then fry in the hot oil on both sides, until u reach a beautiful golden color (use two forks and keep poking the dough during the frying process to prevent air pockets). Once done, remove and drain the Zalabia rounds on paper towel and then pour some ready made sugar syrup on each.

Serve immediately and enjoy one of the most delectable desserts ever.


Zalabia recipe and photographs, are provided by Rawan Otoom and are her property. They are published on this blog with her permission. Please do not copy or use them without her permission.


Food For Thought
"Don't make Ramadan an Eating Habit"

Hope you have enjoyed reading today's post and getting to know more about the Ramadan Cannon Tradition. 

Ramadan is about to be over soon, I would love to hear your thoughts about this year's Ramadan Special, what you think of it so far, how you like or dislike its topics and if you found the information useful and interesting. Share your thoughts with me as they help me see these posts from your perspective and help me better plan next year's Ramadan posts :) So do please leave a comment giving me your feedback...

Come back tomorrow for
Ramadan in India :)

The world is beautiful, all its people are beautiful, all cultures equally important, and all the same in the end - all out there for us to explore...
Ramadan Kareem