COPENHAGEN: Safi Enayat came to Copenhagen as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2001 and found a job washing dishes in a restaurant kitchen before working his way up to become head chef and a restaurant owner in his own right. His cooking is a reflection of the diverse cultural influences that have characterized his life, from the traditional Afghan dishes with a modern twist he cooks for friends to the Indian-inspired cuisine served in his restaurant chain dhaba.dk, as well as the international fare he has encountered in Europe. This Ramadan, he’s hosting a pop-up iftar with chefs from Baker & Spice Dubai which aims to attract a mixed crowd of Muslims and non-Muslims to break bread over delicious Arabic food.
Read on to experience Ramadan in the European city in his own words...
Everyday life goes on as normal during Ramadan in Copenhagen because the Muslim community here is not that big. In general, people congregate at the city’s larger mosques to pray and break the fast together. There are a few larger events that I look forward to, such as Iftar på Rådhuspladsen, when everyone gathers in City Hall Square and brings a dish to share with their family and friends. It’s an amazing feeling, sitting on the floor in front of this beautiful venue with people from all cultures — Danish, Afghan, Arabs… usually several hundred people attend. Here, you have the right to enjoy your religion as you want and while Danes might be curious to know why we fast, they are very accepting. Last year one of my Danish friends called during Ramadan to say he was fasting for the day to understand it better. I was touched. I think it showed a lot of respect for my religion, which is something I often find here.
Since coming here, I feel like Ramadan has become more visible, people are more aware of what is going on and more interested in why Muslims are fasting and why they do it for so long. It’s a friendly interest. With the long days at this time of the year, many Muslims in Denmark choose to take some of their summer holidays during Ramadan so they have less work and can enjoy the Holy Month.
We’ll be hosting a pop-up iftar called The Opposite Kitchen with Baker & Spice from June 2 to June 8, which is something new to the city. We’ll invite everyone from all cultures and religions to come and learn about the meaning of Ramadan. For me, the beautiful message behind Ramadan is that when you fast, you can see what it’s like for someone who is starving on the other side of the world and can’t put food on the table, and I think it’s important to understand that. I also think that food is an important way of bringing people together. It’s something we all share and enjoy. I found my way into the Danish community through food, it was an easy way to become a citizen of the city and a part of life here. I’ve been here for so many years that this is home for me now.
Fact Box: Safi Enayat's Ramadan
Profession: Political science student and hobby chef
Earliest fajr this year: 2.28am
Latest maghreb time this year: 2.28am to 21:55pm
Fasting tip: It’s not easy. The days are really long here. We don’t do that much activity in Ramadan, you spend your day doing prayers, but what I do normally is come home from work, relax, then go to the mosque for prayers. You can’t do that much, so my tip is taking it easy!
Favourite restaurant iftar: An Arabic restaurant called Mahalle Birkegade. The food is really authentic, it’s cozy, and a lot of Danish people go there too.
Best Ramdan dish: I’m an Afghan, so we do spinach and we do Qabli Palui.
Most-watched Ramadan show: It depends, Afghans watch a channel called Tolo television — there’s a religious talk show with an imam on in the evenings and people can call and ask different questions about Islam and spiritual matters.