Ramadan (also known as Ramadhan or Ramzan) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for believers from all over the world.
The art and ability to make homemade bread, buns and rolls is an important part of the culture, tradition and cuisine in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In case you have missed it, read the whole story behind somun in our previous post.
The somun bread has an important place in the Ramadan menu in Bosnian tradition. Old people say that the smell of somun is the smell of Ramadan. Although they can always be bought in bakeries, somuni have the best scent in the time of Ramadan.
Difference between the ordinary and the Ramadan somun is in the fact that Ramadan somuni are sprinkled with black seed, which gives a special flavor to somuni and also they are smeared with egg.
The smell of black seed is alluring to most people so they tend to stop by in the nearest bakery. In the Islamic world, black seed is a highly appreciated plant. Arabs call it Habbatul barakah (the blessed seed), because the prophet Muhammad PBUH, according to a hadith, stated that the black seed-black cumin contains a medicine for all diseases except death, and that this plant brings luck and prosperity. That is why black seed is generously sprinkled on somuni during Ramadan.
In Bosnia, there is centuries old tradition of making somuni. Although it is the simplest kind of bread which takes only flour, salt and water to make, real Ramadan somun can be made only by the masters of the craft. That is why every settlement has its bakery where the best somuni are made. There are several such bakeries in Sarajevo situated in the Old Town, between Bašćaršija, Bistrik and Kovači.
Many people wonder what the secret of Ramadan somuni is. Recipe for their preparation is very simple: flour, cold water, salt, pinch of sugar, yeast, black seed. Somuns are still kneaded manually and prepared in the same way as centuries back.
In every somun there is a pinch of love by the baker who hurries to make as much somuni as he can in order to feed the buyers who, regardless of religion or nation, patiently wait in lines in front of bakeries to get their portion of somuni. Apart from the scent, real somun is also recognized by its look: slim, spongy and a little bit burned by fire.
Iftar, the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset, is not the same if hot somuni are not on the table.
That is how it always was in Bosnia and Herzegovina and how it will always be. When visiting Mostar, somun is one of the best thing you should eat.