Time to Turn Into a Ramadan Food Connoisseur
The holy month of Ramadan is all about giving, practising restraint and most importantly celebrating delectable dishes that bring people from different communities together. Be it an indulgent evening out on the streets filled with foods fit for royalty or a homely iftar meal, the Ramadan kitchen has staples worthy of a mention!
Iftar meals are elaborate, with a banquet of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, refreshing drinks and lavishly rich desserts that can leave you spoilt for choice. Starting off with not a dish but more of a traditional staple, Dates are eaten first to open one’s fast, as Prophet Muhammad, too, broke his fast by first eating dates. The other reason to opening fasts with fresh, dried or either stuffed dates (Mawa kharik) is that they are full of good sugars, perfect to get those energy levels up after a day of fasting. Along with dates, Sherbats infused with rose petals, Harira, a drink made from milk and dry fruits and Faloodas (popular in India and Pakistan) are a highlight at iftars.
Deep-fried snacks and appetisers are another biggie during Ramadan. Each region has its own take, be it the crisp onion and kheema (spicy minced meat) Samosas or Pakoras in India and Pakistan or the banana fritters called Pisang Goreng in Indonesia. Muthiya, a flavourful vegetarian finger food from the Bohra community of Gujarat is made by mixing vegetables, pulses, spices, and flour. It is steamed and then sauteed in a pan with oil and crackling mustard. Other popular snacks included Bheja or Goat-brain stuffed puffs and Erachi Pathiri from North Kerala, made with a filling of fresh ground spices, onions, chicken mince and shortcrust pastry.
Coming to mains; soups, stews and porridges are part of every iftar meal throughout the world. Most made with lentils, vegetables and meat or a combination of the three, stews are considered to be filling and packed with essential nutrients. Afghanis relish traditional lentil soups, while the Moroccans savour Harira, a soup made from chickpeas, lentils and meat. In India, an iftar is never an iftar without the Haleem, a delicacy from the land of the Nizams, Hyderabad. This reverence given to the rich, slow-cooked mutton stew is not without reason. Made with ingredients like lentils, spices and broken wheat, along with spices, ghee, dry fruits, and saffron, the haleem is said to be easy on the stomach but also full of nourishment that helps restore energy. Muslims in Kerala and Tamil Nadu break their roza with Nonbu kanji, a dish prepared with meat, veggies and porridge. Kolkata-style Rezala is another type of meat stew abounding in flavourful spices.
Haleem, a delicacy from the land of the Nizams.
Utterly toothsome kebabs are another mainstay of all Ramadan feasts. In India, a multitude of grilled meats are either prepared at home or are part of Ramadan street stalls. Some of the popular fragrant and spiced kebabs include Shami Kebabs, Mutton Burra, Mutton Chaap or mutton chops, Seekh Kebabs, Kofta Kebabs and melt-in-the-mouth Phal. Variations of the Kofta like Kibbeh and other grilled meats like Satay are eaten in the Middle East and Indonesia.
India also has exotic versions, a highlight at food stalls, like Camel Meat Kebabs, Roasted Ox Tongue flavored with a masala spice mix, Tandoori Quail, Bheja (goat brain) and Liver Fry.
The luscious gravies of Ramadan are slow-cooked, primarily for the meat to acquire a soft texture and become almost one with the gravy. Among the favourites is the tender, Nalli Nihari in a spiced sauce, the famous Paya made from trotters of goat, Saagwala Ghosht, (lamb cooked in mustard greens and cream) and Roghan Ghosht (Kashmiri lamb with red ground pepper.)
An array of breads are used to lap up these delicious gravies and meats. Popular in India are the Tandoori Rotis, Buttered Naans, Roomali Rotis and stacks of Sevai (vermicelli.) Breads are also stuffed, resulting in dishes like Shawarmas, Baida Roti (fine dough stuffed with mutton) and Kaati rolls. Warm Sheermal, a saffron-flavoured traditional flatbread and Sulemani Chai, a special lemon tea are served as a delicacy in India during Ramadan. Other flatbreads like Pita and Qaboos are eaten in the Middle East. Rice dishes include hearty Hyderabadi, Dum and Lucknowi Biryanis and Pulaos.
Finally, no Ramadan meal is complete without sugary sweets, perfect to satiate any dessert lover. Some of the indispensable desserts of the season are the Kheer, Jalebi and Matka Phirni. The more local delights in India include Shahi Tukda, Sheer Khurma, Khubani-ka-Meetha (apricot dessert), Sewaiyyan-ka-Meetha (vermicelli cooked in milk), Double-ka-Meetha (bread soaked in sugar and cream), Khoya naans, Halwa Puris and Kulfis.
Tags : baida roti, Dates, Double Ka Meetha, Faloodas, Food Lovers, Galouti Kebabs, Haleem, Jalebi, Kheer, Khubani Ka Meetha, Matka Phirni, Nalli Nihari, Paya, Ramadan, Ramadan Food, Roghan Ghosht, Saniya Raza, Seekh Kebabs, Shahi Tukda, Shami kebabs, Shawarmas, Sheer Khurma, Sheermal, Sulemani Chai, Tandoori Roti