Fasting along with prayers, charity and abstinence are solemn practices observed by millions of followers all over the world in this holy month of Ramzan. Traditionally, the fast is broken with the intake of dates, salt and water followed by an iftar feast (evening meal) in the company of family and friends. Special food preparations are the order of the evening comprising of succulent kebabs, crispy savouries, fragrant biryanis, sherbet coolers, and a lot more.
Some gastronomic treats are specially made only during this time of the month whether at home or in nearby markets. From Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road to Chandni Chowk in Delhi and from Hyderabad’s Charminar to Shivaji Nagar in Bengaluru, the streets come alive with rows and rows of make-shift eateries side-by-side established restaurants offering a variety of mouth watering delicacies making this month a veritable feast for people from all faiths.
Fruit chaat, a spiced salad of chopped apples, guava and banana drizzled with sugar, lemon juice, chaat masala and rock salt, is an all-time favourite in almost every home at iftar. Loaded with immense nutritional value, this tasty dish is easy on the stomach after the day long fast.
Samosa’s stuffed with minced meat or caramelised onions also top the popularity charts. These neatly folded, deep-fried triangles are packed with delicately spiced flavours, perfectly delicious with every crunchy bite.
Haleem is a comforting nutritious meal which comprises of meat, pounded wheat, lentils, pure ghee, spices and dry fruits — continuously stirred in large cauldrons over wood fire from early morning until afternoon. Best eaten with a garnish of coriander, crisp fried onion slivers and a dash of lemon juice, haleem is generally made only during this month of Ramzan and makes for a complete meal in itself. Mutton biryani, paya ghost, nalli nihari and gurda kaleji masala are other hearty dishes enjoyed by everyone at dinner.
Sherbets, with its cooling properties, finds many takers during Ramzan. Made with khus, rose syrup or milk, sherbets are healthy and refreshing after the day long fast. Also popular is hareera, a hot drink made with milk, almonds, cardamom, saffron and sugar, all boiled over several hours in a huge utensil. As for desserts, double ka meetha, matka firni, balushahi, qubbani ka meetha, aflatoon and malpuas are perfect to round off a great iftar feast.
—The writer is a Bengaluru based hospitality professional, food lover and travel enthusiast
Prawn Haleem - Serves 2
12 pieces of medium size prawns, tails removed and julienned
½ cup whole wheat, soaked overnight, cook coarsely and keep side
1 tspn barley, soaked soaked overnight, cook coarsely and keep aside
2 tbsp each of 5 types of lentils, arhar dal split, masoor dal split, white urad split, chana dal, moong dal split, all in equal proportions soaked and cooked, keep aside
3 tbsp sunflower oil
5 tbsp clarified butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 medium size green chilly, slit
1 tbsp ginger, garlic paste
½ tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
3 tbsp yoghurt
¼ tspn shahi jeera
½ tspn dhania powder
¼ tspn turmeric powder
¼ tspn crushed pepper corn
Salt to taste
1/3 tspn garam masala of green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, shahi jeera
1 large onion, sliced and fried brown, keep aside
In a medium handi pre-heat the oil and ghee, add shahi jeera, sliced onion and stir well.
Then add green chilly and fry until light brown.
Add ginger garlic paste and stir for 2 minutes over low flame.
Next, add dhania powder and turmeric powder.
After a quick stir add the sliced prawns.
Note: The prawns should be very thinly sliced.
Add salt to taste and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Use a wooden hammer to smash all the ingredients in the handi gently to achieve thread like consistency.
Next add cooked wheat, mixed lentils, barley, crushed pepper corn and yoghurt. Mix well and allow it to cook for some time.
If the consistency is thick then add little water.
Cover with lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes on a very low flame which will give a nice texture and velvety consistency.
Add chopped coriander, mint, fried onion, garam masala and mix well.
Serve hot with drizzle of ghee on top, garnish with 2-3 grilled prawns, lemon wedge, fried nuts and fried onion.
Gil-e -Firdaus - Serves 2
½ cup lauki (bottle guard), grated
1 tspn sago (sabudana), soaked
1 tspn mawa
3 cups milk
1 ½ tbsp ghee
Sugar to taste
½ tspn cashew nut paste
½ tspn almond paste
Pinch of green cardamom powder
Few drops of rose water
Few strands of saffron soaked in water
Pre-heat a a heavy bottom kadai, add ghee and paste of almond and cashew and sauté until it cooks properly.
Next add sago and lauki, stir well and add milk when the mixture turns soft.
Bring to boil and cook for around 10 minutes on slow fire.
Now add sugar, mix well and cook for 2 minutes and add mawa and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add rose water, saffron and a pinch of green cardamom powder.
Let it cool. Pour in small earthen pots and chill in the refrigerator before serving.
2 kg. Mutton
250 gms. Daliya (broken wheat) 100 gms. Red lentil
200 gms. Chana dal
100 gms. Toor dal
50 gms. Moong dal
100 gms. Urad dal
100 gms. Rice
250 ml. Oil
500 gms. Sliced onion
3 tbsp. Red chilli powder
1 tbsp. Coriander powder
4 tbsp. Turmeric powder
10 gms. Garam masala (whole)
10 gms. Garam masala (powder)
2 tbsp. Cumin powder
1 cup Curd
Ginger garlic paste
Fried onions, mint leaves
Chopped coriander Lemon slices
Mix all types of dal and rice and soak together in a bowl for an hour and a half
Then add the water, boil and keep aside
Take a heavy bottom handi, heat oil, add sliced onions and whole garam masala till onions are brown in colour
Add mutton, ginger garlic paste, salt and sauté
Add red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder and sauté
Add curd and 2 cups of water, cover and cook till mutton becomes tender
Take a large handi, put the boiled dal and cook till well done
Pour the cooked mutton with the gravy and mix
Add lemon juice, garam masala powder, cumin powder and give it a nice stir and allow it to boil
Lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes
Remove in a serving platter and garnish with fried onion, coriander, mint and lemon
— Chef Shadab Ahmed, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
MURGH BIBI KA PULAO
MURGH BIBI KA PULAO
Chicken (Curry Cut), 250 gms
Basmati Rice, 150 gms
Chilli powder, 10 gms
Green Chilli, 10 nos
Green Cardamom, 02 gms
Cinnamon Stick, 05 gms
Clove, 03 gms
Block Cardamom, 02 gms
Ginger Garlic Paste, 25 gms
Pure Ghee, 100 gms
Brown Onion, 100 gms
Bay leaf, 05 no
Lemon juice, 50 ml
Salt, to taste
Step 1: Cooking of chicken
Heat ghee in a copper vessel (lagan) and add the whole spices.
When they crackle add the chicken pieces and sauté.
Add salt, ginger garlic paste and brown onions and sauté again for a while till the oil separates.
Add chilli powder and all ingredients and cook
Add water and cook well
Step 2: Boiling rice
Wash, soak rice for 10 minutes
Boil water in a pan and add whole spices, salt and lemon juice.Spoon one portion on each
Add the rice and cook till 2/3rd done
Step 2: Cooking on Dum (Steam)
Layer the cooked chicken with boiled rice
Add a mixture of ghee after the layers
Cover the vessel with a lid and seal the vessel with dough
Put the vessel on an iron griddle or iron tawa and cook for 15 minutes on dum.
Garnish with fried onions, coriander leaves and mint leaves
Serve hot with raita of your choice
— Chef Shadab Ahmed, Sofitel Mumbai BKC...