At the advent of Ramzan, Nikita Wadhawan talks to food bloggers as they dish out their favourite treats for the holy month
It is that time of the year when austere days of fasting and abstinence gives way to passionate feasting post sundown. As the holy month of Ramzan is upon us, it has ensnared foodies with all kinds of bountiful Iftaar treats. Sweet, savouries or ice-cold milky drinks, Ramzan gives you many varieties to gorge on to your tummy’s delight.
Ramzan, which is the ninth month of Islamic Lunar calendar, is considered to be the holiest month in the entire year according to Islamic tradition. In this month, Muslims across the globe observe fasts from dawn to dusk and offer prayers five times a day including the night long prayer of Taraweeh. The fast is performed for 30 days, for which people wake up early in the morning before Fajr prayer and have their meal, known as (Suhoor or Sehri), before sunrise. After having Sehri people then refrain from eating or drinking anything throughout the day. Sehri is the most important meal of the day and cannot be skipped. After a long day of fasting there is nothing that can be more rewarding than a delicious feast.
Even if you are a non-Muslim, or opted not to fast this time around, don’t worry, you can still gorge on some scrumptious treats Ramzan has to offer. Albeit if you are still confused about which dishes to pick and choose, we have some of the best food bloggers who tell us their favourite dishes for the month-long food festival.
Many people assume that Ramzan food is only about non-vegetarian dishes, but that is not true. Don’t let your food choices make you miss out on tasty vegetarian dishes available during the month. Anam Chougle, who writes for The Calories Hogger, despite being Muslim and a non-vegetarian, prefers to indulge in vegetarian dishes. “I love to indulge in more of vegetarian dishes like Chana Batata, Aloo Vada, Kaanda and Aloo Bhajiya, Veg Stuffed Bread Roll, Dahi Vada and Chaat for Iftaar. Out of all the dishes, my favourite is the Veg Stuffed Bread Roll. The hot, crisp and long finger rolls of veggies served with mayonnaise and green chutney taste absolutely delicious,” Chougle said.
Ramzan offers a plethora of options for non-veg foodies. From Seekh Kebabs to Chicken Biryani, these 30 days are defiantly a non-vegetarians paradise. Binisha Jaiswal, co-founder of Bloggerji.in and Uttpal Krushna who writes for Fashionable Foodz talk about their meaty delights. “For me Ramzan is about the meat and marinades. Getting together with friends and gorging on the kebabs and tangdis is a yearly ritual,” Jaiswal said.
“This time, however, we may have to be content with goat meat or chicken if beef is unavailable. The Seekh and Boti Kebab always are the best. They are marinated for over eight hours. The preparations are grounded fresh every single day with same precision. The eight-hour marination allows the flavours to sink into the flesh, making one hungrier with each bite,” Krushna describes the mouth-watering dish.
Like Krushna said, owing to the beef ban this year, many beef lovers will have to settle for other substitutes. Even Ronak Rajani who writes for mumbaifoodie.com was disappointed as a beef fan, he would be missing out on his favourite dishes. “There are a few traditional dishes like Kichada that is mix of daal and beef, which probably won’t be available this year. But there are other food items that are equally good that you can try. Some of my favourite are Bhuna Gosht and Nalli Nihari, both are mutton based. Although you will be able to eat Kichada, which can also be made with mutton,” Rajani divulged.
Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, it doesn’t matter, everyone loves to treat their taste buds to something sweet. Anupama Agarwal, founder of Eat.sleep.review.repeat talks about her sugary indulgences. “Some dishes that are my favourite are Malpua and Khajoor Milkshake,” said Agarwal who loves the fact that in spite of the changing food trends, these dishes will always maintain the authenticity of the festival.
“The one thing I enjoy during Ramzan is Shahi Tukda. I just have so many memories of sneaking it out of my friends’ lunch box during school. It’s basically fried bread, in milk with loads of pista and kesar on top,” reminisces Shweta.
“How can one not go for the traditional Sheer Khurm? Made from vermicili, reduced milk and dates, is cooked to perfection. The streets will be buzzing with these all through the month,” Jaiswal exclaims.
“Phirni and Malpua are too good to be true. The Malpua of course are full of calories and people who are too calorie conscious can also dive in to eat this during Ramzan,” Krushna cautions but still recommends.
Ramzan this year has arrive early. While the mercury refuses to dip, gorging on so many delicacies can make you thirsty. Neha Rajadhyaksha who writes for everything on a plate, recommends a special drink, perfect to beat the summer heat. “Turn towards Bohri Mohalla, and at the second cross road you are bound to find a large crowd hovering around a very tiny little shop and you will know you have reached Imam Sharbatwala. This establishment has been around forever! At the shop, all they sell is this juice. Can’t really place a finger on it, but I know it is watermelon, diluted milk, sugar, ice, maybe some rose water. But honestly, it is very refreshing! A perfect drink to beat the heat and to wash down all the Ramzan goodies to make space for more,” Rajadhyaksha vouches.
Top Ramzan dishes
Here are some more popular dishes during the month long feast.
Nalli Nihari: If you are a meat-lover, this is one of the most memorable dishes you can ever have. Traditionally cooked with beef or lamb, it is stewed overnight, often in an earthen pot, to let the flavours permeate into the meat. Eat it with hot fluffy naans or just enjoy it by itself and savour the rich flavours.
Surti Bara Handi: Easily one of the most painstakingly prepared dishes, bara handi comprises 12 handis or vessels sunken in the ground, each with a different ingredient — from rich nihari (stew), two vessels having payas(mutton trotters), pichota (the rump of the animal and the tail), sookha (thicker cut of meat with gravy) and nalli (bone marrow).. Bara handi is best had with the crispy and soft khameeri roti.
Seekh Kabab: No Ramzan food walk can be complete without trying some succulent kebabs. It is primarily a non-vegetarian dish and is highly preferred as a result of its incredible taste. Seekh kabab is primarily preferable with parathas and puris. Made with keema (lamb or beef mince) and traditionally cooked in a tandoor oven. Seekh Kabab consists of small cubes of meat threaded on a skewer that are grilled or roasted
Bater: Considered a delicacy, quail or bater is made special during Ramzan. You first choose your bird; it’s then skinned, marinated and fried, and finally seasoned. The servings are not too large and you can choose between fried and gravy options. Bater is best had with pav.
Haleem: You must try a bowl made of gosht (mutton), ghee (clarified butter) and gehoon (cracked wheat), topped with spices and a delicious helping of fried onions, mint leaves and lemon. Haleem is cooked for 12 hours, in a copper vessel over firewood.
Phirni: Take a break from all the meat and indulge in a portion of phirni. A rich dessert made with whole milk, rice and garnished with nuts.
Sandan: A sweet made of kheer and rice, it’s garnished with pistachios and resembles an idli. It is set in moulds and served cold.