Welcome to the first chapter of Ramadan - An event to share
A die hard foodie and a mum to a toddler our first guest today is Tasneem Rajkotwala from Thoughts Over Chai . An expat living in Dubai her blogs describes her experiments in her kitchen and straight forward reviews of various restaurants around town. Today she is sharing with us two recipes & how Bohris (a muslim sect ) celebrate Ramadan.Over to you Tasneem.
Of all the celebrations that come along with the sighting of Eid chaand or moon, there are 30 days of fasting and ibadat that Muslims all over the world follow. The days of Ramadan holds alot of excitement and promise where everyone of us all around the world together anticipate for the better part of the year. I still remember the days in Hyderabad, the maternal home of my mom, where my nani and other women of the house prepared glorious spread of iftari for all the members of the house. Something different to relish each day of Ramadan. As soon as the evening prayers were said, everyone gathered around safra (a large piece of circled cloth laid out on the floor) to savor that evening's iftari through alot of chit-chat with every bite of spice-flavored kebab and a sip of masala tea.
After shifting to Bombay, my mom made sure nothing changed. She woke up an hour before the others in the house woke up, just to prepare wheat chapatis for sehri. She made sure we started our day with rotis instead of bread because that is what is going to fill us up for the whole day. She prepared iftari for three other fasting souls all alone in her kitchen in pots and pans she adored so much every afternoon without fail after hard-working day at school. It was during my years in Bombay, that I had a better understanding of what our religion and culture is. I started understanding the importance of Ramadan alongwith prayers and other rituals that we followed on daily basis. I started understanding how Bohris are a different sect than other Muslims, though it never changed my outlook towards people of other religion. That's what I am proud of. I am proud of the fact that my parents never taught us to differentiate between anyone, muslim or not, rich or poor. We would join other men, women and children of our community to mosque for evening prayers with men dressed in crisp white kurtas, women covered traditionally in colored and beautifully embroidered or appliqued ridas or burqasand children in bright new clothes. After prayers we'd sit in the jamat khana (men and women in separate sections) and enjoy an enormous dinner combined with a mixture of sweets, snacks and main dishes in a thaal(a long elevated plate that 8-9 people sit around and eat from). When I started working, it became a little difficult to come back home on time on certain days of tax filing deadlines. It was then I discovered the joy of breaking a fast amongst people of different cultures, with variety of street side food from Mohammed Ali Road, which is famous for its savories during the month of Ramadan.
From then to now, alot has changed. As much as I want to run back to a place where both of our family lives, where I am forced to feast my mouths full with all the love that come along, I love living in Dubai amidst so many different cultures and flavors. During my first Ramadan post marriage, I was expecting my first beautiful baby boy. All the morning sickness that was associated with pregnancy, kept me miles away from the kitchen tucked myself into a brown cushioned sofa happily digging into a bowl of ice cream and then running towards a bathroom as nausea kicked in. There was hardly any iftari I prepared that year for a very patient husband except for regular bhajiyas or mocktails because I had very complicated relationship with the meat. That was almost 3 years back.
When Huma of GhezaEShirin knocked me on Facebook in April for submitting an entry for Ramadan event on her blog, I jumped at the opportunity. There were a lot of ideas that churned in my mind; with so many varieties of dishes that can be prepared during the Holy month. There are days when you want to eat your stomach full after breaking a fast and then there are days when the guilt strikes. My recipe of Chicken Khaboos sandwich is for those guilt stricken days when you want to eat something light and healthy. Polish off your iftar meal with Gol-Paani in hot summer days and you will feel fresh as daisy. Gol Paani is a drink made from jaggery and water - as simple as that. Gol Paani is actually my husband's recipe which I adopted only after marriage. It is very popular in his house, mainly because of the native he comes from. Hyderabadi's aren't so familiar with this drink, which is why I never found the slightest mark of it in my maternal house. Just one glass of this delicious drink doesn't quench my thirst - I need to have two or three. After having this, I am sure you will agree with me.
Recipe for Chicken Khaboos Sandwich:
- Pita Bread or Khaboos - 3
- Chicken - 500 gms
- Olives - handful
- Parsley - half bunch, chopped
- Olive oil - 2 tbsp
- Garlic - 4 cloves, finely chopped
- Italian Dressing or Mayonnaise - 1/2 cup
- Tomatoes - 2, sliced in circles
- Onion - 1, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Dried herbs - 2 tsp
- Lettuce leaves - 3 to 4
Boil the chicken with ginger garlic paste and salt in 2 cups of water until tender. Cut into cubes and set aside. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil or regular cooking oil in a pan and slightly burn garlic till light brown. Everything is very straight forward now. In a large mixing bowl, add chicken and all other ingredients except for pita breads, tomatoes and lettuce leaves. If you are using Italian dressing, you may want to limit on the portion of dried herbs but if you are using plain mayonnaise you can add dried herbs according to the quantity mentioned above. Mix everything well. Though you can prepare the filling a couple of hours before, fill inside the pita breads only at the time of serving otherwise sandwiches will get soggy. Slice pita breads into half. When you cut into the bread, it will have a pocket like opening on both the halves. Fill in the pockets with lettuce leaves and slices of tomatoes. Now fill in the prepared chicken mixture into these pockets till full. Season on top with salt and pepper or any herbs. Serve immediately.
Recipe for Gol Paani:
- Jaggery - 250 gms, grated
- Water - 1/2 ltr
- Sabza seeds - 2 tsp
- Lemon - 1
Place jaggery in a pot and pour water on top. Keep for an hour or two until the jaggery melts. Taste the water, if it is too sweet add some more water or if it is not then add some jaggery. Prepare sabza seeds by mixing it in half a cup of water till they swell up. In the pot of jaggery water squeeze in lemon and mix by transferring from one pot to another or with a spoon. Now strain the water through a strainer to get rid of any impurities from the jaggery and seeds of the lemon. Add in sabza seeds. Pour into tall glasses and serve chilled.
To know more about Tasneem connect with her @ Blog, Fb & Twitter