It’s Iftar Time!

Almost 1/3 of Ramadan has passed by. There’s very little time left till a joyous Eid. But to make this Eid really joyful for all of us, we need to work hard to attain it. Working hard here, obviously, does include fasting from Fajr to Maghrib, but it also means abstaining from lies, mockery, physical and verbal abuse, and all other forms of sins. Leaving food and drink alone is not enough. Our fasts should be accompanied by intense devotional activity-Ibaadah.

Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 127

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)”

God is so merciful on us that after every fast, we have a good Iftar waiting for us on our dining tables. In this condition, we must be thankful to Him for all the countless blessings He has bestowed on us, His subjects, His people. And what will make our lives even better is charity. As a follower of Islam specially and a human being generally, it is duty on the well-to-do Muslims among us to donate generously to the poor and the needy, so they can have a Sehr and an Iftar, and clean, presentable clothes to wear on Eid, along with the other necessities of life; they should not suffer like this:

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Here are some ‘typical’ Iftar recipes which are a favourite at my home. They make ample servings for eating at home and sharing with our neighbours, relatives, friends and most importantly, those people of our society who really do need our help and support.

PAKORAS

For the batter:

  • Very approximately 1/2 pao or 125 g of besan (gram or chickpea flour)
  • Just a little less than 1 tsp salt
  • Just a little less than 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Approximately 1/4 tsp baking soda (meetha soda, khanay ka soda whatever)
  • 3-4 pinches each of cumin seeds (zeera) and coriander seeds (sabut dhaniya)
  • Water, as required

(I’m really really sorry for all the approximate measurements. My mother makes this and like all desi mums, she uses approximation and not measurements. This was the best I could do to convert her approximations into measurements.)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a dry bowl. Add water, little at a time, and mix with fingers until the desired consistency is reached. It should not be as runny as cake batter and definitely not as thick as dough. The consistency should be such that you can scoop up some with your fingers and it does not fall too much but it should still be more liquid than solid. (It’s kind of hard to explain so I’ll upload a picture tomorrow.)

Types of Pakoras:

  • Aaloo (Potato) pakoras

For this much batter, you’ll need around 3 medium to large potatoes. Wash and peel off their skins and cut thin round slices (I sometimes find it easier to use a vegetable peeler to cut very thin slices). I soak them for 15-30 minutes in water, though I do not think it is a very necessary step.

  • Palak (Spinach) pakoras

Remove a few spinach leaves from their stems and wash thoroughly.

  • Sabzi (vegetable) pakoras

You can add pretty much any kind of vegetable to this. My mother adds thinly sliced onions and green chilies, coriander leaves. You could also add grated cabbage, carrots and chopped green onions.

  • Onion pakoras (Desi version of onion rings 😛 )

Cut 1/4 inch slices of medium to large sized onion(s). Separate the individual rings.

Depending upon the type of pakora you’re making, dump the potato slices, spinach leaves, onion rings or vegetables into the batter. Mix with hands so that everything is covered with the batter. Deep fry the potato slices, spinach leaves and onion rings individually. For the vegetable pakoras, scoop up some of the batter and drop it in form of small balls in the oil and then deep fry. When the pakoras are equally golden-brown, remove and place on a newspaper or paper towel to absorb excess oil.

ONION RINGS (the ‘angreji’ version)

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (maida) (Do NOT use besan or gram flour)
  • 1 tsp baking POWDER (this is not exactly a ‘pakora’ as I initially thought so, so don’t add soda)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • Bread crumbs
  • Oil, as needed for deep frying.

Peel and cut the onion into 1/4 inch slices and separate the individual rings. Mix together flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Coat each ring with the flour mixture and set aside. Add the milk and egg into the flour mix and whisk using a fork or wire whisk. In a different plate or tray, spread the breadcrumbs. Dip each onion ring into the batter and let the excess batter drip. Then coat the ring with the breadcrumbs and set aside. Do this until all the rings have been coated. Now, deep fry the rings until golden-brown and place on a paper towel or newspaper to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper if you want and serve.

Couldn't get a better picture..sorry :/

Couldn’t get a better picture..sorry :/

Egg/Spring Rolls

*This recipe makes around 50 rolls.

  • 1/2 kg (approx. 1 pound) Chicken or minced beef
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

I used chicken because of my non-beef/mutton/fish/other seafood brother, though I wanted to use minced beef. You’ll need boiled, shredded chicken. If using minced beef, skip the boiling and shredding step. Marinate the shredded chicken/minced beef with all the other ingredients. Leave for some time.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or you could just save time and use garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • Corn, as much as you want
  • Boiled (with salt) spaghetti or chinese egg noodles (I didn’t measure this, sorry)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp olive/sesame oil
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a wok on high flame. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat it completely. Add the marinated beef/chicken and stir fry for 2-3 mins (until the beef is done). Push the meat to one side and add the vegetables (cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger, corn) on the other side. Stir fry until the vegetables have softened. Add the soy sauce, salt, sugar, olive oil and black pepper and mix well. Now throw in the spaghetti and mix everything together. Stir fry for another minute or so. Spread the whole mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a paper towel to blot the filling to get rid of extra juices.

Make the rolls using the wrappers but use only 1 heaped tablespoon of filling per roll. Seal the rolls with layi (flour mixed with cold water to make a paste). Deep fry the rolls in a wok and serve warm, accompanied by ketchup, and chutneys made of coriander leaves or tamarind and dates. I’ll try to upload the recipes for the chutneys as well.

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Please try out these recipes and be sure to tell me if you liked them in the comments.

Have a blessed, Ibaadah-filled Ramadan and don’t forget the poor!