Is there a bigger cultural and culinary experience than breaking bread with family and friends, neighbours and relatives, than that at Iftar (the auspicious time after dusk) during the holy month of Ramzan? Perhaps not. Ramzan may as well be the biggest shared food experience in the world. We spoke to our readers to find out what foods make their holy month special.
Hazeena Sayed runs the wildly popular food blog SautĂ©, Fry n Bake. She uses this blog to publicize traditional Ravathur recipes, which she feels will otherwise die out. â€śNonbu kanji is my favourite dish to break the fast," she says. This kanji, also called Aash in Andhra Pradesh, is a rice-based porridge that is made all over Tamil Nadu and Kerala, in all Muslim homes and mosques with a slight variation of the same recipe.
Image courtesy: Nombu Kanji, Hazeena
All mosques in both the states serve the humble kanji for free. â€śThe nonbu kanji is filling, mildly flavoured and served hot, which is very refreshing to your body and soothing to your soul. I have been breaking my fast with this dish from when I was 7 years old, which is the main reason that it's my favourite dish and has so much nostalgia attached to it.â€ť Hazeena goes on to share the popular recipe from her blog.
Anusha Jagadeesh from Mumbai agrees. â€śThereâ€™s nothing more soothing or ideal to break a fast than kanji," she says. Being vegetarian, she uses a modified version of the popular recipe, modified to suit her dietary needs.
Versions of the kanji are made with mutton, chicken, and even vegetables.
Munira Bhagat, a Chennai-ite is from the Bohri community of Muslims. â€śTypically we break our fast with a date. This is considered auspicious in our cultureâ€ť, she says. She also shares that her favourite dish and indeed a Bohri staple, is gol pani. This is a decoction made from jaggery, black salt, jeera powder and kiwi seeds optionally. This is very similar to the Tamil panakam, but lighter, which is also used to break fast after Ram Navami for Hindus.
And the reason behind this is simple â€“ this drink is easy on the stomach, aids digestion, prevents acid reflux, combats heat and promotes gut health and is excellent to ease into a heavy feast after a day of fasting. Alternately, Muslims all over the world choose different drinks for breaking their fast, ranging from Qamar al-deen, an apricot-based juice in Cairo to Rooh Afza (our famous rose milk syrup od course!) in Pakistan.
Image courtesy: Hyderabadi Haleem; Screenshot/YouTube
Shabana Parveen, who hails from Delhi says that sheâ€™s a big fan of mutton keema masala, shahi tukda, and rose milk with watermelon on Jama Masjid Road in Old Delhi. â€śMutton keema masala is a family favourite," she adds.
While kanji or porridge dominates the â€śbreaking the fastâ€ť dish of choice, Haleem is the uncrowned monarch of the Ramzan feasts. Indeed, Meenakshi Bharadwaj, who hails from Hyderabad notes that Haleemâ€™s popularity transcends borders and religion. â€śPeople get biryani and haleem packed in kilograms from here,â€ť she says.
Haleem is a super popular Arabian stew made of wheat or barley, meat and lentils. Introduced to India by the Persians, specifically the Mughals, it is a prepared with dry fruits and vegetables in large quantities fit for communal sharing during Ramzan.
Image courtesy: Pathiri; Screenshot/YouTube
Benazir Fathima, hailing from Kulasekarapatnam, lists the popular dishes during Ramzan for different regions of the country with ease. She says Ari/Omana/Kai/Erachi Pathiri is one of Keralaâ€™s favourites to eat at during Ramzan. Pathiri is a rice-flour based pancake, which is made with vegetables, fish, chicken or mutton. Itâ€™s sort of like a stuffed paratha but more Malabar in taste and recipe.
Oh but how can any feast be complete without desserts? And you donâ€™t necessarily have to be Muslim to enjoy the best sweet treats of the season, as proved by Archana Mohan, another Chennai-ite. â€śMy friendâ€™s mum used to make the BEST double ka meetha," she gushes. â€śIâ€™ve never had anything quite like it at restaurants," she adds. This dish is a bread pudding of sorts, in which a deep-fried piece of bread is dunked into sugar syrup and topped with saffron and cardamom-flavoured rabdi. Hence the name, thanks to the double dunk. Itâ€™s also called Shahi Tukda in the North.
Image courtesy: Double ka meetha; Screenshot/YouTube
Meenakshi concurs. â€śDouble ka meetha and Khubani ke meetha instantly bring the taste of Ramadan home," she says. The latter is a sweet made from dried apricots with kewraand rose water and is a staple at Muslim weddings.
What are your favourite Ramzan dishes? Do tell us!