A twist to iftar traditions
Starting with something light, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and taking plenty of fluids, makes for a tasty and healthy iftar. While some rich iftar dishes have become common tradition, I am sharing some lighter and more unusual options you can try this Ramadan.
Mango iced tea
1½ cup mango pulp
2 to 3 black tea bags
4 cups water
½ or ¾ tsp lemon juice (or according to taste)
Sugar as required
Mint leaves for garnishing
Puree the pulp in a blender and refrigerate. Boil water, remove from heat and add tea bags. Cover and leave for 5 to 7 minutes. Take out tea bags and keep tea in the fridge until cold. Take out mango puree and tea from the fridge and put in a blender. Add lemon juice and sugar. Blend together till smooth. Serve in tall glasses with ice cubes. Garnish with mint leaves.
Dates are an iftar staple taken at the start of iftar, and are naturally sweet and full of nutrients. Although diabetics should still be aware of their sugar consumption, a measured serving will satisfy your sweet tooth without any harm.
½ tsp ghee (clarified butter)
¾ cup finely chopped dates (deseeded)
1 tbsp chopped almonds
1 tbsp chopped pistachio
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tbsp sesame seeds or poppy seeds (for coating)
Heat ghee in a small non-stick pan. Add dates and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, for 5 to 7 minutes or till they turn into a soft lump. Remove from heat and add in almonds, pistachio and walnuts. Mix well. Divide into six equal portions and shape each portion into a roll. Coat each roll with the poppy or sesame seeds, and refrigerate to set.
Palak (spinach) pakora
While fried iftar starters are very common, they should be taken in moderation to avoid indigestion. Some iftar pakoras, including this one, can be baked instead of fried, as a healthier option.
1 cup besan (grind chickpeas coarsely at home to make it tasty)
1 or 1½ cup spinach (finely chopped)
1 onion (medium size, chopped)
1 tsp ginger (chopped)
1 green chilli (chopped)
1 tsp fennel seed powder
¼ to ½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
A pinch asafetida (hing)
2 tbsp sesame seeds
½ or 1 cup water
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
For fried pakora -
Mix together all ingredients excepting the oil, to make a semi thick batter. Heat the oil, take a spoonful of batter and fry until golden brown.
For baked pakora -
Make the batter as above, but leave it relatively thick. Add in 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil and a pinch of baking soda, and mix well. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Form pakoras over it, and bake at medium heat.
Lebanese cheese sambousek
2 cups flour
1 tsp dried yeast (dissolved in 3 tablespoon warm water)
1 egg (whipped)
1 potato (boiled, peeled and mashed)
½ cup warm water , 4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg white, 1 tsp salt
For the filling -
250g feta or mozzarella cheese (paneer can also be used as a substitute)
¼ cup fresh parsley or mint (finely chopped)
½ onion (finely chopped)
Mix together flour, whipped egg, water, yeast and mashed potato with an electric mixer until you get a firm, smooth dough, adding more warm water if needed. Leave the dough to rest in a warm place. For the filling, crumble cheese with a fork into a bowl, and combine it with the parsley and the onion. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough using a rolling pin. Cut the dough into 8cm diameter circles using a circular pastry cutter.
Coat the border of the dough circles with a bit of egg white, and fill each circle with one tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Seal each sambousek by twisting in the edges firmly. The cheese should remain visible in the middle. Place the cheese pies on a lightly greased oven tray and bake at 180 ⁰C (350 ⁰ F) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Can be served hot or cold.
½ pineapple, 1 mango
1 papaya (medium size)
1 orange, ½ cup raisins
¼ cup low fat yoghurt
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp sugar
Peel and cut the pineapple, mango and papaya into small cubes. Peel and separate the orange. Combine the fruits in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add to the fruit mixture and toss together, coating the fruit. Cover and refrigerate till chilled.
Photo: Shahrear Kabir Heemel
Food prepared by Dhaba, Dhanmondi