Food Culture: Iftar, Recipes for Ramadan
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From left to right, top row first: Jalebi, chicken samosas, fruit chaat, vegetable pakoras, dates, potato pakoras.
Edible Playlist: The Yankeen Keh Ayen Gi Ratan by Nahid Aktar (amazing Pakistani music)
Salaam, My Tomato Chutneys. During Ramadan, Muslims resist the urge to eat, and fast from sunrise to sunset. But when the sun goes down, the iftar meal begins. Iftar is the evening feast Muslims enjoy to break the fast. The fruitful iftar menu is often eaten as a community and varies from culture to culture. Iftar, by way of Pakistan, starts with dates, followed by samosas, pakora (vegetables fried in a hearty batter) and sweet fruit chaat (fruit salad). You’re in luck, because I have iftar recipes from a lovely Pakistani household, the mom has been making pakistani food for years. So pull up a chair and feast on the small plate recipes for iftar. Khai-yay! Iftar entertaining to follow…
Vegetable Pakora Recipe
4 Cups Gram Flour (made from ground chickpeas)
2 Tbsp Red chili flakes
2 Tbsp Coriander, crushed
2 Tbsp Mint leaves, chopped
1 Cumin seeds, crushed
Salt, to taste
1 Shallot, dice
1 Russet potato, sliced about 1/4-1/6 inch thick
½ Pound spinach, rough chop
4 Green Chili peppers, halved
Mix water, gram flour, mint and spices and let sit for an hour. As you pour water into the flour, keep mixing until the texture is like pancake batter.
Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way with oil. Heat the oil to medium-high. [D&A Tip: Test oil by placing a dollop of batter in the oil. If it fries to quickly, it’s too hot. Turn the heat down. If the batter sinks to the bottom, the oil is too cold, slightly turn up the heat.] Coat vegetables in the spiced batter and fry in small batches until golden brown. Potatoes take about 4 minutes. Chili peppers and spinach will take about 1-2 minutes. Flip the vegetables as you fry to get color on all sides. To make sure it’s cooked though, taste test one pakora. Remove vegetables on to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt while hot. Serve.
Chicken Samosa Recipe
2 – 3 Boneless chicken breasts, small cube
1 Head of cabbage, shred
¼ Cup Carrots, small dice
¼ Cup Small broccoli florets
¼ Cup Small cauliflower florets
3 Spring Onions, chop
1 Cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 tbsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Ginger paste
Red chili powder, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
½ Cup water
Samosa leaves (keep unused samasos covered with a damp towel)
Egg wash (egg mixed with a little water)
Coat a large pan with oil on medium heat. Saute chicken with garlic and ginger paste. Add water, salt and red chili powder. Cook covered until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
In a separate pan, sauté vegetables in light oil.
Pull the chicken apart with a fork, so that it’s shredded. Add the mixed vegetables, cabbage, spring onions and cheese to the chicken and mix until well combined and the cabbage is cooked.
Heat a wide saucepan to medium-high heat. Add canola oil 2/3 of the way up the pan.
Use 2 samosa leaves and cut into squares [D&A Tip: To keep samosa leaves from drying out, keep unused samosas and samosa leaves covered with a damp towel.] Take a small amount of the mixture and add it to the center of the samosa leaf. Brush the edges with egg wash. Fold the samosas into a triangle and press the edges to ensure closure. Fry them in the pan, until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Flip while frying. Remove samosas onto a paper towel-lined plate and enjoy with chutney.
Fruit Chaat Recipe
2 Bananas, sliced
1 Apple, cored and diced
2 Pears, cored and diced
¼ Pomegranate, seeded
1 Kiwi, sliced
6 Strawberries, quartered
1 Cup fresh Orange Juice
1 Tbsp Sugar
Kosher and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Gently mix all ingredients. Place in a bowl and have as a fresh dessert.
Jalebi is a fried dough that is soaked in saffron syrup. We didnt have a recipe for this one so here is a jalebi recipe, found online, from Manjula – Jalebi Recipe, Manjula
Photography by Muhammad Chughtai, Zaavia.com