15-minute recipes for a scrumptious and easy sehri: Spicy daal and fried qeema

Published: May 26, 2017
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Common Pakistani sehris include eggs, yoghurt, paratha, leftover curry from the day before and a cup of tea. PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

The month of Ramazan is just a couple of days away, and for Muslims around the world, it represents patience, compassion and self-restraint. Oh, and of course thirst and hunger. Naturally, all this demands a fulfilling sehri to help us survive the long summer days we’re about to experience.

I still remember the good old days when Ramazan used to fall during winter. The roza used to last for mere seven to eight hours – something that seemed never ending back then, but compared to these summer rozas, seem miniscule.

One of the best Ramazans I spent was when I had gone for my Masters to the UK. Sehri used to be at 2:30am and we used to break our fasts at around 8:30pm at night, which is extremely long.

Since this is a blog on sehri, I’ll describe what my sehris in UK used to be like. It was an unforgettable experience to say the least.

Our Pakistani community group, occasionally joined by our farangi (English) friends, many of who joined out of mere curiosity, used to gather together post Isha prayers (which used to end around midnight). The next hour and half was spent playing rung (colour), a card game I have not understood to this day.

At 1:30am on the dot, it was as if some secret power would delegate tasks to us and a mad scramble to take up self-assigned positions would ensue. After brief scuffles, one person would start cutting fruit for the lassi, someone would chop up the chicken and vegetables for the curry. Another person would be in charge of frying the parathas, while another would clean and set the table. The person who’d be late was given the duty of cleaning all the dishes, a task no one wanted when post-sehri sleep was at its peak.

Common Pakistani sehris include eggs, yoghurt, paratha, leftover curry from the day before and a cup of tea. At least that has been the age-old practice in my house. Recently, the trend of dining out for sehri has witnessed a rise. I really don’t know how people manage this because the only time I actually made the effort of going out for sehri in my sleep deprived state (and I am a foodie by the way) was back in my Lahore University of Management Science’s (LUMS) days when we had to go to the Pepsi Dining Center during wee hours of the night.

During these long and scorching summer months, cooking is not met with much enthusiasm. Keeping in mind the time constraint we face during sehri, I decided to post two quick-fix recipes which take up to 15 minutes each (I have actually timed them myself).

Following are recipes for extremely delicious and easy spicy daal and qeema.

Spicy Daal

Ingredients:

Daal maash (white lentils) – 250 grams (soaked for an hour)

Onion – 1 chopped

Tomatoes – 2 chopped

Green chillies – 3

Garam masala (ground spices) – ½ tsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tbsp

Oil – ¼ cup

Method:

  1. Boil the lentils in a cup of water with ½ tsp salt and turmeric until they are just about done.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the onions till golden, then add the ginger garlic paste and fry it for a minute.
  3. Now add the tomatoes and spices. Fry till the oil floats on top. Add in the lentils and cook on a low flame for five minutes.

Fried qeema

Ingredients:

Chicken qeema (minced meat) – ½ kg

Onion – 1 chopped

Tomatoes – 2 chopped

Green chillies – 3

Garam masala – ½ tsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tsp

Cumin powder – 1 tsp

Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tbsp

Oil – ¼ cup

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan, fry the onions till they’re golden, then add the ginger garlic paste and fry it for a minute.
  2. Add in the qeema and a cup of water, and cook till the meat is properly cooked.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and spices and cook till oil floats on top.

Serve these with yoghurt and warm parathas, followed by a cup of tea, and I am sure this scrumptious and light meal will help you survive the long day ahead.

Happy Ramazan everyone.

All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a Instagram food blog: @chakhoous (www.instagram.com/chakhoous/) . She tweets @arhama_siddiqa (twitter.com/arhama_siddiqa)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • DarkAngel

    This can be recipe for antartic people fastening… It is expected to be very hot weather and to avoid any heath hazard people need not to use spices, meet, beef, pakaros, kachori etc… Take lots of fluids, watermelon, Dhaibaras without spicy and fruit chart… Regardless of its sahri or Aftar…!!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    no no I agree with you a 100 percent , but the spice level is up to you of course. Couple this with lassi and yoghurt and you won’t feel the heat at all. For iftar it might be a bit heavy but for sehri to get through the long day I feel one should have proper meals and like I said the spice level is up to youRecommend

  • Patwari

    Great blog. Nice of the author to share her Ramazan experience
    during the winter season. How true,,,a mere 7 or 8 hour roza !!
    Good thing she was only North as far as England. Rumor has it
    that in Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, there are 12 to 15 hour
    rosas!!…[lands of the midnite sun!]
    However, have heard, there is a raging debate going on, among the
    mullahs, about the feasibility of 15 hour rozas!
    And chicken qeema ! Now that is a luxury. But the author’s recipes are
    mouth water-ingly great.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That’s exactly what I thought ….. heavy spicy stuff in summer with this high humidity, just cant be good.Recommend

  • Parvez

    As you have touched upon the timing of the fasting period while you were in England, I remember being in Helsinki Finland at the peak of summer and it was the month of Ramadan …. the sun never really set , it dipped below the horizon and about two or three hours later it was up and shining again. I wish to educate myself……in such a situation what would be the correct fasting period ?……is there a prescribed formula or does one adapt what one considers to be right ?Recommend

  • Mushtaq Kadri

    The best one I had was driving in Karachi at sehri time from Saddar to Boulton market to pick up the most delicious ‘Maal Puras’ the Bohra community made the best and this one at Boulton Market topped the list. One of the bet sehri’s when we ate them with balai – I can still taste it!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I had to google maal puris since this is the first time I have heard of them and they look amazing !Recommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you =) much obliged !Recommend

  • Hamsid

    that is a very interesting situation indeed, I shall look it up and get back to you for sureRecommend

  • Hamsid

    and again – your travels should be documented – when will you believe me?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    nah lassi can make all the difference and of course the spice level can be reduced, and good for filling purposes for a long long rozaRecommend

  • Parvez

    You seem to favour a heavy Sehri to get you through the day and a light Ifthar …… but the reverse seems to be the trend. On a lighter note I see many stuffing their faces on both occasions and then there are those who are too lazy to wake up in the morning and go for a really heavy Ifthar and in all this ‘ when and what and how much should I eat …. the very essence of Ramadan takes a back seat……I’m sorry this is a food blog and I’m going off on a tangent…..sorry.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Believe me there’s nothing unusual about my travels ….. there are thousands who have travel experiences, I simply drawn on my experienc when necessary to make a point.
    A friend of mine in the same profession decided to write short stories of his travels in Urdu …… and believe it or not it worked quite well for him. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Thanks ….don’ t force me to remind you……like I had to with the Floyd and Ostrich egg omelet dastan :-)

    Recommend

  • Parvez

    You never heard of or tried mahal puris ? … and you write a food blog oooof !Recommend

  • Mushtaq Kadri

    Pervez you may have traveled to Finland, there are many Muslims who live in countries where they have 6 months of daylight. The ruling is to adopt the Ramadan timings of the closest city which has normal fasting times and follow their schedule.Recommend

  • Mushtaq Kadri

    somehow my response to this did not get posted. The ruling for those living in areas where the sun does not set for long hours or even months is for residents to adopt timing of the closest city with normal sunrise/sunset times and adopt those. Allah, swt has made the deen easy, SubhanAllah.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That makes sense….thank you.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    haha it happensssssRecommend

  • Hamsid

    haha I was going to post the exact thing , put Mr. Kadri beat me to it =pRecommend

  • Hamsid

    no but say for ones own record?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    no no i agree with you completely , its actually what I was thinking a couple of days ago actually , that Ramazan has lost its essence, its not what it used to be like when I was young I remember. Maybe its the excessive focus on food I dunno , can’t pinpoint on one thing alone but yes Ramazan is not what it used to be , for me at leastRecommend

  • Patwari

    But…but…well, see…are you not suppose to wake up
    and do your sehri and, your, Fajr [sunrise/dawn] namaz?
    So as to officially start your roza? You may not do a full
    blown sehri, That’s understandable for a multitude of
    reasons. [Personal preference, health, diet, age or
    medications, etc.] Just tea or a khajoor may do, for all intent
    and purposes.
    As it is, your personal commitment to YOUR roza starts when
    you recite the first Surah of the Quran, after you are done with the sehri and the morning prayers, at the least.
    Otherwise the whole point of the roza is moot. if you just slept
    thru it. The roza never went into effect. You might have just starved yourself for the day.
    However there are various interpretations, and to each his own.
    Maybe you can make your roza commitment at bedtime.
    As long as the effort and belief are there, it’s done, you got your
    passport to heaven,…Recommend

  • Parvez

    You are correct …. there are various interpretations and to each his own. Although the subject of ritual over substance in religion is a fascinating one……but this is Arhama’s FOOD blog and we must stick to the subject at hand. Recommend

  • Patwari

    Ooops! Sure thing. This is a food blog. Repeat. Food blog.
    We must stick to the subject at hand, “Food”. No problem.
    As an aside, never heard of ‘maal puris’. For a moment thought
    it was something exotic, from Ngorongoro or Masai Mara.
    Turned out, it’s a desert.Recommend

  • Parvez

    If you have a sweet tooth like me and like warm syrupy sweet stuff cooked in ghee……try maal puri……not bad if made well.
    Ngorongoro …..in Tanzania ….that I had to look up.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    please record travel journal….Recommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you =)Recommend