Fry, bake or freeze: These iftar recipes will give delicious and easy a whole new meaning!

Published: June 1, 2018
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With these recipes, I hope you enjoy a carefree Ramazan! PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

For me, fasting is like a reset button. It reminds me that I can still be whole without all the vast amount of consumerism I am involved in every day. It is also a reminder that I can do more with my time, my money, and my life if I wanted to. I can still be happy with little things in life.

This Ramazan, I invested my time in a weekend guest lecture for kids from slum areas. While I love my work, sometimes one needs an escape to breathe and get a better perspective on life, and this experience did just that for me. Teaching kids about the various benefits of healthy eating and watching their reactions while I described different kinds of food facts from around the world, was both priceless and endearing. I also discovered, much to my dismay, that the stereotype for beauty had somewhat corrupted these young minds. Young girls told me they skipped meals because they didn’t want to become ‘fat’. These self- deprecating, misogynist notions should be dispelled at every level.

Even during the month of Ramazan, there are many girls who fast because they think they will lose weight as a result of fasting. But this is not even the purpose behind or spirit of Ramazan. This month is supposed to teach us control, patience and empathy; it isn’t a way for anyone to starve and drop a few pounds. Moreover, starving oneself does more harm than good; it leads to over-binging which is dangerous to one’s health.

Imagine how refreshing a glass of lemonade or a cup of mint tea would feel or how sweet a date would taste when you have been deprived of water and food from dawn. For millions of Muslims around the world, that is the satisfaction they feel when they sit down for iftar during the holy month of Ramazan. And in this day and age, when it is hard for families to come and sit together for a meal due to different timings, iftar is a nice time to sit down and ask about each other’s day.

As the years have gone by, iftar has become simpler – at least in my household. Or maybe it has more to do with the reduced gap between sehri and iftar. I thought this was a general trend but then my colleagues, who are both from Kashmir, told me that iftar in their households back home has always been and still is a mega affair.

For this blog I decided to make items which can be made amass in advance and frozen beforehand. The fasts are so long and the weather so hot that come iftar time, making body and mind sync is no easy feat. Hence, the best thing is to have these goodies all prepared for frying, and have your table set in no time.

Samosas

You may think of the samosa as only a humble street snack, but it is much more than that. Samosas are the quintessential subcontinent street food. Although here’s a  fun fact about samosas: they were brought to the subcontinent via traders from Central Asia.

Yes, it is convenient to go and buy these, especially in Ramazan when you have stalls in every nook and cranny, but it’s much more hygienic making and frying them (or sometimes baking) at home; a lot of people now prefer making their own samosas at home given the rise in diseases and lack of hygienic means used by vendors! Moreover, it can be an activity that your kids can help out with easily as well!

Moving on to the recipe, people generally use ready-made puff pastry or samosa strips but I prefer homemade dough because I feel they are much lighter and healthier.

Ingredients:

For the dough:

Flour: 500 grams

Ghee: 1 cup

Water: 2 cups

Salt: ¼ tsp

Ajwain (carom seeds):  ½ tsp

For the filling:

Potatoes: ½ kg

Salt: as per taste

Garlic and ginger paste: 1 tsp each

Turmeric: ¼ tsp

Cumin: ½ tsp

Coriander Powder: 1 tsp

Red chilli flakes: 1 tsp

Green chillies: 3 (chopped)

Method:

For the dough:

1. Mix all the ingredients together to make the dough.

2. Roll out small circles and cut in semi-circles.

3. Form a cone pocket by folding each semi-circle to add the filling.

For the filling:

1. Boil potatoes and add all the remaining ingredients for the filling.

2. Fill in the pockets and seal.

3. Fry in a bit of oil, or bake them, or airfry them.


Shami kebabs

Shami kebabs are the ultimate all-encompassing snack. They can either be served as a side dish with roti or rice or can be used in sandwiches and bun kebabs. And best of all, they can be served in both sehri and iftar ­– the former with a warm paratha and tea, and the latter with mint chutney!

Ingredients:

Mutton: 500 grams (cleaned and washed)

Channa dal (chickpea lentils): 3 tbsp (soaked in water for half an hour)

Green chillies: 3-4

Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp (chopped)

Salt: to taste

Red chilli powder: 1 tbsp

Ginger garlic paste: 1 tbsp

Cinnamon stick: 1

Elaichi (cardamom) powder: 1 tsp

Turmeric powder: ½ tsp

Oil for shallow frying

Water: 1 cup

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker, add the mutton and roast it for about two minutes.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, including 1 tbsp of oil.

3. Pressure cook the whole mixture until the mutton is tender, or for about four to five whistles, on slow flame. Cook it until the water is absorbed completely.

4. Allow the mutton mixture to cool down completely and then blend into a fine paste. Let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes so that the mutton paste solidifies.

5. You can either make the kebabs into whatever shape you want and freeze them, or you can freeze the whole mixture. When you want to fry, apply a little bit of oil on palms, take a small ball portion of the mutton dough, and make your kebabs of any shape. In case you have already made your kebabs and frozen them, just take them out and fry whenever needed.


Corn Balls

Sometimes, the usual iftar samosas and pakoras can get a bit boring. Enter these easy, delicious corn balls! They go well with any sauce and are light enough not to cause over-indulgence tummy pangs.

Ingredients:

Sweet corn: 1 tin

Mashed potatoes: 1 ½ cup

Knorr chicken cubes:  2 cubes

Fresh coriander: 2 tbsp (chopped)

Chilli flakes: 1 tbsp

Lemon juice: 1 tbsp

Green chillies: 2 (finely chopped)

Cumin seeds powder: ½ tsp

Bread crumbs: 2 tbsp

Oil for frying

For coating:

All-purpose flour

Eggs: 2 (beaten)

Bread crumbs

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients well and make small balls.

2. Coat the balls in all-purpose flour then in eggs and lastly in bread crumbs.

3. You can freeze the balls or fry until golden brown.

With these recipes, I hope you enjoy a carefree Ramazan!

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.

  • Patwari

    As usual, everything made from scratch, and fresh, enhancing the flavors,
    blending the tastes, which is the best way.
    Leading to the baking or frying, and there, you have yourself an iftar that
    is scrumptious! Total bliss. One for the books. Pass the chutney please,
    the green one, please.
    Description in one word,…replete.
    Corn balls! Believe it or not have never come across them. At least not this
    recipe. Might have been a different one, different name, different flavor.
    But yours is a culinary delight, delicious.
    The children look happy in the photographs. So the project went well. Kudos
    to you. Keep up the good work.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That was a quick follow up from your last blog ….nice. Have to agree anything made at home tastes better, samosas, shami kebabs ( I prefer chapli kebabs ) are common but corn balls I have yet to try.
    The pictures and the write up you have posted on the school trip are amazing and I am certain you must have experienced a special feeling of intense satisfaction after it was done. I say this because I had a similar experience some months back, when I talked to about 70 odd girls and boys at a school in Korangi about my profession….and I had not prepared for it……but it went well.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    profession being the key word here… =p
    but yes on a serious note it is no doubt the best feeling everRecommend

  • Hamsid

    with the corn balls add cheese it makes it yummierRecommend

  • Hamsid

    thank you =)
    and with the corn balls add cheese it tastier!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Can imagine you having a good ‘accomplishment’ feeling. Good
    Girl Scout deed, for the day. If you felt really good, happy, then well,
    you can start preparing for the next one and next one and the next one…
    [thought you volunteered for a friend]
    As an aside, it had to do with English, and to make it interesting
    you used food.
    These children look well, Mashallah, not underprivileged.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Agree ….. but did you notice that all three items needed to be fried and if I’m not wrong, it’s healthy if you try stay away from fried food. Although I spend zero time cooking, as you know, I wonder as to why our daily food has not adapted to an easier style requiring less oil, less spices and a more healthy direction …… after all our climate is hot, humid and our home kitchens are not really comfortable places.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    Oh I did volunteer the guest lecture, my friend manages these libraries so I got a chance to do so…
    no sadly they are underprivileged, not completely run down but not middle class either.
    IA hopefully there is another one coming up where I plan to introduce the Egyptian Civilization to them if permitted =pRecommend

  • Hamsid

    I agree, frying makes them tastier no doubt but yes unhealthy… but these can all easily be baked- will diminish the taste but still.
    Good question, because maybe we have an abundance of spices in this part of the world, we learnt to cook with them and over time we adapted – just hedging a guess here thoughRecommend

  • Patwari

    Well, this must be one of your karmic days. Because ‘yours truly’
    is an amateur archaeologist. Special area of interest Ancient Egypt.
    If you want to know about Piankhy, Thutmose the Third, Seti 1, The
    Rosetta Stone, Hatshepsut, [ancient Egyptian queen, fully in charge
    who ruled like a pharaoh, unbelievable in that era !] Ramses the Great,
    he had 48 sons and 53 daughters!! Champollion? Belzoni?
    Khafre, Menkaure, Khufu, they built the the 3 great pyramids.
    Akhnaten, the heretic pharaoh, the first one in known history, who came
    up with the concept of there is only ONE God. Not a pantheon. He only
    worshiped the Sun god, Ra [or Aten] Did away with the rest. He put the priests, out of business. The priests hated him!! He was the husband of the beautiful Queen Nefertiti and father in law of the famous King
    Tutankhamen.
    It is widely believed in the West, and in archaeology, and textbooks, that Prophet Moses or Musa [RA] is the first one to introduce the concept of there is only ONE GOD. Akhnaten preceded Prophet Musa [RA] by almost 300 years! Akhnaten was very unique and shattering for that era.
    By the way, his name means,…Beloved of Aten [Sun god Aten].
    Like a current day Allah rakha.
    Whew! That was long and arduous! A whole one page.
    See, you brought up one of ‘me’ favorite subject, now. Can wax for hours.
    Now, to be very precise and careful, we are only talking about the “belief” the “concept” of one god. NOT ‘which’ God.
    Not about which one, is the most Merciful, Omnipotent, the One and
    Only Truthful God.
    Any questions,….anyone?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Logical answer…..I suppose cooking, eating etc is dictated by what you have and the environment around you. I’m sure there’s more to it than that …. but then we would be getting into a subject I feel we both are unqualified to talk on.
    Keep writing .Recommend

  • Patwari

    Spices are good for you. Healthwise. Anti oxidants.
    Good benefits. From garlic, ginger, red chilis….Recommend

  • Hamsid

    but one that should be explored!Recommend

  • Sane

    Month long food festival is about to end. As many people take this month to enjoy variety of food and also experimental food. Spirit of this Holy Month is lost in food and shopping.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Good thing you are there, to go into rapture. And ask the Merciful One, the Benevolent
    One, the Omnipotent One, the Forgiving One, the Only True God to overlook the rest
    of us eating our nihari, jalebis, payas, samosas, gulab jamans, kheer, and whatnot.
    Make a left at the door, go down the street, there, your home away from home.
    The qari, if he has time, will answer your searching queries about eating during Ramzan.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    woah , I saw this pretty late , I actually ended up teaching them about geography but now I want to start studying history myself particularly Muslim history, I have been told Tariq Ali’s book are a good place to startRecommend