Ramzaan Hearts

Ramzaan will always remind me of Ammi (my Nani).

The dimly lit living room, the food, the aura. Ammi was Ramzaan for me.

Did I say food?

The Suhaali, the sehri boiled egg and Rusk, the Chickpea stir fry (Ghugni), the Fruit Chaat, The darn Turri (drink from hell), the Rooh Afza with Tukhm Balangan (drink from heaven), the dahi phulki, the pakoras (gram flour fritters with onions or other vegetables)

Uff.

all boiled down to tradition. What we saw all through our childhood shaped our understanding and expectations of Ramzaan as adults. My mother has had ulcerative colitis for over 40 years. She can’t fast. All my life I saw my father get done with his sehri, make breakfast for Ammaa and take it to bed for her before saying his Fajr prayers. There’s nothing weird or different about people skipping rozaas. It’s just the way it is. Some fast others don’t.

I’ve been heartbroken at missing my rozaas last year and this. Both years have been breastfeeding. Where I see plenty of people going the extra mile and fasting along with breastfeeding, I decided not to take that chance. Sass just turned one and is gaining interest in solids and losing concentration in nursing. She’s still nursing but not as enthusiastically as earlier. This is the worst time for me to risk a supply tanking situation. I’m already way too emotional about the onset of weaning which will be here eventually and have warned F that I will be an emotional mess. Do not wish for the process to be expedited.

I know she’s too tiny and won’t even remember this Ramzaan or probably even the next. I still want to kick off traditions I should get into a habit of so she sees them every year.

I need to start with the yearly photo with daddy and her handprint charting but where Ramzaan comes, I want certain food to pop up like they’re spring loaded.

In a quest for mastering those, secretly craving a proper Ramzaan mood Iftar and in absence of any help at home I lugged everything over to Ammaa’s and cooked up a storm. Well. At 20kg overweight this minuscule spread felt like a thunderstorm but yeah, I digress.

Without further ado, here come the recipes. Please note where I am sharing the names of original authors, the recipes are adapted to our need which is zero chillies. F and I don’t eat any. Which works for us because then Sassi can eat everything we eat. Baby Led Weaning WIN!

Here’s a blogger whose work I’ve lately been crushing on. Every post of hers kicks off such nostalgia or inspiration I end up daydreaming about cooking if unable to actually end up in the kitchen.

From Flour & Spice I give you Sarah J Mir.

I used her Pakora (Gram Flour Fritters) Mix recipe and fell in love with it INSTANTLY. Made a whole batch and left it for Ammaa to use through this Ramzaan but the Pakoras were crunchy, fresh and so gorgeous! This is a real find.

Ingredients

• 4 cups besan (Gram Flour)

• 1/2 tbsp salt

• 1/2 tbsp chilli flakes

• 1/2 tbsp chilli powder

• 1 tbsp coriander powder

• 1 tbsp cumin seeds

• 1 tbsp cornstarch

• 1 tsp ajwain (optional)

• 1/3 tsp baking soda

Instructions

1 Combine all the dry ingredients in a clean air tight jar, they will easily last two weeks or more.

2 To make pakoras – take out some of the dry mix.
Add water till It reaches required consistency. I usually like it a little runny so the pakora (fritter) doesn’t get heavy and serious about life in general, especially heartburn. So I keep adding a little water and mixing it. Allowing the gram flour to bloom and thicken and then add some more. Till we are at a consistency that it lightly coats whatever is dipped in it.

Finely slice onions, use some cubes of boiled potatoes, use some potatoes cut like round crisps, go all out. Dip whatever you want in it and fry. I’m planning on boiled egg as Sarah recommends and my old favourite Spinach leaves for next time. Dip your Pakora hero of choice in the Uber hero-esque Pakora mix and fry on medium heat* till golden.

http://www.flourandspiceblog.com/homemade-pakora-mix/

* Heat the Oil for deep frying at high heat then lower the heat for temperature maintenance and keep it at medium heat throughout so you don’t end up adding to the coal production of Pakistan and make these gorgeous golden Fritters.

The Chutney (Condiment) that we had to go with this was another Eureka moment when I was trying to fix another chutney to cut out the heat and eliminate chillies for the Aaloo Chanaa Chaat (Potatoes and Chickpea Sala/ Chaat)

Green Chutney (without spice)

Blend together the following.

1 cup fresh coriander

1 cup fresh Mint

1 tblsp Dry Roasted Cumin (White Zeera)

2 tblsp Tamarind (Imli) pulp

1 tsp Black Salt (Kala Namak)

TA-DAA!

If you want it to be spicy add 4-5 green chillies in the blender but this one on its own had such a gorgeous zing to it. It was wiped clean before I could remember to take a picture. Definitely one for the tradition keeping table.

The second star of the day was AalooChanaa Chaat (Potatoes and Chickpeas with condiments– Street-food lovingly brought into our homes for what feels like centuries and cleaned up over the years.)

This recipe was Off of Karachi Chefs At Home and originally by a wonderful cook Diya A Ansari. However I have again, tweaked it to adapt to our tastebuds and bowl size availability (she mentioned double layers, my utensil wasn’t deep enough so single layers.)

Thanks a Million Diyaa, for your beautiful heart and sharing your recipe.

This recipe got us a brilliant concoction that is now a permanent member of my pantry. It is the best thing ever. Like everything else I skipped the chilli and it is now officially our very own Chaat Masala Sans heat.

1tblsp Dry Roasted Cumin (White Zeera)

1tsp Khattaai Powder (Amchoor or any other souring/ Khattaai powder available)

1tsp Black Salt (Kaala Namak)

Grind together and Store in an airtight jar. For heat you can add a teaspoon of roasted red chillies but we just love this non-killer version with all our heart.

So here go the Ingredients for

Aaloo Chanaa Chaat

3-4 medium Potatoes (Boiled and cubed)

2-3 cups Boiled Chickpeas

2-3 cups Yogurt (the original recipe had sugar added to this. We don’t like our Chaat Yogurt sweet so we skipped it. Feel free to add around 4 Tblsp if you wish so)

4-5 medium tomatoes (chopped into small cubes)

3 medium Onions (finely chopped)

2 Cups finely chopped Green Coriander and Mint Leaves

Chaat Masala as above ^^

Dry roasted and crushed Cumin (White Zeera)- you can add crushed chillies for heat, we didn’t.

Green Chutney (the one with Sarah’s Pakoras right up there^^!)

Imli (Tamarind Chutney)

1 cup Tamarind Pulp

1/2 cup Jaggery (gur/ raw sugar)

1 tsp Black Salt

1/2 tsp Dried Ginger Powder

1 tsp Nigella Seeds (Kalonji)

In a dish layer the boiled chickpeas. Sprinkle Chaat Masala & Dry Roasted and Crushed Cumin generously. Mix it nicely so you don’t rampage the chickpeas lives and they’re still intact when you’re done with them.

Layer the Yogurt.

Layer The Imli Chutney

Layer the phenomenal Green Chutney

Layer the Chopped Onions

Layer the Cubed Potatoes

Layer the Chopped Tomatoes

Layer chopped Coriander & Mint.

Sprinkle Chaat Masala

Sprinkle Crushed Dry Roasted Cumin

And ahhem. Believe it or not, it’s ready. With all its Majesty and delectable flavours. It is Ready to be devoured.

Best Aaloo Chanaa Chaat Ever. And I am a Chaat Snob. I don’t like just any Chaat out there. This one hit it out of the park for all of us.

Last but definitely far from being the least, Hyderabadi Dahi Baray.

F always complains that people now, and exceedingly so, put sugar in Dahi Baraas which was never the norm earlier. I kinda agree with him. Having lived in Karachi for the most part of a decade I was exposed to cuisines from an array of various communities. A luxury unheard of in Lahore. I have adored the Baghaaray Dahi Baray of Hyderabad (that’s Deccan. Not the Hyderabad near Karachi) and was looking for a recipe when Mona Ahmed from … wait for it … Karachi Chefs at Home AGAIN, took my breath away with this phenomenal recipe.

Thank you Mona for sharing this. It made our evening! Definitely one for the family recipe book my hold will inherit.

Ingredients

2 cups Chickpea/ Gram flour(besan)

salt to taste (I added 1 tsp)

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

¼ tsp baking soda

2 tbsp finely chopped onions

2 tsp finely chopped coriander leaves

1 tsp finely chopped green chillies

(I deseeded them and chopped them but if you want it hot, go for the whole shebang)

1/2 to 1.5 cup water keep the mixture non-runny. Like thick-ish)

For the Yogurt :

2 cups yogurt/dahi

salt to taste (I used around 1 tsp)

½ tsp blended paste of coriander

½ tsp blended paste of mint leaves

½ tsp ginger garlic paste

(What I didn’t add from the actual recipe was ½ tsp blended paste of green chillies. Feel free to add if you’re brave enough to handle the heat)

For Tempering:

1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp mustard seeds(Rai)

1 tsp cumin seeds(zeera)

4-5 curry leaves

2-4 dried red chillies

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Baray:

Firstly, in a bowl add the chickpea/ Gram flour, then add salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, baking soda, ginger garlic paste, coriander leaves, onions, green chillies and mix well.

To the mixture add water gradually and mix well and stir it till we get a batter consistency which is neither too thick nor too watery.

Make sure the batter consistency is thick enough to get good dumplings or round balls.

Once the batter is ready beat it well or whisk it well.

Take a frying pan or wok/kadaai, add enough oil for the baray to fry and heat it.

Make round biscuit like balls of the batter and add it to the oil.

Deep fry the dumplings or the badas on low flame so that the inner batter is cooked well. Check if the they are turning golden brown on every side and keep flipping from one side to other and carefully remove it and keep aside.

(The original author of the recipe suggested soaking in some plain Yogurt here as opposed to the widely accepted soaking in water bit. I think the yogurt I used was too thick for the purpose. Next time I am either thinning it out with water or simply dunking them in water like my Daadi Jaan did.)

For the Yogurt :

Whip the yogurt quite well so as to remove lumps in it.

To it add salt, ginger garlic paste, (paste of green chillies if you’re using those), coriander and mint, and stir it well.

Once the yogurt sauce is ready transfer the yogurt sauce onto the Baray and rest aside until they absorb the creamy whipped yogurt sauce.

Add the tempering/baghar to the dahi baraa.

For the tempering:

In a saucepan heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and pour it over the dahi baraa.

The GORGEOUS Lassi had a tip I picked up from Karachi Chefs At Home by a member Musarrat Fatima. Thank you! Truckloads.

Never would’ve thought of adding Cardamom. It was great.

Ingredients:

Thick Yogurt (think Greek Yogurt)- 2 cups

Water or Milk )I used an equal parts mixture of both – 1 cup

Pinch of Elaichi (Cardamom) Powder

3-4 Tablespoons of Sugar. (This was too much for us so I diluted it with more Yogurt and Milk+Water mixture but you can use it as is)

Ice cubes!

Blend together in a Blender and HAVE. To kill the heat. Everyone was dozing off after Iftar wondering why they’re feeling so drowsy until someone pointing out that I had fed them Lassi!

{ Insert Evil Laughter }

Leftover potatoes from the Pakoras / Fritters made chips for my Sassi. Who ate them with much fervour.

And Aaloo Chanaa Chaat

And Pakoras

And Some Dahi Baraas

And of course Lassi.

My Baby at the very least tastes everything (mostly with nostrils flaring) I am eating so it really helped that we have no chillies meals. Even though one day I fed her something spicy and my trooper went ahead and ate it. Went red in the face and kept having water but chomped on. Babies are so funny and focused! Usually on mischief but generally on whatever they want at a given point in time.

Everyone is snoring, softly or otherwise, atop happy tummies as I type away in the middle of the night, thinking of quick fix Sehri ideas alongside. This is what a perfect Ramzaan Night looks like.

Ramzaan Mubaarak.

Ramzaan Mubaarak Ammi. I’ll make Ghugni tomorrow but I’m sure you would’ve loved my spread tonight. The way you always loved everything (brilliant or wonky) I ever cooked (Read: found recipes for and tortured masses with trials of).

I love you forever.

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