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EPICURIOUS: A SATISFYING IFTAR

May 19, 2019

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Besides the manifold spiritual and physical blessings of Ramazan, iftar is one of the many things we look forward to and love about the holy month. Those who manage homes know the challenge of planning and arranging delicious and nutritious iftari items to treat their loved ones at the end of a long, hot day of fasting.

One factor for consideration is to make protein and energy-dense foods that contain more nutrition relative to the space they take up in our stomach. It is better to eat these filling foods than empty-calorie junk food.

Note: You can also bake or air-fry the pakoras for a healthier alternative to deep-frying.

Celebrate each iftar by indulging in wholesome yet mouthwatering delights after a day of restraint   BEEF PAKORA

These appetising and easy-to-make beef fritters are like small capsules of protein packs. Use thin two-inch long undercut fillets (also known as pasanday), so the beef stays tender and cooks through quickly.  

INGREDIENTS

For the pasanday:
½ kg undercut beef fillets
1teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder  
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
Salt to taste
 For the batter:
1 cup gram flour
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste

METHOD

First we need to pre-cook the beef fillets.

In a pot heat oil and stir fry the ginger-garlic paste till it becomes aromatic. Add the beef and stir-fry it till it turns white and absorbs the flavour and aroma of the ginger-garlic paste. Now add the spices and stir fry with the beef till the turmeric powder is fully cooked. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, make a runny paste of gram flour thick enough to cover the beef completely. Dip the beef slices in the batter and deep fry till the batter turns crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve.   DAAL PAKORA

Another protein pack is lentil fritters, a pakora with a delightfully grainy bite created by coarsely ground lentil paste.  

INGREDIENTS

1 cup soaked chana daal
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder  
½ teaspoon garam masala powder  
1 teaspoon ginger paste (to help digest the chana daal)
1 sprig fresh coriander leaves
2-3 chopped green chillies  
1 large diced onion  
Salt to taste
  METHOD

Soak the daal overnight or for six hours at least to soften it. Drain the water and rinse the daal to remove the soaked smell, then blend well in a blender to make a thick, coarse paste. (The coarse paste adds bite and texture to the pakoras.) Pour into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Fold this mixture into the lentil paste, whisking it well to make a uniform paste.

Heat cooking oil in a wok, drop in tablespoon-sized dollops of the paste and deep fry on medium flame till crispy golden brown on the outside and cooked through inside. Serve with spicy chilli-garlic chutney.     CHILlI GARLIC CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

2 heads garlic, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoon red chilli flakes
4 tablespoon vinegar
Salt to taste

METHOD

In a small frying pan, heat oil and stir fry red chilli flakes till they start darkening. Add the garlic slices to this and fry till they turn golden-brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Grind with mortar and pestle, together with the oil that was used for frying and some water, till the garlic is pureed; the chilli flakes and seeds can keep some form. Spoon out into a storage jar with lid. Add salt and vinegar and mix well. Store in fridge and serve as needed.

DATE AND BANANA CUPS

 To replenish depleted energy from the day’s fast, and to provide energy and nutrition for the next day, date and banana cups with yoghurt, honey and nuts is a wholesome combo. 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup yoghurt
1 sliced banana
5 pitted, halved dates
3 tablespoons mixed chopped nuts and coconut flakes
1 tablespoon honey   METHOD

In a sundae bowl, pour a cup of yoghurt.

Fold in sliced banana and dates. Top it with chopped nuts and drizzle with honey. Serve chilled as appetiser or dessert.

You can add any additional seasonal fruit such as mangoes to this bowl, and also experiment with toppings such as drizzles of laal sherbat or chocolate sauce to add taste and colour.

Published in Dawn, EOS, May 19th, 2019