Ramadan cuisine

Pakoras - Wendy Rahamut
Pakoras - Wendy Rahamut

The month of Ramadan is upon us. The fast begins at sunrise and ends at sunset each day. It is broken with a little salt and then a small plate is usually served comprising some type of cooked chickpeas/channa, a bit of chopped fresh ginger, usually an Indian delicacy of some sort and a date, this is known as Iftar, and is usually consumed after the Maghrib prayer. This is followed by a balanced meal and a sweet afterwards, usually some type of ice cream or dessert.

Interestingly enough the foods with which the fast is broken in other eastern countries vary, but the regular appearances almost always include chickpeas and dates. In Morocco their variation on our foods is in the form a chickpea/channa and lentil soup, (harira) made in a tomato broth scented with cinnamon, turmeric, fresh cilantro/ chadon beni, accented with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the table. Fresh rounds of crusty bread, hard boiled eggs, dates, and honeyed pastries are served with each bowl.

If you are fasting, try to start your day with a nourishing meal, like a warm bowl of lentil soup, remember beans and legumes provide much needed carbs and proteins as well. Balance that off with a slice of wholegrain bread and have a small piece of fruit. Remember the month is rigorous on your body, and it is a physically cleansing fast as well. Try to be conscious of what you eat this month, treat your body to fresh wholesome foods.

Harira - Moroccan chickpea soup

1½ cups dried channa/chickpeas

1 cup lentils

8 cups water

1 28 oz tin of tomatoes with juice

1 large onion, chopped

2 tbs olive oil

⅓ cup chopped celery, rib, and leaves

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin/geera powder

½ cup chopped chadon beni

4 cups broth, chicken or vegetable

¾ cup fine egg noodles or thin spaghetti or vermicelli

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

lemon wedges for the table

Salt to taste

Soak channa in water overnight drain and rinse, cook in 8 cups water for about 1 to 1½ hours until tender. Drain chickpeas and save the water it was cooked in. You should have 2½ cups water if not add a little water.

Finely chop tomatoes.

Heat oil in a large soup pot, add onion and celery until softened and fragrant.

Add turmeric, pepper, cumin and cinnamon.

Cook for a few minutes more. Stir in tomatoes, ¼ cup chadon beni, channa with the reserved liquid, broth and lentils.

Simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes to 60 minutes.

Break pasta into small pieces, about one inch and stir into soup.

Cook for a further 10 minutes until pasta is tender.

Season with salt and sprinkle with remaining herbs.

Serve with wedges of lemon and crusty bread.

Serves 6 as a main course.

Lentil rice pilaf with aromatics

1 cup lentils, boiled for 20 minutes and drained

⅔ cup basmati rice

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

½ tsp curry powder

1 tsp ground roasted cumin

⅔ cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (without the juice)

2 tsp tomato paste

1⅓ cups broth or water

Wash the rice and leave to drain.

Heat oil in a sauce pan, add onion and garlic, saute for about 3 minutes.

Add cinnamon, turmeric, curry and cumin, saute for another 2 minutes.

Add lentils and stir, add rice and stir.

Stir in tomatoes and paste.

Stir well.

Add broth or water.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.

Serves 4

Eggplant pakoras

1 eggplant, sliced salted and cubed

1 onion, finely chopped

⅓ cup chopped chadon beni

2 cups besan (gram flour)

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pepper sauce

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt


Coconut oil to fry

Place all the ingredients into a bowl, combine well, pour in a little water at a time to make a thick paste enough to cover the vegetables.

Drop into hot oil and fry until golden.

Makes 24

Serve with mango chutney




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