During the holy month of Ramadan, fasting from dawn till sunset continues. Each evening the fast is broken at sunset with an ‘Iftar’, a meal shared with the family and often the community, with a sense of celebration.
We atAnanya, are delighted to share some delicious and easy to make recipes you may want to try during Ramadan, or in fact, at any time of the year. These recipes have been contributed by Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express. Asma, having mastered recipes that had been in her family for four generations, has been successfully running Supper Clubs from her home in Kensington. Her Supper Clubs create a unique dining experience of authentic Indian food with spices made fresh at home and mouthwatering dishes cooked with love!
PANEER MALAI KORMA (serves 6)
500 gms of Paneer cut into rectangle pieces (1 inch by ½ inch)
2 Medium onions thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon crushed ginger
½ Tablespoon crushed garlic
½ Teaspoon ground coriander seeds
½ Teaspoon red chillie powder (adjust that to your taste!)
2 Tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
1/2 glass of hot water
1 Tin thick coconut milk
1 Tablespoon ground almonds
Flaked Almonds for garnishing (optional)
Chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
You can use any kind of pot to make it. I prefer a small wok or “karai". Fry the thinly sliced onions till they are caramelized. On medium high heat, add the garlic and ginger and stir in the oil for a minute. Then add the coriander powder and chilli powder, followed by the tomato puree and water. Wait till the oil comes to the top. Add the ground almonds with the salt and make sure the almonds do not form lumps. Then add the paneer and stir gently and lower the heat a bit so the paneer does not get burnt. After a few minutes add the coconut milk and a touch of sugar (adjust that to your taste!).
MATTAR PULAO (serves 6)
Takes 30 min approximately to cook plus 2 hours rice soaking time
300 gms Basmati rice
Medium/Small white onion (around 100 gms unpeeled)
3 Tablespoons oil
21 fl oz or 600 gms water (boiled)
2 Whole cardamom pods
2 Whole cloves
1 Inch cinnamon stick
1 Large bay leaf
100 gms Peas (frozen peas)
Heaped teaspoon salt
Wash the rice in several changes of cold running water. Leave it to soak for 2 hours in a bowl with cold water. If time constraints do not allow you to soak the rice, even a brief amount of soaking will make a difference so do try to soak the rice.
Peel the onion and cut into half and slice into rings. The important thing is to try and make all the rings the same thickness so they all brown at the same time. Heat the oil on medium high heat in a thick bottomed pan with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf) and remove with a slotted spoon after a few seconds (good sign is when you hear the spices pop - time to remove them from the heat). After that fry the sliced onions till they are brown and caramalised and remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate. Spread the onions out on the plate so they can become crisp as they cool. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. After 1 min of coating the rice with the remainder of the spice and onion infused oil, add the measured hot water. Add the salt. Let the rice absorb the water (usually takes 4 to 5 min) with the pan open and the heat on medium high. Once it looks like most of the water has absorbed, reduce the heat to simmer or low and cover the pan with the lid. Wash the frozen peas in water till they are no longer frozen. After 5 minutes open the lid and add the peas and gently turn the rice around with a fork. Cover and leave for a few minutes before serving.
And now for the dessert!
EID SEVIYAN (Sheer Korma)
Seviyan is the classic Eid dessert and my memories of Eid in India where I grew up was of visiting friends and families and being offered this traditional dessert at every home. Every family had their own version of Seviyan - I prefer this version of Seviyan served warm - you can serve it at room temperature or chilled. It is delicious warm or cold!
Serves 6-8 (Cooking time 20 min- soaking time 1hr)
4 Whole almonds
4 Whole pistachio nuts
1 Tablespoon charoli seeds
1 Tablespoon Raisins or Fresh Coconut slivers (or both - I use both!)
6 Cups full fat milk
100 gms Seviyan or vermicelli
1 Cup sugar
40 gms Ghee or unsalted butter
Soak the nuts (almonds, pistachio and charoli) in cold water for an hour. Take the skin off the almonds and pistachios and cut into slivers. The charoli goes into the sheer whole. If using the coconut, put them into small squares (thin even sized thin pieces of ½ inch squares) – not into slivers.
Boil the milk in a pan. In another pan flash fry the sevian in half the ghee or butter (the sevian have to be broken into very small pieces) with the cloves and cardamoms and add to the boiling milk. The sevian should cook very soon. Add the sugar and once the sugar has dissolved, take it off the flame. In a pan add the remaining ghee and fry the almonds, pistachio, charoli, coconut and raisins. Add the mixture to the sevian and serve the Sheer Korma warm.
Asma shares some thoughts and reminisces on her experience of Eid growing up.
"This is kind of our Christmas without a tree"- Eid according to my son, then aged 5 years and a bit.
Like a lot of festivals, Eid is mostly about celebrating with friends and family around a table - food is the heart of this celebration. When I was growing up in India, we always spent the day at my Maternal grandparents home in Calcutta. Eid breakfast was a grand affair as the day marked the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, the first breakfast after a month of fasting for many of the adults whose morning meal over the month of Ramadan had been the pre-dawn meal for Sehri. My favourite was warm Seviyan or Sheer Korma which was served to all the children in china cups. (The recipe for the Seviyan is given above).
The traditional Eid dishes of Biryani, Murgh Mussallam and Kababs was what was usually served at lunch. At night we would have something lighter after having feasted all day - my brother was not a meat eater and his favourite dish was Paneer Korma and Pulao (recipes above).
It has been more than 2 decades since I moved to England. I try to maintain my family tradition and cook a special meal for the family on Eid. When my children were very young and I struggled to find time to cook- I always made Seviyan on Eid....without it, the day would not be complete."
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What are some of your favourite dishes for Iftar? Do you experiment with new recipes? We’d love you to share them with us.