Fasting in Ramadan sometimes gets akin to feasting in Ramadan as people approach the iftar time with anticipation of consuming good food after fasting all day. With changing times, the food preference of people has also changed and many western, Italian, Chinese and Arab dishes have become part of Pakistani cuisine. However, some traditions never change and people of Pakistan still look forward to their favorite iftar meals in Ramadan. Most of these items are prepared at home by women and great planning goes into the preparation of these savory iftar dishes.
Dates of every hue, color, texture and price are consumed in abundance in Ramadan. They are highly nutritious and an ideal food item with which to break the fast. Dates can be eaten plain or they can be seeded and filled with almonds, pistachio, cream, butter etc for enhanced flavor. They can be rolled in desiccated coconut or sprinkled with rose essence for fragrance and aesthetics. Dates are also covered with edible silver foil called “warq” to make them more appealing and giving them a place of honor on the iftar dining table.
No iftar in Pakistan is complete without this triangular, spicy and fried delicacy during ramadan. The wafting aroma that comes from fried samosas is enough to make one salivate and look forward to the iftar time. Samosas can be filled with mashed potatoes, onions, spicy mince meat, cheese, chicken or cooked vegetables. It is usually served with mint, coriander or tamarind chutney. Literally thousands of samosa stalls spring up during Ramadan in every nook and corner of the country where vendors start frying this savory iftar item well before the maghrib prayers to meet the demands of the fasting populace.
Jalebi is a pretzel shaped sweet dish that is generally eaten with samosas to counter their salty and spicy taste. It is also made of fried batter that is poured in concentric circles and then soaked in sugar syrup. It is usually bright orange and yellow due to food coloring.
Another mouth watering iftar itemin Ramadan, pakoras are fried balls of gram flour. A variety of vegetables including onions, potatoes, spinach, corriander leaves, eggplant and green chilies can be cut into tiny pieces and mixed with spicy flour batter. They are then deep fried to make tasty fritters. Onion rings, potato wedges and cauliflower florets can also be coated with the batter and fried to make a heavenly dish. The more adventurous like to dip whole green chilies in the batter and fry them for a very hot iftar.
For the health conscious, fruit chat is a preferred alternative to spicy pakoras and fried samosas during ramadan. A variety of seasonal fruits like mangoes, bananas, apples, guavas, apricots, grapes, pine apple etc. are cut in small cubes and served in juice. A few lemon drops are squeezed over the dish to keep it from changing color and a little salt, chat masala (spice mix)and pepper are sprinkled on the dish to give it a zesty flavor. It is extremely nourishing after a long day’s fast.
Another delicious food item to grace the iftar table inramadan is the chickpea or “chana chat.” This dish is made of boiled chickpeas mixed with boiled and cubed potatoes, chopped tomatoes, onions, green chillies and served with dollops of spicy tamarind chutney. A fabulous dish to tantalize the taste buds, chickpea chat is also quite nutritious and healthy.
DRINKS FOR IFTAR:
Water is the best option for quenching thirst after a 15 hour long fast for most people. In Pakistan a variety of sherbets, sweet syrup-based drinks, are also available that are prepared for iftar. Cold milk mixed with sherbet or soda is also commonly served. Packaged or fresh juices, lemon squashes, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks are also consumed. After iftar, drinking tea or ‘kehwa’ is also a common practice.
Many restaurants and cafes offer a large variety of traditional and international cuisine during Ramadan. However pizzas, burgers, spring rolls etc. still have not gained much popularity as iftar items. Since iftar is a time to eat and rejoice with family and friends, homemade items still hold sway over other foods. While iftar spread at every household tends to reflect the personal tastes and preferences of that family, the above mentioned items remain popular and ever appealing.
Taken From Cuisine Online