Iftar and suhur are Some of the lesser appreciated blessings with great food and getting to sit with our families to eat together each day, and the countless iftar parties. Ramadan is a month Muslims all over the world look forward to immensely, and showers great blessings on us.
For a social person, one iftar party per week is the bare minimum, while for introverts this month is all about staying in bed and catching up on the countless series they have been meaning to watch. But for university students, this month can be a little painful, with having to fast, study for finals and being expected to be social. Especially when you are preparing for your finals and your in-laws decide to come over for iftari.
*cue platter dropping dramatically onto the ground*
Now freeze that picture, with the look of sheer horror dawning on your face, your mouth about to open to do the classic Bollywood style “NAHIII” and consider your situation. You have three options:
- Go to the kitchen immediately and cook up the most exquisite iftari imaginable to impress them.
- Sulk and curse your luck, while “Maar dala” plays in the background. (Ye saasu maa bhi na, kabhi peecha nahi chortein)
- Relocate to Switzerland to become a sheep-herder
In case, your mother-in-law is terrifying and makes Dracula look like a tiny kitten, no one will fault you for choosing option c. But hey! Not all mothers-in-law are scary or bad and as a good host you should go with option a (with maybe a bit of b: you’re only human).
To assist you with an easy to make yet delicious iftari, we offer you some hacks and tasty dishes that are bound to leave them wanting more.
- A little garnish goes a long way
Adding a little mint, spring onion or thyme makes the dish look instantly gourmet, but it also ensures that you get your fair share of leafy greens.
- Strategic placement is key
Always assemble your plate clockwise and give a particular portion of the plate to each element so it is visible. Also remember not to clutter the plate; the best plate is a tidy one.
- Lemons are friends and food!
Not only are lemons aesthetically pleasing and easily available, but they can also be squeezed on top of the dish if need be, providing a quick fix. Decorate your tea, salad and main dish with thin cut lemon slices.
- Edible flowers
Now you have an excuse to grow a kitchen garden. Deserts like ice cream, soufflés and truffles can instantly beautify the said dish and look Instagram worthy!
- Saucy sauces
Sauces are a great dip and instantly elevate the taste of any dish. You can also get in touch with your creative side and sprinkle a little sauce on the side of any dish or on top of a salad to make it look picturesque.
Now after the canvas is set, the question remians: what to cook in this blistering heat.
A simple yet delicious way to battle thirst, a mint margarita looks ultimately cooler when served in lieu of soft drinks, and instantly refresh the person. The mint helps sharpen the mind, improve digestion (iftaar parties can be absolutely barbaric on the stomach) and lower the body temperature. It’s the perfect drink for Ramadan!
- 2 cups of water
- 25 mint leaves
- ½ tsp. of black salt/regular salt
- 6 lemons (freshly sqeezed)
- ½ tsp of black pepper (optional)
- 7up or Sprite
- Mix water, lemon juice, mint leaves, salt, black pepper in a blender until incorporate.
- Pour the mixture in a pitcher and make up the rest of it with 7up or Sprite.
- Frost the glasses and pitcher with salt, garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices for a tangier taste and be sure to bust out the classiest glasses you own!
Peach Iced Tea
Since fluids are a very essential part of iftaar this summer, you need to know to prepare at least a few different delicious ones. Being a Lahori is all about food testing and tantalizing your taste buds with delectable delicacies.
So for those that look forward to store bought peach iced tea, here’s how to make your own!
- 1 cup of sugar
- 4 peaches
- 1 lemon
- 12 tea bags
- 1 can of peach nectar
- ¼ tsp of baking soda
- Boil 4 cups of water, then add the 12 teabags after removing from the stove. Keep teabags in water for about 10 minutes.
- After removing the teabags, stir in the sugar until disolved. Then add peach nectar and baking soda.
- Pour the mixture into a pitcher and add 10 cups of ice cold water.
- Add ½ tbsp of lemon juice and stir.
- Add peach slices to the pitcher and serve cold.
Note: Peach tea served in mason jars looks absolutely divine; not only does it look aesthetically pleasing but your guests will cherish the memory of being served like that. Garnish with mint leaves if need be.
Lemonade is a symbol of hot summers, and desi families love making this drink. Not only is it tangy and sweet, but the lemon is refreshing and the salt helps rejuvenate the body after being deprived of water for the entire day. So add a twist to the old timely recipe and serve it anew.
- 25-30 Lychee
- 2 freshly squeezed lemons
- 2 tbsp. of granulated sugar
- 1 pitcher of ice cold water
- Lemon slices and mint leaves for garnish
- Peel the lychee, remove the seeds and blend the lychee pulp until smooth.
- Add water, lemon juice, sugar and continue to blend until well mixed.
- Strain the mixture to remove excess pulp with a sieve.
- Pour into a pitcher and stir well to prevent mixture from separating.
- Add lemon slices, mint leaves and ice cubes.
Chicken is love, chicken is life! And chicken smeared in rich palatable tomato sauce is to die for. Not only is it reminiscent of the shorba our moms make but it is also just different enough to wow the guests and extremely easy to make. You can eat with a naan, roti or just scoop it up with a spoon!
- chicken pieces
- 5-6 tomatoes
- ½ tsp. red chili powder
- ½ tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 tsp green chilies (chopped)
- 3 tsp of ghee
- 3 tsp of browned onions
- 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- Salt to taste
- First to make the tomato puree, dip the tomatoes into boiling water for a few minutes, then take them out and remove their skins. Blend the tomatoes and sieve to remove any seeds.
- Then heat in a pan with a bit of oil and water for about 2 hours on a medium flame and keep aside. (You are free to do anything else while the tomato puree is simmering.)
- In a separate pan, add ghee and onions and stir for a while before adding chicken, ginger-garlic paste as well.
- Stir for about 20 minutes over a medium flame.
- Pour in the tomato puree and add turmeric power, salt, green and red chilies, before stirring for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot, with lemon, mint and garlic slices as garnish.
Chicken Cheese Pakora/Balls
We all love pakoras. As a desi, pakoras are a must have every iftaar, and no one objects to finding a nice surprise of gooey cheese and succulent chicken when they bite into their pakoras. The way to a rozedaar’s heart is through his stomach (at iftaar, not before please).
- 250 grams of chicken breast
- 300 grams of boiled rice
- 5-6 green chilies
- 200 grams grated cheese
- coriander (according to need)
- 1 tbsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 tbsp red chili flakes
- 5 eggs
- 6 tbsp bread crumbs
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1-2 tsp salt
- Remove bones from chicken and grind it until it becomes a paste.
- Add grated cheese and rice to chicken paste and mash until the mixture is even.
- Blend mixture with ginger-garlic paste, chili flakes, green chilies, salt, turmeric, eggs, coriander, and baking soda, until mixture is uniform.
- Make balls of the blended mixture (yay cheesy koftay!), and roll in bread crumbs until well coated.
- Deep fry until golden brown and serve them hot with ketchup and garlic dips on the side.
Grilled Cheese Sandwhiches and Tomato-Basil Soup
So all you millennials would probably know how to fix up a grilled cheese sandwich for yourself when midnight munchies strike, right? It’s fairly simple and delicious to a fault! Why not put whip up some tomato soup and serve them to your in-laws? All you need to do is ensure the plating is done right and voila! It’s a light snack perfect for iftaar, and Pakistanis are always eager to try anything western and unorthodox.
Ingredients (Grilled Cheese Sandwiches):
- 8 slices of bread
- 2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cups gruyere cheese
- 6 tbsps. softened butter
- Put a non-stick skillet or pan on low heat
- Butter one side of the slices, generously.
- Once the pan is hot, place the slices on it with the butter side down
- Add a large amount of both cheeses on the slice and place the top bread slice.
- When the bottom slice becomes golden-brown and crisp, flip the sandwich to the opposite side.
- Repeat for 2 minutes, until both slices are golden brown and cheese is well melted.
- Remove from pan, and serve hot with tomato soup.
Making a soup isn’t hard but during the preparation for iftaar, time is a little short, so using any packet soup mixes like Knorr are advisable. Just dump the contents into boiling water, follow the instructions on the back and you get steamy tomato soup under five minutes. Stir in some basil in the last couple minutes and add cream to increase the richness of the soup.
But if you’d rather do it the old fashioned way, there’s a recipe for the perfect soup!
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 4 diced cloves of garlic
- 1 diced onion
- 2 ½ tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2-3 large tomatoes (crushed well)
- basil leaves (one handful)
- ¼ cup of cream
- Put a large pot on medium heat and add oil and butter to it.
- Once the butter melts, add onions and stir for 20 minutes until brown. Then add garlic and stir for 2 more minutes.
- Add chicken broth, pepper, salt, and crushed tomatoes. Stir lightly before putting on the lid.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and then turn the heat low. Keep it on the stove for about 2-3 minutes then add the basil and cream to intensify the flavor.
Follow these and be amazed how you won’t have a mini heart attack next time you hear your in-laws are in town. Thank us later!