Monday, August 23, 2010

Food during Ramadan

Any celebration is incomplete without food. So is the case during Ramadan. Ramadan, the holy ninth month of the Muslim calendar is a festive season marked by family get together, late night socializing and special food. It’s a time for inner reflection, devotion to God and self control .They totally abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual activity from dawn to dusk. The usual practice is to have a pre-fast meal (suhoor) and before dawn and a post –fast meal (iftar) after sunset.

With so many Muslims observing Ramadan from a variety of countries and cultures, many types of food will be prepared. One may eat anything and everything during the night. But the most popular are dates, honey, breads, soups, fruits and olives. However there are certain special dishes. “Harees” is a special Ramadan dish. The wheat (without husks) is cooked over a low fire with mutton pieces for two-three hours. It’s then mashed with a wooden paddle until it reaches porridge like consistency. It is served on a large, flat platter topped with a layer of melted ghee and a little icing sugar mixed with ground cinnamon. This dish is served throughout the Arabian Gulf. “Yireesh” is like “hares”, but tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices are added to the mixture. “Muhallabiya” is a special Ramadan pudding and “Al geymat” is another popular dessert made from fried dough balls dipped in sweet syrup. Some other dishes are “Surtapam”, rolled pancakes with grated coconuts and spiced cardamoms, “Al-Basar”, shredded beef or chicken with semolina and baked like a cake, “Addukku Roti” ,layers of pancakes with a minced beef or chicken filling. Soups like “chorba”(made from tomato based with chickpeas and spices. Some uses vermicelli instead of chickpeas), “Fasulia”(made from green bean and beef stew) and “Bamia”(meat and okra strew) are very famous during Ramadan. Khyar bi Laban(cucumber yogurt salad),Fattoush(bread and vegetable salad),Tabouleh(wheat and herb salad) and Tomatoey Pasta Salad are consume with enthusiasm. Special beverages are also served. These include an apricot beverage called “qamardeen”, a sweet almond drink known as “sherbet beithan”, cold hibiscus flower tea “kerkeday” and “laban” or butter –milk.

Also there are opportunities to enjoy the taste of Ramadan in various restaurants cafes that serve special Ramadan dishes in this special month.

Sweets are part of Kuwait’s traditions especially during the holy month of Ramadan.Ramadan and sweets so hand in hand. A favourite sweet among Kuwaitis and expatriates alike is “Halwa” which is a cross between a moist buttery sugar-infused cake and a pudding, and contains nuts throughout and on top.Kuwaiti halwa often comes in a variety of colours and is flavoured with cardamom,saffron and rosewater.Halwa can be found from the Caucasus to India;its forms and names are various as the countries in which it is enjoyed.In Lebanon they like with cheese and in Turkey it is called Helva. Kuwait’s “Sambosa halwa “which is commonly served during Ramadan and special occasions,uses alomonds and is covered in powdered sugar."Rahash” is another Kuwaiti variety of halwa ,made using sesame seeds,date molasses and sometimes includes pistachio. Fried dumplings or “Legamat " in Kuwait are served in a sugary syrup and are common sweet during this holy month.”Legamat”is v.sweet and is like the Indian zelebe. Kuwaitis do have their own “zelabiya”

Dates are also an essential part of Ramadan tradition as they are mentioned numerous tmes by Prophet Mohammed. A favourite Kuwaiti twist on the plain date is “Temrhiya” which consists of solid dates mixed with butter and flour.Kuwaitis break the fast with a taste of dates and after a meal they sit and enjoy nibbling temriyah or crumbled tumrah (date) cake with coffee."Gher Aghali” is another sweet which is often served on Fridays through out the year.Its a cake like sweet flavoured cardamom and saffron.Another traditional sweets is “Aseeda” which is a heavy block like sugary sweet flavoured with the ususal saffron and cardamom.Though served in Ramadan and special occasion,it is believed to be beneficial postnatal woman for breakfast.

Cows and sheep were prized animals in Kuwait's bedouin past and as such they are prominent in Kuwait's traditional foods even today. 'Ilbhah' is derived from milk taken from cows or sheep on the first day after delivering a calf. The milk is flavored with saffron and cardamom and is thickened to a pudding-like consistency. It is said that Ilbhah had special vitamins and was likened to the colostrum milk women give to their newborns.

1 comment:

Kakinoki James said...

Sounds good! So, is it difficult smelling all that nice food cooking for hours before you can eat it?