Healthy Eats During Ramzan

 , Mumbai  |  Updated: August 01, 2012 13:08 IST

Healthy Eats During Ramzan
Come Ramzan and the streets are dotted with kebab stalls, people frying samosas, bhajiyas and so many more goodies. Deep fried and dripping with oil, these aren't exactly healthy options for your Iftaar (the meal after sunset, with which Muslims break their fast).

"But not every Muslim eats unhealthy," clarifies Dr Zubeda Tumbi, PhD Clinical Nutrition, who has been keeping rozas (the fasts during the month of Ramzan) for the past 23 years. Busting another myth, Tumbi says that Ramzan isn't about limiting your daily meals to two. Most Muslims eat three meals even during Ramzan -- sehri (the meal that is eaten before dawn), Iftaar and dinner.

"Sehri is the most important meal, it takes you through the day. Iftaar can be light, with dates and fruits and then dinner -- a regular meal of dal chawal or the like," explains Tumbi. The point of fasting during Ramzan is to learn to empathise with the poor, explains Tumbi. You're supposed to live as modestly as possible during the month and have meagre meals. "The idea is also to teach oneself discipline, self-restraint, to cleanse your body and to learn to control your emotions," she says.

'Haleem is the healthiest option'

"There's nothing healthier than Haleem," says Bilkees Latif, a Hyderabadi food connoisseur, who is also the daughter of the late Nawab Ali Yavar Jung. "Apart from Haleem, Muslims in Hyderabad also have a dish of cooked dry savoury dal with chopped onions and lime juice and kachaloo, which is a mixture of chopped fruit sprinkled with salt and pepper -- both very nutritious foods," she says. She offers the traditional recipe of Haleem -- cooked the Hyderabadi way, which is a porridge-like wheat and lamb preparation. "I don't usually make it this way. I just cook the meat as a korma and then add it to the wheat." Haleem is a staple during Ramzan.
Hyderabadi Haleem

300g chicken, cut into chunks
100g boiled kabuli chana (chick peas)
1 large onion, sliced
Salt, to taste
300g basmati rice
3 tbsp butter
2 pieces bay leaves
6 pieces black pepper, whole
Healthy pinch of saffron soaked in 1 tbs broth
1 small carrot cut into sticks
20g dark raisin
20g blanched pistachio, whole
20g blanched almonds
15g fried onion
5g black cumin, whole

Soak wheat in water for one hour and drain.
Cut lamb into pieces.
Heat ghee and fry onions till they turn brown. Remove from ghee and keep aside.
In the same ghee, fry cloves, cardamom and cinnamon for a minute.
Add ginger and garlic and fry together. Add lamb and saute for 50 minutes or till lamb and wheat are soft, adding water as required. This can be done in a large pressure cooker for 30-35 minutes.
Cook till the water evaporates. When the meat and wheat are soft, mash them to get a porridge-like consistency.
Add salt and a little water if it is too dry. Simmer for five minutes.
Garnish with sprigs of mint, fried onions and slices of lime.

'Chanas make for a power-packed option'

According to Arsalans's Executive Chef, Sarafat Ali, chana makes for an obvious healthy option during Ramzan. "Chana is great for digestion and is a must before you break your fast. Apart from chana, dry fruits like khajoor are also important. Both fresh and dry fruits give you a burst of energy," says Ali. For the chef, Sehri is usually a light meal - milk, biscuits, sevaiyan. So it is important that his meal at Iftaar provides him with the necessary nutrition." He suggests the Shahi Bagh Chaat -- a simple, quick to make chaat, which is a power-packed meal in itself.

Shahi Bagh Chat

1/2 kg broken wheat (dalia)
1/2 kg boneless lamb
1/2 cup ghee
2 onions
6 cloves
6 cardamoms
2 sticks cinnamon (1" each)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander powder (dry roasted)
1 tsp caraway seeds (ground)
Red chilly powder to taste
3 green chillies (ground)
Salt to taste

For garnishing:
A few sprigs of mint leaves
2 limes (sliced)

Add all the ingredients, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander, chat masala powder and lemon juice and mix well.
Garnish with coriander leaves and chutney.
Top it off with raisins and cashew nuts.

A Yemeni iftaar
"Suffut was introduced to the Dawoodi Bohra community by their Yemeni forefathers. This dish is predominantly prepared by the Bohri's from Surat," says Lamiya Amiruddin, a catering and food technology graduate of Kamala Nehru Polytechnic for Women, Hyderabad. Amiruddin, now a homemaker, loves to cook -- she is quite the expert when it comes to Bohri foods. She suggests Suffut as an healthy Iftaar option. "Traditionally made from lentil pancakes, yogurt, mince and a whole bunch of vegetables, Suffut is definitely a healthy option," says Amiruddin. "It doesn't involve deep frying either," she adds. Although the original Yemeni recipe consisted of lentil pancakes, here it is substituted by dosas.


3 sada dosas
1 large tub dahi
300g mutton or chicken mince meat
1 green chilli chopped (optional)
Half tsp ginger garlic paste
2 cucumbers grated
1 large carrot grated
Half a bunch spring onions, finely chopped
100g French beans, finely diced and boiled
1 small beetroot, boiled and grated (optional)
100g boiled peas (optional)
1 tomato, finely sliced (optional)
1 level tsp mustard powder steeped for 15minutes in a tsp of warm water and beaten
Half tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Rub the ginger garlic paste on washed mince meat and boil along with the green chilli
Save the soup of boiled mince meat.
Beat dahi along with mustard paste, sugar, and salt. Lay one dosa on the serving dish, soak the dosa with some soup.
Spread some seasoned dahi on the soup-soaked dosa. Cover the dosa with the portion of mince meat and liberally sprinkle chopped spring onion and grated cucumber.
Place the second dosa on top and repeat the same steps.
Put the final dosa on top and soak again with soup and dahi.
Cover the whole dosa with all the prepared vegetables and remaining mince in any preferred pattern to make the dish attractive.
To add an Indian twist to this dish, you can spread a layer of spicy green chutney on the dosa before putting dahi.
Bread can be used as a substitute for dosas.

Kabuli chana, different avatar
Kabuli Chana is very commonly eaten during Ramzan, says Chef Mujeeb Qureshi, Executive Chef at Veda Palladium.Lower Parel. Agreeing with Chef Sarafat, he feels that it is an essential addition to your food during the holy month of fasting. His Kabuli Chana concoction is poles apart from Chef Sarafat's, however. "I have combined rice, chana, chicken and a whole lot of dry fruits -- which make it extremely healthy," says Qureshi. This is also low on masalas, which must be avoided during Ramzan, says Qureshi. "Since the stomach is empty all day long, consuming spicy foods is a bad idea during Iftaar."

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Murg Kabuli Pulao


300g chicken (cut into chunks)
100g boiled kabuli chana (chick peas)
1 large onion, sliced
Salt, to taste
300g basmati rice
3 tbsp butter
2 pieces bay leaves
6 pcs black pepper whole
Pinch of saffron soaked in 1 tbsp broth
1 small carrot, chopped
into sticks
20g dark raisin
20g blanched pistachio whole
20g blanched almond
15g fried onion
5g black cumin whole


Place carrot, almond, pistachio, raisin and chicken pieces, onions and hot water in a large pot. Boil it for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add salt to taste.
Soak the Basmati rice in water for 30 minutes.
Remove chicken, reserving stock and discard cooked onions.
TIn a deep pan, add butter, black cumin, black pepper, and bay leaf, stir for 30 seconds then add chicken and fried onion.
Stir for a minute. Add the dry fruit, carrot, and stock water.
Cook all of them till boiling point then add soaked rice with Kabuli chana, cover the lid and let it cook for 15 minutes.
Check the consistency, add saffron water and cover the lid.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.

An ideal Iftaar

"Every fast must be opened with a khajoor (date)," says Dr Zubeda Tumbi. Apart from that, fresh fruits such as watermelons, papaya, peach, pear should be eaten. Lots of fluids need to be taken, such as lime juice, coconut water, iced tea, milk in the form of fruit milkshakes.

The third course must include something savoury. However, fried foods must be avoided, as they are bad for the liver. Ragda, moong or chana chaat are good options. Mixed sprouts or pineapple chaat is great too.

CommentsSehri should be sustaining, adds Tumbi. "Always include cereals, either roti or bhakri or raagi porridge." Milk, she says, is a must too -- it gives you your dose of calcium and Vitamin A. Nuts and a cup of tea (especially green tea) will make it a highly nutritious meal.

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