For me, Ramazan means much excitement as iftari is one of my favourite meals and I wait all year long for it. The joy of eating delicious samosas, tamarind chutney and my grandmother’s famous channas is unparalleled. My grandmother’s channas are usually saved for Eid, but I try to get her to make them earlier in the month as well.
I also start experimenting with new flavours and concepts to maintain that excitement of the first iftari throughout the month. I try to make new types of dishes, both savoury and sweet. Of course, it’s important to bring a healthy edge to the menu in Ramazan, but for the first few days I love to indulge whether its walnut halwa, aloo kay samosay or the infamous jalaybi.
This year I have been completely enamoured by some of the forgotten foods of our provinces. My first adventure has been to discover Sindhi cuisine. What struck me as amazing was the use of daal and besan (chickpea flour). Having discovered aani ki tikkis (small tikkis made from besan), I thought why not try out a variety of daals in the form of tikkis? These delightful bites are an intrinsic part of the Sindhi kitchen, and with a little personal tweaking can become iftari favourites.
My new addition to the iftari menu this week will be a lovely tikki made from maash ki daal. It’s utterly delicious and very easy to make.
MAASH KI DAAL KI TIKKI
Maash ki dal — 2 cups, cleaned and thoroughly washed
Ginger — 2 tablespoons, finely grated
Flour — 2 tablespoons
Salt — 1 teaspoon
Red chilli flakes — 2 teaspoons
White cumin — 1 teaspoon
Clean and wash the daal and boil it in a litre of water with 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes. Boil the daal till it is overcooked and completely soft.
Mash the daal with a potato masher or with a fork till you have a granular paste. Next, mix in the grated ginger, flour, salt, red chilli flakes and cumin.
Now knead the mixture till it is soft but not sticky. Make small tikkis and flatten with the palm of your hand.
Fry in a non-stick pan and serve piping hot with tamarind chutney.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, August 7th, 2011.