Ramadan has its own standard fare in the subcontinent. In Dhaka, where I was born, the markets are full of fried snacks and wholesome meals to reward the fasting person. Here are a few golden oldies that are a must-have at every iftaar – quick and easy recipes that everyone will love.
Piaju (Onion Lentil Snack)
An absolute favourite among young and old alike, this recipe can be altered to include potatoes or spinach to suit a variety of tastebuds.
- 2 kg red lentils
- 2 white onions finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small green chili peppers finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground coriander
Soak lentils in cold water for one hour.
Drain and pat dry with papers towels then blend in blender 2 cups at a time.
Add onions, salt, pepper, chilies and coriander.
Mix all ingredients and drop spoonfuls in hot oil and fry until golden brown.
This is probably the most popular snack among the urban people of Bangladesh. Usually this is available in roadside stalls and fast food stores.
- 2 cups white pea (soaked overnight)
- 2 medium onions (thinly sliced)
- 1 tomato (thinly sliced)
- 2 large potatoes (boiled and thinly sliced)
- 2 egg (boiled and thinly sliced)
- 1 cucumber (thinly sliced)
- ½ bunch coriander leaves (finely chopped)
- 3 green chillies, chopped
- 1 tsp rock salt
- 2 tbsp vinegar/lemon juice
- Regular salt as per taste
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 100 gms tamarind
For dry masalas:
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 4 red chillies
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- ½ tsp aniseed
Roast all the dry masala in a hot pan very lightly, cool and grind altogether.
Cook the soaked white peas with a little salt and turmeric in a pressure cooker till they become soft. The peas should not be totally mashed – they should be left with a little water.
Boil the tamarind in a cup of water. Add a pinch of red chilli, sugar and a pinch of dry roasted cumin powder. Boil for ten minutes. Cool and strain, and reserve the liquid only.
Cool and then add lemon juice and rock salt.
Take a big bowl. Mix the cooked white peas, tamarind juice as cooked in the last step and all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
Place in small individual serving plates. Garnish with coriander leaves, fried onions, bhujia and or nimki.
Depending on your taste you can vary the amount of roasted masla and tamarind juice.
Beguni is a deep fried food which is a favorite snack of the Bengalis. The chief ingredient is eggplant and besan or Bengal gram flour. The vegetarian fast food shops of Kolkata, known as ‘Telebhajar Dokan’ sell begunis. You can also make them at home. Begunis are hot favorite among Bengalis all round the year but are more in demand during rainy evenings. The Potla’s Shop in Baghbazar, north Calcutta is well known for its begunis and other Bengali fast foods. Here is how you can toss up beguni at home.
- 1 eggplant cut into thin slices
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 cup gram flour
- ½ tsp onion seeds
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 cup cooking oil
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Salt to taste
- Water as required for making the batter
- Oil for deep frying
Make a consistent batter of all the above ingredients except the eggplant slices and the oil.
Cut the eggplant lengthwise in thin slices. Now halve the pieces again.
Heat oil in a deep pan and bring to a boil.
Now dip each of the eggplant slices in the flour mix and deep fry them until they turn crispy.
Place the fried eggplants on tissue papers for the excess oil to be soaked away.
Serve hot with Khichuri. You can also have it as a snack.
- 4 medium potatoes (cubed)
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 1/4 cup green gram split, (moong dal) roasted
- 250 gms cauliflower florets
- 6 cup water (approx)
- Salt to taste
- 6 green chillies
- 1 ¼ cup rice
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- ½ cup peas.
For the seasoning
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 red chillies whole4 green cardamoms
- 6 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, 1-inch each
Roast moong dal, cut cauliflower florets and slit green chillies.
Make a paste of turmeric powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder.
Wash rice and drain.
Take sufficient water in a big size pot and stir fry dal and rice in it.
When the rice is half done mix in masala paste, green chillies and vegetables, and simmer till they are cooked.
To season, heat ghee in red chillies, bay leaves, garam masala and stir fry for a minute. Pour onto cooked khichuri.
Serve hot with pure ghee on top.
Sweet corn casserole
- 4 potatoes
- ½ cup grated cheese
- 2 cups frozen corn or 1 tin corn
- 1 small cup fresh cream
- 1 tsp ground green chillies
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp ghee
- salt and pepper to taste
Cube and boil potatoes.
Mix potatoes with the rest of the ingredients.
Sauté onion until light brown in ghee and cumin.
Mix this in the corn mixture.
Set in a casserole dish. Spread a little grated cheese on top.
Bake on 180 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.