I am not sure why but whenever Ramadan, the month of fasting begins, you suddenly find mouth-watering recipes online and everyone starts talking about food.
“The kebabs are marinated overnight in curds and the special spices and herbs, the secrets of which Chef Foodie Rodriguez has learnt from his beloved mother who cooked for gourmand Nawabs in Panjim, Goa, will surely delight your taste buds,” says a video on You Tube.
“Do you want Bassama (our cook in Bengaluru) to fry onion ‘pakora’, with the lip-smacking mint chutney you like, for Iftar? ” asks my wife, at around 12 noon, when the hunger pangs really get to work and my stomach rumbles impatiently.
Take your suhoor
“Never, never ignore Sehri (‘suhoor’ in Arabic, the predawn meal) and go back to sleep after morning prayers,” says a doctor very earnestly.
“This meal is to sustain you for the next 14 hours,” he says, and in front of him on the table are plastic replicas of food such as a roasted chicken leg, half-boiled eggs and a gigantic watermelon piece.
I immediately look up on how long the daylight hours (the time when a Muslim should fast during Ramadan) are in Bengaluru. “The sun rises at 6.27am and the sunset is at 6.30pm, ” says a blogger who is planning to hike in this South Indian city.
He continues: “The warmest months in Bengaluru are March, April and May and the temperature ranges between 33 degree to 34 degree Centigrade.”
“I would suggest that you slowly start to acclimatise yourself to fasting at least three weeks before Ramadan,” says the doctor. I begin to wonder if this person is really a doctor.
“Eat food that will last you through the harsh summer, such as curds, musk melon and do not drink tea or coffee as they are diuretic.”
I spend the next one hour online looking up green tea, oolong tea and the heavenly smelling filter ‘kapi’ from Chennai, and the word, ‘diuretic’. It means that tea and coffee will send you to the toilet often and you will become dehydrated.
More on Ramadan
- Dubai inmates to communicate online with families during Ramadan
- All you need to know about taraweeh prayers: When, why and how to perform it
- Ramadan 2021: Distribute Iftar meals in Dubai through approved charity organisations only
- Ramadan 2021: Mohamed bin Zayed shares greetings with rulers of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan
“Who are you fasting for?” asked my neighbour last year, which completely threw me. “Errm, for me, myself,” I answered. “It is sort of a physical and spiritual cleansing as it makes me realise what hunger means to those who are unlucky and do not have daily sustenance like us. It is also a time to show gratitude,” I said.
“My wife fasts for me,” he said. “She fasts for my long life, health and happiness.”
“Lucky you, that is nice of her. You are a very fortunate man to have such a loving wife,” I said. Then, added, “ I don’t think I can tell my wife to fast on my behalf, you know”.
One health expert and nutritionist said in one of the many good health advice columns, “Go for a morning walk, lift light weights, remember to keep yourself fit as this is a very strenuous month for your body.”
“If you are a diabetic, have high BP or have heart issues, I suggest you do not fast,” said one doctor. “Every year I get patients who have fainted as their sugar levels drop because of hunger, or your blood pressure falls and that puts pressure on your heart ,” he said.
“This is a dangerous situation to put yourself into,” he said.
“Do you know why people never lose weight even when fasting for the whole month?” asks the nutritionist. “They make-up for the daylight fasting by gorging during the night,” she said.
”I suggest you do not eat sugary or fried stuff. Eat lightly. As one food scientist had said, ‘You are what you eat’,” she said.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi