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The Shaikh family break their fast with a beautiful Iftar spread at their home on 3rd April, 2023. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: It is a double occasion at the Shaikh household. Besides the holy month of Ramadan, the Indian household is celebrating a family reunion.

Imran Shaikh, 43 and his wife Shabina, 40, have welcomed their parents Kasim Shaikh, 78 and Aziza, 74, to spend the month-long Ramadan and Eid with them. Their children Yusuf, 15, and Yahya, 10 are super excited that the grand-parents are with the family.

“I am very close to my father’s relatives. I love my grand-parents so much and am so happy to spend Ramadan with them,” said little Yahya.

Imran, who has been a resident of Dubai, said Ramadan is a great month to spend in Dubai. “My wife is a great cook and Iftar is usually a big spread. She prepares something for all of us,” he said.

Gulf News is invited to the house in Madinat Badr in Muhaisnah 1 for Iftar.

Yusuf said Ramadan is all about self-restraint, caring and sharing. “We take this month to become more spiritual and go all our way to help one and another. It is also a time to bond with the family. For example, in our house we have not spent Ramadan with my grand-parents since 2019. I Am so happy that we are together this Ramadan.”

Early memories of Ramadan

Shabina recalled her childhood fasting during Ramadan.

“It used to be hard at first. “I used to feel hungry a lot when I first started fasting. Then it changed slowly. My resistance to hunger improved and soon I was able to fast for the entire month. My children, on the other hand,adopted to fasting much faster. I am so proud of them. They are so happy to fast and make a difference in the community during this time,” she said.

Imran introduces us to the food spread on the table.

Something for everyone

“There is a favourite dish of each family member on the table here. My parents love fried items so she made the Chinese Samosa and Onion Bhajiya. My children love sweets for the Mango Kheer, Malpua and Falooda is for them.”

Little Yahya added: “Ramadan is more than just the food. It is about self-restraint. At first when I started fasting I used to feel hungry a lot. I started fasting little by little since I was six years old. During that time, I would feel hungry in school and tempted when I saw food. But now I don’t feel that. I look forward to Ramadan so I can test my ability to hold on.”

His brother Yusuf added: “Now it is winter so it is easier to fast. During summer staying away from water can get harder.”

The Iftar menu

Mango kheer, Rooh Afza with Ice-cream, Chinese samosa, Malpua and Shaami Kababb, Onion Bhajiya, Dahi Wada, Fruit chaat, Mirchi pulao, watermelon pieces are all served on the table.

“Everything is home-made. I love to cook and serve. During Ramadan, I like to take care of the family’s favourite items and prepare them,”

Shabina said.

“My husband loves the Mirchi Pulao. It is a recipe that I especially made. It is a simple yet very flavoursome dish. Usually mutton is added to biryani. But I made a pulao with red long chillies. It has few ingredients, yet very tasty.”

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Mirchi Pulao served for Iftar. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News


Mutton Mirchi Pulao


1kg mutton

5 cardamom pods

4 cloves

1 star anise

1sp peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

1-2 bay leaves

6 medium onions, sliced

4 medium tomatoes

1/2 cup yogurt, whipped

1tbsp ginger garlic paste

1 1/2 tbsp green chillies paste

1tsp garam masala pwdr

1sp jeera pwdr

1/2 tsp garam masala powder

Red Kashmiri chillies 10-12 (wrinkled )


1) Fry onions with whole spices

2) Add tomatoes

3) Fry until soft... Onions shouldn’t be brown but soft.

4) Add yoghurt ( whipped) keep stirring to remove lumps

5) Mutton can be separately cooked with GG paste in green chilli paste (green chilli+ 1/2 tbsp whole dhania seeds)

6) Mix mutton in tomatoes + garam masala powder and jeera powder.

7) Add soaked red chillies (Kashmiri chillies are not spicy at all + coriander and mint leaves

Lastly, layer it with rice just like biryani... On top give ghee tadka and birista (handful of fried onion) keep on dum



1/2cup wheat flour

1/2cup plain flour

1 to 1 1/2 cups milk, depends on the thickness of batter

1/2 cup sugar (or as per taste)

2 eggs

1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder

1/4 tsp Cardamom powder

Saffron strands

Pinch of yellow colour

Oil and ghee to fry

Condensed milk to increase sweetness


1) Sift wheat flour and plain flour in a big bowl.

2) Add 1 cup milk and beat it well.

3) Add sugar.

4) Gradually break 2 eggs in the batter and beat

5) Add Pinch of colour, saffron strands and cardamom powder and nutmeg powder and mix well.

6) Batter shouldn’t be very liquid.

7) In a pan, add ghee and oil and pour a ladle full of the batter slowly in it, let it bubble from the sides... once the edges start to crisp turn it carefully... fry it both the sides.. it becomes fluffy..

8) Remove it while draining extra ghee.

9) Finally garnish it with pistachios and almonds. It can be relished with sweet cream