Dubai: Ramadan means so many different things to so many different people, particularly this year as we battle against coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Here Gulf News caught up with five different residents to get their favourite Ramadan recipe and to see how they have had to make adjustments to this year’s festivities.
Poorvi Shah originally from India reminisces of the many dishes she usually experiences during Iftar gatherings at her friends’ homes.
“I practice Ramadan culturally and as a resident of a Muslim country, I love integrating and participating in this,” she said. “I enjoy tasting different dishes from my diverse friends’ groups. In my own home, my personal favorite dish that we tend to make during Ramadan is mango pudding. It is a very simple dessert that I often took to iftar gatherings.
“This year I have been spending Ramadan with my direct family only, we haven’t been going to restaurants or visiting family, which has made the month quite different from previous years. We still try to make Iftar special every day to keep the Ramadan spirit alive,” she added.
Recipe for mango pudding: Puree the mango, add milk and cream, add sugar and gelatin, allow to set.
Maha Rihani also shares her experience with food during the Holy Month, “In our family of mixed nationalities Moroccan and Palestinian we have different traditional meals related to Ramadan. But the meal we really make on Ramadan exclusively is Harira Soup [a traditional Moroccan soup] which is very rich in nutrients and typically a Ramadan meal,” she said.
Rihani notes the differences in this Ramadan compared to previous years, “We used to have Iftar more with friends and family and trying different restaurants here in Dubai. This year it was exclusively at home and homemade prepared meals. It was hard for me as a mum of two little kids to prepare the meal every day and to satisfy everyone’s craving. But I was feeling good as I was preparing something healthy for my family,” she added. “We are all wishing that next Ramadan we’ll be back to our beautiful tradition of sharing meals and having our dear ones around.”
Recipe for Harira soup: Made with small pieces of meat, onion, lentils, chickpeas, leak, tomatoes, parsley and spices like black pepper, ginger and turmeric.
Vanessa Bayma Kuiper a personal chef, originally from Brazil, also shared her culinary favourites during Ramadan, “We try to bring healthy yet hearty dishes such as quinoa tabouleh with fresh pomegranate and nutritionally packed lamb and vegetable tagines accompanied by hearty freekeh chickpea lentil soups. To us, nutrition plays an essential role during this religiously devote time.
“Ramadan is a celebration of faith, devotion, family, and friends. This time should be spent reflecting on all that we are thankful for whilst spending time with loved ones. And is there any better way then enjoying this time rather than food? Food is an expression of love and community!” she added.
Kuiper said she realises the struggles of this year’s Ramadan, “With COVID-19, we’ve all taken a tumble down an unfamiliar and troubling situation. We’ve also taken into account our health and tried to work in as many nutrient-rich items for our friends and family to help boost immunity.”
There could be a silver lining, she mused, “Can less dining out and more cooking be a positive thing this year? We’ve really seen a community join together to share and motivate home cooking during these times. More people are taking interest in ingredients and nutrition for their families. We can all come out of this healthier and happier.”
Recipe for quinoa tabouleh: We mix not only parsley but fresh dill, mint, coriander, sage, and any other fresh herb we can get our hands on with a light sweet pomegranate lemon vinaigrette and plenty of fresh greens.
"After a long day of fasting your body responds better to fresh produce,” she said.
Mother of two, Saher Iftikar, originally from Pakistan, also shares her family’s Ramadan favourites, “There are also some dishes that we make specifically during the month of Ramadan. Such as samosas, cheese buns, and harees.”
“This year I definitely miss iftar at my in-laws house. The Fareed, mandi and dumplings are special at my in-laws that I didn’t have it this year, but still alhumdulillah we are safe and healthy in our houses.”
Iftikar’s family has ensured to stay safe this month, “This year Ramadan is more focused on our family. No gatherings and no invitations allow us to spend time with kids and worship more. It’s different but we are grateful for everything.”
Cheese-bun recipe: Small dough balls stuffed with cream cheese and baked. Served with sugar syrup and coconut powder on top.