This time of the year is so special. Even with the rising mercury and the overwhelming heat of the Arabian dessert.
As, here is Ramadan. Ramadan, the most blessed, austere and cherished month of the Islamic calendar. One of the most beautiful time of the year and our favorite too.
Though a bit behind, let me wish you all, Ramadan Kareem. Especially my dear readers and friends observing the fast.
It's a unique season in every sense. I particularly love the spiritual high from activities like group gathering to break the fast, night prayers in fully packed mosques, reading Quran, increased faith and closeness to God, acts of piety and charity, preparing meals to share with family and friends despite abstaining from food and drink, inviting people to our homes for Iftar and receiving invitation to their homes to break-fast together.
A simply beautiful experience. Something that makes this holy month truly amazing.
And, you know what? There is no better place to observe the fast and enjoy the spirit and joys of the season than in an Arab Persian Gulf states like Qatar.
Life has been good over the past few days. Despite the sultry August weather.
The very first day of Ramadan, my new Pakistani friend and neighbor, brought us a delicious and lavish Iftar feast with choices like fruit salad, dates, nectarines, pakoras, bajjis, spring rolls and a spicy chicken dish—one of my favorites from the meal. And I must say, I was touched that she shared her first Iftar meal with us. Inspired by this lovely gesture, I was filled with a rush to share my food with them. So I did, the next day. And that’s how the month began. A truly beautiful beginning of sharing and caring.
And then one of my other neighbor and friend, Sunitha, kindly dropped by one day with a lovely cake. So special.
Truth being said, there’s plenty more to share. But, let me wait until my next post.
Well, it’s August and we are into the dogs day of summer. Even so, the good thing is that the markets are still bursting with plenty of ripe, luscious and juicy emblems of the season—fruits. So what better time to have a bit fruity fun to keep you healthily energized? On the dot, before the end of the season.
Here are some of the fruity ideas from our Iftar menu. Nothing fancy, but simple and nutritious recipes. Flavorful and colorful too.
First, we always break the fast with dates and zamzam water, if possible. A tall glass of freshly squeezed and chilled juice made with a variety of flavors like lemon, orange or watermelon follows. Nothing flashy, but simple drinks easy on the stomach. And then we go for a bowl of refreshing fruit salad with a good selection of seasonal fresh fruits like apple, strawberry, pear, grape, nectarine, apricot, mangoes and kiwi.
I made a couple of ice pops on the first day of Ramadan. With mangoes, apricots and raspberries. Especially for my kids, particularly my younger one who was also fasting.
You see, each time I buy fruits I plan to make something scrumptious with them, but alas, they rarely seem to make into a dish except salads or juices.
Let’s look at the recipes, shall we? All fruity, easy and tasty. Trust me!
It’s quite simple and easy to whip up a delicious fruit salad with plenty of bold summer flavors. Here’s how I do it.
In a large bowl, toss plenty of diced seasonal fruits with caster sugar and a generous splash of orange blossom water or rose water. The marriage between sweet juicy fruits and delicate floral flavors is simply remarkable—you should try it. Sometimes I use the pulp and seeds of passion fruit to add aroma and flavor, other times just a few teaspoons of sweetened orange juice.
Whatever your choice, go slowly, adding bit by bit and tasting, to prevent overwhelming the natural fruity flavors. Then, cover and chill the fruits for up to 4 hours until the juices run down and the flavors are infused. Spoon into individual dessert dishes or glasses. Top with ice cream or vanilla yoghurt, if you like, or enjoy it on its own, the way I prefer.
What better drink that screams summer in a glass than watermelon? Its high water content makes it an iconic thirst-quencher, besides the classic lemonade.
This is a simple juice that makes the most of the gigantic fruits juiciness. A perfect drink to sip on a hot summer day, especially after fasting.
24 seedless watermelon balls
4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
juice of 1 lime
caster sugar, to taste (optional)
Scoop out the flesh of watermelon using a melon baller; chill. Then use the scrap to make the juice. Put the watermelon chunks into a food processor with the lime and sugar, if using, and process until smooth. Pour through a fine-wire mesh sieve into a large pitcher. Discard pulp and seeds, if any. Chill until ready to use—at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
To serve, divide the melon balls among 4 glasses and pour over the juice. Serve with straws and spoons, and enjoy!
Apricot raspberry popsicles
Summer is all about fun. So why not have a little fun with summers freshest fruits to make these multicolored frozen treats? A great idea to satisfy the kids as well as the kid in you!
After a long, hot day of fasting and praying, the pops came quite handy as our Iftar finale. My kids and I took a few deep breaths, stretched our legs and enjoyed every sip of this homemade icy treats. Flavored with juicy mangoes and golden orange apricots, alternating with stripes of reddish pink raspberries, this sweet-tart pop packed a surprising intensity of flavors.
Here’s the recipe for a frozen treat with a real kick.Makes 6
2 small mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
4 small apricots, pitted and diced
½ cup orange juice (I used Almarai 100%)
2 tablespoon caster sugar, or to taste
1 cup raspberry
Tip in the mangoes, apricots, 1 tablespoon sugar and orange juice into a food processor. Then blend it all together until completely smooth. Pour into a mug, scraping down the sides of the blender.
Rinse the blender with water and then pulse the raspberries with 1 tablespoon sugar, until smooth. Taste and add more sugar, if desired. Then push through a fine sieve into a mug and discard the seeds left in the sieve.
Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of raspberry puree into the bottom of 6 molds and then add the apricot mango layer. You don’t need to necessarily freeze the first layer before adding the second as the puree is quite thick. Top it with the remaining raspberry puree. Once the layers are in place, insert the stick and chill in freezer for 4-6 hours, or preferably overnight.
To remove, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.
If you don't have popsicle molds, use dixie cups or plastic cups and peel it off after it has frozen. If using cups, freeze until slushy, about 30 minutes, and then insert sticks. There are no rules when it comes to containers—check out this post for more whimsical ideas.