Kashmir has its own speciality even in the month of Ramadan and the people serve and enjoy these special drinks and dishes throughout the holy month.
While on fast, Muslims avoid consuming food during the day, while at dusk, they indulge in extra-special, bountiful meals prepared during the day.
Behind all these feasts whether at a professional or an amateur level are chefs who despite fasting in a day prepare tasty foods for their customers.
This Ramadan, we catch up with some Kashmiri women chefs who delight their customers and family members with mouth-watering traditional dishes and desserts.
In this spiritual month, women start looking for inspirational Kashmir cuisine, special drinks and sweet dishes, so that their families can enjoy and bond over.
One among them is Sadiya Aslam, who prepares special cuisines for her family members.
Aslam who hails from Saida Kadal Srinagar has managed to beat the odds, mastering the food scene while sitting at her home.She has a menu for Ramadan month which includes ‘Khajoor ka Ladoo’ (Date balls) and other Ramadan cuisines.
She also prepares Mughlai and Kashmiri traditional cuisines, continental, desserts, sweets, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian dishes.
Aslam has plans to bring together the young and old to enjoy new and traditional dishes in the month of Ramadan.She wants to sell homemade special cuisines and drinks online.
“Traditional and Mughlai dishes are ‘must-have’ dishes during Ramadan. I mostly make homemade dishes and drinks. It is a time to relish all traditional and Mughlai dishes and forget all about the modern things,” she said.
Another chef, Iqra Aijaz sells her food products by receiving orders on Instagram and Facebook pages under the name of ‘Food Mania’.
Unlike Sadia and Iqra, Tasiya Tariq’s Iftar meals and the traditional Ramzan dinners are exquisite and elaborate.
This Ramadan, besides cooking Kashmiri Wazwan, Tariq who hails from Mominabad Srinagar, prepares a series of snacks, Babribyol (Basil seed drink), Kulfi, Phirni, Seviyan kheer, fruit chat, fruit custard, other beverages, deserts and cuisines.
She displays her cooking skills on a YouTube channel under the name of “Kashmir food Fusion."
" This Ramadan,I will be uploading the recipes of Kashmiri cuisine and sweet dishes,beverages, deserts including Kulfi on my YouTube channel. I want women to enjoy the rich flavours of Kashmir cuisine outside our state,” she said.
"I don't want to cater food to the people but I would like to show all the recipes on my YouTube channel. Kashmir Wazwan dishes stand unique and are rich flavoured. I show rich Kashmiri cuisine recipes to the world through YouTube,"she adds.
However, Khanyar girl Madiha Bashir explores new dishes and experiments with those in her kitchen and serves to her family.
“Ramadan is a month of very early mornings, very late nights, and random naps in between and when the time for eating comes,everyone wants something special and tasty” she says.
Bashir said that during a time when energy levels are low, many hands make light work, and putting together a wholesome, well-seasoned meal involves the whole family. “Cooking during Ramadan is always such a team effort but this time I have decided to cook for my family,” she says.
She said the food is part of Ramadan’s traditions. Family and friends gather to share and enjoy the meals that are served to them.
Kashmiris are avid food lovers and hence, here’s enlisting some delectable Ramadan foods which are not to be missed:
Basil seeds, also known as “Babribyol” in Kashmiri. Basil seeds are black in color and are collected from sweet basil seeds. These fragrant seeds do not really have a distinct taste and can be added to a variety of dishes for a nutrition boost. They are great as a garnish for drinks and desserts. It is the perfect drink to consume while breaking fast.
This desert is prepared almost in every household of Kashmir during Ramadan. This dessert is made by boiling in milk, cooking in sugar syrup or with condensed milk, khoya or by simply frying in ghee and adding sugar. Seviya or vermicelli is loved not just by kids but by people of all age groups.
Though Phirni is made all over north India, adding Saffron to it makes it Kashmir specific. This sweet dish is prepared during Ramadan and is usually taken after Iftar meals. Kong Phirin is a creamy and light dessert that is a great way to finish off a heavy meal. The key to getting a rich and creamy texture is to set it in the traditional clay container because the clay absorbs any excess moisture, and gives you a thick and creamy Kong Phirin.
Home made, hot and flavory, Kashmiri pickles have an unmatched tangy flavor, that is a treat to one's taste buds after a long day of fasting.
Also known as Tragacanth Gum, the Kateer drink is loaded with health benefits. It regulates blood pressure and acts as a detox. Besides, it cools down your body like nothing else could. Kateer is the sap of the thorny shrub tragacanth, which is a thorny and low-growing shrub which is mostly found in the Middle East, Iraq, and Iran and even in Western Asia.
Happy times over a steaming cup of Noon chai are cherished by Kashmiris of all age groups. The traditional beverage is made with grains of gunpowder tea, milk and baking soda, and is the first choice of fasting persons (rozedars) during their ‘iftar (evening meal)’.
Sweet, tasty and loaded with nutritional benefits, dates are the highlight of all iftars. Who doesn't want to grab one! Markets in Kashmir are flooded with a wide variety of dates. From Ajwa to Kalima, Kashmiris like other muslims love to break fast by eating dates.
Rose sharbat or Rooh Afza, has found a special place in iftar meals for decades. Created in 1907 by Unani herbal doctor Hakim Abdul Majeed, this drink is widely consumed due to its refreshing properties and certain health benefits. After a whole day without food or water, it serves as a perfect drink to quench one’s thirst and get an instant hydration boost.